I tried to limit this to strictly-fiction books, but there was one memoir I couldn't help but include. If you haven't read these books, definitely add them to your list. Most of them are pretty short and a lot of them are children's books, so it's not as if reading them is a huge time commitment. In my opinion, these really are the books that everyone should read.
1. The Little Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
One of the best books I have ever ever ever ever read. It's survived so long and been translated into so many languages and is at the top of this list for a reason. The story here, the childlike wonder and possibility contained in this small book is truly amazing, and to say I love it would be an understatement.
2. To Kill A Mockingbird
Honestly if I had to choose a book as the definitive Great American Novel, this would be it. Anyone (like, ahem, me) who wasn't forced to read this in ninth grade english is really missing out if they don't pick up a copy on their own. Boo Radley is one of the most iconic literary characters and Atticus Finch is one of lit's greatest heroes, not to mention the writing, story, and significance of the title is absolutely stunning.
3. Tuesdays With Morrie
The one memoir I couldn't leave off of the list, this book is truly one of the greats. No matter how inevitable the events, it will make you cry, and it will make you look at things in a different light. Mitch Albom is a great writer in any of his books, but this one is a special sort of masterpiece just because of what it is: life's greatest lessons, from a dying man.
4. Once There Were Giants
Martin Waddell and Penny Dale
Okay, so apparently this book is out-of-print. Never mind, you can maybe (hopefully?) find it at a library at least. In any case, it's one of those great-but-sad children's picture books, in the vein of LOVE YOU FOREVER, only much more happy and I'm pretty sure this book came first. Anyway, it's seriously great.
5. Fahrenheit 451
This is another book that, if you weren't assigned it in school, you missed out. It's about censorship, thought, society, family, war... all that good stuff, all wrapped up in a tidy little compelling story. It's not the most uplifting, it's not the most depressing, but it is very thought-provoking and really just a great and long-lasting book that everyone should read. (Or, if you're really not going to read it, at least see the movie, which isn't half bad.)
6. Oh, the Places You'll Go!
Dr. Suess really needs no explanation.
7. The Phantom Tollbooth
There are a few books on here -- and this is one of them -- that I fear won't affect you quite the same way if you read them as an adult. This is one of the greatest works of and about imagination that I've read. It's a sort-of fairytale beginning with a cardboard tollbooth, and really is just a flat-out wonderful children's book and I hope you all read it when you were ten years old.
8. Bridge to Terabithia
OHMYGOODNESS I LOVE THIS BOOK. There are two chapters here titled "The Fastest Kid in the Fifth Grade," and the second one had me crying my eyes out. If by chance you don't know what this incredible book is centered around, I won't ruin it for you, but if you do know you've probably read the book and know just how great and amazing it is. Though the movie is incredibly good, it still doesn't do justice to the actual book. Which, no matter how old you are, you should read if you haven't yet. Katherine Paterson is a master and this book is her best masterpiece.
9. The Rules of Survival
As you might be able to tell from my blog, there is a LOT of really incredible and amazing YA out there. But as for a book that everyone should read, it's this one that takes the cake. This book -- a story of child abuse and survival -- is heartbreaking, shattering, and insanely intense. It's also, because of the narrator's perspective and the way the story is framed as letters to his younger sister, absolutely beautiful and amazing.
10. [Insert Your Choice Here]
[Splendid and Talented Author]
Everyone, I think, should have at least one book that they love. And not just that they love, but that they can't help rereading time and time again, that seems to change with every reading. A book that almost feels alive for how much it grows with you, changes you, and seems just as incredible (if not more) on the fifth reading as it did on the first. I have a few of these books, but right at the top of the list is the incredible epic that is GONE WITH THE WIND.