The 100 Favorite Novels of Librarians

This is one of the 210 lists we use to generate our main The Greatest Books list.

  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

    Set in early 19th-century England, this classic novel revolves around the lives of the Bennet family, particularly the five unmarried daughters. The narrative explores themes of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage within the society of the landed gentry. It follows the romantic entanglements of Elizabeth Bennet, the second eldest daughter, who is intelligent, lively, and quick-witted, and her tumultuous relationship with the proud, wealthy, and seemingly aloof Mr. Darcy. Their story unfolds as they navigate societal expectations, personal misunderstandings, and their own pride and prejudice.

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

    Set in the racially charged South during the Depression, the novel follows a young girl and her older brother as they navigate their small town's societal norms and prejudices. Their father, a lawyer, is appointed to defend a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman, forcing the children to confront the harsh realities of racism and injustice. The story explores themes of morality, innocence, and the loss of innocence through the eyes of the young protagonists.

  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

    The novel follows the life of Jane Eyre, an orphan who is mistreated by her relatives and sent to a charity school. As she grows up, Jane becomes a governess at Thornfield Hall, where she falls in love with the brooding and mysterious Mr. Rochester. However, she soon learns of a dark secret in his past that threatens their future together. The story is a profound exploration of a woman's self-discovery and her struggle for independence and love in a rigid Victorian society.

  • Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

    Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War and Reconstruction era, this novel follows the life of a young Southern belle, who is known for her beauty and charm. Her life takes a turn when she is forced to make drastic changes to survive the war and its aftermath. The story revolves around her struggle to maintain her family's plantation and her complicated love life, especially her unrequited love for a married man, and her tumultuous relationship with a roguish blockade runner.

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

    This epic high-fantasy novel centers around a modest hobbit who is entrusted with the task of destroying a powerful ring that could enable the dark lord to conquer the world. Accompanied by a diverse group of companions, the hobbit embarks on a perilous journey across Middle-earth, battling evil forces and facing numerous challenges. The narrative, rich in mythology and complex themes of good versus evil, friendship, and heroism, has had a profound influence on the fantasy genre.

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

    The novel follows the story of a teenager named Holden Caulfield, who has just been expelled from his prep school. The narrative unfolds over the course of three days, during which Holden experiences various forms of alienation and his mental state continues to unravel. He criticizes the adult world as "phony" and struggles with his own transition into adulthood. The book is a profound exploration of teenage rebellion, alienation, and the loss of innocence.

  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

    This classic novel follows the lives of the four March sisters - Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy - as they navigate the challenges and joys of adolescence and adulthood in 19th century New England. As they grow, they grapple with issues of poverty, gender roles, love, and personal identity, each in her own unique way. The story is a testament to the power of family, sisterhood, and female resilience in a time of societal constraints.

  • A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

    The book is a tale of two childhood friends, one of whom believes he is God's instrument. The story is set in a New England town during the 1950s and 1960s and follows the lives of the two boys, one small and with a strange voice, who has visions of his own death and believes he is an instrument of God, and the other, the narrator, who struggles with faith. The novel explores themes of faith, fate, and the power of friendship against a backdrop of historical and political events, including the Vietnam War.

  • The Stand by Stephen King

    This post-apocalyptic horror/fantasy novel presents a world devastated by a deadly plague, killing 99% of the population. The survivors, drawn together by dreams of a charismatic and benevolent figure, gather in Boulder, Colorado to form a new society. However, a malevolent figure also emerges, attracting a following of his own and setting the stage for a classic battle between good and evil. The story delves into themes of community, morality, and the capacity for both destruction and regeneration within humanity.

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

    Set in the summer of 1922, the novel follows the life of a young and mysterious millionaire, his extravagant lifestyle in Long Island, and his obsessive love for a beautiful former debutante. As the story unfolds, the millionaire's dark secrets and the corrupt reality of the American dream during the Jazz Age are revealed. The narrative is a critique of the hedonistic excess and moral decay of the era, ultimately leading to tragic consequences.

  • The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

    This novel reimagines the Arthurian legends from the perspectives of the women involved. It centers around Morgaine, Arthur's half-sister, who is a priestess of Avalon, and Gwenhwyfar, Arthur's queen. The story explores their roles in the political and spiritual conflicts that arise as Christianity begins to replace the old pagan ways. It delves into themes of love, loyalty, and power, while offering a fresh take on a classic tale.

  • David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

    This novel follows the life of its titular protagonist from his childhood to maturity. Born to a young widow, David endures a difficult childhood when his mother remarries a harsh and abusive man. After his mother's death, he is sent to a boarding school before being forced into child labor. As he grows, David experiences hardship, love, and loss, all the while meeting a colorful array of characters. The novel is a journey of self-discovery and personal growth, showcasing the harsh realities of 19th-century England.

  • Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

    Set in 14th century Norway, "Kristin Lavransdatter" follows the life of its titular character from her childhood, through her tumultuous and passionate marriage to Erlend Nikulausson, to her life as a mother and eventual widow. The narrative explores Kristin's struggles with faith, societal expectations, and personal desires, offering a vivid portrayal of medieval Scandinavian life along the way. Despite the many hardships she faces, Kristin remains a strong and resilient woman, embodying the spirit of her time.

