When I was researching my book Master Class: Living Longer, Stronger, and Happier I learned a lot about Road Scholars’ reading habits and book club involvement, but there was another question I was dying to ask. In a recent survey I polled 500 Road Scholars on their favorite books of all time; I knew they were well read, but the results blew me away and gave me a couple of titles to add to my own book bag! Universally recognized classics, Baby Boomer icons, recent best sellers, novels with strong female protagonists—they’re all here in this list of the top 50 vote-getters. (Actually, because of a tie, it’s 51.)
How many have you read? (I’ve read 18.) What would you add to the list? Why?
#1. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee.
#2. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell.
#3. The Bible.
#4. All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr.
#5. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen.
#6. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver.
#7. The Boys in the Boat, Daniel James Brown
#8. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, JRR Tolkien.
#9. The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson.
#10. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy.
#11. Hawaii, James Michener.
#12. Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett.
#13. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald.
#14. Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand.
#15. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte.
#16. The Source, James Michener.
#17. The People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks.
#18. The Red Tent, Anita Diamant.
#19. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck.
#20. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger.
#21. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry.
#22. Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin.
#23. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain.
#24. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCullough.
#25. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith.
#26. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand.
#27. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher.
#28. Me Before You, Jojo Moyes.
#29. The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt.
#30. The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah.
#31. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens.
#32. Exodus, Leon Uris.
#33. John Adams, David McCullough.
#34. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo.
#35. Shogun, James Clavell.
#36. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini.
#37. The Help, Kathryn Stockett.
#38. The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver.
#39. Centennial, James Michener.
#40. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott.
#41. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
#42. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak.
#43. The Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline.
#44. The Secret Garden, Francis Hodgson Burnett.
#45. Angle of Repose, Wallace Stegner.
#46. Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese.
#47. East of Eden, John Steinbeck.
#48. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt.
#49. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein.
#50. (tie) The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, David McCullough.
#50. (tie) The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd.
Want to catch up on your reading? Here’s a printable list.
I' ve read 10 and I'd have to say that Cutting for Stone is probably my absolute favorite of hundreds I've read.
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