The Great American Read by PBS

PBS and the producers worked with the public opinion polling service “YouGov” to conduct a demographically and statistically representative survey asking Americans to name their most-loved novel. Approximately 7,200 people participated. The results were tallied and organized based on our selection criteria and overseen by an advisory panel of 13 literary industry professionals. The criteria for inclusion on the top 100 list were as follows: Each author was limited to one title on the list (to keep the list varied). Books published in series or featuring ongoing characters counted as one eligible entry on the list (e.g. the Harry Potter series or Lord of the Rings)to increase variety. Books could be from anywhere in the world as long as they were published in English. Only fiction could be included in the poll. Each advisory panel member was permitted to select one book for discussion and possible inclusion on the top 100 list from the longer list of survey results.

  1. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

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    Alonso Quixano, a retired country gentleman in his fifties, lives in an unnamed section of La Mancha with his niece and a housekeeper. He has become obsessed with books of chivalry, and believes th...


  2. Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan

    Image of Pilgrim's Progress

    One of the most powerful dramas of Christian faith ever written, this captivating allegory of man's religious journey in search of salvation follows the pilgrim as he travels an obstacle-filled roa...


  3. 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;...


  4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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    The book is narrated in free indirect speech following the main character Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with matters of upbringing, marriage, moral rightness and education in her aristocratic socie...


  5. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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    At this challenge, Mary Shelley began work on the 'ghost story' that was to evolve into the most celebrated horror novel in literary history. Frankenstein was published the next year and become the...


  6. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

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    Set against the tumultuous years of the post-Napoleonic era, The Count of Monet Cristo recounts the swashbuckling adventures of Edmond Dantes, a dashing young sailor falsely accused of treason. The...


  7. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

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    The narrative is non-linear, involving several flashbacks, and two primary narrators: Mr. Lockwood and Ellen "Nelly" Dean. The novel opens in 1801, with Mr. Lockwood arriving at Thrushcross Grange,...


  8. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

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    Jane Eyre is a first-person narrative of the title character, a small, plain-faced, intelligent and honest English orphan. The novel goes through five distinct stages: Jane's childhood at Gateshead...


  9. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

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    First published in 1851, Melville's masterpiece is, in Elizabeth Hardwick's words, "the greatest novel in American literature." The saga of Captain Ahab and his monomaniacal pursuit of the white wh...


  10. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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    Great Expectations is written in the genre of "bildungsroman" or the style of book that follows the story of a man or woman in their quest for maturity, usually starting from childhood and ending i...


  11. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

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    In 1862 Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a shy Oxford mathematician with a stammer, created a story about a little girl tumbling down a rabbit hole. Thus began the immortal adventures of Alice, perhaps th...


  12. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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    It is a murder story, told from a murder;s point of view, that implicates even the most innocent reader in its enormities. It is a cat-and-mouse game between a tormented young killer and a cheerful...


  13. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

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    Written and set in the Alcott family home, Orchard House, in Concord, Massachusetts, it was published in two parts in 1868 and 1869. The novel follows the lives of four sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth and Am...


  14. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

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    Epic in scale, War and Peace delineates in graphic detail events leading up to Napoleon's invasion of Russia, and the impact of the Napoleonic era on Tsarist society, as seen through the eyes of fi...


  15. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

    Image of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

    The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain is an 1876 novel about a young boy growing up along the Mississippi River. The story is set in the fictional town of St. Petersburg, inspired by Hannibal,...


  16. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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    Celebrated novel traces the moral degeneration of a handsome young Londoner from an innocent fop into a cruel and reckless pursuer of pleasure and, ultimately, a murderer. As Dorian Gray sinks into...


  17. 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...


  18. The Call of the Wild by Jack London

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    The plot concerns a previously domesticated and even somewhat pampered dog named Buck, whose primordial instincts return after a series of events finds him serving as a sled dog in the treacherous...


  19. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

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    Anne of Green Gables is a bestselling novel by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery published in 1908. It was written as fiction for readers of all ages, but in recent decades has been considered a...


  20. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

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    Classic novel that has inspired generations of seekers. Blending Eastern mysticism and psychoanalysis, Hesse presents a strikingly original view of man and culture and the arduous process of self-d...

    - Google

  21. 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...


  22. 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...


  23. Doña Bárbara by Rómulo Gallegos

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    Dona Barbara tells the tale of an epic struggle between two cousins for a cast estate and ranch in the Venezuelan llano, or prairie...Published in 1929 and all but forgotten by Anglophone readers, ...

    - Google

  24. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

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    The main character, an African American woman in her early forties named Janie Crawford, tells the story of her life and journey via an extended flashback to her best friend, Pheoby, so that Pheoby...