  • Beloved by Toni Morrison

    This novel tells the story of a former African-American slave woman who, after escaping to Ohio, is haunted by the ghost of her deceased daughter. The protagonist is forced to confront her repressed memories and the horrific realities of her past, including the desperate act she committed to protect her children from a life of slavery. The narrative is a poignant exploration of the physical, emotional, and psychological scars inflicted by the institution of slavery, and the struggle for identity and self-acceptance in its aftermath.

  • The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

    Set in the 1870s, the novel revolves around Newland Archer, a young lawyer from New York's high society, who is engaged to the beautiful and conventional May Welland. His life takes a turn when he meets May's cousin, the Countess Ellen Olenska, who has returned from Europe after leaving her scandalous husband. Torn between his duty and passion, Archer struggles with the constraints of the society he is a part of. The book offers a vivid portrayal of the struggle between individual desires and societal expectations in the upper-class New York society of the late 19th century.

  • The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher

    "The Shell Seekers" is a generational novel that follows the life of Penelope Keeling, a woman in her sixties, who reflects on her past while dealing with her three grown children, each with their own selfish motives. When Penelope discovers a valuable painting in her possession, her children's greed surfaces as they pressure her to sell it. Instead, Penelope embarks on a journey of self-discovery and reflection, revisiting her bohemian past, her wartime romance, and the beauty of her father's paintings. The novel explores themes of family, love, loss, and the importance of art and beauty in life.

  • Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

    This is a tragic tale of a young woman named Tess who comes from a poor family in rural England. Tess is sent to work for a wealthy family, where she is seduced by a man who abandons her after she becomes pregnant. The baby dies, and Tess is ostracized by her community. She falls in love with a kind man, but when she confesses her past, he rejects her. Desperate and heartbroken, Tess murders her former seducer and is eventually captured and executed. The novel explores themes of fate, injustice, and the oppressive sexual morals of its time.

  • The World According to Garp by John Irving

    The novel follows the life of T.S. Garp, the illegitimate son of a feminist mother, who becomes a writer. Garp's life is filled with unusual experiences and characters, from his unconventional conception to his untimely death. He navigates through a world filled with sexual violence, infidelity, and gender issues, and his life story is punctuated by his own literary creations. His mother's feminist ideals and the tragic events of his life deeply influence his writing and worldview.

  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

    The book is a satirical critique of military bureaucracy and the illogical nature of war, set during World War II. The story follows a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier stationed in Italy, who is trying to maintain his sanity while fulfilling his service requirements so that he can go home. The novel explores the absurdity of war and military life through the experiences of the protagonist, who discovers that a bureaucratic rule, the "Catch-22", makes it impossible for him to escape his dangerous situation. The more he tries to avoid his military assignments, the deeper he gets sucked into the irrational world of military rule.

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

    This novel tells the story of a young girl named Ayla who, after an earthquake kills her family, is adopted by a tribe of Neanderthals known as the Clan. Ayla struggles to fit in with the Clan due to her physical differences and advanced cognitive abilities. Despite these challenges, she learns their customs and ways of life, and even becomes the apprentice of the Clan's medicine woman. The story explores themes of survival, acceptance, and the clash between cultures and species.

  • The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans

    A devastating horse riding accident leaves a young girl, Grace, and her horse, Pilgrim, physically and emotionally traumatized. In a desperate attempt to heal them both, Grace's mother seeks out a man with a unique gift for communicating with horses. As he works to heal Pilgrim, the horse whisperer also helps Grace and her mother confront their own pain and begin to rebuild their shattered lives.

  • The Pillars Of The Earth by Ken Follett

    Set in the 12th century, the novel is a sweeping epic of good and evil, treachery and intrigue, violence and beauty. It revolves around the construction of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge, England. The story is centered on the lives of three main characters: a master builder, a monk, and a noblewoman, whose destinies are intertwined with the building of the cathedral and the tumultuous events of the time, including war, religious strife, and power struggles.

  • The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

    "The Prince of Tides" is a gripping narrative about a troubled man who must confront his traumatic past in order to help his twin sister, a poet who has attempted suicide. The protagonist, in the process of aiding his sister's psychiatrist, is forced to delve into their shared history of growing up in a dysfunctional family in South Carolina. The story is a deep exploration of family dynamics, mental health, and the enduring impact of childhood trauma, all set against the backdrop of the Southern United States.

  • Possession by A. S. Byatt

    "Possession" is a novel that interweaves two storylines, one set in contemporary times and the other in the Victorian era. The contemporary plot follows two academics who uncover a secret love affair between two 19th-century poets, while the Victorian storyline presents the clandestine romance itself. As the modern scholars delve deeper into the past, they find themselves falling in love as well, mirroring the historical romance they are researching. The book explores themes of love, passion, and the power of the written word.

  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

    A young woman marries a wealthy widower and moves into his large English country house. She quickly realizes that the memory of her husband's first wife, Rebecca, haunts every corner of the estate. The housekeeper's obsessive devotion to Rebecca and the mysterious circumstances of her death continue to overshadow the second wife's attempts to make a happy life with her husband. As secrets about Rebecca's life and death are revealed, the new wife must grapple with her own identity and place within the household.

