The 16 Greatest Books of All Time by NYU Local

Two book editors for the nyulocal.com present their list of the 16 greatest books of all time, with a list of runner-ups as well.

  1. 1. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

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    For daring to peer into the heart of an adulteress and enumerate its contents with profound dispassion, the author of Madame Bovary was tried for "offenses against morality and religion." What shoc...


  2. 2. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

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    From the preeminent prose satirist in the English language, a great classic recounting the four remarkable journeys of ship's surgeon Lemuel Gulliver. For children it remains an enchanting fantasy;...


  3. 3. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

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    The Metamorphosis (German: Die Verwandlung) is a novella by Franz Kafka, first published in 1915. It is often cited as one of the seminal works of short fiction of the 20th century and is widely st...


  4. 4. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

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    Leaves of Grass (1855) is a poetry collection by the American poet Walt Whitman. Among the poems in the collection are "Song of Myself," "I Sing the Body Electric," "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Roc...


  5. 5. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

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    The book is told in stream of consciousness writing style by 15 different narrators in 59 chapters. It is the story of the death of Addie Bundren and her family's quest—noble or selfish—to honor he...


  6. 6. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust

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    Swann's Way, the first part of A la recherche de temps perdu, Marcel Proust's seven-part cycle, was published in 1913. In it, Proust introduces the themes that run through the entire work. The narr...


  7. 7. Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

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    Published posthumously in 1964, A Moveable Feast remains one of Ernest Hemingway's most beloved works. Since Hemingway's personal papers were released in 1979, scholars have examined and debated th...

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  8. 8. Paradise Lost by John Milton

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    Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was originally published in 1667 in ten books. A second edition followed in 1674, redivided into twelve...


  9. 9. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream by Hunter S. Thompson

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    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the best chronicle of drug-soaked, addle-brained, rollicking good times ever committed to the printed page. It is also the tale of a long weekend road trip that ha...

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  10. 10. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

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    The story details an incident when Marlow, an Englishman, took a foreign assignment from a Belgian trading company as a ferry-boat captain in Africa. Although Conrad does not specify the name of th...


  11. 11. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

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    The Sound and the Fury is set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County. The novel centers on the Compson family, former Southern aristocrats who are struggling to deal with the dissolution of their fa...


  12. 12. Collected Poems by Wallace Stevens

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    Wallace Stevens (October 2, 1879 – August 2, 1955) was an American Modernist poet. He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, educated at Harvard and then New York Law School, and he spent most of his l...


  13. 13. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

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    Anna Karenina tells of the doomed love affair between the sensuous and rebellious Anna and the dashing officer, Count Vronsky. Tragedy unfolds as Anna rejects her passionless marriage and must endu...


  14. 14. Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger

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    "DeDaumier-Smith's Blue Period," "Teddy," and "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" are among the nine works in a collection of Salinger's perceptive and realistic short stories

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  15. 15. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

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    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a semi-autobiographical novel by James Joyce, first serialized in The Egoist from 1914 to 1915 and published in book form in 1916. It depicts the formativ...


  16. 16. The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr and E. B. White

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    The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr., and E. B. White, is an American English writing style guide. It is the best-known and most influential prescriptive treatment of English grammar and us...


  17. 17. The Odyssey by Homer

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    The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work traditionally ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the m...


  18. 17. The Iliad by Homer

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    The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set in the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of Ilium by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and e...


  19. 17. The Persians by Aeschylus

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    The Persians is an Athenian tragedy by the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus. First produced in 472 BCE, it is the oldest surviving play in the history of theatre. It dramatises the Persian respon...


  20. 17. The Suppliants by Aeschylus

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    The Suppliants (Greek: Ικέτιδες / Hiketides; also translated as "The Suppliant Maidens") is a play by Aeschylus. It was probably first performed sometime after 470 BC as the first play in a trilogy...


  21. 17. Seven Against Thebes by Aeschylus

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    The Seven against Thebes (Greek: Ἑπτά ἐπί Θήβας, Hepta epi Thēbas) is the third play in an Oedipus-themed trilogy produced by Aeschylus in 467 BC. It concerns the battle between an Argive army led ...


  22. 17. Oresteia by Aeschylus

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    The Oresteia is a trilogy of Greek tragedies written by Aeschylus which concerns the end of the curse on the House of Atreus. When originally performed it was accompanied by Proteus, a satyr play t...


  23. 17. Ajax by Sophocles

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    Ajax is a play by Sophocles. The date of its first performance is unknown, but most scholars regard it as an early work, about 450 BCE to 430 BCE (J. Moore, 2). It chronicles the fate of the warrio...


  24. 17. Antigone by Sophocles

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    Antigone is a tragedy by Sophocles written before or in 442 BC. Chronologically, it is the third of the three Theban plays but was written first.[1] The play expands on the Theban legend that preda...


