The 100 Best Books of World Literature

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

  • Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

    This classic novel follows the adventures of a man who, driven mad by reading too many chivalric romances, decides to become a knight-errant and roam the world righting wrongs under the name Don Quixote. Accompanied by his loyal squire, Sancho Panza, he battles windmills he believes to be giants and champions the virtuous lady Dulcinea, who is in reality a simple peasant girl. The book is a richly layered critique of the popular literature of Cervantes' time and a profound exploration of reality and illusion, madness and sanity.

  • The Odyssey by Homer

    This epic poem follows the Greek hero Odysseus on his journey home after the fall of Troy. It takes Odysseus ten years to reach Ithaca after the ten-year Trojan War. Along the way, he encounters many obstacles including mythical creatures, divine beings, and natural disasters. Meanwhile, back in Ithaca, his wife Penelope and son Telemachus fend off suitors vying for Penelope's hand in marriage, believing Odysseus to be dead. The story concludes with Odysseus's return, his slaughter of the suitors, and his reunion with his family.

  • The Iliad by Homer

    This epic poem focuses on the final weeks of the Trojan War, a conflict between the city of Troy and the Greek city-states. The story explores themes of war, honor, wrath, and divine intervention, with a particular focus on the Greek hero Achilles, whose anger and refusal to fight have devastating consequences. The narrative also delves into the lives of the gods, their relationships with humans, and their influence on the course of events.

  • The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

    In this epic poem, the protagonist embarks on an extraordinary journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio), and Paradise (Paradiso). Guided by the ancient Roman poet Virgil and his beloved Beatrice, he encounters various historical and mythological figures in each realm, witnessing the eternal consequences of earthly sins and virtues. The journey serves as an allegory for the soul's progression towards God, offering profound insights into the nature of good and evil, free will, and divine justice.

  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare

    This classic play revolves around the young Prince of Denmark who is thrown into a state of emotional turmoil after his father's sudden death and his mother's quick remarriage to his uncle. The prince is visited by the ghost of his father who reveals that he was murdered by the uncle, prompting the prince to seek revenge. The narrative explores themes of madness, revenge, and moral corruption as the prince navigates the complex political and emotional landscape of the Danish court.

  • The Bible by Christian Church

    This religious text is a compilation of 66 books divided into the Old and New Testaments, forming the central narrative for Christianity. It encompasses a variety of genres, including historical accounts, poetry, prophecy, and teaching, telling the story of God's relationship with humanity, from creation to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the early Christian church. It is considered by believers to be divinely inspired and serves as a guide for faith and practice.

  • In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust

    This renowned novel is a sweeping exploration of memory, love, art, and the passage of time, told through the narrator's recollections of his childhood and experiences into adulthood in the late 19th and early 20th century aristocratic France. The narrative is notable for its lengthy and intricate involuntary memory episodes, the most famous being the "madeleine episode". It explores the themes of time, space and memory, but also raises questions about the nature of art and literature, and the complex relationships between love, sexuality, and possession.

  • The Aeneid by Virgil

    This epic poem tells the story of Aeneas, a Trojan who travels to Italy, where he becomes the ancestor of the Romans. It includes a series of prophecies about Rome's future and the deeds of heroic individuals, and is divided into two sections, the first illustrating the hero's journey and the second detailing the wars and battles that ensue as Aeneas attempts to establish a new home in Italy. The narrative is deeply imbued with themes of duty, fate, and divine intervention.

  • Essays by Michel de Montaigne

    This collection of essays explores a wide range of topics such as solitude, cannibals, the power of the imagination, the education of children, and the nature of friendship. The author employs a unique and personal approach to philosophy, using anecdotes and personal reflections to illustrate his points. The essays provide a profound insight into human nature and condition, and are considered a significant contribution to both literature and philosophy.

  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

    Madame Bovary is a tragic novel about a young woman, Emma Bovary, who is married to a dull, but kind-hearted doctor. Dissatisfied with her life, she embarks on a series of extramarital affairs and indulges in a luxurious lifestyle in an attempt to escape the banalities and emptiness of provincial life. Her desire for passion and excitement leads her down a path of financial ruin and despair, ultimately resulting in a tragic end.

  • 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.

  • Oedipus the King by Sophocles

    "Oedipus the King" is a tragic play that revolves around the life of Oedipus, the king of Thebes, who is prophesied to kill his father and marry his mother. Despite his attempts to avoid this fate, Oedipus unknowingly fulfills the prophecy. When he discovers the truth about his actions, he blinds himself in despair. The play explores themes of fate, free will, and the quest for truth, highlighting the tragic consequences of human hubris and ignorance.

  • King Lear by William Shakespeare

    This classic tragedy revolves around the aging King Lear, who decides to divide his kingdom among his three daughters based on their declarations of love for him. The two elder daughters, Goneril and Regan, flatter him with insincere praises, while the youngest, Cordelia, refuses to play the game and is disowned. As the king's sanity deteriorates, his kingdom falls into chaos under the rule of his deceitful elder daughters. The play explores themes of power, loyalty, madness, and justice, culminating in a tragic ending where almost all the main characters, including King Lear and Cordelia, die.

