What fictions books should you be familiar with? This is a list of the backbone of Western culture.
When a man's moral stance towers over the false morality of his milieu, when a man, although still a child, stands up for his belief and shakes his contemporaries' dogma as to how to judge others. Written in colloquial English, in first person singular, the hero is immediately liked, and that helps the story propel just as easily and smoothly as a steamboat up and down the Mississippi.
The Old Man and the Sea
It is a symbolic of what life is all about, and what you can look forward to get out of life. Basically, nothing, says the book.
A symbolic of what life is all about, what to expect to struggle with while you are going through life (basically, other people, your convictions and theirs, and how these things are hopelessly incompatible, despite being the same, in essence.)
The world's first quixotic novel. What is it all about? The message is debatable, the message is obscure, it makes you think, and you are free to draw your own conclusion, but you must think to do that.
The Good Soldier Svejk
The same as Don Quixote, in a very funny form. Not a repeat; but equally as debatable to its hero's character as the Don Quixote.
First time a woman is the hero, the heroine, the driving force behind the story. A small book, a giant leap toward recognition of women's emancipation.
Pride and Prejudice
If you want a cathartic end which makes you sob in relief of penned-up emotions, then this is the book for you.
War and Peace
Good to have when you are dropped off and lost on a desert island for thirty-seven years, or you are doing solitary confinement for life. The book is rich in description, in characterization, in action, in drama, in everything. And it's very long.
The best Western story you'll ever want to read and back. Mainly for late pre-teens and early teens.
A book that is evergreen; its gentle humour, its deeply effective characterization, its moralistic story lines makes it readable for people of EVERY generation. True, it is a children's book; but it is also a book for an adult, who will read the stories with a different understanding, but still, nevertheless, with a deep understanding that will enhance his knowledge of the human condition, of the human spirit.