  • Follow the River by James Alexander Thom

    "Follow the River" is a historical novel based on the true story of Mary Ingles, a woman who was captured by Shawnee Indians in 1755 during the French and Indian War. After being taken to Ohio, Mary, who was pregnant at the time of her capture, gives birth and is subsequently separated from her baby. Despite the harrowing circumstances, she manages to escape with another woman. The narrative follows her perilous 1,000-mile journey through the wilderness, back to her home in Virginia, showcasing her resilience, courage, and unwavering determination.

  • My Antonia by Willa Cather

    This novel follows the life of Antonia Shimerda, a Bohemian immigrant to the United States, through the eyes of her childhood friend, Jim Burden. The narrative explores their lives in the harsh environment of the American Midwest, their struggles with poverty, cultural adaptation, and personal growth. Antonia's resilience, strength, and love for life inspire Jim, who moves away for education and career but remains emotionally tied to the woman and the prairie life he left behind. The book is a compelling portrayal of pioneer life, human resilience, and the enduring power of friendship.

  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

    An aging Cuban fisherman struggles with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream, isolated from the world and from human help. For days, he fights the marlin alone, admiring its strength, dignity, and faithfulness to its identity—its destiny is as true as his as a fisherman. He finally kills the marlin, but sharks attack and devour it before he can return to the shore. The fisherman returns home empty-handed but remains undefeated, having proven his abilities to himself.

  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

    Set in 17th-century Puritan Boston, this novel tells the story of a woman who conceives a daughter through an affair and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity. She is forced to wear a scarlet "A" on her dress as a sign of her adultery while her lover, a revered local minister, remains unnamed and unpunished. Throughout the book, themes of sin, legalism, and guilt are explored.

  • Sophie's Choice by William Styron

    Set in post-World War II Brooklyn, this novel follows the story of a young Southern writer who becomes friends with a Jewish scientist and a beautiful Polish Catholic survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp. The narrative unravels the tragic love triangle between the three characters, with the woman's haunting past and the horrific choice she had to make in the concentration camp serving as the heart of the story. The book delves into themes of survival, guilt, and the struggle to find meaning in the aftermath of atrocities.

  • Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

    Set in the 1950s on the fictional San Piedro Island in the northern Puget Sound region of the state of Washington, the plot revolves around the trial of Kabuo Miyamoto, a Japanese American accused of murdering Carl Heine, a respected fisherman in the close-knit community. The trial really serves as a means of exploring the inter-ethnic tensions of the post-WWII era, as flashbacks reveal the shared history of the island's residents including the forced internment of its Japanese population during the war. The novel also delves into the love affair between Ishmael Chambers, a local reporter, and Hatsue Miyamoto, Kabuo's wife.

  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    This novel is a multi-generational saga that focuses on the Buendía family, who founded the fictional town of Macondo. It explores themes of love, loss, family, and the cyclical nature of history. The story is filled with magical realism, blending the supernatural with the ordinary, as it chronicles the family's experiences, including civil war, marriages, births, and deaths. The book is renowned for its narrative style and its exploration of solitude, fate, and the inevitability of repetition in history.

  • The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

    Set in a wealthy Italian monastery in the 14th century, the novel follows a Franciscan friar and his young apprentice as they investigate a series of mysterious deaths within the monastery. As they navigate the labyrinthine library and decipher cryptic manuscripts, they uncover a complex plot involving forbidden books, secret societies, and the Inquisition. The novel is a blend of historical fiction, mystery, and philosophical exploration, delving into themes of truth, knowledge, and the power of the written word.

  • The Giver by Lois Lowry

    The book is set in a seemingly perfect community without war, pain, suffering, differences or choice, where everything is under control. The protagonist is chosen to learn from an elderly man about the true pain and pleasure of the "real" world. He discovers the dark secrets behind his fragile community and struggles to handle the burden of the knowledge of pain and the concept of individuality. He must decide whether to accept the status quo or break free, risking everything.

  • Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

    "Cold Mountain" is a novel set during the American Civil War, following a wounded Confederate soldier who deserts the army to make a perilous journey back home to his beloved. The narrative alternates between his arduous trek and the struggles of the woman he left behind as she tries to maintain their North Carolina homestead. The novel explores themes of love, survival, and the destructive impact of war on the human spirit.

  • Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns

    Set in the early 1900s in a small Georgia town, the novel follows the life of a 14-year-old boy named Will Tweedy. The story is largely centered around his grandfather's scandalous marriage to a much younger woman just three weeks after his wife's death, causing a stir in their small, conservative town. Through Will's eyes, the reader experiences the complexities of Southern society, family dynamics, and the process of coming-of-age.

  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

    This novel unfolds in a dystopian United States where society's most productive citizens, including inventors, scientists and industrialists, refuse to be exploited by increasing social and economic demands. As a response, they withdraw their talents, leading to the collapse of the economy. The story presents the author's philosophy of objectivism, which values reason, individualism, and capitalism, and rejects collectivism and altruism. The narrative primarily follows Dagny Taggart, a railroad executive, and John Galt, a philosophical leader and inventor, as they navigate this societal breakdown.

