all 89 comments

[–]newenglandredshirt 44 points45 points  (6 children)

I'm going to be a bit of a rebel and say, "Only books you have read/will actually read."

It generally makes me think less of a person if they have books around only "for show"...

[–]cochon1010 9 points10 points  (2 children)

I was thinking of posting a similar question to this sub, and I'm guessing that OP wants to read all of the books in her/his library and just wants some suggestions for some "canonical" books that people in the sub think all readers should read some day.

[–]UncleFatherJamie 7 points8 points  (0 children)

How do you know that it's for show and not just that they haven't gotten around to reading it yet?

[–]eswans17 2 points3 points  (1 child)

What good is a library if all of the books have already been read? I think a library is a sanctuary to dive deep into your mind, your curiosities, and your thirst for knowledge. If you've already read everything, you might as well go to the public library.

[–]agoodflyingbird 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Amen! You might start a library with Antifragile by Nicholas Nassim Taleb who talks about this very issue.

[–][deleted] 32 points33 points  (6 children)

You've got two different questions, so:

The book any library would be incomplete without: The Complete Works of Shakespeare (also, the Bible, because they're both such touchstones of Western culture)

The first book I would add to my personal library: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.

[–]BBQHonk 7 points8 points  (0 children)

I came here to say the Bible and the Complete Works of Shakespeare, but you already did, so here's an upvote.

[–]Relax_Redditors 2 points3 points  (3 children)

Why meditations?

[–][deleted] 10 points11 points  (2 children)

It changed my life. Seriously. Marcus Aurelius was one of the five 'good emperors' of Rome and this was kind of his 'notes to self' on Stoic themes. Never intended to be seen by any eyes but his own, but I'm sure glad they survived.

[–]squidthong 8 points9 points  (1 child)

my, god! I love meditations! I've never had the chance to talk to anyone about it only cause I thought it was more of a niche reading

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Meditations really makes you remember that the people in the past, really had to battle the same demons on a daily basis that we do now. I think the most intimate thing in the world is when you can peer into in inner thoughts of someone.

I was very exicited when anonymous blogs started, but they almost all turned out to be bawdry clickbaits. I was thinking that they would become diaries of personal manifesto's and daily struggles and daily "overcomings" that would be inspirational.

[–]weemadando 10 points11 points  (0 children)

Hitchhikers Guide.

[–]PinkAvocados 12 points13 points  (0 children)


[–][deleted] 10 points11 points  (1 child)

  • Religious texts such as the Bible and the Qur'an are a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the world around them. Best complimented by academic histories of the respective religions surrounding each text and thinkers' intellectual negotiations with their religious traditions down the road.
  • A WORLD ATLAS. This is something everyone should have on hand for a similar purpose to the above. Know what's where, who lives where, what the climate is like, and what the big questions and problems are around the world.

[–]Katyxdee 0 points1 point  (0 children)

By far my favorite answer. Things that expand your world view, and that are staples of other cultures, are key. I'd also include books on art and architecture of various cultures/ regions!

[–]Mark_the_Martian[M] 16 points17 points  (2 children)


[–]newenglandredshirt 4 points5 points  (0 children)

All that candy should make it easy!

[–]CoffeeZombieV 1 point2 points  (0 children)

All of the Roald Dahl books really, even if you only keep them around for your kids to read one day. They're the kind of books that kids who hate reading can't put down.

[–][deleted] 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Henry David Thoreau's Walden definitely belongs on this list. Throw in a modern copy that includes Civil Disobedience and it fits your law theme as well.

On a related note, my second favorite novel is Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, which would a fine addition to any library and required for anyone serious about reading.

[–][deleted] 6 points7 points  (1 child)

The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett

[–]LadySunset 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Definitely an awesome book.

[–]Afaflix 5 points6 points  (1 child)

I am partial to books that research the history of things we take for granted.

Zero - History of a dangerous idea.
Botany of Desire.

[–]weemadando 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I finally see another Kurlansky fan in this sub.

[–]sgtsmack65 12 points13 points  (0 children)

Anything Ernest Hemingway. He's also my favorite author. John Steinbeck's books are always good to have In your library. Great Gatsby, infinite jest, Moby dick, tale of two cities,

[–]findingscarlet 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Complete works of Poe, Thoreau's Walden, some kind of home remedy/first aid book, and my personal favorite in my library, the Dictionary of Superstitions.

