Waterstone's Books of the Century by LibraryThing

Waterstones is a bookstore chain with more than 200 stores in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland and Europe. In January 1997, Waterstones announced the results of its Books of the Century poll to find out what the public considered to be the hundred greatest books of the twentieth century. Over 25, 000 people took part in the poll and the Book of the Century was revealed as J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.

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

    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'...


  2. 2. Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell

    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...


  3. 3. Animal Farm by George Orwell

    Animal Farm is a dystopian novella by George Orwell. Published in England on 17 August 1945, the book reflects events leading up to and during the Stalin era before World War II. Orwell, a democrat...


  4. 4. Ulysses by James Joyce

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


  5. 5. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

    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...


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

    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...


  7. 7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

    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...


  8. 8. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    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...


  9. 9. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

    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 ...


  10. 10. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

    Trainspotting is the novel that first launched Irvine Welsh's spectacular career—an authentic, unrelenting, and strangely exhilarating episodic group portrait of blasted lives. It accomplished for ...

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  11. 11. Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang

    The story of three generations in twentieth-century China that blends the intimacy of memoir and the panoramic sweep of eyewitness history—a bestselling classic in thirty languages with more than t...

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  12. 12. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

    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...


  13. 13. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

    Lord of the Flies discusses how culture created by man fails, using as an example a group of British schoolboys stuck on a deserted island who try to govern themselves, but with disastrous results....


  14. 14. On the Road by Jack Kerouac

    On the Road is a largely autobiographical work that was based on the spontaneous road trips of Kerouac and his friends across mid-century America. It is often considered a defining work of the post...


  15. 15. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

    Set in the London of AD 2540 (632 A.F. in the book), the novel anticipates developments in reproductive technology and sleep-learning that combine to change society. The future society is an embod...


  16. 16. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

    A classic in children's literature The Wind in the Willow is alternately slow moving and fast paced. The book focuses on four anthropomorphised animal characters in a pastoral version of England. T...


  17. 17. Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne

    Winnie-the-Pooh, commonly shortened to Pooh Bear and once referred to as Edward Bear, is a fictional bear created by A. A. Milne. The first collection of stories about the character was the book Wi...


  18. 18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

    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 ...


  19. 19. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

    A fantasy novel and children's book by J. R. R. Tolkien. Set in a time "Between the Dawn of Færie and the Dominion of Men", The Hobbit follows the quest of home-loving Bilbo Baggins to win a share ...


  20. 20. The Stranger by Albert Camus

    Since it was first published in English, in 1946, Albert Camus's extraordinary first novel, The Stranger (L'Etranger), has had a profound impact on millions of American readers. Through this story ...


  21. 21. The Trial by Franz Kafka

    Written in 1914, The Trial is one of the most important novels of the twentieth century: the terrifying tale of Josef K., a respectable bank officer who is suddenly and inexplicably arrested and mu...


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

    World War II has just begun and four children, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, are evacuated from London in 1940 to escape the Blitz. They are sent to live with Professor Digory Kirke, who ...


  23. 23. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

    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...


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

    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...


  25. 25. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

    Midnight's Children is a loose allegory for events in India both before and, primarily, after the independence and partition of India, which took place at midnight on 15 August 1947. The protagonis...


  26. 26. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

    The Diary of a Young Girl is a book based on the writings from a diary written by Anne Frank while she was in hiding for two years with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. The...


  27. 27. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

    The title is taken from an old Cockney expression, "as queer as a clockwork orange" and alludes to the prevention of the main character's exercise of his free will through the use of a classical co...


  28. 28. Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence

    Sons and Lovers is one of the landmark novels of the twentieth century. When it appeared in 1913, it was immediately recognized as the first great modern restatement of the oedipal drama, and it is...


  29. 29. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

    A landmark novel of high modernism, the text, centering on the Ramsay family and their visits to the Isle of Skye in Scotland between 1910 and 1920, skillfully manipulates temporality and psycholog...


  30. 30. Survival In Auschwitz by Primo Levi

    The author describes his twenty month ordeal in the Nazi death camp.

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  31. 31. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

    The book is internationally famous for its innovative style and infamous for its controversial subject: the protagonist and unreliable narrator, middle aged Humbert Humbert, becomes obsessed and se...