  • One Thousand and One Nights by Unknown

    This is a collection of Middle Eastern folk tales compiled during the Islamic Golden Age. The stories are told by a young woman, who must weave a new tale each night for her husband, a king, to delay her execution. The tales are filled with magic, adventure, love, and betrayal, and include well-known stories such as "Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp", "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves", and "The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor".

  • The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross by St. John of the Cross

    This book is a comprehensive collection of works by a renowned Spanish mystic and Carmelite friar. It includes his well-known poems, commentaries, and spiritual treatises, providing a deep exploration of his thoughts on the soul's journey to union with God. The writings delve into the concept of the 'Dark Night of the Soul', a period of spiritual desolation that leads to profound enlightenment, and offer a profound insight into Christian mysticism and spiritual growth.

  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare

    This classic play follows the tragic tale of Macbeth, a Scottish general whose ambition is sparked by a prophecy from three witches that he will one day become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred on by his wife, Macbeth murders King Duncan and takes the throne. However, guilt and paranoia plague him, leading to a reign of terror and further bloodshed. His desperate attempts to cling onto power lead to his downfall, illustrating the destructive power of unchecked ambition.

  • De Rerum Natura by Lucretius

    "De Rerum Natura" is a long didactic poem written in the first century BC, which explores Epicurean philosophy and the nature of the universe. The text delves into topics such as the nature of the gods, the atomic structure of the universe, human sensation and thought, and the fear of death. The author argues that understanding the physical world can free humans from superstition and fear, leading to peace of mind and true happiness.

  • Life Is a Dream by Pedro Calderón de la Barca

    "Life is a Dream" is a philosophical allegory regarding the human situation and the mystery of life. The play follows the story of Segismundo, Prince of Poland, who has been imprisoned in a tower by his father, King Basilio, following a dire prophecy that the prince would bring disaster to the country and death to the King. Basilio briefly frees Segismundo but returns him to the tower when the prince proves violent and unruly. The story explores themes of free will, fate, power and the thin line that separates reality from dreams.

  • Epic of Gilgamesh by Unknown

    This ancient Mesopotamian epic follows the story of Gilgamesh, a demigod king who rules over the city of Uruk. Unhappy with his reign, the gods create a wild man named Enkidu to challenge him. However, Gilgamesh and Enkidu become close friends and embark on several adventures together, including defeating the demon Humbaba and killing the Bull of Heaven. After Enkidu's death, Gilgamesh becomes obsessed with finding immortality, leading him on a journey to meet Utnapishtim, the only human who has been granted eternal life. The narrative explores themes of friendship, mortality, and the meaning of life.

  • Ulysses by James Joyce

    Set in Dublin, the novel follows a day in the life of Leopold Bloom, an advertising salesman, as he navigates the city. The narrative, heavily influenced by Homer's Odyssey, explores themes of identity, heroism, and the complexities of everyday life. It is renowned for its stream-of-consciousness style and complex structure, making it a challenging but rewarding read.

  • Antigone by Sophocles

    This ancient Greek tragedy follows the story of Antigone, a young woman who defies the king's edict in order to bury her brother according to their religious customs. The king, her uncle, sentences her to death for her disobedience, leading to a series of tragic events including his own son's suicide. The play explores themes of loyalty, honor, obedience, and the conflict between the laws of the state and the laws of the gods.

  • Phaedo by Plato

    "Phaedo" is a philosophical dialogue that takes place in ancient Greece, where the main character, a philosopher, is awaiting his execution. The story is a discussion on the nature of the afterlife, the immortality of the soul, and the theory of forms. The philosopher argues that the soul is immortal and that we should not fear death. He also discusses his theory of forms, stating that the world we perceive is merely a shadow of the true world of forms. The dialogue ends with the philosopher calmly accepting his fate, illustrating his belief in the immortality of the soul.

  • La Regenta by Clarín

    "La Regenta" is a classic of Spanish literature that takes place in a small provincial town and centers around the character of Ana Ozores, a married woman who becomes the object of desire for two very different men: the town's liberal Casanova and a conservative, ambitious priest. The narrative explores themes of religion, hypocrisy, and forbidden love in a repressed society. The author's detailed depiction of the town and its inhabitants provides a vivid backdrop for the tragic love triangle that unfolds.

  • 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.

  • Petrarch's Songbook by Francesco Petrarca

    "Petrarch's Songbook" is a collection of 366 poems by the Italian scholar, poet, and humanist. The book is divided into two parts, the first part comprising of love sonnets dedicated to his muse Laura, whom he met in Avignon in 1327, and the second part contains poems written after Laura's death. The poems are notable for their personal and emotional intensity, reflecting the poet's innermost thoughts and feelings. They also represent a significant contribution to the development of the Italian sonnet form and have had a profound influence on European poetry.

  • Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson

    This collection of poetry encapsulates the works of a renowned 19th-century American poet, known for her unique style and themes. The poems, often characterized by their unconventional punctuation and capitalization, explore a wide range of topics including death, immortality, love, and nature. The poet's introspective and often cryptic style has made her one of the most studied and celebrated figures in American literature.

  • Family Sayings by Natalia Ginzburg

    "Family Sayings" is a semi-autobiographical novel that explores the author's experiences growing up in a large Jewish-Italian family in the pre and post-World War II era. The narrative is a collection of family anecdotes, sayings, and stories that illustrate the dynamics, relationships, and history of the family. The book also provides a glimpse into the political and social changes in Italy during this period, including the rise of fascism and the impact of the war. The author's poignant and evocative storytelling brings to life a world that is both deeply personal and universally relatable.

  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

    Set in 19th-century Russia, this novel revolves around the life of Anna Karenina, a high-society woman who, dissatisfied with her loveless marriage, embarks on a passionate affair with a charming officer named Count Vronsky. This scandalous affair leads to her social downfall, while parallel to this, the novel also explores the rural life and struggles of Levin, a landowner who seeks the meaning of life and true happiness. The book explores themes such as love, marriage, fidelity, societal norms, and the human quest for happiness.

  • The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes by Unknown

    "The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes" is a novel that follows the life of Lazarillo, a boy of humble origins from Salamanca, Spain, who becomes an apprentice to a series of masters, each representing different aspects of society. The narrative is a critique of the hypocrisy and corruption of the Spanish society of the time, especially the clergy. Lazarillo's experiences and the lessons he learns, often through deception and trickery, serve as a social and moral commentary on the world around him. The novel is considered one of the pioneers of the picaresque genre.

  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

    Set in the backdrop of the Napoleonic era, the novel presents a panorama of Russian society and its descent into the chaos of war. It follows the interconnected lives of five aristocratic families, their struggles, romances, and personal journeys through the tumultuous period of history. The narrative explores themes of love, war, and the meaning of life, as it weaves together historical events with the personal stories of its characters.

  • El Buscón by Francisco de Quevedo

    "El Buscón" is a picaresque novel that tells the story of Pablos, the son of a thief and a witch, who aspires to be a gentleman despite his low birth. The narrative follows Pablos's adventures as he navigates through various social classes in 17th-century Spain, from his impoverished childhood to his failed attempts to gain wealth and status through deception and trickery. The novel is a satirical critique of Spanish society, highlighting the corruption and hypocrisy of the nobility and the church.

  • The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch

    A successful and renowned London theatre director retires to a secluded house by the sea in an attempt to write his memoirs. His peaceful solitude is disrupted when he encounters his first love from decades ago and becomes obsessed with winning her back. As he spirals into self-delusion and madness, the narrative explores themes of love, obsession, and the subjective nature of reality.

  • Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges

    "Collected Fiction" is a compilation of stories by a renowned author that takes readers on a journey through a world of philosophical paradoxes, intellectual humor, and fantastical realities. The book features a range of narratives, from complex, multi-layered tales of labyrinths and detective investigations, to metaphysical explorations of infinity and the nature of identity. It offers an immersive and thought-provoking reading experience, blurring the boundaries between reality and fiction, past and present, and the self and the universe.

  • The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann

    In this novel, the protagonist, a young, ordinary man, visits his cousin at a tuberculosis sanatorium in the Swiss Alps. Intending to stay for only a few weeks, he ends up remaining there for seven years, becoming a patient himself. The book explores his experiences and relationships with other patients and staff, delving into philosophical discussions on life, time, and the nature of disease. It also provides a vivid portrayal of the European society and intellectual life on the eve of World War I.

  • Poems by Machado by Antonio Machado

    This book is a collection of poems by a renowned Spanish poet, reflecting his profound thoughts on life, love, death, and nature. The poet's work is deeply philosophical and introspective, often drawing on his personal experiences and observations of the world around him. His poetry is known for its simplicity, depth, and emotional resonance, making it accessible and relatable to a wide range of readers.

  • Phaedrus by Plato

    Phaedrus is a Socratic dialogue that discusses topics such as love, the nature of the soul, and the art of rhetoric. The narrative begins with a myth about the chariot of the soul, then moves on to a discussion about the nature of love, particularly focusing on the concept of divine madness. The dialogue then transitions into a discussion about rhetoric and writing, debating the merits and pitfalls of both. The dialogue concludes with a critique of the art of rhetoric, arguing that true rhetoric must be based on truth and knowledge rather than manipulation and deceit.

  • The Interior Castle by Teresa of Avila

    "The Interior Castle" is a spiritual guide that uses the metaphor of a castle with seven chambers, or 'mansions', to explain the journey of faith. The author describes each mansion as a step closer to God, with the innermost chamber representing union with the divine. The book explores various spiritual concepts such as self-knowledge, detachment, humility, and divine love, providing a roadmap for personal transformation and spiritual growth.