  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

    This novel follows the story of two young friends, Jess and Leslie, who create a magical kingdom called Terabithia in the woods where they spend their free time. Their friendship deepens as they rule over Terabithia, facing and overcoming various challenges together. However, a tragic accident results in Leslie's death, leaving Jess devastated. The story concludes with Jess learning to cope with his grief, and finding the courage to introduce his little sister to the magical world of Terabithia, thereby keeping Leslie's memory alive.

  • Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler

    "Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant" is a novel about the life of the Tull family, which is marked by abandonment and discord, but also love and resilience. The story is told from the perspective of each family member, providing a unique viewpoint on the family's dynamics and history. The matriarch, Pearl, struggles to raise her three children, Cody, Ezra, and Jenny, after their father abandons them. Each child deals with the abandonment and their dysfunctional family in different ways, shaping their adult lives. The novel explores themes of family, love, abandonment, and the idea of home.

  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

    In this fantasy novel, a timid and unadventurous hobbit named Bilbo Baggins is whisked away on a grand adventure by a wizard and a group of dwarves. Their mission is to reclaim the dwarves' homeland and treasure from a fearsome dragon. Throughout the journey, Bilbo grows in courage and cunning, proving himself a true hero as he encounters trolls, goblins, giant spiders, and other perils. The novel culminates with a great battle involving various races of Middle Earth, after which Bilbo returns home, forever changed by his experiences.

  • Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

    Set in early 19th-century France, the narrative follows the lives and interactions of several characters, particularly the struggles of ex-convict Jean Valjean and his journey towards redemption. The story touches upon the nature of law and grace, and elaborates upon the history of France, architecture of Paris, politics, moral philosophy, antimonarchism, justice, religion, and the types and nature of romantic and familial love. It is known for its vivid and relatable characters, and its exploration of societal and moral issues.

  • The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

    Four siblings are evacuated from London during World War II and sent to live with an old professor in the countryside. In his house, they discover a magical wardrobe that serves as a portal to the land of Narnia, a world filled with mythical creatures and ruled by an evil White Witch. The children are soon caught up in a struggle to free Narnia from the witch's eternal winter, aided by the majestic lion Aslan. The story combines elements of fantasy, adventure, and Christian allegory.

  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

    This classic novel is a tale of love, revenge and social class set in the Yorkshire moors. It revolves around the intense, complex relationship between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, an orphan adopted by Catherine's father. Despite their deep affection for each other, Catherine marries Edgar Linton, a wealthy neighbor, leading Heathcliff to seek revenge on the two families. The story unfolds over two generations, reflecting the consequences of their choices and the destructive power of obsessive love.

  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

    Set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, this classic novel explores themes of class struggle, sacrifice, and resurrection. The narrative follows the lives of several characters, including a dissipated English lawyer, a man who is a long-term prisoner in the Bastille, and a woman who becomes embroiled in the political turmoil of the time. The story is a riveting tale of love and sacrifice, with the infamous guillotine looming in the background, symbolizing the violence and unrest of the era.

  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

    The novel follows the journey of a young boy named Huckleberry Finn and a runaway slave named Jim as they travel down the Mississippi River on a raft. Set in the American South before the Civil War, the story explores themes of friendship, freedom, and the hypocrisy of society. Through various adventures and encounters with a host of colorful characters, Huck grapples with his personal values, often clashing with the societal norms of the time.

  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

    This novel follows the story of a young girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantastical world full of peculiar creatures and bizarre experiences. As she navigates through this strange land, she encounters a series of nonsensical events, including a tea party with a Mad Hatter, a pool of tears, and a trial over stolen tarts. The book is renowned for its playful use of language, logic, and its exploration of the boundaries of reality.

  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

    "The Wind in the Willows" is a charming tale about the adventures of four anthropomorphic animal friends - Mole, Rat, Badger, and the rebellious and extravagant Toad. The story is set in the idyllic English countryside and explores themes of friendship, exploration, and respect for nature. The narrative is marked by Toad's reckless behavior, his obsession with motor cars, and his eventual redemption. The other characters, with their contrasting personalities, bring balance and depth to the story.

  • The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

    The novel follows the journey of a young woman from rural Kentucky who, on her drive west to avoid an unwanted pregnancy, is unexpectedly entrusted with a three-year-old Native American girl. The protagonist settles in Tucson, Arizona, where she builds a non-traditional family with a group of resilient and unconventional women. The narrative explores themes of love, friendship, and the power of the human spirit while tackling issues of social injustice and immigration.

  • Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace

    "Ben-Hur" is a historical novel that tells the story of Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince from Jerusalem who is enslaved by the Romans after being falsely accused of an attempted assassination. After years of hardship, he becomes a successful charioteer and eventually gets a chance to take revenge on the man who wronged him. Along the way, he encounters Jesus Christ and becomes a follower. The book is a tale of adventure, betrayal, revenge, and redemption set against the backdrop of the life of Christ.