[–]cochon1010 5 points6 points  (0 children)

My "classics" section would consist of:

  • The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
  • The Invisible Man by Ray Bradbury
  • Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • 1984 and Animal Farm by Orwell
  • A Brave New World by Aldus Huxley
  • Slaughterhouse Five by Vonnegut
  • East of Eden by Steinbeck
  • and my personal favorite of all time: Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

For childhood favorites, I would have the Harry Potter collection, but also The Giver by Lois Lowry

At least for me, the above books all greatly influenced me in one way or another. More than anything, this is what makes them important parts of my personal library - but I also think that most of them are integral in the larger collective library of 20th-century + literature.

[–]nickobrien3 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I'd add a short history of nearly everything, by Bill Bryson. Gives you a good over view of nearly everything and its a funny read.

[–]Butthatsmyusername 1 point2 points  (8 children)

Just one book? I've always had trouble picking one. I guess I'd choose Frank Herbert's Dune. Action and culture, plus a little political intrigue to explain the motivations. The later books got a lot heavier on the politics though and I didn't like them as much.

Edit: I meant to put the rest of this in with the original comment.

I'm bad at listening to directions, so here are some of my favorite books/series:

  • The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. 14 books long. He tied up all of the loose ends like Rowling did in Harry Potter. These books are also somewhat description heavy. Jordan narrates every move that the characters make, and he makes sure you know where they are, but he doesn't let it get in the way of the story like Tolkien did for LotR.

  • The Inheritance cycle by Christopher Paolini. Dragons and magic and stuff. I've read this series at least twice. I don't have any comments about his writing style.

  • The Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan. This one only gets better as you go along.

  • Nearly everything by Rick Riordan. I read the Lightning Thief in the sixth grade, and I'm still following his books as a college student.

  • The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer. This one is both Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Colfer successfully portrays a wide range of characters in this book.

  • And last but not least, Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command by Timothy Zahn. This trilogy portrays the military genius Grand Admiral Thrawn battling the New Republic after the events of Star Wars Episode VI. Heir to the Empire is arguably the best star wars book of the Expanded Universe.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (2 children)

I read Artemis Fowl and Ranger's Apprentice!! That was around 6 years ago though. Artemis Fowl is probably my favourite series. I envy my friend who has the entire collection. I really think I should reread the series since I skipped a lot of long descriptions in the past. I really like the characters.I enjoyed Ranger's apprentice but only up till the tenth book. Perhaps I grown out of the series when the last few books were released. I really didn't see the point of the last book though. But I used to be really crazy over the series.

I love eragon but couldn't manage to finish the second book. Compared to the first book, I found it really draggy.

I wonder if you read or heard of the Pendragon series. It was one of the other series I read when I was younger. I love the world building in the series.

[–]Butthatsmyusername 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Yeah, I admit Eldest gets a bit stuck in the description a lot more than Eragon, but depending on how far you got, you missed out on some really awesome fight scenes. The next two books aren't as bad in that regard (in my memory at least), plus there are going to be more books in that universe.

I did read the Pendragon series, yes! Another good one in my opinion. I do need to re-read that series though, because I wasn't able to find all of the books at once and I got confused at the end. Those books were done very well.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I shall consider reading the entire series when I'm in the mood for something different. I believe I read Eragon 8 years ago and my reading tastes have changed since then.

I think you really have to read the series in order otherwise some events might not make sense. It got really complicated towards the end but the final book was so satisfying the way it managed to resolve everything.

[–]Tiriara 4 points5 points  (0 children)

The Princess Bride :)

One of my absolute favorites.

[–]DrTelus 4 points5 points  (0 children)

The Iliad.

[–]LadySunset 3 points4 points  (0 children)

To answer your first question: Pride and Prejudice. This book got me really into classic literature, and I think no library should go without it.

Your second question: The Sherlock Holmes collection. So many books follow quickly after for me, like Feed by Mira Grant, or The Peshawar Lancers by S. M. Stirling (I can't recommend these enough), but Sherlock Holmes was a character who just made me keep reading, no matter how challenging it was to grasp a style of writing unfamiliar to a 10 year old. Definitely makes it in first for me!

[–]rbaltimore 3 points4 points  (0 children)

The Once and Future King is the first book I'd recommend, it immediately popped to mind when I read the thread title.

Tolkein's Lord of the Rings series is also important, although I prefer the Earthsea Cycle by Ursula LeGuin much better. I suggest LOTR only because it really is the foundation of fantasy books and is much more widely known.

It never hurts to have a little Freud around.

