In my humble opinion, you should read fifty classic novels. There are hundreds of good books out there that you should try to read, great works of literature that will enlighten and better your life by contact with them. Someone very famous once say that reading was the only we would have of communicating with such great minds in our own lives!
In no particular order, I think you should read:
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C.S Lewis
Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
Fugitive Pieces - Anne Michaels
Mrs Dalloway - Virginia Wolfe
The Catcher in the Rye - J.D Salinger
The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
The Tropic of Cancer - Henry Miller
The Quiet American - Graham Greene
They are mainly more contemporary than anything, but I think they connected to the contemporary reader in ways that most antiquated pieces can't.
Man, where to start???
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
A TALE OF TWO CITIES (or OLIVER TWIST)
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
ALICE IN WONDERLAND and/or THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS
THE GOOD SOLDIER (This is a personal favorite of mine. It's by a writer named Ford Madox Ford.)
TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
THE GREAT GATSBY
THE SUN ALSO RISES
TEN LITTLE INDIANS (because you should read at least one mystery)
THE CATCHER IN THE RYE
My additions to this list would be
A Fortunate Life
The Count of Monte Cristo
Of Mice and Men
All quiet on the Western Front
To Kill a Mocking Bird
East of Eden
Gone with the Wind
I've personally read all of the books listed here, some more than once and at different stages of my life. Most lists you can come up with are probably going to be very mixed, and that's the best way to get exposure to the classics.
To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
Anything written by C.S. Lewis
Anything written by Agatha Christie
The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
A Tale of Two Cities
Native Son (Richard Wright) or Invisible Man (Ellison)
The Leatherstocking Tales
What a question! Everyone will have a different answer.
My list would be:
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, as it is the first in the genre of detective story.
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as he is the one detective story writer who is also recognised as a great as well as a popular writer and had a great deal of influence of the development of police procedure in solving crime.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, as she was the first person to suggest that it is a child's right to be loved and that love is as essential for the proper development of a child as adequate food. And this was the book in which she did it.
The Lord of the Rings by J R Tolkien, for it's depiction of how ordinary, insignificant people can make a tremendous difference to the world just by doing their duty. Though in three books, it is in fact one novel.
A Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, for its deep insights on how a person comes to faith and on how an ordinary human being can overcome in the ups and downs of an ordinary human life.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding for its stark warning on how quickly human beings can return to barbarism if they allow moral anarchy to creep into society.
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell for its panoramic sweep and depiction of the American South in the Civil War, its beautifully delineated and believable characters and its carefully constructed plot.
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. He is a must read English author and perhaps the greatest novelist in the English language. Any of his books are well worth reading, but this one is the closest to an autobiography that he ever wrote.
Tales of Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb. This is not a novel, but Shakespeare is a foundational author for European literature, not only English literature. This book retells the plot of each one of his plays in story form, thus making them accessible to everyone.
For the last one I would say: If you are a man,
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, for the daring do and also because he is recognised as one of the earliest, and greatest, English authors;
If you are a woman,
Emma by Jane Austen, or indeed any book by Jane Austen, for her witty depiction of the manners and customs of her time, and her charming, feisty heroines.
A Tale of Two Cities-Charles Dickens (Definitely) or Anything else by Dickens
Anything by Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice is a must)
Sherlock Holmes- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (I've read all of them, and couldn't choose a favorite)
Anne of Green Gables-L.M. Montgomery (there is nothing quite like her writing)
To Kill A Mockingbird- Harper Lee
The Hiding Place- Corrie Ten Boom
The Black Arrow-Robert Louis Stevenson (Less known than his others, but fantastic-love and adventure, what could be better?)
The Count of Monte Cristo- Alexandre Dumas (intriguing!)
The Red Badge of Courage- Stephen Crane
The Chronicles of Narnia-C.S. Lewis (Inspiring and compelling)
And hey, don't limit yourself to ten. There are so many wonderful books to be read, and enjoyed. Who knows when you'll stumble upon something great?
At the top of your list should be The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. You should also try A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh, Dante's Inferno, Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H Lawrence, War and Peace by Tolstoy, 1984 by George Orwell- its a bit modern but still a classic, and last but not least Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse. Enjoy the reading!
It depends on how old you are.