  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

    In this classic mystery novel, ten strangers are invited to a secluded mansion on a private island by a mysterious host who is nowhere to be found. As the guests begin to die one by one, mirroring a creepy nursery rhyme that hangs in each of their rooms, they realize that the killer is among them. As suspicion and fear escalate, they must uncover the murderer before no one remains.

  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

    A young, spoiled and unloved girl is sent to live with her reclusive uncle in a large, lonely house after the death of her parents. Through the discovery and cultivation of a hidden, neglected garden, she befriends a local boy and her sickly cousin, and the three children find healing and transformation through their friendship and the magic of the garden.

  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

    Set in Mississippi during the Great Depression, this novel follows the life of a young African American girl and her family who are struggling to maintain their integrity, pride, and independence in the face of racism and social injustice. The family owns a piece of land which provides them some protection from the harsh realities of racial discrimination. The story is a poignant exploration of how they navigate through a prejudiced society, face social and economic challenges, and fight to keep their land.

  • Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy L Sayers

    On their honeymoon, a newlywed detective couple find themselves embroiled in a murder mystery when they discover the previous owner of their new home dead in the cellar. As they piece together the clues, they encounter a number of suspicious characters, including the victim's estranged son, a disgruntled maid, and a mysterious visitor. Balancing their marital bliss with the grim realities of a murder investigation, they must work together to uncover the truth and bring the killer to justice.

  • Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally

    The book tells the true story of a German businessman who saves more than a thousand Polish Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. The protagonist's transformation from a greedy high living war profiteer to a savior of lives forms the crux of the narrative. It offers a chilling yet inspiring account of the horrors of the Holocaust, human resilience, and the power of one individual to make a significant difference.

  • Emma by Jane Austen

    The novel revolves around Emma, a well-meaning but disaster-prone matchmaker, who ignores her own romantic feelings while setting out to find a suitor for her friend Harriet. Her efforts cause more problems than solutions as she leaves a trail of mishaps behind her. As her plans go awry, Emma realizes that she herself may be the one in love. The book is a classic exploration of social manners, love, and marriage in 19th-century England.

  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker

    Set in the early 20th century, the novel is an epistolary tale of a young African-American woman named Celie, living in the South. She faces constant abuse and hardship, first from her father and then from her husband. The story unfolds through her letters written to God and her sister Nettie, revealing her emotional journey from oppression to self-discovery and independence, aided by her relationships with strong women around her. The narrative explores themes of racism, sexism, domestic violence, and the power of sisterhood and love.

  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

    A young sailor, unjustly accused of treason, is imprisoned without trial in a grim fortress. After a daring escape, he uncovers a hidden treasure and transforms himself into the mysterious and wealthy Count of Monte Cristo. He then sets out to exact revenge on those who wronged him, using his newfound power and influence. Throughout his journey, he grapples with questions about justice, vengeance, and whether ultimate power can ultimately corrupt.

  • Charlotte's Web by E. B. White

    A young girl named Fern saves a runt piglet from being slaughtered and names him Wilbur. When Wilbur grows too large, he is sent to live in her uncle's barn, where he befriends a clever spider named Charlotte. When Wilbur's life is in danger again, Charlotte weaves messages into her web to convince the farmer that Wilbur is too special to kill. The book explores themes of friendship, sacrifice, and the cycle of life.

  • Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

    The book follows the life of a young orphan girl who is mistakenly sent to live with an elderly brother and sister who originally wanted to adopt a boy to help them with their farm in Prince Edward Island. Despite the initial disappointment, the girl's charm, vivacity, and imagination soon win over her new guardians. The story details her adventures and mishaps in her new home, her struggles and triumphs at school, and her gradual maturing into a smart, independent young woman.

  • Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells

    The book is a heartwarming tale of friendship and mother-daughter relationships set in Louisiana. The narrative centers around a successful playwright who, after a revealing interview about her mother, is sent a scrapbook of her mother's lifelong friendship with three women, known as the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. As she delves into the scrapbook, she discovers the depth and complexity of her mother's past, leading to a journey of understanding and reconciliation. The story explores themes of love, friendship, and the intricate relationships between mothers and daughters.

  • Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence

    "Lady Chatterley's Lover" is a controversial novel that explores themes of class, sexuality, and the human condition. The story revolves around a young, upper-class woman married to a paralyzed war veteran who, feeling emotionally and physically neglected, embarks on a passionate affair with the estate's gamekeeper. The narrative delves into the protagonist's sexual awakening and her struggle against societal norms, ultimately advocating for emotional honesty and physical intimacy as essential components of a fulfilling life.

  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

    This classic novel follows the life of Francie Nolan, a young girl growing up in the slums of early 20th century Brooklyn. The narrative explores her experiences with poverty, her pursuit of education, and her dreams of a better life. The tree in the title serves as a symbol of her resilience and hope, growing and thriving despite the harsh conditions around it, much like Francie herself.