  25. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

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    Gone With the Wind is set in Jonesboro and Atlanta, Georgia during the American Civil War and Reconstruction and follows the life of Scarlett O'Hara, the daughter of an Irish immigrant plantation o...


  26. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

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    Rebecca is considered to be one of her best works. Some observers have noted parallels with Jane Eyre. Much of the novel was written while she was staying in Alexandria, Egypt, where her husband wa...


  27. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

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    Set during the Great Depression, the novel focuses on a poor family of sharecroppers, the Joads, driven from their home by drought, economic hardship, and changes in the agriculture industry. In a ...


  28. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

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    And Then There Were None is a mystery novel by Agatha Christie, widely considered her masterpiece and described by her as the most difficult of her books to have written.


  29. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

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    The American classic about a young girl's coming-of-age at the turn of the century. This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended ...

    - Google

  30. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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    Since 1943, the wise little boy from Asteroid B-612 has led children and their adults to deeper understandings of love, friendship, and responsibility. The Little Prince is a cherished story, read ...

    - Google

  31. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

    Image of The Catcher in the Rye

    The Catcher in the Rye is a 1945 novel by J. D. Salinger. Originally published for adults, the novel has become a common part of high school and college curricula throughout the English-speaking wo...


  32. Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell

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    The story follows the life of one seemingly insignificant man, Winston Smith, a civil servant assigned the task of perpetuating the regime's propaganda by falsifying records and political literatur...


  33. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

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    The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of seven high fantasy novels by author C.S. Lewis. It is considered a classic of children's literature and is the author's best-known work, having sold over 100...


  34. Foundation by Isaac Asimov

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    Foundation is the first book in Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy (later expanded into The Foundation Series). Foundation is a collection of five short stories, which were first published together ...


  35. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

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    The novel addresses many of the social and intellectual issues facing African-Americans in the early twentieth century, including black nationalism, the relationship between black identity and Marx...


  36. Charlotte's Web by E. B. White

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    The novel tells the story of a pig named Wilbur and his friendship with a barn spider named Charlotte. When Wilbur is in danger of being slaughtered by the farmer, Charlotte writes messages praisin...


  37. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

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    The Lord of the Rings is an epic high fantasy novel written by philologist and Oxford University professor J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's earlier, less complex children'...


  38. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

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    Ayn Rand's epochal novel, first published in 1957, has been a bestseller for more than four decades as well as an intellectual landmark. It is the story of a man who said that he would stop the mot...


  39. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

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    A novel of great power that turns the world upside down. The Nigerian novelist Achebe reached back to the early days of his people's encounter with colonialism, the 1890's, though the white man and...

    - Time

  40. A Separate Peace by John Knowles

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    It would be inconceivable for an American author to write a coming-of-age novel in a comedic vein without reckoning with J.D. Salinger's A Catcher in the Rye; and it would be equally impossible to ...


  41. The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

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    The Sirens of Titan is an outrageous romp through space, time, and morality. The richest, most depraved man on Earth, Malachi Constant, is offered a chance to take a space journey to distant worlds...

    - Google

  42. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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    As a Southern Gothic novel and a Bildungsroman, the primary themes of To Kill a Mockingbird involve racial injustice and the destruction of innocence. Scholars have noted that Lee also addresses is...


  43. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

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    Catch-22 is a satirical, historical novel by the American author Joseph Heller, first published in 1961. The novel, set during the later stages of World War II from 1943 onwards, is frequently cite...


  44. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

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    A young boy living in the Ozarks achieves his heart's desire when he becomes the owner of two redbone hounds and teaches them to be champion hunters.

    - Google

  45. Another Country by James Baldwin

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    Another Country is a 1962 novel by James Baldwin. The novel tells of the bohemian lifestyle of musicians, writers and other artists living in Greenwich Village in the late 1950s. It portrayed many ...


  46. Dune by Frank Herbert

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    Dune is a science fiction novel written by Frank Herbert, published in 1965. It won the Hugo Award in 1966, and also the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel. Dune was also the first bestselling h...


  47. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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    One of the 20th century's enduring works, One Hundred Years of Solitude is a widely beloved and acclaimed novel known throughout the world, and the ultimate achievement in a Nobel Prize–winning car...


  48. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton

    Image of The Outsiders

    The Outsiders is a coming-of-age novel by S. E. Hinton, first published in 1967 by Viking Press. Hinton was 15 when she started writing the novel, but did most of the work when she was 16 and a jun...


  49. The Godfather by Mario Puzo

    Image of The Godfather

    The Godfather is a crime novel written by American author Mario Puzo, originally published in 1969 by G. P. Putnam's Sons. It details the story of a fictitious Sicilian Mafia family based in New Yo...