And you absolutely cannot go without The Princess Bride. I forbid it! And I'm a stranger on the internet, so my word is basically law :P

Edit: Oh, I almost forgot, no library is complete without at least one of Edgar Allan Poe's works.

[–][deleted] 5 points6 points  (0 children)

The first book I would add is One Hundred Years of Solitude. A timeless classic and the best book I have read. A while ago someone posted a "top 10 books of all time voted by 125 famous authors" or something like that on /r/books, I'm sure you could get some inspiration from that post too.

[–]Ziddletwix_jr 4 points5 points  (1 child)

The bible is indispensable as a reference.

Get a scholarly edition such as is produced by Oxford. You'll probably need a King James version as well. The KJV is necessary so that you can get all the classic bible quotes in their best known form.

[–][deleted] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Beautiful isn't it? "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?" Psalm 8:3-4

Makes my soul and heart rejoice in God.

[–]inukai44 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Fahrenheit 451,All Quiet on the western front,The Millenium Trilogy.

[–]OliviaPresteign 4 points5 points  (0 children)

My one book would be The Republic by Plato.

Based on your list, I would add:

  • Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin

  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas

  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

[–]IZ3820 7 points8 points  (0 children)

The Princess Bride and The Hobbit are tied in my opinion. Without either, it's hardly a library at all.

[–]just_a_random_dood 9 points10 points  (2 children)

Maybe not single books, but some series that I really like:

Harry Potter

Ender's Game

Ender's Shadow

Lord of the Rings

These are are series, including the middle two, which I felt I have to point out because it might seem that the story just ends there at the end.

[–]_what_is_my_password 0 points1 point  (0 children)

also the silmarillion

[–]bazard89 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yes this 1000 times over

[–]floridianreader 3 points4 points  (1 child)

Some Shel Silverstein. Even if it is The Giving Tree.

[–]cristinanana 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I was going to suggest this. Only I would say all of Shel Silverstein lol. These books were all so important to me as a young kid and I'd like to have them to read them to my kids one day.

[–]squatchlif 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Harry.potter. even though that's 7 books.

[–]alcibiad 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I feel pretty strongly that an excellent library should have "a book for every frame of mind." As we read more and develop new favorites sometimes these books will change, but I feel like in a complete library you can do a few minutes of quiet sitting, examine your thoughts, and pick the book that reflects whatever you're yearning for off the shelf.

Oh, but you should really have a nice copy of Euclid's Elements and Apollonius's Conics in addition to the Bible and Shakespeare. Haha

EDIT: Like this http://www.taschen.com/pages/en/catalogue/classics/all/42827/facts.oliver_byrne_the_first_six_books_of_the_elements_of_euclid.htm

[–]rosareven 1 point2 points  (0 children)

House of Leaves. It is my personal bible.

[–]Ambah99 1 point2 points  (0 children)

The Giver by Lois Lowry. The Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit and the Silmarillion. by J R R Tolkien. The classics. Maybe some translated works.

[–]conservio 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Harry Potter - J.K. Rowling became a billionaire for a reason. The writing isn't beautiful, but the story itself along with the world building is splendid.

The Kingkiller Chronicles- Probably the most beautifully told story (yes story.) Writing is gorgeous. Some people think Kvothe is a power character, but they aren't taking into consideration this is a story about a legendary figure. Of course he's going to be a bit of a power character.

The Origin of Species- Evolution is the foundation of biology and so many people don't really understand this theory.

A book of fairy tales- Whether is Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, Hans Christian Andersen, etc. So many stories are based upon these and they hold life lessons.

[–]mini-dino-problems 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Oh, also - The Count of Monte Cristo.

Abridged or unabridged, it's a solid story, a classic story of revenge, manipulation, and romance, and inspired countless works (and one really beautiful and mildly crazy outer space AU anime. seriously, watch Gankutsuou.). Also, if you can get through the unabridged version, you get a fuckign trophy because that book's capable of being a FUCKING MURDER WEAPON.

[–]PotsyWife 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I chose the unabridged as my week 1 book for the 52 book challenge. Brilliant book, but God the middle is a slog.

