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Looking to read more this year? Here are 50 popular books worth checking out

Books are the closest thing to a portal to another world. If you're trying to up your reading goals in the new year, popular books written by the best literary minds are great to have on your bookshelves. They range from powerful memoirs to underrated gems and prize-winners to controversial classics that got everyone talking.

In this article: "A Little Life," "Dune" and "Man’s Search for Meaning."

50 books everyone should read

Best classic fiction

“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

A literary classic, Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel takes you through a child's perspective of racism and prejudice in the Depression-era South. 

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“Catch-22” by Joseph Heller 

One of the most brilliant novels of the 20th century, not to mention one of the funniest, "Catch-22" uses satire to highlight both the absurdity and horror of war. 

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“The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath's only published novel is a classic semi-autobiographical tale that gives you insight into her struggles navigating depression, societal expectations and her own desires.

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“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll

In this timeless classic loved by both adults and kids, Carroll creates a beautiful one-of-a-kind world filled with all kinds of oddities and misfits. 

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“Ulysses” by James Joyce

One of the greatest works of modernist literature celebrates the strength of spirit needed to endure the trials of everyday life while exploring the patterns of human thought. 

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“The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger

This American classic is a quintessential coming-of-age story that follows Holden Caulfield's journey from innocence to experience. It's one of those books that's worthy of a read every few years, at different stages in your life. 

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Other popular classics worth checking out 

Best science, science fiction and dystopian fiction

“Dune” by Frank Herbert

If you want to get into sci-fi but don't know where to start, "Dune" is rightfully one of the bestselling sci-fi books of all time. It's also highly approachable for newcomers. 

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“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams

This hilarious novel is a surreal and playful exploration of the absurdity of life, done through the tale of a man traveling through space after surviving Earth's senseless destruction. 

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“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood

Set in a repressive society where a woman's only purpose is to conceive and bear children, this dystopian masterpiece follows the story of Offred, a handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. 

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“A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking

One of the best science books ever written delves into complex concepts, such as black holes, space and time, and makes them accessible. 

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“Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley

This dystopian novel predicts today's world better than any other. In it, humanity is subdued and lulled into passive obedience and a false sense of security through consumerism, indulgence and pleasure. 

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“1984” by George Orwell

This influential work of dystopian fiction is set in a world where the government controls everything and citizens are constantly under surveillance. 

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Other popular science fiction and dystopian fiction worth checking out 

Best nonfiction

“Talking to Strangers” by Malcolm Gladwell

This is a powerful exploration of the mistakes and assumptions people often make when dealing with strangers. It's told through the stories of high-profile people, such as Amanda Knox and Sandra Bland. 

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“On Writing” by Stephen King

Part memoir and part master class on writing and creativity, this is perhaps the most comprehensive and practical guide to the craft. It's filled with personal anecdotes to inspire budding and aspiring writers. 

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“Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl

This memoir of Frankl's experiences in Nazi concentration camps describes his attempts to hold on to his humanity and find hope even during horrific events.

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“The Anthropocene Reviewed” by John Green

In this phenomenal symphony of essays adapted and expanded from the podcast of the same name, Green reviews facets of the human experience on a five-star scale. 

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“We Should All Be Feminists” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Adapted from Adichie's TEDx talk of the same name, this book is small in size, but its message is anything but. In under 100 pages, it eloquently explains why feminism is for people of all genders. 

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“Think Like a Monk” by Jay Shetty

This delightful book combines ancient wisdom with the latest insights from psychology and neuroscience. Shetty draws on his time as a monk to show how you can clear the roadblocks to your power and potential. 

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“Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood” by Marjane Satrapi

Through this powerful graphic novel, Satrapi recounts her experience growing up in Iran during and after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The story is told through simple yet moving illustrations that transport you to another time and place. 

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“Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert T. Kiyosaki

This isn't the average finance book. While it won't give you a step-by-step plan on how to build wealth, it will completely transform your mindset toward money. 

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“The Essential Rumi” by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

This collection of poems is a flavorful introduction to Rumi. It brings together the timeless poetry of one of the world's most revered spiritual thinkers and captures his essence like no other. 

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“The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle

With over 2 million copies sold, this modern take on spirituality is a must-read for anyone feeling weighed down by the past or fearful of the future. 

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Other popular nonfiction worth checking out 

Best recent fiction

“A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara

This heart-wrenching novel follows the lives of four friends who met in college and moved to New York. It firmly addresses topics like anxiety, abuse, trauma and depression in one of the most honest and real ways imaginable. 

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“Daisy Jones and The Six” by Taylor Jenkins Reid

A remarkable story about passion, loss and the struggles of addiction, this novel chronicles the highs and lows of an iconic 1970s rock band and their stunningly beautiful lead singer. 

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“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green

Beloved by teens, "The Fault in Our Stars" brilliantly explores the thrilling, funny and tragic business of being alive and in love. 

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Other popular fiction worth checking out 

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Esha Saxena writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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