  50. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

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    Stories filled with wonder and the haunting beauty of his culture have helped make Rudolfo Anaya the father of Chicano literature in English, and his tales fairly shimmer with the lyric richness of...

    - Google

  51. Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

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    For almost four decades Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City has blazed its own trail through popular culture—from a groundbreaking newspaper serial to a classic novel, to a television event that e...

    - Google

  52. The Stand by Stephen King

    Image of The Stand

    The Stand is a post-apocalyptic horror/fantasy novel by American author Stephen King. It re-works the scenario in his earlier short story, Night Surf. The novel was originally published in 1978 and...


  53. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

    Image of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the title of the first of five books in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy comedy science fiction series by Douglas Adams. The novel is an adaptation of th...


  54. Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

    Image of Flowers in the Attic

    Flowers in the Attic is a 1979 Gothic novel by V. C. Andrews. It is the first book in the Dollanganger Series, and was followed by Petals on the Wind, If There Be Thorns, Seeds of Yesterday, and Ga...


  55. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

    Image of A Confederacy of Dunces

    A Confederacy of Dunces is a picaresque novel written by John Kennedy Toole, published in 1980, 11 years after the author's suicide. The book was published through the efforts of writer Walker Perc...


  56. The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

    Image of The Clan of the Cave Bear

    The Clan of the Cave Bear is a historical fiction novel by Jean M. Auel about prehistoric times set somewhat before the extinction of the Neanderthal race after 600,000 years as a species, and at l...


  57. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

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    Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on female black life during the 1930s in the Southern United States, addressing the numerous issues including their exceedingly low position ...


  58. The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy

    Image of The Hunt for Red October

    The Hunt for Red October is Tom Clancy's 1984 debut novel. The story follows a CIA analyst who leads a group of United States Navy officers to take possession of a cutting-edge Soviet nuclear subma...


  59. The Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan

    Image of The Wheel of Time Series

    The Wheel of Time is a series of high fantasy novels written by American author James Oliver Rigney, Jr. under his pen name of Robert Jordan. Originally planned as a six-book series, The Wheel of T...


  60. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

    Image of The Handmaid's Tale

    The Handmaid's Tale is a feminist dystopian novel, a work of science fiction or speculative fiction, written by Canadian author Margaret Atwood and first published by McClelland and Stewart in 1985...


  61. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

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    Lonesome Dove, written by Larry McMurtry, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning western novel and the first published book of the Lonesome Dove series. The story focuses on the relationship of several retire...


  62. This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti

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    This Present Darkness is a Christian novel by Frank E. Peretti. Published in 1986 by Crossway Books, This Present Darkness was Peretti's first published novel for adults and shows contemporary view...

    - Google

  63. Watchers by Dean R. Koontz

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    Two creatures, the end result of experiments in genetic engineering and enhanced intelligence, escape from a government laboratory and bring either death and destruction or a touching new kind of l...

    - Google

  64. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

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    This award-winning contemporary classic is the survival story with which all others are compared—and a page-turning, heart-stopping adventure, recipient of the Newbery Honor. Thirteen-year-old Bria...

    - Google

  65. Beloved by Toni Morrison

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    Beloved (1987) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison. The novel, her fifth, is loosely based on the life and legal case of the slave Margaret Garner, about whom Morrison...


  66. Swan Song by Robert McCammon

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    "In a wasteland born of rage and fear, populated by monstrous creatures and marauding armies, earth's last survivors have been drawn into the final battle between good and evil that will decide the...

    - Google

  67. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

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    "My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer," the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky." Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering...

    - Google

  68. The Mind Invaders by Dave Hunt

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    "We've been watching your development--we're here to help you take the next step. Open up. There's nothing to fear". Discovering the CIA and Russian Intelligence's battle for psychic control, famed...

    - Google

  69. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

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    In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys—best friends—are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy’s mo...


  70. The Pillars Of The Earth by Ken Follet

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    The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known...of Tom, the mason who bec...


  71. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

    Image of The Joy Luck Club

    The Joy Luck Club (1989) is a best-selling novel written by Amy Tan. It focuses on the game and four Chinese American immigrant families who start a club known as "the Joy Luck Club," playing the C...


  72. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

    Image of Jurassic Park

    Jurassic Park is a 1990 science fiction novel written by Michael Crichton, divided into seven sections (iterations). A cautionary tale about genetic engineering, it presents the collapse of an amus...


  73. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

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    Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another... In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husba...

    - Google

  74. The Giver by Lois Lowry

    Image of The Giver

    The Giver is a 1993 soft science fiction novel by Lois Lowry. It is set in a future society which is at first presented as a utopian society and gradually appears more and more dystopian; therefore...