  32. 32. The Wasp Factory: A Novel by Iain Banks

    The polarizing literary debut by Scottish author Ian Banks, The Wasp Factory is the bizarre, imaginative, disturbing, and darkly comic look into the mind of a child psychopath. Meet Frank Cauldhame...

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

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


  34. 34. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl

    The gates of Willy Wonka's famous chocolate factory are opening at last — and only five children will be allowed inside. Roald Dahl is one of the most beloved storytellers of all time, and his book...


  35. 35. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

    Published in 1937, it tells the tragic story of George Milton and Lennie Small, two displaced migrant ranch workers during the Great Depression in California. Based on Steinbeck's own experiences a...


  36. 36. Beloved by Toni Morrison

    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...


  37. 37. Possession by A.S. Byatt

    Part historical as well as contemporary fiction, the title Possession refers to issues of ownership and independence between lovers, the practice of collecting historically significant cultural art...


  38. 38. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

    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...


  39. 39. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster

    A Passage to India is set against the backdrop of the British Raj and the Indian independence movement in the 1920s. The story revolves around four characters: Dr. Aziz, his British friend Cyril Fi...


  40. 40. Watership Down by Richard Adams

    Watership Down is a heroic fantasy novel about a small group of rabbits, written by British author Richard Adams. Although the animals in the story live in their natural environment, they are anthr...


  41. 41. Sophie's World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy by Jostein Gaarder

    One day Sophie comes home from school to find two questions in her mail: "Who are you?" and "Where does the world come from?" Before she knows it she is enrolled in a correspondence course with a m...

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  42. 42. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

    It is the year 1327. Franciscans in an Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, but Brother William of Baskerville’s investigation is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths. Translated by Will...

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  43. 43. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    Love in the Time of Cholera is a novel by Nobel Prize winning Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez that was first published in Spanish in 1985, with an English translation released in 1988 by Al...


  44. 44. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

    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...


  45. 45. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

    The Remains of the Day (1989) is the third published novel by Japanese-British author Kazuo Ishiguro. The Remains of The Day is one of the most highly-regarded post-war British novels. It won the B...


  46. 46. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

    The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984), by Milan Kundera, is a philosophic novel about a man and his two women and their lives in the Prague Spring of the Czechoslovak Communist period in 1968. ...


  47. 47. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

    While staying as the guest of a factory owner in pre-First World War France, Stephen Wraysford embarks on a passionate affair with Isabelle, the wife of his host. The affair changes them both for e...

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  48. 48. Howards End by E. M. Forster

    "Only Connect," Forster's key aphorism, informs this novel about an English country house, Howards End, and its influence on the lives of the wealthy and materialistic Wilcoxes; the cultured, ideal...


  49. 49. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

    Brideshead Revisited, The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder is a novel by the English writer Evelyn Waugh, first published in 1945. Waugh wrote that the novel "deals with what is t...


  50. 50. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

    A Suitable Boy is a novel by Vikram Seth, released in 1994. At 1349 pages (1488 pages softcover) and 591,552 words, the book is one of the longest novels ever published in a single volume in the En...


  51. 51. Dune by Frank Herbert

    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...


  52. 52. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

    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...


  53. 53. Perfume by Patrick Suskind

    Survivor, genius, perfumer, killer: this is Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. He is abandoned on the filthy streets as a child, but grows up to discover he has an extraordinary gift: a sense of smell more ...

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  54. 54. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

    Doctor Zhivago is a 20th century novel by Boris Pasternak, first published in 1957. The novel is named after its protagonist, Yuri Zhivago, a medical doctor and poet. It tells the story of a man to...


  55. 55. Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake

    An undisputed classic of epic fantasy, Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast novels represent one of the most brilliantly sustained flights of Gothic imagination. As the novel opens, Titus, heir to Lord Sepul...

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  56. 55. Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake

    Titus Groan is seven years old. Lord and heir to the crumbling castle Gormenghast. Gothic labyrinth of roofs and turrets, cloisters and corridors, stairwells and dungeons, it is also the cobwebbed ...

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  57. 55. Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake

    This final installment in the Gormenghast trilogy is a fantastic triumph—a conquest awash in imagination, terror, and charm. With Overlook's new single-volume republication of Mervyn Peake's timele...

