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23 Books You Need To Read Before Watching The Movie Versions

Because the book is always better.

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1. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Why you should read it: This book will tear your heart to pieces in the best way possible. Set in Afghanistan, the story follows two boys of different classes who become close friends — only to have a tragic event change everything. It's an important, eye-opening novel you won't regret picking up.

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2. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Why you should read it: A Dickens' classic is always worth a read — or a reread if you read as required reading in high school. This rags to riches tale follows Pip, an orphan boy, who spends his days at Miss Havisham's house upon her request entertaining her adopted daughter, who belittles him for his low class status. But when Pip receives a generous gift from a mysterious benefactor, his life changes.

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3. World War Z by Max Brooks

Why you should read it: Even if you're not prepping for a zombie invasion, this book's "historical account" is sure to have you hooked. This story is told from multiple interview accounts from people who survived the Zombie War and depicts the sheer terror of this disastrous event.

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4. The Boy In The Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Why you should read it: This book will make you feel everything. LITERALLY. EVERYTHING. Set during the Holocaust, nine-year-old Bruno is forced to move to a country home where a tall fence separates him from another boy his age. They become friends, but Bruno soon discovers the reason for the separation. It's a brutally honest, powerful story that you'll never forget.

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5. Carrie by Stephen King

Why you should read it: It's STEPHEN KING —that should be enough of a reason to pick this up. Carrie is a teenage social outcast with a haunting secret: she's capable of moving things with her mind. She's tormented by her classmates and struggles to keep her head up — until she snaps.

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6. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Why you should read it: This Pulitzer Prize winning novel has spectacular character growth and an honest, realistic voice. Daisy is sent to live in rural England with her cousins where they have unlimited freedom to do as they please. But with shadows of war on the horizon, England becomes occupied and they're taken to a supposed safe place.

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7. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Why you should read it: Though this is the second book in the trilogy, the entire series is definitely worth reading. In a dystopian society that selects the names of two children to complete in "The Hunger Games" each year, Katniss and Peeta fight for survival — and Catching Fire begins with the horrific consequences of these games.

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8. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

Why you should read it: This book is suspenseful, gripping, and tragic all at once. The story attempts to uncover why five sisters all committed suicide within a year's time and is told in the point of view from a group of boys who live in the same neighborhood.

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9. Holes by Louis Sachar

Why you should read it: This book is a charming, quick read with a bit of mystery. When Stanley Yelnats is falsely accused of stealing, he chooses to attend Camp Greek Lake instead of jail. Each convict is forced to dig a five-foot hole, much to their befuddlement, until Stanley realizes the warden looking for something — but what, exactly?

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10. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Why you should read it: You will fall in love with the characters between these pages even more so than the actor's onscreen portrayal. Pat Peoples is discharged from a mental health facility yet still obsesses over his ex-wife. Then he is introduced to Tiffany, who has dark struggles of her own. The two attempt to form a friendship despite struggling with demons of their past.

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11. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo

Why you should read it: Although the novel doesn't contain talking gargoyles, it's still an unforgettable tale with gorgeous writing. Quasimodo forms a friendship with La Esmerelda after recusing her from public execution, but the ending is much darker than the tale Disney told.


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12. Forrest Gump by Winston Groom

Why you should read it: Because Forrest experiences a plethora of nonsensical adventures that'll keep you hooked. Dim-witted yet lovable, Forrest is 100% the star of this comedic story. From being sent to space to taking a stab at politics, there is literally nothing this iconic character can't do.

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13. Where The Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

Why you should read it: This book will have you feeling all of the emotions, so read with tissues on-hand. Billy works hard to save up for two hunting dogs, forming an unbreakable bond with them. But just as the dogs bring Billy success, the unthinkable happens. It's an unforgettable novel involving themes of loyalty, friendship, and dedication.

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14. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

Why you should read it: The original publisher cancelled its initial publication — and if a potentially banned book isn't intriguing enough for you, then you might enjoy it if you're a horror fanatic. A Wall Street man by day and manic murder by night, there is no explanation for this main character's acts of gruesome violence, which is said to be a social commentary on today's society.


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15. Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus

Why you should read it: It's a charming series about an adorable rodent with mad sleuthing skills. Much like Disney's version, Basil solves mysteries alongside Dr. Dawson — including puzzling kidnappings. Or mousenappings? Either way, it's a sweet, enjoyable read.

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16. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Why you should read it: Because HELL YES for strong female characters. Jane had many hardships growing up, but she soon comes into her own and falls in love with Rochester, a fellow employer. But once Jane discovers Rochester's dark secret, she must make a seemingly difficult decision.

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17. Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden

Why you should read it: This is a heart-pounding adrenaline rush of a story that's sure to keep you up all night reading. Based on true events, the novel recalls the travesty of the 1993 Somalia mission, where the U.S. engaged in a 15-hour battle with brutal Somali militia. The intensive research that went into this novel makes it truly gripping.

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18. Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding

Why you should read it: Because the main character is full of realistic flaws with a funny, honest voice. Bridget confides everything in her diary, including the search for the ideal guy. Her day-to-day conflicts are humorous and relatable. The book is lighthearted and heartwarming all at once.

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19. Curious George by H.A. Rey

Why you should read it: This series of stories contain an adorably, mischievous monkey. Curious George is an iconic little fur ball whose curious mind leads him to making innocent mistakes. It's a timeless series of stories that both children and adults will enjoy for years to come.

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20. Battle Royale by Koushun Takam

Why you should read it: There's a lot of controversy comparing this book to The Hunger Games, so you'll just have to read and form your own opinions. This takes place in a future Japan where high school students are set to a remote island with weapons to kill each other off until one winner is left standing. It's a twisted, violent novel that'll keep you on the edge of your seat.

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21. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Why you should read it: Two words: Jane Austen. The story has a bit of Cinderella vibes, but who doesn't like a classic fairytale? As a poor child, she goes to live with her wealthy uncle and aunt and begins to develop feelings for Edmund, though Edmund does not return the same feelings. From there, a complex love triangle — rectangle? — begins to unfold between multiple characters.

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22. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume

Why you should read it: Judy Blume is an iconic storyteller, and this novel doesn't disappoint. After the brutal murder of her father, Davey and her family relocate to New Mexico to start over and heal. That's when she meets Wolf, who somehow understands her, and they figure out that they have more in common then Davey initially realized.

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23. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Why you should read it: Although Disney's version contains flying ships, Stevenson's classic tale isn't one to be missed. It's a timeless pirate story that will immerse you in its rich descriptions and will pull you right into the adventure with the perfect amounts of suspense and excitement.


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