  • The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil

    "The Man Without Qualities" is a satirical novel set in Vienna during the last days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It follows the life of Ulrich, a thirty-two-year-old mathematician, who is in search of a sense of life and reality but is caught up in the societal changes and political chaos of his time. The book explores themes of existentialism, morality, and the search for meaning in a rapidly changing world.

  • The Trial by Franz Kafka

    The book revolves around a bank clerk who wakes one morning to find himself under arrest for an unspecified crime. Despite not being detained, he is subjected to the psychological torment of a bizarre and nightmarish judicial process. The story is a critique of bureaucracy, exploring themes of guilt, alienation and the inefficiency of the justice system.

  • The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

    The book tells the story of a man who wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a giant insect. His transformation causes him to lose his job and become ostracized from his family, who are horrified and repulsed by his new form. As he grapples with his new reality, he becomes increasingly isolated and starts to lose his sense of humanity. The book explores themes of alienation, guilt, and identity, and is a profound examination of the human condition.

  • Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo

    The novel is a surrealistic exploration of Mexico, following a man named Juan Preciado who travels to the town of Comala to find his father, Pedro Paramo. Upon arrival, he discovers that Comala is a ghost town, inhabited by the spirits of its former residents. As Juan interacts with these spirits, the story of Pedro Paramo, a powerful and ruthless landowner, slowly unfolds. The narrative shifts between the past and the present, revealing a cycle of sin, corruption, and retribution that has left Comala and its people in a state of purgatory.

  • Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio

    "Decameron" is a collection of 100 stories told by a group of seven young women and three young men sheltering in a secluded villa just outside Florence to escape the Black Death, which was afflicting the city. The tales, which range from the erotic to the tragic, the hilarious to the instructional, are embedded in a rich framework narrative that provides a detailed portrait of the society of the Italian Renaissance.

  • La Celestina by Fernando de Rojas

    The book is a tragic comedy set in 15th-century Spain, revolving around the passionate and ill-fated love affair between Calisto and Melibea. After Calisto falls for Melibea but is rejected, he enlists the help of Celestina, an old and cunning procuress, to win Melibea's heart. Celestina's manipulations initially seem successful, but her greed and the involvement of various other servants and hangers-on lead to a series of dramatic and violent events. The story ultimately unfolds into a cautionary tale of lust, deception, and the destructive consequences of obsessive love, ending in tragedy for most of the main characters.

  • The Tempest by William Shakespeare

    "The Tempest" is a classic play about a sorcerer and rightful Duke of Milan who has been stranded on an island for 12 years with his daughter after being betrayed by his brother. Using his magical powers and the help of an airy spirit, he conjures a storm to shipwreck his brother and other enemies on the island. The narrative explores themes of revenge, power, magic, and forgiveness as the sorcerer manipulates events on the island to regain his dukedom and secure a good future for his daughter.

  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

    This classic novel explores the complex, passionate, and troubled relationship between four brothers and their father in 19th century Russia. The narrative delves into the themes of faith, doubt, morality, and redemption, as each brother grapples with personal dilemmas and family conflicts. The story culminates in a dramatic trial following a murder, which serves as a microcosm of the moral and philosophical struggles faced by each character, and by extension, humanity itself.

  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

    A young, impoverished former student in Saint Petersburg, Russia, formulates a plan to kill an unscrupulous pawnbroker to redistribute her wealth among the needy. However, after carrying out the act, he is consumed by guilt and paranoia, leading to a psychological battle within himself. As he grapples with his actions, he also navigates complex relationships with a variety of characters, including a virtuous prostitute, his sister, and a relentless detective. The narrative explores themes of morality, redemption, and the psychological impacts of crime.

  • The Red and the Black by Stendhal

    The novel is a detailed psychological portrait of Julien Sorel, a young man from a provincial background who aspires to rise above his humble beginnings. He uses his intelligence and hypocrisy to advance in the post-Napoleonic French society, which is deeply divided by class and political loyalties. The story is a critique of the society's materialism and hypocrisy as Julien's ambitions lead him to a tragic end. The title refers to the contrasting uniforms of the army and the church, the two routes available to him for upward mobility.

  • 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.

  • Poet in New York by Federico García Lorca

    This book is a collection of poems by a renowned Spanish poet during his stay in New York City in the 1920s. The poems are a commentary on the urban landscape, highlighting the stark contrast between nature and industrialization. The poet's deep sense of alienation and despair in the face of social injustice and consumerism is evident. The collection is considered a significant contribution to the Spanish literature and an important critique of modern society.

  • Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne

    The novel is a humorous, rambling narrative that chronicles the life of Tristram Shandy. The story is filled with digressions, anecdotes, and eccentric characters, as Tristram often interrupts his own tale to interject commentary or to recount stories from his family's past. Despite the seemingly haphazard structure, the novel is a clever exploration of narrative form and a satirical critique of traditional biographies and novels.