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  58. 56. Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee

    The beloved bestselling autobiography of an English boyhood Three years old and wrapped in a Union Jack to protect him from the sun, Laurie Lee arrived in the village of Slad in the final summer of...

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  59. 57. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

    The Bell Jar is American writer and poet Sylvia Plath's only novel, which was originally published under the pseudonym "Victoria Lucas" in 1963. The novel is semi-autobiographical with the names of...


  60. 58. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

    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. 59. Testament Of Youth by Vera Brittain

    Testament of Youth is the first instalment, covering 1900–1925, in the memoir of Vera Brittain (1893–1970). It was published in 1933. Brittain's memoir continues with Testament of Experience, publi...


  62. 60. The Magus by John Fowles

    A man trapped in a millionare's deadly game of political and sexual betrayal. Filled with shocks and chilling surprises, "The Magus" is a masterwork of contemporary literature. In it, a young Engli...


  63. 61. Brighton Rock by Graham Greene

    Pinkie, a boy gangster in pre-war Brighton, is a Catholic dedicated to evil and damnation. In a dark setting of double crossing and razor slashes, his ambition and hatreds are horribly fulfilled, u...

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  64. 62. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell, Peter Miles

    This novel tells the story of a group of working men who are joined one day by Owen, a journeyman-prophet with a vision of a just society. Owen's spirited attacks on the greed and dishonesty of the...

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  65. 63. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

    The Master and Margarita (Russian: Ма́стер и Маргари́та) is a novel by Mikhail Bulgakov, woven around the premise of a visit by the Devil to the fervently atheistic Soviet Union. Many critics consi...


  66. 64. Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

    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...

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  67. 65. The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles

    The novel's protagonist is Sarah Woodruff, the title Woman, also known by the nickname of “Tragedy”, and by the unfortunate nickname “The French Lieutenant’s Whore”. She lives in the coastal town o...


  68. 66. Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernières

    It is 1941 and Captain Antonio Corelli, a young Italian officer, is posted to the Greek island of Cephallonia as part of the occupying forces. At first he is ostracised by the locals, but as a cons...

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  69. 67. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

    An anti-war science fiction novel by Kurt Vonnegut about World War II experiences and journeys through time of a soldier called Billy Pilgrim.


  70. 68. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values is the first of Robert M. Pirsig's texts in which he explores his Metaphysics of Quality. The 1974 book describes, in first person,...


  71. 69. A Room With a View by E.M. Forster

    British social comedy examines a young heroine's struggle against strait-laced Victorian attitudes as she rejects the man her family has encouraged her to marry and chooses, instead, a socially uns...


  72. 70. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

    Set sometime around 1950, Lucky Jim follows the exploits of the eponymous James (Jim) Dixon, a reluctant Medieval history lecturer at an unnamed provincial English university. Having made a bad fir...


  73. 71. It: A Novel by Stephen King

    More information to be announced soon on this forthcoming title from Penguin USA

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  74. 72. The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

    The novel tells the story of a Roman Catholic priest in the state of Tabasco in Mexico during the 1930s, a time when the Mexican government, still effectively controlled by Plutarco Elías Calles, s...


  75. 73. The Stand by Stephen King

    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...


  76. 74. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

    All Quiet on the Western Front (German: Im Westen nichts Neues) is a novel by Erich Maria Remarque, a German veteran of World War I. The book describes the German soldiers' extreme physical and men...


  77. 75. Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle

    Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (1993) is a novel by Irish writer Roddy Doyle. It won the Booker Prize in 1993. The story is about a 10 year old boy and events that happen within his age group. He also has t...


  78. 76. Matilda by Roald Dahl

    Matilda is a book by British writer Roald Dahl. It was published in 1988 by Jonathan Cape in London, with 232 pages and illustrations by Quentin Blake. It was adapted as an audio reading by actress...


  79. 77. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

    In American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis imaginatively explores the incomprehensible depths of madness and captures the insanity of violence in our time or any other. Patrick Bateman moves among the y...

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

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

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  81. 79. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

    A landmark volume in science writing by one of the great minds of our time, Stephen Hawking’s book explores such profound questions as: How did the universe begin—and what made its start possible? ...