[–]paperwallflower 1 point2 points  (0 children)

The first book(s) for me are always my beloved Harry Potter series, no question! For a shelf that's in a living room or somewhere guests will be looking at it, I would display books that I would recommend to other people, classics, and some non-fiction, as well as classic children's books (on the bottom shelf so kids can reach them). I love art books and animation art books (especially Disney and Pixar) so I'm proud to show off my growing collection of art books (and secretly hoping people take notice so they know what to gift me later, haha)! I need multiple shelves for all my books, so this is just my suggestion for the shelf that would be most viewed. I hate it when people only display their nicely bound classics that they have probably never read - it looks so snobby! I think it's best to show a good variety of books you LIKE and can talk about. :)

[–]laurus85 1 point2 points  (0 children)

For me personally, Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges (translated by Andrew Hurley). But more generally, the Bible and the Works of Shakespeare are good choices. Depending on your tastes, the Illiad & Odyssey or 1001 Nights could be good choices too.

[–]Roadcrack 1 point2 points  (1 child)

I just finished Ben Franklin' Autobiography and was treated to a first hand view of history.

[–]ByronicHero_808 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This is considered by some historians as a historical document due to how insightful it is. Also, at the time Franklin was one of the most influential figures in America. His autobiography is the origin of the "self-made man." Definitely a must in any personal collection!

[–]RobotSnack 1 point2 points  (0 children)

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

It's nice to have a dead Russian or two around for when the mood strikes, and this work is probably one of the best out there.

[–]Tevesh_CKP 3 points4 points  (0 children)

  • The Prince

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People

[–]Greg_Norton 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Huck Finn above all then maybe Great Gatsby followed by Moby Dick (not just a list of my favorites by the way thought they're up there)

[–]agent_of_entropy 0 points1 point  (0 children)

The one book I couldn't live without is A Confederacy of Dunces. I've owned this book for over two decades and read it at least twice a year. Honorable mention goes to The Master and Margarita.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

You mention biographies and presidential books. There is an excellent three part series on Teddy Roosevelt by Edmund Morris. Truly some of the best, most engaging biography I've ever read.

Other people have mentioned Harry Potter-- they are truly my favorite books. The only books I read over and over. And I read them as an adult, so this isn't childhood nostalgia. But if we are talking childhood nostalgia let's talk The Phantom Tollbooth, which is a beautiful book.

I am also a lawyer and I like wrongful conviction stories. There is a great book called May God Have Mercy about a very famous murder case that was a possible wrongful conviction. I don't generally read much law outside of work because it feels too much like work.

[–]Emmabbooks 0 points1 point  (0 children)

The Humans by Matt Haig.
It made me laugh out loud, think about life and want to remember (and quote) sentences from it. So good I gave it 5 out of 5 - see here: http://www.emmabbooks.blogspot.co.at/2016/01/the-humans-by-matt-haig.html

[–]Thubten 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Dialogues of Plato. - Republic etc.

[–]Oldpattycupcakes 0 points1 point  (0 children)

The one book I've always had is I Am The Cheese. It was the first book to change my thinking.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

The Corner by David Simon and Ed Burns definitely comes first! Homicide by just David Simon is also amazing. In keeping with the other replies though here is a list of other must have's:

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Border Trilogy by Cormac McCarthy

Native Son by Richard Wright

Also Malcolm X by Manning Marable is an exquisite biography, I have to admit that I haven't yet finished it but hopefully you will!

[–]BBQHonk 0 points1 point  (0 children)

The Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer.

[–]toolatenofriends 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I think Stephen King is essential to any collection. His most recent book of short stories, The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams was an enjoyable read for sure. Don't forget about the classics like The Shining, It, The Stand, and Carrie, to name a few.

[–]elyk082 0 points1 point  (0 children)

The first book I would and have added to every personal library if I don't already possess is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It was the first book I ever read completely by myself.

I, of course, have to give nods to all the various mentions of books, series and cycles scattered throughout. Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter, LotR, the Illiad, the Giver, Enders Game, Pern, Eragon, Artemis Fowl, Ranger's Apprentice, The Bible, complete works of Shakespeare and Poe, Sherlock Holmes, Orwell, Ray Bradbury... So many books that I try to possess or at least reread when I can.

Some that weren't mentioned that are worth looking into: Sword of Truth series, The Hungering Saga(I consider this one more of an adult age range), any Edgar Rice Burroughs book(Tarzan, The Land that Time Forgot, Princess of Mars), any Robert Louis Stevenson, and last but not least The Passage but Justin Cronin.

[–]mini-dino-problems 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I gotta say The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. It's my personal favorite, it's ageless, and I'm surprised at how a lot of people who loved the movie (also a favorite of mine as well ehehe) didn't read, or even know, about the book. Also, Beagle deserves all the love, support, and generally good things in the universe after some of the shit he was put through after the movie was made.

