1. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
"The book is full of beautiful imagery that makes the reader feel as if they are actually there. The characters are so in depth and their backstories are so interesting. It has a good amount of dialogue, but not so much as to make the reader feel bombarded or bored."
2. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
"The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath is wonderful and I didn't want it to end. No girl – or boy, for that matter – should be allowed to graduate from being a teenager without having read it."
– Alice Chadfield, Facebook
3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
"I've heard several people describe it as utterly boring but to me it completely captures the essence of what it means to be a woman. She is neither beautiful nor high-born and is unexceptional in many regards, but like every one of us she is still a deeply complex human being. She has a history, fears, interests and passions and faces a desperate struggle to overcome her past, love an incredibly complicated man and most of all, accept herself and do what is right for her. To me it's timeless and the message can speak to women of every era."
– Emma Kellow, Facebook
4. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
"I fell in love with this book last summer and I had to have it on my overflowing bookshelf. One word: Magical."
– Katie Hill, Facebook
5. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
"It didn't hurt that I identified with Anne for her hair color and her spunky imagination, but there's always some silly tale about Anne basically getting in trouble like kids did, even back in the 1800s. I always loved how real Anne of Green Gables was, because while it has some of the pretty flowery talk, it also has a girl mouthing off at elders, getting into school rivalries, playing pretend, and even saving someone's life."
– Colleen Deitrich, Facebook
6. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
"I had to read One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest for my year 12 English and surprisingly it was an book I found myself picking up outside of class to read as well. The narrator, the characters, and the style of writing drew me in almost unwittingly. I still think back with an almost fondness."
7. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
"It's beautiful, dark, and you'll want to re-read it just to make sure you didn't miss the narrator revealing her first name. The mystery and intrigue surrounding the titular character is captivating, and the evolution of the narrator equally so. Not naming herself just underscores how haunted and overshadowed she is by the memory of Rebecca, and it's truly brilliant. I would recommend this book to anyone."
– Amber Fratesi
8. Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
"It's melancholy without dragging you down, real without being too dark or gritty, and poignant without making you feel like you're watching the latest cheesy Nicholas Sparks installment. The characters and the setting make you feel like you were born in the wrong era, but also incredibly thankful you weren't born in that era of emotional repression. It's well crafted and painfully lovely to read."
– Ariel Lynne Root, Facebook
9. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
"I know most people of my generation credit Harry Potter to how they became a reader, and don't get me wrong I love Potter, but L'Engle's books are why I am a reader. I identified with Meg as a child, even now as an adult, and these books have stood the test of time in my opinion. They have everything a good story needs. I've met very few people who read this book and didn't enjoy it."
– Chrissie Graves, Facebook
10. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
"I read it for my 20th-century Russian lit course and fell in love with the style. It's a beautifully done commentary on the oppression of the Soviet state that manages to stay sarcastic and witty throughout the entire novel."
– Rachel Waldon, Facebook
11. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
"It has got to be one of the funniest pieces of literature ever and the only book that has genuinely made me laugh out loud. These larger-than-life characters coupled with the dark and disturbing backdrop of World War II entertain and haunt in equal measures. If you haven't already, you have to read this book!"
– Tanya Harris, Facebook
12. Dune by Frank Herbert
"Dune, for me, is simply the king of sci-fi books. I read it at least every couple of years when I get the urge to sink into some grand space opera. Each time I read it I see some detail I missed, some little piece of foreshadowing, or a subtler side to a character."
– Ben Goulding, Facebook
13. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
"I had always been intimidated about reading Pride and Prejudice because I thought I would get bored. But when I actually read it, I came to appreciate how subtle the interactions were and see how smart the humour was. Pride and Prejudice is a good book to relax into; it's a witty escapism that deserves the attention it gets."
– Elizabeth Reed, Facebook
14. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
"A lot of people recommend Catcher in the Rye, but I would try another one of Salinger's, like Franny and Zooey – because Holden Caulfield kinda stretches a LOT of people's patience."
15. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
"It has just enough elements of a true crime thriller novel to keep you hooked, whilst also managing to be sensitive and deliver an extraordinary account of the corrupting influences in 1950s/60s America."
16. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
"It's not entirely a classic, but is the perfect growing-up tale – both riveting and heartbreaking. It encompasses growing up really well, and inspires you with the characters' courage and strength."
17. The Crucible by Arthur Miller
"Even though it's a play, the stage directions have incredible insight into the allegory of the text. With the current political climate it's a thought-provoking read."
– Alana Joan, Facebook
18. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
"How it deals with the topic of censorship and how people will blindly follow the norm instead of asking questions and forming their own opinions is well crafted and in some ways beautiful. Written from the perspective of a fireman whose job is to START fires rather than extinguish them, Fahrenheit 451 takes you along for the ride as the protagonist starts to question the world around him."
