Putting together a list of the “best books” is no easy task. After all, given the vast world literary production, it would be impossible to know all the books. But even if that were not the case, how to define what makes one book superior to another?
In the case of this list, the main concern was to bring different books, and not just those already established in most of the lists. Another care was to look for productions that also contemplated diversity, as you can see below.
best classic books
- Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes: considered the greatest exponent of Spanish literature, the book – which brought important innovations at the time, such as the use of digressions – parodies the romances of chivalry that were successful at that time. The story narrates the adventures of a nobleman who, after reading these novels so much, loses his grip on reality and decides to become a knight. Both the humor and the criticism come from the clash between the protagonist’s fanciful vision and the harsh reality of a Spain in decline.
- The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky: Freud and Nietzsche are just a few of the many brilliant minds who recommend this book, from the author of Crime and Punishment. Dostoevsky’s last published novel, The Brothers Karamazov is also considered his most complex work. Throughout the narrative, which tells the story of the Karamazov family, several themes are addressed, such as clashes between parents and children, free will and moral degradation.
- Quarto de Espejo, by Carolina de Jesus: Born in 1917, Carolina Maria de Jesus was a poor woman, black, from a favela and with only two years of schooling. She was also considered one of the great revelations of Brazilian literature in 1960, with her book translated into 16 languages and read in more than 40 countries. The author’s first work, Quarto de Espejo reproduces her diary, in which she narrates her daily life in the community.
- Towards the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf: as with other books by Virginia Woolf, the concrete plot is of little importance and can be summarized in a few lines: a family travels to the beach and wants to visit the lighthouse, but the forecast is of rain for the next day. The real story takes place in the characters’ heads, which unfold along streams of consciousness.
- The Magic Mountain, by Thomas Mann: the work, considered one of the most important of the 20th century, tells the story of Hans Castorp, a young engineer who goes to visit his cousin who is in a sanatorium because of tuberculosis. It is from their stay in the place, when meeting characters that represent different positions, that both protagonist and reader come into contact with the main thoughts of the pre-war period in Europe.
- A Amiga Genial, by Elena Ferrante: the first book of the so-called Neapolitan series, A Amiga Genial begins the story of two friends, Lila and Lenu, by narrating their childhood and youth in a neighborhood of Naples. Violent and guided by its own rules, the neighborhood plays an important role in the story, which explores issues such as identity and, especially, the relationship between women, with emphasis on friendship and between mother and daughter.
- Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf: perhaps one of Virginia Woolf’s most famous works, Mrs. Dalloway has the premise of narrating a single day in the life of the character that gives the book its name. By exploring her thoughts, as well as those of other characters, through streams of consciousness, the result is a true study of the human unconscious, as well as a portrait of England in the interwar period.
- The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood: the work that gave rise to the series of the same name explores the fragility of women’s rights, especially in times of crisis and growing conservatism. Through the accounts of “Offred” (the handmaid of the title), the reader gets to know this society in which women are divided into categories and are deprived of any rights, including the rights to work, property and their own bodies.
- Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: from the same author of the famous speech “Let’s all be feminists”, later turned into a book, Americanah portrays the love story between Ifemelu and Obinze, which begins during the military regime in Nigeria. Moving to the United States, where she begins to study and excel in academia, young Ifemelu will also face racial prejudice, prejudice against immigrants and gender issues.
- Beloved, by Toni Morrison: The book for which the writer Toni Morrison received the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Beloved was also named the most important American novel of the last 25 years. Set in 1873, during the US Reconstruction period, the book tells the story of former slave Sethe. Upon meeting a young woman named Amada, who she believes is the reincarnation of her daughter, the protagonist finds herself tormented by memories of the past, thus exploring important issues such as the psychological consequences of slavery.
- Atonement, by Ian McEwan: Adapted for the big screen in 2007, the novel is, at the same time, a love story, a war story and a story about trying to right wrongs from the past. It all starts with young aspiring writer Briony. Witnessing a sequence of scenes incomprehensible to a 13-year-old girl between her older sister and the son of one of the employees, Briony twists the facts to the whim of her fertile imagination, with serious consequences for the people around her.
- Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy: in the best tradition of Russian literature, Anna Karenina is a complete work. So expect much more than a love story. By portraying the case of infidelity and overwhelming passion of the character that gives the work its name, the author also explores what it is like to fall in love in a society where social rules are above any feeling.
- Emma, by Jane Austen: light and fun, the book tells the story of Emma Woodhouse, a rich, smart and spoiled young woman who likes to play matchmaker and, for that, she doesn’t mind manipulating others. Everything changes when she finds herself in love with her sister’s brother-in-law, with whom her friend is also in love. The story has already been taken to the movies, including through a very famous adaptation: the film The Patricinhas de Beverly Hills, from 1995.
- Dias de Abandono, by Elena Ferrante: just as in reality, novels do not only live from beginnings. The first outstanding book by the Italian author, Days of Abandonment deals precisely with the days and months that follow the end of a relationship, portraying feelings that are difficult to organize or put into words.
- Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel García Marquez: what would romantic love stories be without some obstacles? In the case of the love between Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza, the family’s annoyance, a forced marriage and more than 50 years without direct contact between the two are just some of them. Combine that with a narrative worthy of one of the masters of fantastic realism and the result is this classic of literature.
- The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin: Genly Ai, protagonist of this award-winning science fiction story, has the difficult task of convincing the governments of the planet Gethen to join a universal community. Even more difficult for him, however, seems to be dealing with people on a planet where no one has a defined sex, causing the protagonist to constantly face his own prejudices regarding gender.
- The Circus of the Night, by Erin Morgenstern: Celia and Marco are two young magicians destined to fight each other in a deadly duel. The problem is, they don’t know that. Members of a circus troupe that only performs at night, the two end up falling in love and forming a great partnership. If only things could be the way they would like…
- The Red Order, by Felipe Castilho: in the last inhabited region of the earth, una is a goddess who reigns supreme, ruling over the lives of humans, dwarves, giants, symphos, kaorshs and gnolls. But The Red Order doesn’t tell her story, it tells the story of a group of rebels who dare to defy her in order to end oppression and achieve freedom. Along the way, in addition to facing their differences, they will also face several questions, including fear of the unknown.
- The Fifth Station, by NK Jemisin: it was with this book that writer NK Jemisin became the first black woman to receive the prestigious Hugo Award for science fiction. The story takes place in Quietude, a continent ravaged by catastrophes of tectonic origin. In it live the quiet and the so-called orogens, people capable of controlling the natural forces that, far from being accepted, are quite persecuted and controlled in disciplinary centers maintained by the Guardians. Through this metaphor, the writer explores several important themes, with an emphasis on racism and misogyny.
- Kindred, by Octavia Butler: finally translated into Portuguese, the book, originally published in 1979, tells the story of Dana, a modern-day black woman who, after moving house, is transported to the past forever. that a boy named Rufus is in danger. Dana’s ancestor, Rufus is white and the son of a slave-owning farmer, which leads the protagonist to witness the horrors of that time. Furthermore, Rufus proves not to be above these cruelties. Therefore, Dana gradually tries to teach him things that can improve the lives of slaves.
- Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn: Written by one of the most interesting suspense authors of today (also author of the book that gave rise to the movie hit Gone Girl), Sharp Objects tells the story of Camille Parker, a reporter fresh out of a psychiatric hospital. . Back in her hometown to cover the case of a murder and a disappearance that seem to be linked, she finds herself facing ghosts from the past that merge with the horrors of current crimes.
- In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote: nothing scarier than a macabre story based on true events. Considered the first work of the so-called New Journalism, In Cold Blood tells the story of the brutal murder of a family of four in the city of Holcomb. The reconstruction, which follows the structure of a novel, was made from access to documents and from the author’s own conversations with people close to the victims and, mainly, with the perpetrators of the crime.
- As Coisas que Perdamos no Fogo, by Mariana Enriquez: made up of 12 short stories, the work of the Argentine writer skillfully mixes paranormal and macabre phenomena with the horrors of everyday life, such as misery, fires, abandoned homes in the city and self-mutilation. At the end of each tale richly set in the city of Buenos Aires, it is difficult to determine which is more frightening, the paranormal elements or reality itself.
Best books written by women
best romance books
Best fantasy and science fiction books
Best thriller and horror books
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