  • Soledades by Luis de Góngora

    "Soledades" is a complex and intricate narrative poem that explores themes of love, nature, and the passage of time. The narrative follows a shipwrecked protagonist who embarks on a journey through various rural landscapes, encountering characters from different social classes and engaging in philosophical reflections along the way. The work is renowned for its intricate metaphors, elaborate syntax, and innovative use of language, which have made it a cornerstone of Baroque literature.

  • The Book of the City of Ladies by Christine De Pizan

    "The Book of the City of Ladies" is a classical work in which the author, through allegorical characters, builds an imaginary city for women to illustrate their significant contributions to society. The book is a defense of women, arguing against the popular notion of the time that women were inferior to men. It showcases the author's deep knowledge of the past, referencing numerous notable women from history and mythology, emphasizing their virtues, intelligence, and moral fiber.

  • Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    This novel follows the story of Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza, who fall passionately in love in their youth. However, Fermina eventually marries a wealthy doctor, leaving Florentino heartbroken. Despite this, Florentino remains devoted to Fermina for over fifty years, patiently waiting for her husband's death to have another chance at her love. The story is set against the backdrop of a cholera epidemic, serving as a metaphor for the transformative power of love and the destructive power of obsession.

  • Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

    "Leaves of Grass" is a collection of poetry that celebrates the human form and condition, while also exploring themes of democracy, nature, love, and friendship. The book, known for its departure from traditional poetic form, features a free verse style and the use of everyday language. The poet presents himself as both an individual and a universal figure, representing the collective American experience and identity. The collection is also notable for its controversial content at the time of its publication, including candid depictions of sexuality.

  • The Possessed by Fyodor Dostoevsky

    "The Possessed" is a complex political novel set in a provincial Russian town, exploring the destructive influence of radical ideologies on society. The narrative revolves around a group of revolutionaries, their philosophical debates and their destructive actions, driven by nihilism and anarchism. The story is a critique of the political and social chaos of the time, showcasing the author's deep understanding of human psychology and his profound insights into the human condition. It is an exploration of faith, reason, and the nature of freedom and is considered one of the most significant works of Russian literature.

  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

    This classic novel follows the journey of a seaman who travels up the Congo River into the African interior to meet a mysterious ivory trader. Throughout his journey, he encounters the harsh realities of imperialism, the brutal treatment of native Africans, and the depths of human cruelty and madness. The protagonist's journey into the 'heart of darkness' serves as both a physical exploration of the African continent and a metaphorical exploration into the depths of human nature.

  • Song of Songs by Christian Church

    "Song of Songs" is a poetic book from the Old Testament of the Bible that explores the theme of love and the beauty of human relationships. It is a dialogue between two lovers, a man and a woman, expressing their deep affection and desire for each other. The book is often interpreted allegorically, symbolizing the love between God and his people, or Christ and the Church.

  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

    A young orphan boy, living with his cruel older sister and her kind blacksmith husband, has an encounter with an escaped convict that changes his life. Later, he becomes the protégé of a wealthy but reclusive woman and falls in love with her adopted daughter. He then learns that an anonymous benefactor has left him a fortune, leading him to believe that his benefactor is the reclusive woman and that she intends for him to marry her adopted daughter. He moves to London to become a gentleman, but his great expectations are ultimately shattered when he learns the true identity of his benefactor and the reality of his love interest.

  • Orlando: A Biography by Virginia Woolf

    The novel follows the life of a young nobleman in Elizabethan England who inexplicably transforms into a woman at the age of 30 and lives on for three centuries without aging. Throughout the centuries, the protagonist experiences various historical events, engages in relationships with both men and women, and explores the complexities of gender identity and sexuality. The book is an exploration of the fluidity of gender and time, as well as a critique of societal norms and expectations.

  • The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

    The book is a humorous and satirical depiction of English society in the 19th century, told through the travels and adventures of a group of gentlemen from London, led by a kind-hearted and naive man. Their escapades take them to various locales where they encounter a plethora of eccentric characters and find themselves in comical and sometimes absurd situations. The narrative is interspersed with tales and anecdotes told by the characters themselves, adding to the richness and diversity of the overall story.

  • Sóngoro cosongo by Nicolás Guillén

    "Sóngoro cosongo" is a collection of poems that celebrates Afro-Cuban culture. The author explores the richness of the Afro-Cuban experience, using the language and rhythms of son music and Afro-Cuban dialect to bring his subjects to life. Themes include racial identity, social inequality, and the cultural fusion of Spanish and African influences in Cuba. The author's use of humor and satire also serves to critique the racial prejudices and social injustices of his time.

  • A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf

    This book is an extended essay that explores the topic of women in fiction, and the societal and economic hindrances that prevent them from achieving their full potential. The author uses a fictional narrator and narrative to explore the many difficulties that women writers faced throughout history, including the lack of education available to them and the societal expectations that limited their opportunities. The central argument is that a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.

