8 Books To Read Before You Die – And They’re Not What You Might Expect

In lieu of UNESCO’s World Book Day tomorrow, newly published author and Midphase writer, Sarah Holt, reveals the books that have a permanent place on her bookshelf.

Once, when I was 6, I decided to run away. I packed a bag and headed off to a neighbour’s house to hideout. You know what was in that bag? You know what I packed in order to start a new life on my own? Books.

I’m now 30, and things haven’t changed a lot. Even now I’m writing for a web hosting company, the thing I’m most looking forward to at work is the release of the new web address ending .books. My prized possession in my home is my bookshelf. Until my own novel Love and Eskimo Snow gets printed on Friday, these are the books I prize most on it…

Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor


I have a confession to make. I didn’t like fantasy before I picked up Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone book. I wouldn’t touch a Harry Potter with a broomstick. Laini’s Romeo and Juliet-esque novel about the war between angels and chimeras changed my mind.

1984, George Orwell

This dystopian novel is a regular on lists of books to read before you die. Writers search for ideas like newspeak, doublethink, Victory Gin and 13 o’clocks like the Holy Grail. His vision of the future is so realistic, you’d think it really existed.

The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold

At the risk of offending Jane Austen’s fan club, The Lovely Bones has one of the best opening lines in literature. The line hits you right between the eyes. ‘My name is Salmon, like the fish, first name Susie. I was 14 years old when I was murdered.’

The Leftovers, Tom Perrotta

Tom Perrotta takes the subject of the Rapture and makes it seem like an ordinary life event. This isn’t an action book, it’s a story about life and how it goes on.

The leftovers

The Age of Miracles, Karen Thomson Walker

There’s a reason Karen Thomson Walker received a six-figure advance for this novel. Inspired by the idea that the world started turning more slowly following the 2004 Indonesian tsunami, this book is set in a future where the world has stopped spinning all together.

Warm Bodies, Isaac Marion

Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl stories are ten a penny on the shelves of bookshops. Zombie meets girl, zombie falls in love with girl? Not so much. Somehow, Isaac Marion makes this idea work, though, and reinvents the zombie apocalypse genre.

We Need New Names, NoViolet Bulawayo


NoViolet Bulawayo knows how to lull you into a false sense of security. In this book, about a group of families growing up in Zimbabwe, the author makes you smile with every new chapter, before breaking your heart at the end. And you’ll thank her for it.

A Secret History, Donna Tartt

By the time you finish reading A Secret History, you feel like you are part of its story. The characters are so 3D that you start to confuse parts of the book with real life. I’m not kidding.

If you’re as much of a bookworm as me, you might want to get your hands on your own .books web address ending, so you can review books or form an online book club. The date that these web address endings goes on sale has not been confirmed yet. However, updates are always available on the Midphase blog and through the homepage of the Midphase website. You can even join a waiting list to get the latest news on .books as and when it’s released.