Do you aspire to be one of those people who knows at least a little bit about a lot of things?
There’s any easy way to do it: Read everything!
You can’t just stick to the thrillers, anthologies, or biographies you’ve grown partial to. If you really want to become a more well-rounded person, you’ll need to force yourself out of your comfort zone at the bookstore.
If you’re not sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve selected 25 timeless books on all different topics — politics, science, history, culture, and more — that may help you become the well-rounded person you strive to be.
Natalie Walters contributed to a previous version of this article.
First published in 1960 and winner of the 1961 Pulitzer Prize, 'To Kill a Mockingbird' was an overnight success. In its first week, it sold 1.1 million copies, and in its lifetime it's sold more than 40 million copies and has been translated into more than 40 languages.
In this American classic, lawyer Atticus Finch agrees to defend a black man who was accused of raping a white woman. The fictional story takes place in the town of Maycomb, Alabama, and is told through the innocent perspective of Finch's tomboy daughter, Scout.
This classic novel hits on a few important topics, such as parenting and racism in America.
George Orwell wrote this anticommunist novel in 1948 to predict what 1984 would look like in London. His prediction? A totalitarian state where 'Big Brother,' the government, was always watching you and telling you what to think and believe.
Some of his predictions came true, like cameras being everywhere and our bodies being scanned for weapons.
This book is a must-read because it's a cautionary tale of what happens when the government is given too much control over the people and their lives.
If you haven't read 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone,' or the following six books in the series, you should run to the bookstore immediately.
This beloved tale follows a young boy who finds out that he's a wizard on his 11th birthday and is whisked off to a wizarding school called Hogwarts to begin his training.
These books were so universally loved and praised that they spawned a multibillion-dollar film franchise, a theme park in Orlando, Florida, and a spin-off series based on a Rowling book, 'Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them,' which will be released later this year.
'The Fellowship of the Ring' -- the first book in J.R.R. Tolkien 's 'Lord of the Rings' series -- is another must-read.
This epic adventure novel takes place in Tolkien's made-up world of Middle-earth and follows Frodo Baggins as he sets out to destroy the One Ring before the Dark Lord Sauron gets it and uses it for evil.
American historian and political scientist Howard Zinn wrote this book to present his theory that American history can be summed up as the oppression of the majority by the minority.
It was a runner-up for the National Book Award when it was released in 1980, and has since made appearances in various films and TV shows, such as 'The Sopranos,' 'The Simpsons,' and 'Good Will Hunting.'
While some readers complain that it doesn't have enough references, this book may open your mind to new interpretations of our past while also filling in the gaps in your knowledge of American history.
Even if you don't agree with all of Abraham Lincoln's views, this book is worth reading.
Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin wrote it to trace Lincoln's rise from a lawyer out on the prairie to beat two more experienced politicians and become one of the most well-known presidents in US history.
According to the book's summary, it focuses on 'Lincoln's mastery of men and how it shaped the most significant presidency in the nation's history.'
If you've always wanted to be a fly on the wall during a US presidential campaign, you may want to consider reading this book.
Written by two political reporters about the 2008 elections, 'Game Change' wasn't released until 2010.
Clive Crook of The Financial Times called it 'one of the best books on politics of any kind I've read.'
This book on Darwin's theory of evolution is worth reading because it revolutionised the science world -- it's the cornerstone of modern biology.
Even if you don't accept his theory, you should still add this to your list to educate yourself.
And if you do accept evolution, you should read it to better understand the origins of the theory.
Written by the famous theoretical physicist and cosmologist, this book was published in 1988.
In it, Hawking offers a clear explanation of the scientific theories of today -- from time travel to general relativity to the creation of the universe.
Bryson uses an upbeat and entertaining style of writing to take you from when there was nothing to where we are now.
Interestingly, the author isn't a scientist. He's just a curious individual who decided that he wanted to really understand science -- so he did his research and wrote this book to help others like himself.
Strunk and White's classic grammar book, 'The Elements of Style,' will help anyone drastically improve their mastery of the written word.
You probably recognise this book from school, but if you didn't pay attention to it back then, it's well worth your time now.
From commonly misspelled words to grammar and punctuation, you'll find all the answers in this concise and entertaining read.
'The Art of War' may come from the fifth century BC, but it remains relevant today.
The book was originally written by military strategist Sun Tzu to help explain how to win in warfare. But over the years, people have found that the tactics described in the book, such as 'know yourself' and 'know your enemy' can help people succeed in the day-to-day struggles of life.
The book contains 13 chapters -- one for each aspect of war -- and has been used by sports coaches, legal teams, and businesses for its valuable advice.
When Pausch, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, found out that he had pancreatic cancer and had just three to six months of good health left, he gave the now famous speech 'The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.'
After this went viral, he decided to expand it into a book, 'The Last Lecture,' in which he gives advice on how to live your life to the fullest.
It's a humorous and smart read that deals with the question: If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?
The masterfully written play by Shakespeare revolves around two young lovers whose families are in a violent and passionate feud. It is the ultimate story of forbidden love -- and is often referenced in popular culture.
This gripping biography is based on years of in-depth, personal interviews with Steve Jobs -- and over a hundred family members, friends, and colleagues.
The book, written by Isaacson at the request of Jobs, explains why the Apple cofounder was so intimidating and alluring, and how he helped build Apple and Pixar into the enormous brands that they are today.
Reading it will give you an inside view of the tech world, inspiration to make a difference with your life, and an interesting tale of a fascinating man's life.
The title may sound harsh, but McRaney is making a point: Every 'rational' decision you make in your life is based on an underlying bias.
This book shows how the tenets of psychology affect you every day, even though you don't consciously realise it. And no matter what you do, you can't resist.
Allie Brosh started out by posting illustrated, humorous stories about everyday events in her past and present life on a blog.
It became so popular that she wrote and illustrated this book, with 18 episodes on everything from depression to how she stole cake as a child.
Billionaire Bill Gates called it 'funny and smart as hell,' and many people say that her depiction of depression is the most accurate one they have ever read.
This classic business book uses research from 28 US companies over five years to explain why some make the leap from good to great, while others fail.
If you want to know what you can do to have the greatest impact on your company's success, this is the book for you.
Money: 'The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy' by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko
'The Millionaire Next Door' is based on a 20-year study on how people worth $1 million to $10 million reached financial security -- and how they maintain it.
The book focuses on seven common traits among these individuals, such as living below their means and having parents that didn't help them out.
Getting an inside look on their views and beliefs, as well as their daily spending habits, may be able to help you get your finances on track.
Billionaire investor Bill Ackman is one of many Wall Street power players who cite 'The Intelligent Investor' as essential reading for investors at all level.
It was first published by Warren Buffett's mentor, Graham, in 1949 as a thorough introduction to investing for amateurs.
His 'value investing' philosophy teaches people to make wise decisions with their money that can give them substantial returns in the long run.
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