  25. 17. Medea by Euripides

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    Medea is an ancient Greek tragedy written by Euripides, based upon the myth of Jason and Medea and first produced in 431 BC. The plot centers on the barbarian protagonist as she finds her position ...


  26. 17. Oedipus the King by Sophocles

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    Oedipus the King is an Athenian tragedy by Sophocles that was first performed c. 429 BC. It was the second of Sophocles's three Theban plays to be produced, but it comes first in the internal chron...


  27. 17. Hippolytus by Euripides

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    Hippolytus (Ancient Greek: Ἱππόλυτος, Hippolytos) is an Ancient Greek tragedy by Euripides, based on the myth of Hippolytus, son of Theseus. The play was first produced for the City Dionysia of Ath...


  28. 17. Trojan Women by Euripides

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    The Trojan Women (Ancient Greek: Τρῳάδες, Trōiades), also known as Troades, is a tragedy by the Greek playwright Euripides. Produced in 415 BC during the Peloponnesian War, it is often considered a...


  29. 17. Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus

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    Prometheus Bound is an Ancient Greek tragedy. In Antiquity, this drama was attributed to Aeschylus, but is now considered by some scholars to be the work of another hand, perhaps one as late as ca....


  30. 17. Women of Trachis by Sophocles

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    Women of Trachis (Ancient Greek: Τραχίνιαι, Trachiniai; also translated as The Trachiniae) is an Athenian tragedy by Sophocles.


  31. 17. Philoctetes by Sophocles

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    Philoctetes is a play by Sophocles (Aeschylus and Euripides also each wrote a Philoctetes but theirs have not survived). It was first performed at the Festival of Dionysus in 409 BC, where it won f...


  32. 17. Electra by Sophocles

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    Electra or Elektra (Greek: Ἠλέκτρα / Ēlektra) is a Greek tragic play by Sophocles. Its date is not known, but various stylistic similarities with the Philoctetes (409 BC) and the Oedipus at Colonus...


  33. 17. The Bacchae by Euripides

    Image of The Bacchae

    Electra or Elektra (Ancient Greek: Ἠλέκτρα, Ēlektra) is a Greek tragedy by Sophocles. Its date is not known, but various stylistic similarities with the Philoctetes (409 BC) and the Oedipus at Colo...


  34. 17. Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles

    Image of Oedipus at Colonus

    Oedipus at Colonus is one of the three Theban plays of the Athenian tragedian Sophocles. It was written shortly before Sophocles' death in 406 BC and produced by his grandson (also called Sophocles...


  35. 17. Metamorphoses by Ovid

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    The Metamorphoses by the Roman poet Ovid is a narrative poem in fifteen books that describes the creation and history of the world. Completed in 8 AD, it has remained one of the most popular works ...


  36. 17. The Bible by Christian Church

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    The Authorized King James Version is an English translation of the Christian Bible begun in 1604 and completed in 1611 by the Church of England. Printed by the King's Printer, Robert Barker, the fi...


  37. 17. First Folio by William Shakespeare

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    Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies is the 1623 published collection of William Shakespeare's plays. Modern scholars commonly refer to it as the First Folio. Printed in folio...


  38. 17. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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    Dostoevsky's last and greatest novel, The Karamazov Brothers, is both a brilliantly told crime story and a passionate philosophical debate. The dissolute landowner Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov is mur...


  39. 17. The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud

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    This book introduces Freud's theory of the unconscious with respect to dream interpretation. Dreams, in Freud's view, were all forms of "wish-fulfillment" — attempts by the unconscious to resolve a...


  40. 17. Ulysses by James Joyce

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    Ulysses chronicles the passage of Leopold Bloom through Dublin during an ordinary day, June 16, 1904. The title parallels and alludes to Odysseus (Latinised into Ulysses), the hero of Homer's Odyss...


  41. 17. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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    The novel chronicles an era that Fitzgerald himself dubbed the "Jazz Age". Following the shock and chaos of World War I, American society enjoyed unprecedented levels of prosperity during the "roar...


  42. 17. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

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    The novel explores the lives and values of the so-called "Lost Generation," chronicling the experiences of Jake Barnes and several acquaintances on their pilgrimage to Pamplona for the annual San F...


  43. 17. U.S.A. Trilogy by John Dos Passos

    Image of U.S.A. Trilogy

    The U.S.A. Trilogy is the major work of American writer John Dos Passos, comprising the novels The 42nd Parallel (1930), 1919, also known as Nineteen Nineteen (1932), and The Big Money (1936). The ...


  44. 17. Henderson The Rain King by Saul Bellow

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    Bellow's glorious, spirited story of an eccentric American millionaire who finds a home of sorts in deepest Africa.


  45. 17. Hell's Angels by Hunter S. Thompson


  46. 17. Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon

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    A Time magazine and New York Times Best Book of the Year Charles Mason (1728–1786) and Jeremiah Dixon (1733–1779) were the British surveyors best remembered for running the boundary between Pennsyl...

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