A Great Fiction Library in 100 Novels

A list of 100 great novels that I will consider reading over the next 20 years.

I’ve written before about how important it is to read great books rather than merely good ones. Below is a list of 100 novels that are widely considered to be great.

Drawing up a list of great books is problematic, as different people  have very different ideas of what constitutes a great novel. To make this list, I came up with a system for ranking books based on various lists I found on the web. The idea is that books that are rated high on multiple lists would find their way into the top 100. Whilst I appreciate this approach is somewhat arbitrary, it is at least based on something.

So, what do you think of my list? What novels are on your reading list? Have I missed anything really important from mine?

Number Title Author Read Comment
1 Catch-22 Joseph Heller Yes “He was going to live forever, or die in the attempt.”
2 The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald Yes (2015-08) “In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.”
3 Ulysses James Joyce
4 The Catcher in the Rye J. D. Salinger
5 To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee Yes “It’s not time to worry yet.”
6 Brave New World Aldous Huxley Yes (2016-10)
7 Lord of the Flies William Golding Yes
8 Lolita Vladimir Nabokov Yes (2016-08) Miserable from start to finish.
9 The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck Yes (2017-01)
10 Animal Farm George Orwell Yes
11 The Lord of the Rings J. R. R. Tolkien Yes “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”
12 1984 George Orwell Yes
13 On the Road Jack Kerouac Yes
14 Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell
15 The Sound and the Fury William Faulkner Yes (2016-01)
16 Slaughterhouse-Five Kurt Vonnegut Yes (2014-08)
17 To the Lighthouse Virginia Woolf Yes (2015-06) Nothing happens. Time passes. Nothing continues to happen.
18 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams Yes
19 As I Lay Dying William Faulkner Yes (2017-03)
20 Invisible Man Ralph Ellison
21 A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man James Joyce
22 A Passage to India E. M. Forster  Yes
23 Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë Yes (2017-11) “I’ll walk where my own nature would be leading. It vexes me to choose another guide.”
24 Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë
25 The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame
26 Brideshead Revisited Evelyn Waugh Yes (2019-06) The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder
27 The Sun Also Rises Ernest Hemingway Yes (2014-04)
28 Rebecca Daphne du Maurier Yes


29 Beloved Toni Morrison Yes


30 The Count of Monte Christo Alexandre Dumas Yes (2018-01) Long
31 Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad Yes (2016-10) “She rang under my feet like an empty Huntley & Palmer biscuit-tin kicked along a gutter.”
32 Little Women Louisa May Alcott Yes (2017-06)
33 Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy
34 A Clockwork Orange Anthony Burgess Yes (2016-04) Linguistically compelling, disturbingly brutal, mercifully short.
35 Charlotte’s Web E. B. White Yes
36 Emma Jane Austen
37 Sons and Lovers D. H. Lawrence Yes
38 Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland Lewis Carroll Yes
39 Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand Yes (2014-08)
40 One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel García Márquez Yes (2017-09) “Little gold fishes”
41 A Prayer For Owen Meany John Irving Yes
42 The Call of the Wild Jack London Yes (2014-08)
43 David Copperfield Charles Dickens Yes (2016-03)
44 Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck Yes (2016-05)
45 Native Son Richard Wright
46 Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
47 The Fountainhead Ayn Rand Yes (2015-12)
48 The Portrait of a Lady Henry James
49 Dune Frank Herbert Yes
50 His Dark Materials Philip Pullman Yes
51 I, Claudius Robert Graves
53 Nostromo Joseph Conrad
53 Winnie the Pooh A. A. Milne Yes
54 An American Tragedy Theodore Dreiser
55 Absalom, Absalom! William Faulkner
56 The Age of Innocence Edith Wharton
57 Under the Volcano Malcolm Lowry
58 Birdsong Sebastian Faulks Yes (2016-09) Absorbing.
59 Mrs. Dalloway Virginia Woolf
60 Great Expectations Charles Dickens
61 The Heart is a Lonely Hunter Carson McCullers
62 Tropic of Cancer Henry Miller
63 Don Quixote Miguel De Cervantes Yes (2019-05) “When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!”
64 Vanity Fair William Thackeray
65 War and Peace Leo Tolstoy
66 Crime And Punishment Fyodor Dostoyevsky
67 The Brothers Karamazov Fyodor Dostoevsky
68 Song of Solomon Toni Morrison
69 The Hobbit J. R. R. Tolkien Yes
70 Tess of the D’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy Yes (2018-02)
71 Middlemarch George Eliot Yes (2020-02) “That by desiring what is perfectly good, even when we don’t quite know what it is and cannot do what we would, we are part of the divine power against evil — widening the skirts of light and making the struggle with darkness narrower.”
72 Tender is the Night F. Scott Fitzgerald
73 The French Lieutenant’s Woman John Fowles Yes  (2016-04)
74 The Good Soldier Ford Madox Ford
75 The Stand Stephen King
76 Moby-Dick Herman Melville
77 Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe
78 A Town Like Alice Nevil Shute Yes Bonzer!
79 Howards End E. M. Forster
80 Persuasion Jane Austen Yes
81 Wise Blood Flannery O’Connor
82 Go Tell it on the Mountain James Baldwin
83 Watership Down Richard Adams Yes
84 Light in August William Faulkner
85 A Farewell to Arms Ernest Hemingway Yes (2018-11)
86 Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
87 Midnight’s Children Salman Rushdie
88 The Rainbow D. H. Lawrence
89 Women in Love D. H. Lawrence
90 The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood
91 The BFG Roald Dahl Yes
92 The Maltese Falcon Dashiell Hammett
93 Tristram Shandy Laurence Sterne
94 The Magus John Fowles Yes (2015-03)
95 The Moviegoer Walker Percy
96 Death Comes for the Archbishop Willa Cather Yes (2018-10) “Where there is great love, there are always miracles.”
97 A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens
98 Frankenstein Mary Shelley Yes (2015-02)
99 The World According to Garp John Irving
100 Of Human Bondage W. Somerset Maugham


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