The Greatest Books of All Time


How is this list generated?


This list is generated from 130 "best of" book lists from a variety of great sources. An algorithm is used to create a master list based on how many lists a particular book appears on. Some lists count more than others. I generally trust "best of all time" lists voted by authors and experts over user-generated lists. On the lists that are actually ranked, the book that is 1st counts a lot more than the book that's 100th. If you're interested in the details about how the rankings are generated and which lists are the most important(in my eyes) please check out the list details page.

If you have any comments, suggestions, or corrections please feel free to e-mail me.


  1. 2201 . A New Life by Bernard Malamud

    Sy Levin, a high school teacher beset by alcohol and bad decisions, leaves New York for the Pacific Northwest to start over, imagining that an extraordinary new life awaits him there. Soon after ar...

    - Google
  2. 2202 . City of Salt by Abdelrahman Munif

    Banned in Saudia Arabia, this is a blistering look at Arab and American hypocrisy following the discovery of oil in a poor oasis community.

  3. 2203 . The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak

    Populated with vibrant characters, The Bastard of Istanbul is the story of two families, one Turkish and one Armenian American, and their struggle to forge their unique identities against the backd...

    - Google
  4. 2204 . Palace of Desire by Naguib Mahfouz

    Continuing the story of al-Sayyid Ahmad and his family, this is a fascinating look at Egypt in the 1920s. Increased personal freedoms mix tenuously with traditions of family control, as two of Ahma...

    - Google
  5. 2205 . Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz

    Palace Walk is the first novel in Nobel Prize-winner Naguib Mahfouz’s magnificent Cairo Trilogy, an epic family saga of colonial Egypt that is considered his masterwork. The novels of the Cairo Tri...

    - Google
  6. 2206 . Sugar Street by Naguib Mahfouz

    A Nobel laureate's collection of five original tales inspired by the Egypt of the pharaohs brings the world of ancient Egypt face-to-face with modern times. Reprint.

    - Google
  7. 2207 . Waverley by Sir Walter Scott

    Waverley is an 1814 historical novel by Sir Walter Scott. Initially published anonymously in 1814 as Scott's first venture into prose fiction, Waverley is often regarded as the first historical nov...

  8. 2208 . Rhinoceros and Other Plays by Eugène Ionesco

    Presents three dramatic works by the contemporary French experimental playwright: The Leader, The Future Is in Eggs or It Takes all Sorts to Make a World, and Rhinoceros.

    - Google
  9. 2209 . Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata

    Snow Country is the first full-length novel by the Nobel Prize-winning Japanese author Yasunari Kawabata. The novel established Kawabata as one of Japan's foremost authors and became an instant cla...

  10. 2210 . The Heather Blazing by Colm Toibin

    Eamon Redmond is a judge in Ireland’s high court, a completely legal creature who is just beginning to discover how painfully unconnected he is from other human beings. With effortless fluency, Col...

    - Google
  11. 2211 . An Accidental Man by Iris Murdoch

    A scintillating novel of fate, accidents, and moral dilemmas Set in the time of the Vietnam War, this story concerns the plight of a young American, happily installed in a perfect job in England, e...

    - Google
  12. 2212 . Waiting for the Mahatma by R. K. Narayan

    In the novels of R. K. Narayan (1906-2001), the forefather of modern Indian fiction, human-scale hopes and epiphanies express the promise of a nation as it awakens to its place in the world. In Wai...

    - Google
  13. 2213 . Cities of the Red Night: A Novel by William S. Burroughs

    Clem Snide, a private detective, has to solve a case of ritual murder. In the Gobi Desert 100,000 years ago, a red virus has erupted. And in the 18th century, gay pirates have set up their own repu...

    - Google
  14. 2214 . The Illustrious House of Ramires by Eça de Queirós

    "Eça de Queiros (1845-1900) ought to be," as the London Observer stated, "up there with Balzac, Dickens, and Tolstoy as one of the talismanic names of the nineteenth century." His superlative penul...

    - Google
  15. 2215 . My Life and My Life in the Nineties by Lyn Hejinian

    Lyn Hejinian is among the most prominent of contemporary American poets. Her poem My Life has garnered accolades and fans inside and outside academia. First published in 1980, and revised in 1987 a...