  • The Stories of Raymond Carver by Raymond Carver

    This collection of short stories presents a gritty and realistic view of American life, often focusing on characters struggling with poverty, alcoholism, and failed relationships. The author's minimalist style and use of everyday language create a stark and often bleak portrait of the human condition, while his ability to capture the profound in the mundane lends a sense of depth and complexity to his seemingly simple narratives.

  • Metaphysics by Aristotle

    "Metaphysics" is a philosophical work that delves into the fundamental nature of reality, including the relationship between matter and substance, potentiality and actuality, form and matter, existence and essence, and the underlying principles of being. It also explores the concept of 'first philosophy' or 'wisdom', and the existence of God as an unmoved mover. The book is a profound exploration of ontology, causality, and the abstract concepts of being and knowing.

  • The Poetry of Luis Cernuda by Luis Cernuda

    This book is a collection of the poetic works of a renowned Spanish poet, exploring themes such as love, solitude, and the pursuit of ideal beauty. The poems are marked by the author's personal experiences, his deep longing for freedom, and his feelings of being an outsider. The author's style is characterized by its lyricism, imagery, and profound emotional depth, making it a significant contribution to 20th-century Spanish literature.

  • Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West

    "Black Lamb and Grey Falcon" is a comprehensive and detailed travelogue of Yugoslavia, penned by a British author during the brink of World War II. The book beautifully interweaves history, politics, culture, and personal experiences to paint a vivid picture of the Balkan region. It also serves as a profound reflection on the impending war and the author's concerns about the rise of fascism in Europe, making it not just a travel book but also an essential historical document.

  • Curial e Güelfa by Anonymous

    "Curial e Güelfa" is a 15th-century romance novel written in Catalan, featuring an anonymous knight, Curial, who serves the Emperor of Rome. After falling in love with the beautiful Güelfa, he faces many challenges and adventures to prove his worthiness. However, he later discovers that Güelfa is already married to the Emperor. Despite the heartbreak, he remains loyal and serves the Emperor faithfully. The novel explores themes of chivalry, courtly love, and the conflict between duty and personal desires.

  • América Hispánica: (1492-1898) by Guillermo Céspedes del Castillo

    "América Hispánica: (1492-1898)" is a comprehensive historical analysis of Hispanic America from the time of Christopher Columbus's first voyage in 1492 to the end of Spanish rule in 1898. The author meticulously details the exploration, conquest, and colonization of the Americas, the establishment of Spanish rule, the socio-economic structures, and the eventual struggles for independence. The book offers a deep understanding of the complex and often turbulent history of Hispanic America during this period.

  • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

    The novel chronicles a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, a high-society woman in post-World War I England, as she prepares for a party she is hosting that evening. Throughout the day, she encounters various characters from her past, including a former suitor and a shell-shocked war veteran. The narrative jumps back and forth in time and in and out of different characters' minds, exploring themes of mental illness, existentialism, and the nature of time.

  • 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.

  • A Season in Hell by Arthur Rimbaud

    "A Season in Hell" is a deeply introspective work, exploring the author's tumultuous life and struggles through a series of prose poems. The author grapples with his own moral crisis, spiritual torment and the anguish of unrequited love, while also critiquing society and the human condition. This journey through despair and redemption, filled with vivid and surreal imagery, is considered one of the pioneering works of Symbolist literature.

  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville

    The novel is a detailed narrative of a vengeful sea captain's obsessive quest to hunt down a giant white sperm whale that bit off his leg. The captain's relentless pursuit, despite the warnings and concerns of his crew, leads them on a dangerous journey across the seas. The story is a complex exploration of good and evil, obsession, and the nature of reality, filled with rich descriptions of whaling and the sea.

  • The Stories of Anton Chekhov by Anton Chekhov

    This collection of short stories explores the complexities of human nature and society in 19th-century Russia. Written by a renowned Russian author, the stories range from humorous to tragic, often focusing on the everyday lives and struggles of ordinary people. The author's keen observation and deep understanding of human nature shine through in these tales, making them timeless classics that continue to resonate with readers today.

  • Coplas por la muerte de su padre by Jorge Manrique

    "Coplas por la muerte de su padre" is a collection of elegiac verses written in memory of the author's father. The poems explore themes of mortality, the fleeting nature of life, and the inevitability of death. The author uses his personal grief as a platform to delve into philosophical reflections, ultimately presenting a stoic acceptance of death as a natural part of life. The work is widely regarded as one of the greatest achievements in Spanish poetry.

  • Ada or Ardor by Vladimir Nabokov

    Set in an alternate universe where Earth is known as "Antiterra," the novel follows the lives of Ada and Van, two wealthy siblings who fall into a passionate and incestuous love affair. Their relationship evolves over a span of 70 years, as they navigate through family secrets, personal tragedies, and the complex nature of time. The book is a blend of romance, science fiction, and philosophical exploration, all told through the author's signature wordplay and intricate narrative style.

