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Essential books for every personal library. (1 Viewer)


What would you say are the most important books to have in any personal library, other than religious books. I'm talking about the books that you NEED to have on hand on a constant basis.


Senior Member
I'd say the Harry Potter books along with the Diane Wynne Jones books, would be a good start. That coupled with such books as; So you want to be a Wizard by Diane Duane, To kill a mocking bird, The Outsiders, the intire tripod trilogy, (including when the Tripods came), and most of the Great Illistrated Classics to top it off. (That would be Sick :p )



Senior Member
I'd say Lord of the Rings would stand for Fantasy. So much is based around Tolkeins work.

Edgar Allen Poe's short stories
The Illiad and the Odessey
Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn or a collection including Innocents abroad
War and Peace or Crime and Punishment for the Russian style
A portrait of an Artist
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Pride and Predjudice
Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography
1984 or Clockwork Orange

I think each of these are leaders in the styles they represent. Just my own opinion of course.


Senior Member
It has gotta have variety.

You need Alexandre DUmas for the adventure/romance. I'd recommend the Count of Monte Cristo, The Man in The Iron Mask and The Three Musketeers as his best.
Dickens is an essential. Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities or A Christmas Carol preferably.
Cheeseburger Subversive by Richard Scarsbrook- One of the funniest, most intelligent books ever
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Catcher in The Rye by J.D. Salinger
Gordon Kormans Son of Interflux, A Semester in the Life of a Garbage Bag, Losing Joes Place
Mark Twain is widely acknowledged as the best American Writer ever lots of his and you will see why
For a sci-fi, Douglas Adams is a must. Get the Hitchhikers Guide to The Universe.
An Agatha Christy mystery and you are all set.


Personal library

I would have to say the Books of the lost swords by Fred Saberhagen, Cronicals of Narnia, were very good as a beggining book something to read on short flights and so on Steven King's It. Also try the dragonlance series (Margaret Weis+Tracy Hickman only). Also A picture of Dorian grey by Oscar Wilde, Tale of two cities, And a gotta have for poetry The complete works of Edgar Allen Poe.


The Hitchhikers guide is comedy, not science fiction (incidentally it's 'The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy', not Universe). For sci-fi you want practically anything written by Asimov. I rather think Anna Karrenin would be a better choice for the 'Russian Style' also (I'd need a collection of Chekhov's short stories too). The poetry is lacking - personally I'd need Byron, Keats, Whitman and Larkin. I approve of the Homer. I rather think a copy of Clockwork Orange on DVD would be more essential than the manuscript. Dorian Gray is naturally a must have, but the 'Harry Potter Books' can get stuffed. Personally I think Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance would be worth a spot.


I would say the HP books as well.
And if we're talking sci-fi, I'd definitely put Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card on their.
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.
Katherine by Anya Seton - if you read romance at all, this is the best book ever! (In my opinion, of course. :D )


I'd say 'Neverness' by David Zindell....
Its just a book you have to read especially if you have some time on your hands to properly immerse yourself in the experience...
Brilliant stuff!!!


The books that I constantly refer to are:
Oxford dictionary of course
CP Styleguide CP caps and spelling
books on health (mine and my pets)
Food encylopedia (it has every imaginable food in it, well, almost.)
gardening/recipe books

That seems boring but it's true


Senior Member
A most difficult question. I live in a flat slightly greater in size than the trunk of a Buick, but have about a thousand books living here with me. Two whole walls lined ceiling to floor, and a good many more in boxes in the closet, that I just haven't found display room for. It's not a library for the ages, but the books-to-space ratio is really pushing the envelope.

So what I'm saying is, my definition of "essential" could get a bit liberal if I'd let it. I'm a book hog.

So I'll try to limit it to my starter set. Say, ten books to seed a proper library.

As a writer, I couldn't get by without my reference section, and the three absolute essentials are:

1) The OED (I favor the "compact" version)
2) Rodale's Synonym Finder
3) Fowler

Give me those and a healthy supply of coffee, and I can operate as a functional human being.

I can do without most of the classics, in a pinch. Homer and whatnot. It's good to know where our literary roots are and all that, but at this stage of my life, I get neither chills nor inspiration from reading for the hundredth time about the arrival of the Myrmidons. However, all writing of old is not optional. I couldn't do without:

4) The Complete Works of Shakespeare

And as long as we're making shelf space for dead British authors, toss...

5) The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde

...on there, too. I read ten pages of Wilde, and my prose is stronger for a month. What a voice!

Am I allowed...

6) The Christian Bible

...in one of its incarnations? My current is a KJ version. I know there's a strict no-religion policy going on with this, but bear with me for a second. I do not keep this around as a religious tome. I'm an atheist, through and through. I'm also a lover and scholar of literature, however, and between the Shakespeare and the bible, I've got 90% of all meaningful literary allusions employed in the last century covered. I suppose if you say "no," I can just stash it under the bed.

Now then, I'm not a novelist. Haven't got the span of attention necessary. Don't get me wrong, I own scads of novels, but if I were forced to pare things down to ten volumes, numbers seven through ten here wouldn't include any. I've got Dorian Gray over in the Wilde, anyway. For inspiration, re-readability, variety, and sheer literary necessity (because these are what I write), give me short story collections every time.

I'll take...

7) The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction
8) The Collected Works of Borges
9) TC Boyle Stories


10) Where I'm Calling From: Selected Storied - Ray Carver

Those should cover most of the styles that best delight and inspire me. All apologies to women authors everywhere, who were snubbed in this particular top ten. You have my assurances the next group of purchases (say, the 11-50 range) would include Flannery O'Connor, JC Oates, Dorothy Parker, Jane Austen, and Shirley Jackson at a minimum.

Anyway, that's where I'd start. Good question.


Senior Member
1.) The New testament of The Bible

2.) On The Road- JAck Kerouac

3.) The Complete Works Of Edgar Allen poe

4.)The Jungle-Upton Sinclair

5.) Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas-Hunter S.Thompson

6.) One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest- Ken Kesey

7.) Animal Farm- George Orwell

8.) To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee

9.) Uncle Tom's Cabin- Harriet Beecher Stowe

10.) Catcher In the Rye- J.D Salinger


Senior Member
Agree with a lot of what's been posted, I'll post a few that have been said before too...

To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
The Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
The Prophet - Kahlil Gibran
A Kind of Flying - Ron Carlson
Dinosaur Tales - Ray Bradbury
A Good Man is Hard to Find - O'Connor
The Old Man and the Sea - Hemingway
The Sun Also Rises - Hemingway
For Whom the Bell Tolls - Hemingway
The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
Lord of the Flies - William Golding
Of Mice and Men - Steinbeck
The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
Candide - Voltaire
The Secret Sharer - Joseph Conrad
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich - Aleksandr Sozhenitsyn
When Rabbit Howls - Truddi Chase
Watership Down - Richard Adams
The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
The Hobbit - JRR Tokien
Lincoln on Leadership - David T. Philips
The Canterbury Tales(Translated) - Chaucer