[Insert your answer here]
Me, I'm thinking:
Brave New World
Heart Of Darkness
Romeo And Juliet
A Tale Of Two Cities
Basically, a reference or allusion to the major points of any of those should be caught by anyone.
What else should be on that list?
2) I'm also thinking of an "honorable mentions" list, with stuff like The Lord Of The Rings, Treasure Island, The Lottery, Lord Of The Flies, I Am Legend, Ender's Game, Catcher In The Rye, Atlas Shrugged - stuff where people CAN still be considered well-read without having read them, but they may be missing out. What should be on that?
3) It is not a coincidence that "grade school curriculum" heavily overlaps my essentials list, I think. Is this confirmation bias, or an indication that the Essential Reading list for schoolchildren actually starts with some really good choices?
: gets "Modern English" cred by proxy and influence
: No, seriously, INFLUENCE. But annotated, so people should know The Empty Tomb and The Brutal Torture Of Innocent Job By The Allegedly Benevolent Overlord, but who gives a shit about Zachariah? Point is, you need the highlights becuse they show up, a LOT, in other places.
: Being able to recognise popular crap as CRAP, and dissect the failures of logic, worldbuilding, and persuasion is an important skill that more people should have.
: The Book Of Job is a demonstration that not only CAN Satan win, but that he wins any time he feels like putting any effort in, because God is a gullible chump. But this is a diversion.