  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck

    This novel is a multi-generational epic that follows the lives of the Trask and Hamilton families in the Salinas Valley in California. The story is deeply rooted in biblical allegory, particularly the tale of Cain and Abel, as it explores themes of love, guilt, freedom, and the inherent good and evil in human nature. The narrative provides a profound, complex portrayal of family and individual struggles with morality and love, while also reflecting on the social changes affecting America during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

  • The Once and Future King by T. H. White

    This novel is a retelling of the Arthurian legend, from Arthur's childhood tutelage under the wizard Merlyn to his eventual death. The story follows Arthur's journey from a naive boy to a wise and just king, his establishment of the Round Table, his marriage to Guinevere, and his complex relationship with his illegitimate son, Mordred. The narrative explores themes of power, justice, war, and human nature, offering a nuanced and humanizing portrayal of a well-known mythical figure.

  • Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

    A young prodigy is enlisted into a military academy in space, where he is trained through complex war games to combat an impending alien invasion. Despite his initial struggles with isolation and manipulation by the academy's leaders, he rises through the ranks due to his strategic genius and leadership skills. The protagonist grapples with the moral implications of war and the cost of his own humanity, as he is groomed to be the Earth's ultimate weapon against the alien threat.

  • The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

    The novel presents the story of an innovative architect, who values his individualism and creativity above all else. He refuses to conform to traditional architectural designs, which leads to his struggle against a system that rewards mediocrity and conformity. Despite numerous setbacks and rejections, he remains true to his unique vision and principles. The book explores themes of objectivism, individualism, and capitalism, challenging the reader to consider the value of standing alone against the collective.

  • A Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler

    The novel centers around Barnaby Gaitlin, a 30-year-old man who is still trying to shake off the bad reputation he earned in his youth. He works for Rent-a-Back, a service that helps elderly people with odd jobs, and he finds fulfillment in helping them. However, his family and the society still see him as a failure. He meets Sophia, a wealthy woman who doesn't fit into his world, and their relationship causes him to reevaluate his life and the choices he's made.

  • Gaudy Night by Dorothy L Sayers

    "Gaudy Night" is a mystery novel set in a women's college at Oxford University. The protagonist, a successful mystery novelist, is invited back to her alma mater as a guest of honor and soon finds herself embroiled in a series of disturbing incidents, including poison pen letters, vandalism, and threats. As she investigates, she is forced to confront her own feelings about intellectual pursuits versus emotional commitments. The novel explores themes of women's roles in society, the value of education, and the balance between personal life and professional ambition.

  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

    The book follows the Joad family, Oklahoma farmers displaced from their land during the Great Depression. The family, alongside thousands of other "Okies," travel to California in search of work and a better life. Throughout their journey, they face numerous hardships and injustices, yet maintain their humanity through unity and shared sacrifice. The narrative explores themes of man's inhumanity to man, the dignity of wrath, and the power of family and friendship, offering a stark and moving portrayal of the harsh realities of American migrant laborers during the 1930s.

  • Shogun by James Clavell

    Set in the 17th century, this novel follows an English sailor who becomes a samurai in feudal Japan. The protagonist, shipwrecked and stranded in a foreign land, must navigate the complex political and cultural landscape of the time, filled with war, intrigue, honor, and love. The story is rich in historical detail, providing a vivid depiction of Japanese society during the Tokugawa Shogunate era.

  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

    Set in a dystopian future, this novel presents a society where women are stripped of their rights and are classified into various roles based on their fertility and societal status. The protagonist is a handmaid, a class of women used solely for their reproductive capabilities by the ruling class. The story is a chilling exploration of the extreme end of misogyny, where women are reduced to their biological functions, and a critique of religious fundamentalism.

  • Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

    The book tells the story of two retired Texas Rangers who embark on a perilous cattle drive from Texas to Montana in the 1870s. The narrative focuses on the duo's adventures and the characters they meet along the way, including a variety of outlaws, Indians, and settlers. This epic tale of the Old West explores themes of friendship, unrequited love, and the harsh realities of frontier life.

  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

    The novel follows a World War II nurse who accidentally time travels back to 18th century Scotland. There, she meets a handsome and brave Scottish warrior and is torn between her loyalty to her husband in her own time and her growing love for the warrior. As she becomes more entwined in the past, she must navigate the dangers of a time not her own, including political unrest and violence, while trying to find a way back home.

  • Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver

    This novel follows the story of a young Cherokee girl and her adoptive mother. When the mother's right to custody is challenged by the Cherokee Nation, she takes her daughter and flees, sparking a nationwide manhunt. The narrative explores themes of cultural identity, belonging, and the meaning of family, while also delving into the legal and ethical complexities of Native American adoption laws.

  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

    The novel follows the life of Billy Pilgrim, a World War II veteran who has become "unstuck in time," experiencing his life events out of order. This includes his experiences as a prisoner of war in Dresden during the Allies' firebombing, his post-war life as a successful optometrist, his abduction by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore, and his eventual death. The book is a critique of war and a demonstration of the destructive nature of time, with a nonlinear narrative that reflects the chaos and unpredictability of life.

  • Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

    This novel tells the story of Jude Fawley, a working-class young man who dreams of becoming a scholar. The traditional class structure in 19th-century England prevents him from realizing his dream and his only solace is his love for his cousin, Sue Bridehead. Their scandalous relationship and the tragic events that follow form the heart of the narrative, which explores themes of love, class, religion, and morality.