  • The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

    "The Snow Leopard" is a travelogue that recounts the author's two-month journey in the Himalayas with naturalist George Schaller. The duo trek through the rugged and remote mountains of Nepal on a quest to study the rare blue sheep and possibly spot the elusive snow leopard. The book is as much a spiritual journey as it is a physical one, with the author seeking solace and understanding following the death of his wife. The narrative explores themes of grief, nature, and Buddhism, offering a poignant and introspective look at life and loss.

  • La siesta de M. Andesmas by Marguerite Duras

    "La siesta de M. Andesmas" is a psychological novel that revolves around the protagonist, an old man who has commissioned a house for his daughter and is waiting for the architect in the vast, desolate landscape. As he waits, he reflects on his life, his relationships, and his regrets. The narrative is characterized by its minimalistic style and its exploration of themes such as memory, time, and the human condition.

  • Facundo by Domingo Faustino Sarmiento

    "Facundo" is a socio-political critique and historical account of Argentina during the first half of the 19th century. The book examines the life of the gaucho, Facundo Quiroga, who becomes a powerful and ruthless warlord, illustrating the destructive effects of caudillismo (military dictatorship) on society. The author uses Quiroga's life to delve into broader themes such as the struggle between civilization and barbarism, the need for education, and the dangers of unchecked political power.

  • The Way of a Pilgrim by Anonymous

    "The Way of a Pilgrim" is a 19th-century Russian Christian text that follows an anonymous protagonist on a spiritual journey across the country. The protagonist is a wanderer who seeks to understand the teachings of the Bible and the nature of ceaseless prayer. Through his travels and encounters with various people, he explores the concept of the Jesus Prayer and the philosophy of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The book is a profound exploration of faith, spirituality, and the quest for divine connection.

  • Calila e Dimna by Anonymous

    "Calila e Dimna" is a collection of animal fables originally written in Sanskrit and later translated into Arabic and Spanish. The book is composed of moral tales that utilize animals to depict human behavior and teach lessons about life, leadership, and ethics. The stories are told through two jackals, Calila and Dimna, who serve as the king's advisers, and the narratives often revolve around political intrigue, power struggles, and the complexities of court life.

  • Sanctuary by William Faulkner

    "Sanctuary" is a gripping tale set in the American South during the Prohibition era. The story follows a young woman from a well-to-do family who is kidnapped by a gang of bootleggers, leading to her descent into debauchery and criminality. As she navigates the seedy underworld, the novel explores themes of social decay, moral ambiguity, and the inherent violence of humanity. The narrative is marked by the author's characteristic complex storytelling and vivid descriptions of the Southern landscape.

  • Fortunata and Jacinta by Benito Pérez Galdós

    "Fortunata and Jacinta" is a novel set in 19th century Spain, that explores the lives of two women - Fortunata, a poor but beautiful woman, and Jacinta, a wealthy and well-bred lady. Both women are in love with the same man, a wealthy and idle individual who leads a life of debauchery. The novel offers a rich and detailed portrayal of Madrid society during the period, and the stark contrast between the lives of the rich and the poor. It raises questions about marriage, social status, and the role of women in society.

  • Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

    This novel is a complex narrative about Thomas Sutpen, a poor white man who rises to power in the South, aiming to create a dynasty that would rival the old aristocratic families. However, his ambitions are thwarted by his own flawed decisions and the overarching racial and societal tensions of the era. The story is not told in a linear fashion but rather through a series of interconnected flashbacks and narratives, offering different perspectives on the same events. The book explores themes of family, class, race, and the destructive power of obsession.

  • 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 Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal

    The novel follows the life of a young Italian nobleman, who, driven by romantic ideals and a thirst for adventure, leaves his comfortable life to join Napoleon's army. After surviving many trials and tribulations, he returns home to a life of political intrigue, love affairs, and power struggles in the court of Parma. The narrative provides a vivid and satirical depiction of the political and social life in Italy during the 19th century.

  • Guzmán de Alfarache by Mateo Alemán

    "Guzmán de Alfarache" is a picaresque novel that follows the life of the protagonist, Guzmán, a rogue who recounts his life story from his humble beginnings to his eventual downfall. Through his narrative, he provides a moralizing commentary on various aspects of Spanish society in the 16th century. The book explores themes of morality, religion, and social criticism, and is considered a precursor to the modern novel.

  • Poems by Miguel de Unamuno

    This collection of poems by a renowned Spanish author explores themes of existentialism, faith, and the human condition. The verses are characterized by deep introspection, metaphysical questions, and a profound sense of spiritual struggle. The poet's unique style blends traditional and modern elements, reflecting his innovative approach to literature and philosophy. His work is acclaimed for its intellectual depth and emotional intensity, offering a poignant exploration of life's complexities and contradictions.