– Cel Torres, Facebook
19. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
"There are so many different elements that I couldn't put it down. The sense of adventure and emotion within the characters, the language in which it's written, and the story itself come together for a really excellent story."
– Ava Donald, Facebook
20. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
"I received The Hobbit for my 10th birthday and was immediately hooked. I love a good adventure story, especially when it involves a reluctant hero who comes into his own along the journey. The 'Riddles in the Dark' scene with Gollum is so well crafted that it still enthralls me to this day. Plus it's got epic battles, frightening monsters, and a treasure-hoarding dragon, so what's not to love?"
21. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
"I first read it when I was 11 and then read it about once a year for the next decade, and every time I re-read it I'm still sad when it's done because I get attached to the characters all over again. It's beautiful and plainly written so you're not having to force yourself through archaic English text trying to make sense of the plot."
22. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
"My mum pestered me for years to read The Woman in White, until one day she just came in and dropped it on my bed. It turns out I couldn't put it down and now I always recommend it as a must-read to anyone who enjoys a classic or a psychological thriller. It takes a while to set the scene but once it's reeled you in the plot twists will keep you guessing, and it has a slow-building, spine-chilling tension I've yet to see rivalled in a modern thriller. Despite its classic style and language, the story of manipulation and power, and in particular the role of women, is still fresh and powerful today."
23. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
"It’s gruesome and gritty, but also poses a really probing question about the nature of 'good vs. evil'. It will always be one of my favorite novels. Plus it was banned, so that’s always fun."
24. Dracula by Bram Stoker
"Not only is it an amazing story, but it fueled the romantic, gothic genre. The story is drenched in sex, scandal, love, and gore, mixed in with early psychology and medical practices. Not to mention, it gives some of the greatest settings in 19th-century literature from varying point of views. Read it or you're missing out, big time."
– Sarah Shipman, Facebook
25. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
"Brave New World was such an adventure to read. It was assigned for a high school English class and naturally, I put off reading it. Once I started I couldn't stop. Huxley's story is not only exciting to read, but it also makes you question the values of our society, spirituality, and relationships. The characters are also great, and each one truly represents the world they live in."
– Amadeus Miranda, Facebook
26. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.
"It haunts me. The book becomes more relevant each day, which is terrifying. So many times my response to current events is 'That's so Handmaid's Tale.'"
– Angie Cleberg, Facebook
27. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
"It's a Victorian rom-com that makes fun of the rich and materialistic people in society. The social commentary still has some relevance to today's society. It manages to make clear, sharp points about the foibles in Victorian elite society while also incorporating sarcastic humor in nearly every line. Oscar Wilde was brilliant, and to me, no play has ever matched Earnest's wit and intelligence."
– Rachel Brooks, Facebook
28. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
"Short yet esoterically captivating to the last word."
– Jyra Mitr, Facebook
29. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
"A 19th-century feminist novel that was largely lost in history until the 1970s. It's an incredible novel about the contrived rols women were forced into at the time, while describing one woman's metamorphosis into her true self by casting aside society's expectations of her."
– Marcie Cox, Facebook
30. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
"Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison was a book I read for class that I fell head-over-heels with. My love for this book wasn't truly solidified until I read the 'dark glasses' chapter. When the narrator found his worth, I felt the message in the book so powerfully, it shook me to the core. Just a beautiful book through and through."
– Kylee Jean Mattson, Facebook
31. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
"Most people will at least have heard of the musical that was based on it, but the original novel definitely deserves love too. The Phantom, or Erik, is one of the most fascinating characters I have ever read about. You only meet him as an actual person, rather than the Phantom terrorising the Opera House or the Angel of Music deceiving Christine, towards the end of the novel and his descent into madness and the utter desperation that drives him to act are both terrifying and heartbreaking at the same time."
– Jolanda Grijpstra, Facebook
32. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
"I usually buy classics but end up never reading them, but this one had me hooked from the very first page. I think it was supposed to be a children's book, but it's definitely not – it can be rather gruesome at times. It's full of adventure with a great narrative – definitely a page-turner. And who doesn't love pirates? One of my all-time favourites and highly recommended if you want an enjoyable and fairly quick read."
– Louise Schönhult, Facebook
33. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
"He sucks you in right away then pulls you along with the characters on a crazy ride of emotions as children lose their innocence and question their morals. Without Golding there would be no Hunger Games, there would be no Ender's Game, definitely a book for the ages."
– Maggie Johnson, Facebook
34. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
"I LOVED A Tale of Two Cities when we had to read it in high school. I was pretty resistant to required reading because it took away from the books I actually wanted to read, but I finished A Tale of Two Cities in one week. I use this as an example when people try to argue that all of Dickens' books are dry and boring."
– Jamie Sadler, Facebook
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity