There are a lot of good books out there to read. Here at Best Value Schools we want to make sure you have access to the best material. We have compiled a list of books that we believe make a well rounded student. Every book on this list can be found free online, so you can access them easily anywhere.
1. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
A tale of adventure and an exploration of human limitation and fate, Moby Dick is a classic that everyone needs to experience. Follow captain Ahab in his attempt to track down the White Whale Moby Dick.
Take a glimpse into the mind of one the most influential men in history. This notebook contains Da Vinci’s thoughts diagrams and drafts of his work.
This collection of German fairy tales have some stories that you may recognize, from Cinderella to Rapunzel.
Emily Dickinson is one of the best American poets; her poems talk of love, nature, and death. Although she was a recluse most of her life, her poems were published after her death for the public to analyze and enjoy.
5. The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels
Even if you don’t agree with the views expressed in this political pamphlet you can still learn about how influential the Communist Manifesto was.
6. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens gives the reader a glimpse into the relationship between the peasant class and aristocrats leading up to the French Revolution. This bleeds into the early years of the revolution when the revolutionaries treat the aristocrats with brutality.
7 . The Iliad by Homer
This epic poem about the Trojan War explores human fragility versus the all powerful will of the Gods. In this tale of war Achilles is faced with a choice between glory and a happy life with a family.
8. Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
This is a series of 24 stories written in Middle English. The stories are presented as part of a larger narrative of pilgrims telling stories on their journey to Canterbury Cathedral.
9. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
This classic novel is about a young boy’s adventures growing up on the Mississippi River. It is filled with humor and fun.
10. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
This book was originally written in French. While not necessarily like the Disney movie depiction, it explores social classes, tragedy, and love.
11. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The novel was originally published as 12 installments, but now you can enjoy the entire series in one volume. It explores moral dilemmas, and the justification of murder through the story of Raskolnikov.
12. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
This sci-fi thriller is packed with adventure; it explores the journey of Captain Nemo and his crew who search for a deadly sea monster.
13. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
This Jane Austen novel has been portrayed in various themes including Bollywood and a zombie apocalypse, but nothing beats the original. The story follows Elizabeth Bennet and the hardships of marriage in the 18th Century.
14. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Charlotte Bronte writes about Jane, an orphan, and her life journey. It depicts love, heartbreak, religion, and morality.
15. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Put yourself directly in the French Revolution. It depicts the growing tension between the peasant class and the aristocracy.
16. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Published in 1869, this story tracks the history of the French invasion of Russia. Although you may know nothing more about it other than the fact that it is quite long, this novel is definitely worth reading.
17. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
This adventure takes place in France, Italy and the Mediterranean islands. It explores themes of hope, justice, mercy, and forgiveness.
18. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
This novella is about a voyage on the Congo river. Marlow, the narrator, tells of his encounters with other civilizations and explores the ideas of imperialism.
19. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote this abolitionist work. It helped lay the foundation for the Civil War.
20. Ulysses by James Joyce
Recounting the life of Leopold Bloom in Dublin, this novel parallels the Greek Classic, the Odyssey.
21. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
This novel shows another side of the Buddha and deals with the spiritual journey of Siddhartha.
22. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
This was the first novel published by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It takes place after World War I and examines the morality of youth.
23. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
A science fiction novel tells of a Victorian scientist travels forward in time, to realize that the future isn’t what he expected.
24. Don Quixote by Cervantes
Written in Spanish during the Golden Age, this story follows Don Quixote, who sets out to revive chivalry, losing his own sanity in the process.
25. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Read a coming-of-age story about a household of women in the 19th century.
26. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Read this well-known story for yourself, and explore the nature of good and evil. This novel features themes dealing with the duality of human nature and the division of public and private life.
27. Dracula by Bram Stoker
A Gothic novel introducing the vampire Dracula, was first published in 1897. With so many adaptations of his tale today, read the original to discover how it all began.
28. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
This gothic ghost story novel creates an atmosphere of confusion and suspense that will have you questioning your own reality.
29. The Odyssey by Homer
This epic poem recounts the story of Odysseus on his journey home. He is faced with countless obstacles and is forced to face many Greek gods and mythical creatures.
30. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Was the debut novel of Gustave Flaubert. The French novel focuses on Emma Bovary and her adulterous affairs.
31. Critique of Pure Reason by immanuel Kant
This philosophical publication is regarded as the most important work by Kant. It investigates the limits of human knowledge and reason.