    - Google
  16. 2216 . The Bottle Factory Outing by Beryl Bainbridge

    The Bottle Factory Outing is a 1974 novel written by Beryl Bainbridge, it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize that year and won the Guardian Fiction Prize. It is also listed as one of the 100 grea...

  17. 2217 . The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis

    Charles Highway, a precociously intelligent and highly sexed teenager, is determined to sleep with an older woman before he turns twenty. Rachel fits the bill perfectly and Charles plans his seduct...

    - Google
  18. 2218 . The Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers

    A classic work that has charmed generations of readers, this collection assembles Carson McCullers’s best stories, including her beloved novella “The Ballad of the Sad Café.” A haunting tale of a h...

    - Google
  19. 2219 . Sweet Days of Discipline by Fleur Jaeggy

    The story of a fourteen-year-old girl living in a bording school in postwar Switzerland.

    - Google
  20. 2220 . I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem by Maryse Condé

    This wild and entertaining novel expands on the true story of the West Indian slave Tituba, who was accused of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, arrested in 1692, and forgotten in jail until the ...

    - Google
  21. 2221 . The Periodic Table by Primo Levi

    The stories have various themes: the experiences of life in Nazi concentration camps, legacies from the profession of chemistry, tales both true and with his own fantasy, creating a vision of the s...

  22. 2222 . The Loser by Thomas Bernhard

    Thomas Bernhard (1931-1989) has been hailed by Gabriel Josipovici as 'Austria's finest postwar writer' and by George Steiner as 'one of the masters of contemporary European fiction.' Faber Finds is...

    - Google
  23. 2223 . Distant Star by Roberto Bolaño

    The star in this hair-raising novel is Alberto Ruiz-Tagle, an Air Force pilot who exploits the 1973 coup in Chile to launch his own version of the New Chilean Poetry, a multimedia enterprise that s...

    - Google
  24. 2224 . The Spoils of Poynton by Henry James

    The Spoils of Poynton is a novel by Henry James, first published under the title The Old Things as a serial in The Atlantic Monthly in 1896 and then as a book in 1897. This half-length novel descri...

    - Google
  25. 2225 . L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy

    Los Angeles in the 1950s: from its fabulous mansions to its sizzling nightclubs, it is a sprawling center of corruption and dangerous passions. Now a horrific mass murder invades the bleak cityscap...

  26. 2226 . Stoner by John Williams

    William Stoner is born at the end of the nineteenth century into a dirt-poor Missouri farming family. Sent to the state university to study agronomy, he instead falls in love with English literatur...

    - Google
  27. 2227 . Cold Nights by Ba Jin

  28. 2228 . The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe

    The Woman in the Dunes, by celebrated writer and thinker Kobo Abe, combines the essence of myth, suspense and the existential novel. After missing the last bus home following a day trip to the seas...

    - Google
  29. 2229 . The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

    Voted greatest mystery novel of all time by the Crime Writers’ Association in 1990, Josephine Tey recreates one of history’s most famous—and vicious—crimes in her classic bestselling novel, a must ...

    - Google
  30. 2230 . VALIS by Philip K. Dick

    “Dick is one of the ten best American writers of the twentieth century, which is saying a lot. Dick was a kind of Kafka steeped in LSD and rage.”—Roberto Bolaño What is VALIS? This question is at t...

    - Google
  31. 2231 . The Black Swan by Thomas Mann

    Thomas Mann's bold and disturbing novella, written in 1952, is the feminine counterpart of his masterpiece Death in Venice. Written from the point of view of a woman in what we might now call mid-l...

    - Google
  32. 2232 . Falconer by John Cheever

    It tells the story of Ezekiel Farragut, a university professor and drug addict who is serving time in Falconer State Prison for the murder of his brother. Farragut struggles to retain his humanity ...

  33. 2233 . Miss Julie by August Strindberg

    Miss Julie (Swedish: Fröken Julie) is a naturalistic play written in 1888 by August Strindberg. It is set on Midsummer's Eve on the estate of a Count in Sweden. The young woman of the title is draw...