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  82. 80. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

    James and the Giant Peach is a popular children's novel written in 1961 by British author Roald Dahl. The original first edition published by Alfred Knopf featured illustrations by Nancy Ekholm Bur...


  83. 81. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence

    Lyric and sensual, D.H. Lawrence's last novel is one of the major works of fiction of the twentieth century. Filled with scenes of intimate beauty, explores the emotions of a lonely woman trapped i...


  84. 82. Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe

    Tom Wolfe’s modern American satire tells the story of Sherman McCoy, a Wall Street “Master of the Universe” who has it all — a Park Avenue apartment, a job that brings wealth, power and prestige, a...


  85. 83. How to Cook by Delia Smith

    Delia's How to Cook is a simple-to-follow cooking course for people of all ages and abilities. In this comprehensive two-part book series, Delia returns to the very roots of cooking to look at the ...


  86. 84. An Evil Cradling by Brian Keenan

    Brian Keenan went to Beirut in 1985 for a change of scene from his native Belfast. He became headline news when he was kidnapped by fundamentalist Shi'ite militiamen and held in the suburbs of Beir...

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  87. 85. The Rainbow by D. H. Lawrence

    Set in the rural midlands of England, The Rainbow revolves around three generations of the Brangwen family over a period of more than sixty years, setting them against the emergence of modern Engla...


  88. 86. Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell

    Down and Out in Paris and London is the first full-length work by the English author George Orwell, published in 1933. It is a memoir[3] in two parts on the theme of poverty in the two cities. The ...


  89. 87. 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

    2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is a science fiction novel by Arthur C. Clarke. It was developed concurrently with Stanley Kubrick's film version and published after the release of the film. The story...


  90. 88. The Tin Drum by Günter Grass

    Acclaimed as the greatest German novel written since the end of World War II, The Tin Drum is the autobiography of thirty-year-old Oskar Matzerath, who has lived through the long Nazi nightmare and...


  91. 89. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

    The only English translation authorized by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn First published in the Soviet journal Novy Mir in 1962, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich stands as a classic of contemporary ...

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  92. 90. Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela by Nelson Mandela

    The book that inspired the major new motion picture Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Nelson Mandela is one of the great moral and political leaders of our time: an international hero whose lifelong d...

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  93. 91. The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins

    The million copy international bestseller, critically acclaimed and translated into over 25 languages. This 30th anniversary edition includes a new introduction from the author as well as the origi...

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  94. 92. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

    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...


  95. 93. The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell

    A critical and commercial success, the books present four perspectives on a single set of events and characters in Alexandria, Egypt, before and during World War II. As Durrell explains in his p...


  96. 94. Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

    An Oprah Book Club selection, Cry, the Beloved Country, the most famous and important novel in South Africa’s history, was an immediate worldwide bestseller in 1948. Alan Paton’s impassioned novel ...

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  97. 95. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

    High Fidelity is a 1995 British novel by Nick Hornby. It was adapted into a 2000 film directed by Stephen Frears and starring John Cusack. It also served as the basis for a 2006 Broadway musical of...


  98. 96. The Van by Roddy Doyle

    Jimmy Rabbitte Senior pulls himself out of a mid-life crisis when he purchases a greasy fish-and-chip van and sells grub to Dublin's drunk and hungry during the heady days of Ireland's triumphs in ...

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  99. 97. The BFG by Roald Dahl

    When Sophie is snatched from her orphanage bed by the BFG (Big Friendly Giant), she fears she will be eaten. But the two join forces to vanquish the nine other far less gentle giants who threaten t...


  100. 98. Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess

    Earthly Powers is a panoramic saga of the 20th century by Anthony Burgess first published in 1980. On one level it is a parody of a "blockbuster" novel, with the 81-year-old hero, Kenneth Toomey (a...


  101. 99. I, Claudius by Robert Graves

    I, Claudius deals sympathetically with the life of the Roman Emperor Claudius and cynically with the history of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty and Roman Empire, from Julius Caesar's assassination in 44...


  102. 100. The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans

    His name is Tom Booker. His voice can calm wild horses, his touch can heal broken spirits. And Annie Graves has traveled across a continent to the Booker ranch in Montana, desperate to heal her inj...

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