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The Best Books of All Time | The Best Novels, Plays & Fiction books ever.

Of course, the idea that this page contains the best is unlikely, but it does contain almost all of the best books that have ever been written.

Our rundown will list the books that are still are relevant and poignant today as they have ever been, as entertaining and enlightening, and some modern classics that are often overlooked.

 

George Orwell: 1984

Without a doubt, George Orwell's 1984 is one of the most important and highly regarded books of our time.

Published in 1949, this book tells the tale of individuals living within a dystopian future which represented the Soviet Union of the time and warns of the potential for this fate to reach Britain.

It unfolds as a love story in a time when free thought is forbidden. Sadly, today, the lessons from this book are quickly being forgotten and it is still one of the most important novels of all time.

Find it on Amazon here: George Orwell: 1984

George Orwell 1984

Paulo Coelho: The Alchemist ( & Hippie)

The book I really wanted on this list is The Alchemist. This book is a masterpiece that tells the story of a boy called Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd who takes on the mantle of worldly adventures.

It is a story about following your dreams and is entwined with sweet stories with spiritual drama. It will lift your spirits and bring a huge positive injection into your life.

The book in the photo is actually Hippie because I lost my copy of The Alchemist, but after writing this post, I will need to get a new copy.

Find it on Amazon here: Paulo Coelho: The Alchemist

Paulo Coelho - Hippie

Antony Bourdain: Kitchen Confidential (Best book about Cooking)

Now, it is hard to look at the restaurant industry in the way that it used to be seen. The illusion was thoroughly destroyed with the publication of Kitchen Confidential.

Bourdain, a kitchen chef in new york (with the ambition of becoming a writer), wrote a book for his fellow kitchen workers who had suffered through years of abuse from French head chefs, unsociable hours and late delivery drivers.

The book is funny, quirky and follows Bourdain's life - with stories which illustrate the life of a line cook. It was so popular with others in the industry that it made him friends with many of his heroes and catapulted him into a life of TV stardom. The late, great, Antony Bourdain will be remembered for his 'Part's Unknown', but it all started here.

This is by far one of the best books ever written about cooking and working in the service industry.

Find it on Amazon here: Kitchen Confidential by Antony Bourdain

Kitchen Confidential - Antony Bourdain

Salman Rushdie: Midnight's Children

Rushdie is often referred to as a genius - and we tend to agree. His books are filled with long, indulgent descriptions, thick metaphorical imagery and magical themes, which is enough to fall into for a rainy afternoon on the sofa.

Although Midnight's Children is not as famous (or infamous) as the Satanic Verses, it is by far one of Rushdie's best books. It follows the story of a boy who was born in the fall of Midnight when India gained its independence. He, along with several other children born at the same time, are granted magical gifts.

The story is an allegory of the fractured and magical history of Indian independence.

Find it on Amazon here: Salman Rushdie: Midnight's Children

Salamon Rushdie - Midnights Children

William Shakespeare - Hamlet

You knew Shakespeare would find his way on here right? He may not be your cup of tea, but it is undoubtedly that Shakespeare was one of the best playwrights ever recorded in history.

Hamlet is one of my personal favourite plays, and one of his most popular in the theatre still today.

The story is of a spoiled and scheming prince, who vies for power and is rewarded in kind by the gods - with punishment.

Find it on Amazon here: William Shakespeare: Hamlet

William Shakespeare - Hamlet

Charles Dickens - Great Expectations

This is one of the best books ever written - but it was originally a collection of short stories.

The book follows the life of Pip, who was born to a poor family and finally reaches riches thanks to an unknown benefactor- then one day, he meets the source of his riches and realises that it was a convict he had saved as a boy. Now, the convict has returned to request a favour.

The book was published chapter by chapter, as was the custom of Dickens. The story became wildly popular and is regarded as his best work. It has been adapted into plays, movies and TV adaptations, and is studied in schools across the UK - with good reason.

In my mind, great expectations is one of the best novels of all time, and is worthy of this list - and then some.

Find it on Amazon here: Charles Dickens: Great Expectations

Charles Dickens - Great Expectations

Harper Lee - To Kill a Mocking Bird.

Today, it may seem like things have never been worse and racism is at it's peak. Once you read the words printed in To Kill a Mocking Bird, that is a hard sentiment to believe in.

Set in the USA, this book is about racism and the stand of a lawyer to protect a man who is wrongly convicted of sexual assault. His crime was for being black.

The book is powerful, eloquent and thought-provoking book is one that everybody should read. It's moral is to treat everybody as they come, with empathy and honesty.

Find it on Amazon here: RLS: Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

Robert Louis Stevenson - The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

One of the best Gothic fiction novels of our time is surely Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. While it is quite tame by today's standard, this Gothic/ Horror classic is the inspiration to thousands of films, books and TV shows that have taken the themes of internal evil even further.

The book is quite short, but is the story of a curious man who appears to be two; one evil, and the other a man of science. The theme of the book is to draw out the duality of humans. The rational, sophisticated and domesticated human we pretend to be in society; and the capacity for great evil.

This is a timeless classic that should be on your reading list if you've not already had a read.

Find it on Amazon here: RLS: Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Joseph Conrad - The Heart of Darkness

This book is certainly of its time, and quite shocking by today's standards, but it does hold up as one of the most influential and best books of all time; so much so that it was the basis of Francis Ford Coppola's extremely famous classic 1979 film Apocolypse Now. 

The book follows a story, told by a sailor, of a man who ventured into the unexplored territories of Africa (Congo).  His goal was to find a revered coronal who had potentially gone rogue and relieve him of his duties.

The book is set with a backdrop of the slave trade, military colonisation and the life of Western explorers. It delves deep into man's capacity for evil, and the insanity of unbridled glory and success.

Regardless, this is a powerful book to read.

Find it on Amazon here: Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness

Sophocles - Oedipus the King

Greek tragedies are among my favourite genre, and one or two are surely the greatest books ever written. This book, however, contains one of the most influential (and best) plays ever written: Oedipus the King.

The story is one we know well and was referenced by Sigmond Freud as being important to understanding male psychology. The play is about Oedipus, a proud king who ignores the guidance of an oracle and inadvertently sets the stage for his own downfall; the ending is truly shocking and satisfying.

Find it on Amazon here: Sophocles: Oedipus the King

Thebian Plays

Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby

Many will say that Scott Fitzgerald's novel, 'The Great Gatsby' is one of the best ever. While it is not one of my personal favourites, I can see why this book has gained so much popularity.

The book follows the tail of a man who falls in love with an already married woman - what follows is a tale of betrayal, flared passions and the ultimate search for right and wrong. It is an allegorical story of America, and the search for prosperity, no matter the cost.

Find it on Amazon here: Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby

There are literally thousands of books that should be on this list, and we will be adding them as we go along. If you're here because you're looking for recommendations, then hopefully you've found something you adore.

If we have missed what you think should be on this list of the best books of all time then please add a comment to the bottom of the page and we will add it when the time comes.

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