  • Time and Again by Jack Finney

    Time and Again is a science fiction novel that follows Simon Morley, a young advertising artist living in New York City, who is recruited by a secret government project to travel back in time to the year 1882. The novel explores themes of nostalgia, love, and the complexity of time travel, as Simon falls in love with a woman from the past and must decide whether to stay in the 19th century or return to his own time.

  • Misery by Stephen King

    A successful novelist is rescued from a car crash by a deranged fan who is upset with the death of her favorite character from his books. Trapped in her remote home, the writer is subjected to physical and psychological torture as the fan forces him to write a new novel bringing the character back to life. As he writes for his life, he must also plan his escape before his captor's rage becomes deadly.

  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

    This classic tale follows a miserly old man named Ebenezer Scrooge who despises Christmas and all forms of happiness. On Christmas Eve, he is visited by the ghost of his former business partner and three spirits representing Christmases Past, Present, and Yet to Come. These apparitions take him on a journey that forces him to confront his selfish ways, leading him to a transformation where he becomes a kinder and more generous person, embodying the true spirit of Christmas.

  • The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

    The novel follows the life of a travel writer, who, after the death of his son and subsequent separation from his wife, embarks on a journey of self-discovery. He meets an eccentric dog trainer who is the complete opposite of his introverted and orderly self. Through their relationship, he learns to embrace the unpredictability of life and move beyond his grief. The story is a poignant exploration of love, loss, and the unexpected turns life can take.

  • Giants in the Earth by Ole Edvart Rolvaag

    "Giants in the Earth" is a historical novel that chronicles the story of a Norwegian pioneer family's struggles with the land and the elements of the Dakota Territory as they try to make a new life in America. It is a profound and accurate depiction of the trials, tribulations, successes, and failures of pioneer life, emphasizing the harsh realities of adapting to a new environment. The novel explores themes of man versus nature, cultural displacement, and the pursuit of the American Dream.

  • Persuasion by Jane Austen

    This classic novel revolves around the life of Anne Elliot, a woman of 27 who is unmarried and living with her vain, snobbish, and foolish family who are on the brink of financial ruin. Seven years prior, she had been persuaded to reject a marriage proposal from the man she loved, a poor but ambitious naval officer named Frederick Wentworth. When he returns from the war a wealthy and successful captain, old feelings are rekindled. The story follows Anne's journey towards self-realization and second chances at love amidst the complexities of her social class.

  • Fried Green Tomatoes by Fannie Flagg

    The novel is a heartwarming tale of friendship and love that transcends the boundaries of time and age. Set in Alabama, it alternates between two storylines: one in the 1980s where an unhappy housewife befriends an elderly woman in a nursing home who tells her the story of an indomitable woman in the 1930s. The other story focuses on the life of that woman who runs a café with her sister-in-law, their strong bond, and the murder mystery surrounding them. The narratives intertwine to create a touching and inspiring story about the power of female friendship, resilience, and courage.

  • Tisha by Robert Specht

    "Tisha" is a biographical novel based on the true story of a young woman who moves to the Alaskan wilderness in the 1920s to become a teacher. The protagonist faces numerous challenges including harsh weather, isolation, and cultural differences, but remains steadfast in her commitment to educate the children in her care. The story also explores her fight against racial prejudice in the community, as well as her love affair with a half-Native man.

  • The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

    "The Thorn Birds" is a sweeping family saga that spans three generations of the Cleary family, set against the backdrop of the Australian outback. It focuses on the forbidden love between the beautiful Meggie Cleary and the family's priest, Father Ralph de Bricassart. The novel explores themes of love, religion, and ambition, as Meggie and Ralph struggle with their feelings for each other and the choices they must make.

  • Christy by Catherine Marshall

    The novel is a historical fiction set in the early 1900s, which follows the journey of a 19-year-old woman who leaves her comfortable city life to become a teacher in a remote, impoverished mountain community in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Through her experiences, she learns about the harsh realities of life, the power of faith, and the strength of the human spirit. Along the way, she also becomes torn between two men, a charismatic and passionate preacher and a pragmatic and grounded doctor.

  • Lost Horizon by James Hilton

    This novel tells the story of four Westerners who are kidnapped and taken to the mysterious Shangri-La, a utopian lamasery high in the mountains of Tibet. As they get to know their captors and the peaceful way of life in the lamasery, they must each decide whether or not they want to stay in this idyllic paradise that seemingly offers immortality, or try to escape back to their former lives. The story explores themes of time, happiness, and the often complex choice between the familiar and the unknown.

  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

    A young prince from a tiny asteroid embarks on a journey across the universe, visiting various planets and meeting their strange inhabitants. Along the way, he learns about the follies and absurdities of the adult world, the nature of friendship, and the importance of retaining a childlike wonder and curiosity. His journey eventually leads him to Earth, where he befriends a fox and learns about love and loss before finally returning to his asteroid.