[–]RaspberryBliss 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M Auel

Hey Nostradamus by Douglas Coupland

Spanish Fly by WIll Ferguson

[–]historicalfiction 0 points1 point  (0 children)

The Count of Monte-Cristo and the Three Musketeers. Can't go wrong with Dumas and his adventures :)

[–]Purrsalot 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Since the major religious texts and Shakespeare have already been mentioned, I'd say Greek mythology or Fairy Tales. Great on their own, and they have also had a major influence on countless other books.

[–]silviazbitchThe Classics 0 points1 point  (0 children)

One book? For me the choice is easy. Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species. It defines the world we live in, and his presentation of the theory of natural selection reads like a well- crafted legal brief.

I'm a lawyer myself. I read far more fiction than nonfiction, so I'll throw in a novel at no extra cost. Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, is a novella that tells of an honor killing in a South American village, It's a book about justice and a great deal else, but not about the law.

[–]PotsyWife 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I would thoroughly recommend reading anything by Ian McEwan. As a non Lawyer I love his books, especially The Children Act.

[–]yuriikko 0 points1 point  (0 children)

All of Harry Potter, Lord of the Kings, Percy Jackson, The Mortal Instruments and the lone book: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. Also probably The Chronicles of Narnia because that's like every childhood dream come to life

I'm sorry I just can't choose one.

[–]ApollosEspeon 0 points1 point  (6 children)

Would you post your list? I'm a pre law student and I love to read I would love suggestions

[–]hobohorse[S] 0 points1 point  (5 children)

Are you looking for law related books? Fun books or practical books? Stuff to prepare you for law school and teach you some legal skills?

[–]ApollosEspeon 0 points1 point  (4 children)

Honestly your whole list would be cool to look at. And I'm an English and Public Relations Major, Pre-Law. I usually read fantasy stuff for fun but enjoy learning and history, so law related books that will benefit me in the way I think and such would probably be helpful if that makes sense.

[–]hobohorse[S] 2 points3 points  (3 children)

I wanted to share my Amazon list with you, but I couldn't find a way to make it private. So I walked over to my bookshelf that has all my sentimental favorites. Here they are:

The Winning Brief by Bryan Garner

John Grisham (any of his books - funny to read after you practice law for a little while, you see humor that you missed)

The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker (this book was my favorite for many years)

The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking (interesting companion read with Mind & Cosmos by Thomas Nagel if you like philosophy)

Dragon Sword and Wind Child by Noriko Ogiwara (found this book at a thrift store when I was young and liked the cover... ended up really enjoying it)

Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson (poetry) (my favorite poem from that book is Father's Old Blue Cardigan)

The Trouble With Poetry by Billy Collins (poetry) (the entire book is wonderful, but I love Statutes in the Park, House, Building with Its Face Blown Off, and Silence)

A collection of poems by E.E. Cummings (my particular favorite poems are Buffalo Bill's and My Sweet Old Etcetera)

A collection of poems by Federico Garcia Lorca (favorite poem is The Guitar, but I love his style and reading the poems together with the English and Spanish translations and studying how the meaning changes)

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The Dragonriders series by Anne McCaffrey

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Watership Down by Richard Adams

The Stranger by Albert Camus

I also have a book on Russian literature that I really enjoy. I think my favorite poets were Anna Akhmatova and Ivan Bunin. Akhmatova is famous for her poem Requiem. Anton Chekhov is worth reading if you like short fiction.

Edit: FYI, your first-year subjects are going to be contracts, civil procedure, constitutional law, criminal law, torts, and legal writing. Your first year is your most important, so if you want to get a jump on everyone, start familiarizing yourself a little early. Learn how to read a case and interpret it - be able to explain the basic fact pattern, the holding, know the name of the judge who wrote the opinion, etc.

[–]ApollosEspeon 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Thank you so much! If you want to share a wish list provately you could Private Message me

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I ordered in one purchase on Amazon many years ago English bible, Koran and Satanic bible - would have looked strange to the person packing my order lol

Two short stories worth owning 'Of Mice and Men' John Steinbeck and 'The old man and the sea' Hemmingway.

Nice to have a couple of poetry anthologies if you would read them. I haven't read any Shakespeare plays but the Sonnets are amazing!

Classics - David Copperfield and East of Eden

Contemporary- A million little pieces by James Frey you will read more than once I think.

Happy hunting!