32. The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels
This German pamphlet was published in 1848 by the Communist League. It is one of the most influential political writings, summarizing theories of society and politics.
33. Discourse on the Method by Renee Descartes
Another philosophical work, this novel will help you better comprehend modern science, skepticism, and thought. It was published in 1637 and continues to be influential today.
34. Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
The title refers to a sea monster, while the novel explores the ideas of society and government. It was written in 1651 and has helped shape modern ideas.
35. The Bible
The Bible has inspired generations for centuries. While it does form the foundation of the Christian church, people of all denominations can read it to gain more understanding of ancient history and historical movements.
36. The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
The full title of this book is An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. It is the foundation of economics.
At some point, we have all read some of Shakespeare. In this complete collections of his works, you can pick and choose your favorite stories to read and reread.
38. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
Explore the different levels of Hell and Dante’s eternal punishments. Not only was this a prominent work of Italian literature in the 14th century, but it continues to be a must-read today.
39. Paradise Lost by John Milton
This is an epic poem written in the 17th century. It features many Biblical stories in an attempt to show the origins of the human race.
40. The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce
Who said that dictionaries have to be boring? This is a satirical dictionary written to show the irony of many English words.
41. Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
This story follows the transformation of Gregor into a large insect. It is one of Kafka’s most famous works, although grotesque and absurd.
42. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
This work is one of the first of modern political philosophy. It defines Machiavellian politics and how to gain and maintain power.
43. The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe
The Raven is a narrative poem that is one of Poe’s most famous.
44. Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche
This was a German philosophical novel. It was originally published in four parts. It deals with ideas like the “death of god,” “eternal recurrence of the same,” and “prophesy”.
45. Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche
Another work by Nietzsche, this novel expands on his ideas expressed in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. It explores other definitions of good and evil.
46. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
This novel was written in 1906 and portrays harsh conditions of working peoples and immigrants in the United States.
47. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
This play is light-hearted and satirical. It was first debuted in 1895. The protagonist seeks to escape mundane responsibilities of Victorian London.
48. The Tao Te Ching by Laozi
This is a Chinese classic text. It was written around the 6th century and is the foundation for Taoism.
Wordsworth was an English romantic poet during the 19th century. He published almost 400 poems. This collection will allow you to explore his works.
50. Common Sense by Thomas Paine
Published in 1776, this pamphlet advocated freedom from Great Britain. It was published anonymously, but became popular in fueling the American Revolution.
51. The Art of War by Sun Tzu
This Chinese military treatise is from the 6th century B.C. It features chapters on the different aspects of warfare.
Martin Luther posted his 95 theses against the corrupt Catholic Church. These ideas went on to become the basis of Protestantism.
Aristotle was a major Greek philosopher, and his writings are still influential today. You can explore some of his major works including The Midwife’s’ Vade-Mecum and A Private Looking Glass for the Female Sex.
Confucius was a Chinese teacher, politician and philosopher. This collection offers lessons in relationships, morality, and justice, and will help you understand the ideas of Confucianism.
55. The Problems of Philosophy by Bertrand Russell
If you have ever thought that philosophy was hard to understand, you weren’t alone. Bertrand Russell attempts to make philosophy more accessible and easy to comprehend in this publication.
56. Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome by E. M. Berens
You are probably familiar with many Greek and Roman myths, but this book includes in-depth explanations of the traditions of ancient Greece and Rome.
57. The Golden Bough by Sir James George Frazer
This book was originally published in three separate volumes. It defines elements that are shared between religions, like human sacrifice, the dying god, and fertility rights.
58. The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot
Eliot explores the theme of dealing with loss and grief in this long poem. It is known as one of the most important poems of the 20th century.
59. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
While there have been numerous film adaptations of the novel, it continues to be a classic. Take your own trip down the rabbit hole with the original Lewis Carroll Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
60. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
Doyle’s collection of short stories follow the detective Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson on a number of adventures as they solve mysteries together.
61. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
If you are looking for a quick read, this short story is sure to entertain. It presents journal entries of a woman and her reaction to yellow wallpaper.
62. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
One of Dickens’s later novels, Great Expectations set in London and follows Pip, an orphan who attains wealth in life.
63. Grimms’ Fairy Tales by Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm
Not just for children, Grimm’s Fairy Tales is a collection of German fairy tales. They feature witches, princesses, and may be darker than you expected.
64. Frankenstein: or, the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft
This familiar tale is about the science experiments of Victor Frankenstein and his creation of a grotesque creature.