  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

    In a dystopian future where books are banned and burned by the government to prevent dissenting ideas, a fireman named Guy Montag, whose job is to burn books, begins to question the society he serves. After a series of events, including meeting a free-thinking teenager and witnessing a woman choosing to die with her books, Montag begins to secretly collect and read books, leading to his eventual rebellion against the oppressive regime. The narrative serves as a critique of censorship, conformity, and the dangers of an illiterate society.

  • For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

    Set in the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, the novel follows the story of an American dynamiter, who is assigned the task of blowing up a bridge during a crucial attack on the city of Segovia. Alongside the war narrative, the story also explores his relationships with various characters, including his love affair with a young Spanish woman. The narrative beautifully encapsulates themes of love, war, death, and the transient nature of life.

  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

    This classic novel tells the story of a young scientist who creates a grotesque but sentient creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment. The scientist, horrified by his creation, abandons it, leading the creature to seek revenge. The novel explores themes of ambition, responsibility, guilt, and the potential consequences of playing God.

  • Bleak House by Charles Dickens

    "Bleak House" is a complex narrative that critiques the British judiciary system through a long-running legal case known as Jarndyce and Jarndyce. The story follows the lives of numerous characters, including the kind-hearted Esther Summerson, her friends Richard and Ada, and their guardian, Mr. Jarndyce, who are all caught in the web of a legal dispute over an inheritance. The novel is known for its detailed depiction of the legal system, its vivid characters, and its exploration of social issues of the time.

  • Boy's Life by Robert R. McCammon

    Set in the 1960s in the fictional town of Zephyr, Alabama, the novel follows the life of 12-year-old Cory Mackenson, whose life takes a mysterious turn when he witnesses his father attempt to save a man from a sinking car. The man is already handcuffed to the steering wheel, dead by strangulation. This event triggers a series of adventures and mysteries that Cory must unravel, all the while dealing with the challenges and joys of growing up. The book is a rich blend of nostalgia, magic realism, and the dark undercurrents of life in the American South.

  • Chesapeake by James A. Michener

    "Chesapeake" is a historical saga that spans four centuries, telling the story of the settlement and development of the Chesapeake Bay area in the United States. The narrative follows the lives and adventures of multiple generations of families, both Native American and immigrant, as they navigate the challenges of colonization, revolution, slavery, and the Civil War. The book offers a rich and detailed perspective on American history, society, and culture through the lens of these families and their experiences.

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

    This comedic science fiction novel follows the intergalactic adventures of an unwitting human, Arthur Dent, who is rescued just before Earth's destruction by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for a galactic travel guide. Together, they hitch a ride on a stolen spaceship, encountering a range of bizarre characters, including a depressed robot and a two-headed ex-president of the galaxy. Through a series of satirical and absurd escapades, the book explores themes of existentialism, bureaucracy, and the absurdity of life, all while poking fun at the science fiction genre and offering witty commentary on the human condition.

  • How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn

    This novel is a poignant coming-of-age tale set in a Welsh mining community. The narrative follows the life of a young boy and his family as they navigate the harsh realities of the coal industry, including strikes, poverty, and social unrest. Despite these hardships, the book also explores themes of love, family bonds, and the beauty of the Welsh landscape. The boy's perspective offers a nostalgic view of a simpler time and the loss of traditional ways of life due to industrialization.

  • Howards End by E. M. Forster

    This novel explores class relations and conflicting values in turn-of-the-century England. The narrative revolves around three families: the wealthy, capitalist Wilcoxes; the cultured, idealistic Schlegels; and the lower-middle class Basts. As their lives intertwine, the story grapples with themes of wealth, love, and death, and the struggle for personal connection in an increasingly impersonal society. The titular "Howards End" is a country home, and it becomes a symbol of England's past, present, and future.

  • I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

    The book is a collection of nine short stories that revolve around the interaction of humans and robots. The stories are tied together by a framing narrative featuring a reporter interviewing a retiring robopsychologist, Dr. Susan Calvin. The stories explore the three "Laws of Robotics" and how they are interpreted and manipulated by humans and robots. Throughout the stories, the robots often end up behaving in unexpected ways due to their interpretation of these laws, leading to thought-provoking and often ironic outcomes.

  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

    The book is a tragic tale of two displaced ranch workers during the Great Depression in California. The two main characters, an intelligent but uneducated man and his mentally disabled companion, dream of owning their own piece of land. However, their dreams are thwarted by circumstances beyond their control, leading to a heart-wrenching conclusion. The book explores themes of friendship, dreams, loneliness, and the harsh realities of the American Dream.

  • A Passage to India by E. M. Forster

    The novel takes place in British-ruled India, where the cultural divide between the British and the Indians is explored. The story focuses on the experiences of an Indian Muslim, Dr. Aziz, and his interactions with an English woman, Miss Quested, and her elderly friend, Mrs. Moore. After an expedition to the Marabar Caves, Miss Quested accuses Dr. Aziz of assault, leading to a trial that deepens the racial tensions and prejudices between the colonizers and the colonized. The novel is a critique of British imperialism and a study of the cultural and racial misunderstandings and ill-will between the British and the Indian people.

About this list

Bookman.com, 100 Books

Based on a survey of Librarians conducted by Brodart Co., September, 1998 - March, 1999. Brodart is an international company that services libraries around the world.

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