  • The Invention of Solitude by Paul Auster

    "The Invention of Solitude" is a deeply personal and introspective memoir split into two parts, where the author grapples with the concepts of identity, memory, and solitude. The first part focuses on the author's reflections and memories of his late father, while the second part delves into the author's own experience of fatherhood, his life, and his thoughts. The book explores themes of existentialism, the nature of writing, and the complex dynamics of parent-child relationships.

  • The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis by José Saramago

    The novel is a metaphysical narrative about a doctor named Ricardo Reis who returns to Lisbon, Portugal after learning about the death of his friend. He finds himself in a society on the brink of dictatorship, and as he navigates through his daily life, he encounters his deceased friend's ghost and a hotel maid with whom he begins a love affair. The book explores themes of identity, love, and the nature of reality, set against the backdrop of political turmoil.

  • Gospels by Unknown

    "Gospels" is a collection of four books from the New Testament of the Christian Bible, written by various authors. These books provide accounts of the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, each from a different perspective. They serve as the primary source of information about Jesus and form the basis of Christian theology and belief.

  • Upanishads by Hindu scripture

    The book is a comprehensive compilation of ancient Hindu scriptures known as the Upanishads, which are fundamental to understanding the core philosophies of Hinduism. The text delves into profound spiritual teachings and philosophical dialogues about the nature of reality, the self, and the universe, providing invaluable insights into concepts such as karma, reincarnation, moksha, and the ultimate truth of existence. It serves as a guide to spiritual enlightenment and self-realization, offering timeless wisdom for introspection and personal growth.

  • Letters from a Stoic by Seneca

    "Letters from a Stoic" is a collection of moral epistles written by a renowned Stoic philosopher. The letters provide practical guidance on everything from dealing with adversity and the pursuit of wisdom to the folly of consumerism and the nature of friendship. The author's stoic philosophy encourages peace of mind through understanding and accepting the natural order of the universe, and his letters offer timeless wisdom and insights that are still relevant today.

  • Medea by Euripides

    "Medea" is a Greek tragedy that tells the story of Medea, a former princess of the "barbarian" kingdom of Colchis, and her husband Jason, who leave her to marry Glauce, the daughter of Creon, king of Corinth. In a fit of rage, Medea decides to take revenge on Jason by killing their children, Jason's new wife, and her father, King Creon. The play explores themes of revenge, women's rights, and the dangers of absolute power.

  • Elizabeth Costello by J M Coetzee

    The novel follows the life of Elizabeth Costello, a renowned Australian writer, as she navigates through her twilight years. Through eight different narratives, the book explores her perspectives on various topics, including animal rights, the nature of evil, and the difficulty of understanding oneself. The novel is a profound exploration of the human condition, the nature of storytelling, and the conflict between life and art.

  • The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky

    The book follows the story of a kind-hearted and naive protagonist who returns to Russia from a Swiss sanatorium, where he was treated for a severe epileptic condition. Despite his pure intentions, he gets entangled in a web of love, greed, and manipulation, leading to tragic consequences. The novel explores themes of innocence, love, sacrifice, and societal expectations, offering a profound critique of Russian society during the 19th century.

  • The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology by Edmund Husserl

    This book is a philosophical work that explores the crisis facing the sciences in Europe, arguing that this crisis stems from the disregard for transcendental phenomenology. The author asserts that the sciences have lost their grounding in the world of lived experience and have become too abstract and disconnected from human life, leading to a crisis of meaning. He proposes a return to the "lifeworld" and a recentering of science on human experience, using the methods of phenomenology to uncover the essential structures of consciousness and the world.

  • 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.

  • Poetry by Quintus Lutatius Catulus

    This book is a collection of ancient Roman poetry by a renowned statesman and poet. The poems reflect the author's experiences, thoughts, and feelings about life, love, politics, and society during the Roman Republic era. The author's eloquent and vivid writing style, combined with his astute observations and insights, make this book a valuable resource for understanding Roman culture and history.

  • The Nibelungenlied by Anonymous

    "The Nibelungenlied" is a Middle High German epic poem that narrates the story of dragon-slayer Siegfried at the court of the Burgundians, his murder, his wife Kriemhild's revenge, and the destruction of the Burgundians. The narrative is set in the early medieval period and combines elements of Norse mythology, courtly love, and heroic legend. The poem explores themes of honor, loyalty, love, betrayal, and revenge, and is considered one of the most important works of German literature.

  • Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

    "Waiting for Godot" is a play that explores themes of existentialism, despair, and the human condition through the story of two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, who wait endlessly for a man named Godot, who never arrives. While they wait, they engage in a variety of discussions and encounter three other characters. The play is characterized by its minimalistic setting and lack of a traditional plot, leaving much to interpretation.

About this list

ABC.es, 100 Books

A Spanish based list made by Fifty writers, critics and personalities from the world of culture have chosen their literary preferences to compile this list.

Added over 3 years ago.

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  • List is too "western canon" focused

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