This ancient epic is the oldest and longest poem in Old English. While the author is unknown, it tells the story of a hero, monsters, revenge, and adventure.
66. The Aeneid by Virgil
The Aeneid is an epic poem that parallels Homer’s Odyssey. It follows the hero Aeneas on his journey from Troy to Italy and establishes him as the ancestor to the Romans.
67. Aesop’s Fables
This is a collection of fables that you may already know. They were originally written in Greek, but have touches of humor and wit to make them accessible to people of any age.
68. Symposium by Plato
This philosophical text explores the nature of love in all its stages from infatuation to true love.
69. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
While it was adapted as a Disney classic, this book is a must-read. It follows the life of Peter Pan and his childhood that never ends in Neverland.
70. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
This book is perfect for animal lovers. It is the story of a horse, but explores kindness, sympathy, and love.
71. Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
This book is a children’s novel published in 1908. Its characters are animals, but it teaches many moral lessons.
72. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Stevenson’s adventure novel is a coming-of-age story that features action, hidden treasure, and lessons on morality.
73. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum
Although you may have seen the film adaptation or musical, the original book is worth reading to get the full story of Dorothy and Toto.
74. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
Swift writes with some satire as he describes fictional peoples from the giants of Brobdingnag to the tiny Lilliputians.
This is a memoir of the life of Frederick Douglass and a treatise on abolition. It recounts his life as a slave and determination to gain his freedom.
This is the unfinished record of Ben Franklin’s life. This founding father divides his life into four parts that you should read.
Beatrix Potter is known for her children’s books, including The Tale of Peter Rabbit. These stories appeal to adults and children alike.
Da Vinci was a true Renaissance Man. Explore his art, motives, and thought in these preserved notebooks.
79. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
This philosophical novel was published in 1890. It portrays Basil Hallward, an artist who paints Dorian Gray.
80. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
You are probably familiar with the story-line, but reading the original is worth your time. It was originally written in French, and through the lives of its characters, tells the history of France.
81. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Whitman’s poetry collection was published in 1855. The first edition had 12 poems, but was expanded to over 400. Enjoy leafing through this book to discover your favorite poems.
82. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Regarded as a classis of English literature, this gothic novel features themes of love and passion.
83. A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift
Swift writes satirically about how the poor should sell their children as a means to save money. Don’t read it too seriously.
84. The Republic by Plato
Plato discusses the definition of justice. It is written as socratic dialogue; different characters share their thoughts and opinions.
85. The Awakening, and Selected Short Stories by Kate Chopin
Chopin’s novel was published in 1899. It was set in New Orleans and explores themes of solitude and gender roles.
86. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
While there are film adaptations, you should read the original to get the full story. The original even featured illustrations, and was written for Kipling’s daughter.
87. Dubliners by James Joyce
This is a collection of 15 short stories published in 1914. It portrays the Irish middle class in the 20th century.
88. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Another one of Jane Austen’s famous novels, this work features themes of love and heartbreak.
89. The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
This sci-fi novel portrays the conflict between man and extraterrestrials.
90. Second Treatise of Government by John Locke
Locke writes political philosophy in this treatise. It discusses the theory of civil society.
91. Apology, Crito, and Phaedo of Socrates by Plato
Plato wrote many of Socrates ideas. In the Apology, Socrates defends himself against charges of corrupting the youth with his ideas.
92. On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
This book is the foundation of modern biology, in which Darwin introduced his ideas on evolution. It was published in 1859.
93. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
This work explores transcendentalist ideas. Thoreau wrote as he reflected on nature, and discusses themes of independence, spirituality, and progress. It features many extended metaphors.
94. Essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson
This is a collection of nonfiction essays. It reflects ideas of transcendentalism, and divides nature into four distinct categories: commodity, beauty, language, and discipline.
95. How to Speak and Write Correctly by Joseph Devlin
This book will help you develop better communication skills, which is useful for everyday life.
96. Poetics by Aristotle
Aristotle defines what makes good poetry in this first philosophical treatise on literary theory.
97. Hedda Gabler by Heinrich Ibsen
This Norwegian play premiered in 1891. It follows the life of a bored housewife and how she meddles in the lives of others.
98. Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
This play first appeared in 1913. It is based on the mythological Pygmalion who fell in love with his statue. The film My Fair Lady is an adaptation of this play.
Shelley was a Romantic poet. You can peruse his complete set of works.
The book is an introspection of Henry Adams as he grows older and accepts modern changes.