  34. 2234 . John Wesley's Sermons: An Anthology by Albert C. Outler

    Adapted from Albert Outler's 4-volume text The Works of John Wesley, this anthology of 50 of Wesley's finest sermons. Arranged chronologically with introductory commentary by Richard Heitzenrater.

    - Google
  35. 2235 . The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells

    In this renowned novel by H.G. Wells, a heavily disguised man takes up residence at a rural English inn and begins performing secret experiments, leading to intense curiosity from the locals. Event...

    - Google
  36. 2236 . Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens

    After his father's death, Nicholas Nickleby, his mother and sister are at the mercy of his cold and unfeeling Uncle Ralph. Keen to rid himself of his nephew, Ralph sends Nicholas to work for a wick...

    - Google
  37. 2237 . The Short Stories Of Thomas Hardy by Thomas Hardy

    This is the extended annotated edition including a rare biographical essay on the life and works of the author. This compilation of Thomas Hardy's short stories is one of the most complete on the b...

    - Google
  38. 2238 . A Spy In The House Of Love by Anaïs Nin

    Beautiful, bored and bourgeoise, Sabina leads a double life inspired by her relentless desire for brief encounters with near-strangers. Fired into faithlessness by a desperate longing for sexual fu...

    - Google
  39. 2239 . Hangover Square: A Story of Darkest Earl's Court by Patrick Hamilton

    London 1939, and in the grimy publands of Earls Court, George Harvey Bone is pursuing a helpless infatuation. Netta is cool, contemptuous and hopelessly desirable to George. George is adrift in a d...

    - Google
  40. 2240 . Stories by T. C. Boyle

    T. C. Boyle is one of the most inventive and wickedly funny short story writers at work today. Over the course of twenty-five years, Boyle has built up a body of short fiction that is remarkable in...

    - Google
  41. 2241 . The Subterraneans by Jack Kerouac

    Written over the course of three days and three nights, The Subterraneans was generated out of the same ecstatic flash of inspiration that produced another one of Kerouac's early classic, On The Ro...

    - Google
  42. 2242 . Early Novels and Stories by James Baldwin

    A collection of stories penned by one of the greatest African-American writers of the postwar era includes such works as Go Tell It on the Mountain, Giovanni's Room, Another Country, and Going to M...

    - Google
  43. 2243 . Everyman by Anonymous

    Everyman is the most durable of medieval morality plays, in which the central character, summoned by death, must face final judgment on the strength of his good deeds. The work is reprinted here al...

    - Google
  44. 2244 . The Pioneers by James Fenimore Cooper

    The Pioneers: The Sources of the Susquehanna; a Descriptive Tale is a historical novel, the first published of the Leatherstocking Tales, a series of five novels by American writer James Fenimore C...

  45. 2245 . Ubik by Philip K. Dick

    An accident has occurred. Joe Chip and his colleagues—all but one of them—have narrowly escaped an explosion at a moon base. Or is it the other way round? Did Joe and the others die, and did the on...

    - Time
  46. 2246 . Volpone by Ben Jonson

    Volpone[1] (Italian for "sly fox") is a comedy play by English playwright Ben Jonson first produced in 1606, drawing on elements of city comedy and beast fable. A merciless satire of greed and lust...

  47. 2247 . The Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare

    The Winter's Tale is a play by William Shakespeare, originally published in the First Folio of 1623. Although it was grouped among the comedies, some modern editors have relabelled the play as one ...

    - Google
  48. 2248 . The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov by Vladimir Nabokov

    From the writer who shocked and delighted the world with his novels Lolita, Pale Fire, and Ada, or Ardor, and so many others, comes a magnificent collection of stories. Written between the 1920s an...

    - Google
  49. 2249 . New Atlantis by Francis Bacon

    New Atlantis is an incomplete utopian novel by Sir Francis Bacon, published in 1627. In this work, Bacon portrayed a vision of the future of human discovery and knowledge, expressing his aspiration...

  50. 2250 . The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope

    The Rape of the Lock is a mock-heroic narrative poem written by Alexander Pope, first published anonymously in Lintot's Miscellaneous Poems and Translations in May 1712 in two cantos (334 lines), b...