8 Books You Should Add to Your Reading List!

Needing an activity to do before winding down for the night? Try reading! The Mayo Clinic says that reading before bed helps establish a routine that tells your body it’s time to go to sleep. But just because reading helps you relax, it never has to be boring! Not sure where to start? Here are our eight suggestions handpicked from PBS’ The Great American Read program! 

  1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Science Fiction)

Read if… you want an easy read with great flashbacks to the 80s that centers around friendship, love, loss and growth – all through a science-fiction perspective. 

The story, set in a dystopia in 2045, follows protagonist Wade Watts on his search for an Easter egg in a worldwide virtual reality game, the discovery of which would lead him to inherit the game creator’s fortune. 

Ready Player One has been ranked #76 on the 100 Best-Loved American Novels of All-Time. The book has gone on to be developed into a blockbuster movie which was directed by legendary director Steven Spielberg. NPR said Ready Player One is “Ridiculously fun and large-hearted . . . Cline is that rare writer who can translate his own dorky enthusiasms into prose that’s both hilarious and compassionate.”

  1. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (Fiction) 

Read if… you like The Catcher and the Rye by JD Sallinger, The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, or Looking for Alaska by John Green 

Ranked number #32 on the 100 Best-Loved American Novels of All-Time, The Outsiders, as The New York Times quotes, has “transformed young-adult fiction from a genre mostly about prom queens, football players and high school crushes to one that portrayed a darker, truer world.” 

The Outsiders is about two weeks in the life of a 14-year-old boy. The novel tells the story of Ponyboy Curtis and his struggles with right and wrong in a society in which he believes that he is an outsider. When an unfortunate tragedy occurs, it makes Ponyboy question his preconceived notions about the world that he lives in. 

  1. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (Mystery)

Read if… you want a quick read that has a lot of twists and turns. 

From the best-selling fiction author of all time, comes Christie’s stand-out novel And Then There None. The story follows ten people, each with something to hide and something to fear, who are invited to an isolated mansion on Indian Island by a host who, surprisingly, fails to appear. On the island, they are cut off from everything but each other and the inescapable shadows of their own past lives. One by one, the guests share the darkest secrets of their wicked pasts. And one by one, they die…

This book is ranked #19 on the 100 Best-Loved American Novels of All Time. “If you’re one of the few who haven’t experienced the genius of Agatha Christie, this novel is a stellar starting point.” — David Baldacci, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

  1. The Stand by Stephen King (Horror)

Read if… you want a book to enjoy over a longer period of time with a post-apocalyptic storyline – starting with a virus that wipes out almost all of mankind – that leads to a battle of good and evil.

From acclaimed horror/fiction novelist comes a novel that might be a little close to home… When a man escapes from a biological testing facility, he sets in motion a deadly domino effect, spreading a mutated strain of the flu that will wipe out 99 percent of humanity within a few weeks. The survivors who remain are scared, bewildered, and in need of a leader. Two emerge–Mother Abagail, the benevolent 108-year-old woman who urges them to build a community in Boulder, Colorado; and Randall Flagg, the nefarious “Dark Man” who delights in chaos and violence.

The Stand ranks an impressive #24 on the 100 Best-Loved American Novels of All Time. “I love to burn things up. It’s the werewolf in me, I guess…. The Stand was particularly fulfilling, because there I got a chance to scrub the whole human race, and man, it was fun! … Much of the compulsive, driven feeling I had while I worked on The Stand came from the vicarious thrill of imagining an entire entrenched social order destroyed in one stroke,” says King about the novel in a quote to Amazon. 

  1. Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon (Romance, Fantasy) 

Read if…you want a series that touches on a little bit of everything. This book series features love, action, adventure, historical fiction and even time travel! 

The highest-ranked book series from the 100 Best-Loved American Novels – and the winner of PBS’ Great American Read – is up next. Unrivaled storytelling. Unforgettable characters. Rich historical detail. These are the hallmarks of Diana Gabaldon’s work. Her New York Times bestselling Outlander novels have earned the praise of critics and captured the hearts of millions of fans. 

Here is the story that started it all… introducing two remarkable characters, Claire Beauchamp Randall and Jamie Fraser, in a spellbinding novel of passion and history that combines exhilarating adventure with a love story for the ages. When Claire falls through a time portal, she is catapulted into the intrigues of a world that threatens her life, and may shatter her heart. Marooned amid danger, passion, and violence, Claire learns her only chance of safety lies in Jamie Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior. What begins in compulsion becomes urgent need, and Claire finds herself torn between two very different men, in two irreconcilable lives.

  1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Historical Fiction) 

Read if you like… hearing different perspectives from different characters. The Help features three different first person speakers whose stories are all different but yet somehow intertwine to create a message of what it feels like to feel worthy and valuable in a time of racial tension and unequal rights. 

It took five years and more than 60 different literary agents before The Help ever saw the light. But as readers, we are so grateful it did. The novel follows Aibileen, an African American maid in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, who’s always taken orders quietly, but becomes unable to hold her bitterness back. Her friend Minny has never held her tongue, but now must somehow keep secrets about her employer that leave her speechless. White socialite Skeeter just graduated college. She’s full of ambition, but without a husband, she’s considered a failure. Together, these seemingly different women join together to write a tell-all book about work as an African American maid in the South, that could forever alter their destinies and the life of a small town…

Amy Sharps from The Guardian states, “Stockett has not only written an unforgettable, at times humorous and all-round brilliant story; this is also an informative masterpiece, educating people about life of the help in the segregated society of Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s, using some of her personal experiences of growing up in the deep south.” 

  1. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (War, Historical Fiction) 

Read if… you want a book that will make you think. This classic is full of dark humor while being absolutely absurd and hysterical.

Fifty years after its original publication, Catch-22 remains a cornerstone of American literature and one of the funniest — and most celebrated — books of all time. In recent years it has been named to “best novels” lists by Time, Newsweek, the Modern Library, and the London Observer. It also ranks #47 on the PBS’s Great American Read 100 Best-Loved American Novels of All Time! 

Set in Italy during World War II, this is the story of the incomparable, malingering bombardier Yossarian, a hero who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. But his real problem is not the enemy — it is his own army, which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempt to excuse himself from the perilous missions he’s assigned, he’ll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.

  1. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (Mystery Thriller) 

Read if…you want an easy to read, fast-paced story and if love conspiracy theories and history.

Wrapping up our list is The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. As millions of readers around the globe have already discovered, The Da Vinci Code is a reading experience unlike any other. Simultaneously lightning-paced, intelligent and intricately layered with remarkable research and detail, Dan Brown’s novel is a thrilling masterpiece — from its opening pages to its stunning conclusion.

While in Paris, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is awakened by a phone call in the dead of the night. The elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum, his body covered in baffling symbols. As Langdon and gifted French cryptologist Sophie Neveu sort through the bizarre riddles, they are stunned to discover a trail of clues hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci — clues visible for all to see and yet ingeniously disguised by the painter.

Even more startling, the late curator was involved in the Priory of Sion — a secret society whose members included Sir Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo, and Da Vinci — and he guarded a breathtaking historical secret. Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the labyrinthine puzzle, while avoiding the faceless adversary who shadows their every move, the explosive, ancient truth will be lost forever.

Looking for more options to add to your list? Head over to The Great American Read’s 100 Best-Loved American Novels List to find more: https://www.pbs.org/the-great-american-read/books/#/