  75. Left Behind by Tim LaHaye, Jerry B. Jenkins

    Image of Left Behind

    Left Behind is a series of 16 best-selling religious novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, dealing with Christian dispensationalist End Times: the pretribulation, premillennial, Christian esch...


  76. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

    Image of The Notebook

    The Notebook is a 1996 romantic novel by American novelist Nicholas Sparks, The novel was later adapted into a popular film of the same name, in 2004. The Indian Bollywood film, Zindagi Tere Naam, ...


  77. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

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    The kingdom of the royal Stark family faces its ultimate challenge in the onset of a generation-long winter, the poisonous plots of the rival Lannisters, the emergence of the Neverborn demons, and ...

    - Google

  78. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

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    A literary sensation and runaway bestseller, this brilliant debut novel tells with seamless authenticity and exquisite lyricism the true confessions of one of Japan's most celebrated geisha. Speaki...

    - Google

  79. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling

    Image of Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone

    Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the first novel in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling and featuring Harry Potter, a young wizard. It describes how Harry discovers he is a ...


  80. The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah

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    Renowned hip-hop artist, writer, and activist Sister Souljah brings the streets of New York to life in a powerful and utterly unforgettable first novel. I came busting into the world during one of ...

    - Google

  81. The Intuitionist: A Novel by Colson Whitehead

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    Colson Whitehead's The Intuitionist wowed critics and readers everywhere and marked the debut of an important American writer. This marvellously inventive, genre-bending, noir-inflected novel, set ...

    - Google

  82. White Teeth by Zadie Smith

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    This may be the first novel ever written that truly feels at home in our borderless, globalized, intermarried, post-colonial age, populated by "children with first and last names on a direct collis...

    - Time

  83. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

    Image of The Lovely Bones

    The Lovely Bones is a 2002 novel by Alice Sebold. It is the story of a teenage girl who, after being brutally raped and murdered, watches from heaven as her family and friends go on with their live...


  84. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

    Image of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is a 2003 novel by British writer Mark Haddon. It won the 2003 Whitbread Book of the Year and the 2004 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First B...


  85. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

    Image of Gilead

    Gilead is a novel written by Marilynne Robinson and published in 2004. It won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as the National Book Critics Circle Award. The novel is the fictional auto...


  86. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

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  87. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

    Image of The Book Thief

    The Book Thief is a best-selling novel by Markus Zusak published in 2005. It was a 2007 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book. As of September 2009 it has been on the New York Times Children's Best Se...


  88. Looking for Alaska by John Green

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    Sixteen-year-old Miles' first year at Culver Creek Preparatory School in Alabama includes good friends and great pranks, but is defined by the search for answers about life and death after a fatal ...

    - Google

  89. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

    Image of The Da Vinci Code

    The Da Vinci Code is a 2003 mystery-detective fiction novel written by American author Dan Brown. It follows symbologist Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu as they investigate a murder in Paris's Louv...


  90. The Shack by William P Young

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    Mackenzie Allen Phillips's youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation. Evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon ...

    - Google

  91. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

    Image of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

    The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007) is a best-selling novel written by Dominican-American author Junot Díaz. Although a work of fiction, the novel is set in New Jersey where Díaz was raised...


  92. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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    In a future North America, where the rulers of Panem maintain control through an annual televised survival competition pitting young people from each of the twelve districts against one another, si...

    - Google

  93. I, Alex Cross by James Patterson

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    You can't run Detective Alex Cross is pulled out of a family celebration and given the awful news that a beloved relative has been found brutally murdered. Alex vows to hunt down the killer, and so...

    - Google

  94. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

    Image of The Help

    The Help is a 2009 novel by American author Kathryn Stockett. The story is about African-American maids working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi, during the early 1960s. A USA Today arti...

    - Google

  95. The Martian by Andy Weir

    Image of The Martian

    The Martian is a 2011 science fiction novel written by Andy Weir. It was his debut novel under his own name. It was originally self-published in 2011; Crown Publishing purchased the rights and re-r...


  96. Fifty Shades of Grey: by E L James

    Image of Fifty Shades of Grey:

    When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is star...

    - Google

  97. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

    Image of Ready Player One

    Ready Player One is a 2011 LitRPG science fiction novel, and the debut novel of American author Ernest Cline. The story, set in a dystopian 2040s, follows protagonist Wade Watts on his search for a...


  98. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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    Who are you? What have we done to each other? These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The pol...

    - Google

  99. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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    One of The New York Times's Ten Best Books of the Year Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction An NPR "Great Reads" Book, a Chicago Tribune Best Book, a Washington Post Notable...

    - Google

  100. Ghost by Jason Reynolds

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    Aspiring to be the fastest sprinter on his elite middle school's track team, gifted runner Ghost finds his goal challenged by a tragic past with a violent father.

    - Google