After 6 “Top 100 Novels of All-Time” lists, one week, 155 books later, here we are: the 7 greatest novels of all time. Some of the choices are surprising, others are guessable (I know, because you’ve guessed them). This is the “Diamond” list – the novels every single person should read, blind, deaf, dumb or otherwise. They made it to all 6 “Top 100 Lists” created by professional and personal opinion alike. That means these 7 books are not only profound, but delightful.
Below the “Diamond” list you’ll find the “Platinum” list – further essential reading. “Gold” carries us into “only incredible” territory, and “Silver” takes us down to “true pioneers of the arts”. In total, these four lists are composed of 88 essential readings for everyone.
Below this are the “Bronze” readings – the 67 books that made it to two out of six “Best All Time Lists”, which means they’re very good, but normally for the die-hard literary fans. Here it is, all in one place, for your bookmarking/sharing convenience (also scroll to the bottom for a link to NPR’s “Top 100 Children’s Books”, courtesy of my BOB Tim Fall):
1984 – George Orwell (two reader’s lists named this the top novel)
Adventures of Huckleberry Fin – Mark Twain
Don Quixote – Miguel De Cervantes (two professional lists named Quixote the greatest novel of all time)
The Invisible Man – H.G. Wells
Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
Moby Dick – Herman Mellville
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoevsky The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald In Search of Lost Time – Marcel Proust Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert Middlemarch – George Eliot One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf Ulysses – James Joyce War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
The Arabian Nights – Anonymous Beloved – Toni Morrison Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh Catch 22 – Joseph Heller The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas Dead Souls – Nikolai Gogol The Golden Notebook – Doris Lessing The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck Great Expectations – Charles Dickens Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable – Samuel Beckett Nostromo – Joseph Conrad On the Road – Jack Kerouac Sons and Lovers – D.H. Lawrence The Tin Drum – Gunter Grass To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee Tom Jones – Henry Fielding Tristram Shandy – Laurence Stern Under the Volcano – Malcolm Lowry Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
The Aeneid – Virgil Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carrol All the King’s Men – Robert Penn Warren The Ambassadors – Henry James An American Tragedy – Theodore Dreiser The Awakening – Kate Chopin Brave New World – Aldous Huxley Call of the Wild – Jack London Candide – Voltaire The Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer David Copperfield – Charles Dickens Dracula – Bram Stoker Emma – Jane Austen Frankenstein – Mary Shelley Gravity’s Rainbow – Thomas Pynchon The Heart is a Lonely Hunter – Carson McCullers Herzog – Saul Bellow Journey to the End of the Night – Louis-Ferdinand Céline Les Miserables – Victor Hugo Little Women – Louisa Mat Alcott Lord of the Flies – William Golding Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie Mrs Dalloway – Virginia Woolf My Antonia – Willa Cather Native Son – Richard Wright The Odyssey – Homer The Old Man and the Sea – Earnest Hemingway A Passage to India – E.M. Forster The Plague – Albert Camus The Portrait of a Lady – Henry James A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – James Joyce The Red and the Black – Stendhal The Red Badge of Courage – Stephen Crane Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut The Tale of Genji – Murasaki Shikibu Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston The Trial – Frank Kafka The Tropic of Cancer – Henry Miller The Wind and the Willows – Kenneth Grahame The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
Absalom! Absalom! – William Faulkner Adventures of Auggie March – Saul Bellow The Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton American Pastoral – Philip Roth Atonement – Ian Mckellan Bleak House – Charles Dickens Blindness – Jose Saramago Bridge of Sighs – Richard Russo Buddenbrooks – Thomas Mann Call it Sleep – Henry Roth Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White Clarissa – Samuel Richardson A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole Daniel Deronda – George Eliot The Death of Ivan Illyich – Leo Tolstoy Death Comes for the Archbishop – Willa Cather Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson Fairy Tales – Hans Christian Anderson Fathers and Sons – Ivan Turgenev Ficciones – Jorge Luis Borges Finnegan’s Wake – James Joyce Germinal – Emile Zola Go Tell it on the Mountain – James Baldwin Hamlet – William Shakespeare Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad A House for Mr. Biswas – V.S. Naipaul Housekeeping – Marilynne Robinson Howard’s End – E.M. Forster House of Mirth – Edith Wharton Hunger – Knut Hamsun I, Claudius – Robert Graves Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace The Idiot – Fyodor Dostoevsky The Iliad – Homer Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy The Last of the Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis Light in August – William Faulkner Lucky Jim – Kingsley Amis Le Pere Goriot – Honore de Balzac Lost Illusions – Honore de Balzac The Magic Mountain – Thomas Mann Main Street – Sinclair Lewis The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammott The Man Without Qualities – Robert Musil Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck Money – Martin Amis Naked Lunch – William S. Burroughs Northern Lights – Philip Pullman Pale Fire – Vladimir Nabokov A Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan The Possessed – Fyodor Dostoevsky The Prime of Ms. Jean Brodie – Murial Spark Rabbit Angstrom: A tetralogy – John Updike Red Harvest – Dashiell Hammett The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett Sister Carrie – Theodore Dreiser The Sot-Weed Factor – John Barth The Stranger – Albert Camus The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe USA Trilogy – John Dos Passos
What are your top 7?
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