The Ultimate Book Bucket List: The 75 Best Books Of All Time

This is one of the 305 lists we use to generate our main The Greatest Books list.

  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

    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.

    The 20th Greatest Book of All Time
  • 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 95th Greatest Book of All Time
  • 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 2nd Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

    The novel follows the life of a handsome young man who, after having his portrait painted, is upset to realize that the painting will remain beautiful while he ages. After expressing a wish that the painting would age instead of him, he is shocked to find that his wish comes true. As he indulges in a life of hedonism and immoral acts, his portrait becomes increasingly grotesque, reflecting the damage his actions have on his soul. The story serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of vanity, selfishness, and the pursuit of pleasure without regard for consequences.

    The 92nd Greatest Book of All Time
  • Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

    "Black Beauty" is a heartwarming and poignant novel that follows the life of a beautiful black horse named Black Beauty. From his early years as a carefree colt to his later life as a loyal and hardworking carriage horse, Black Beauty encounters various owners and experiences both kindness and cruelty. Through his eyes, readers witness the mistreatment of horses and the importance of compassion and empathy towards animals. This timeless classic serves as a powerful reminder of the enduring bond between humans and animals.

    The 447th Greatest Book of All Time
  • 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 14th Greatest Book of All Time
  • 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 83rd Greatest Book of All Time
  • A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

    This epic fantasy novel is set in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, where 'summers span decades and winters can last a lifetime'. The story follows three main plot lines: the Stark family's struggle to control the North; the exiled Targaryen siblings' attempt to regain the throne; and the Night's Watch's fight against the supernatural beings beyond the Wall. As these stories intertwine, a game of power, politics, and survival unfolds, where you either win or you die.

    The 565th Greatest Book of All Time
  • 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 17th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan

    The Wheel of Time series is a high fantasy saga that follows a group of friends from a small village as they are thrust into a world teeming with magic, political intrigue, and ancient prophecies. The main protagonist, a young man destined to be the reincarnation of a powerful figure who could either save or destroy the world, must navigate complex alliances, face dark forces, and learn to control his own burgeoning powers. The series is renowned for its detailed world-building, complex plotlines, and large cast of characters.

    The 1788th Greatest Book of All Time
  • A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

    This fantasy novel follows the story of a young boy named Ged who lives in a world of islands called Earthsea. Ged discovers he has a natural talent for magic and is sent to a school for wizards on the island of Roke. As he grows and learns, his arrogance leads him to unleash a shadow creature that he must then spend years trying to defeat. The book explores themes of balance, power, and the danger of hubris, as Ged learns to control his abilities and accept responsibility for his actions.

    The 199th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Eyes Of The Dragon by Stephen King

    In a medieval realm, a tale of royal intrigue and dark magic unfolds as a malevolent king plots to secure his throne by imprisoning his innocent son on false charges of murder. The young prince must navigate a treacherous path to reclaim his rightful place, battling against the sinister forces conjured by a diabolical wizard who manipulates the kingdom from the shadows. With the help of loyal friends and the mystical power of a storied artifact, the prince embarks on a perilous quest to overcome the evil that seeks to engulf the land and restore peace to the realm.

    The 8682nd Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

    This fantasy novel follows the tale of a gifted young man who grows from a precocious child into a notorious wizard, known as the most notorious magician, musician, thief, and assassin. His life is one of hardship and danger, as he seeks knowledge and revenge following the tragic murder of his family by a group of supernatural beings. The story is told in retrospect as the protagonist recounts his past to a chronicler over the course of three days, revealing the truth behind the myths and legends that have come to surround his enigmatic persona.

    The 1891st Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Broken Earth Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin

    The Broken Earth Trilogy is a captivating science fiction series set in a post-apocalyptic world where a woman with the power to control seismic activity is on a quest to rescue her kidnapped daughter. This world, called the Stillness, regularly experiences catastrophic climate change events known as Seasons, which its inhabitants constantly prepare for. The series explores themes of oppression, survival, and the human capacity for adaptation, all while providing a thrilling and poignant narrative that keeps readers engaged from start to finish.

    The 3164th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

    In a world ravaged by ferocious storms and embroiled in war, three main characters navigate their own paths. Kaladin, a skilled soldier turned slave, struggles to protect his fellow slaves while grappling with his own inner demons. Shallan, a brilliant and ambitious scholar, is on a dangerous quest to steal a powerful artifact to save her family from ruin. Dalinar, a high-ranking military leader, is plagued by visions of ancient times and a mysterious warning. As their lives intertwine, they must confront their own truths and fight for survival in a world on the brink of destruction.

    The 2631st Greatest Book of All Time
  • Children Of Blood And Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

    In a world where magic has been suppressed and the maji people have been oppressed, Zélie, a young maji girl, embarks on a dangerous quest to restore magic and bring justice to her people. Alongside her brother and a rogue princess, Zélie must confront her own powers and face formidable enemies, navigating a treacherous landscape of betrayal and sacrifice. As they race against time, Zélie discovers that she may hold the key to not only saving her people, but also to changing the destiny of their entire nation.

    The 3194th Greatest Book of All Time
  • 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.

    The 65th Greatest Book of All Time
  • My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

    The novel follows the life of a young, beautiful, and wealthy woman living in New York City who decides to enter a year of drug-induced sleep to escape her disillusionment with life and the world around her. Encouraged by her eccentric, unethical psychiatrist, she spends most of her time sleeping, waking only to eat, watch movies, and occasionally socialize with her best friend. The book explores themes of depression, alienation, and the search for meaning in a modern, materialistic society.

    The 5309th Greatest Book of All Time
  • No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

    "No One Is Talking About This" by Patricia Lockwood is a novel that explores the intersection of the digital world and real life. The protagonist is a social media influencer who becomes obsessed with the internet and its ability to connect people. However, her world is turned upside down when she receives news of a family member's serious illness, forcing her to confront the limitations of technology and the importance of human connection. The novel is a poignant reflection on the impact of social media on our lives and the need for authentic relationships in a world that is increasingly digital.

    The 6589th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

    A teenage girl is brutally murdered in her small town, and from her new home in heaven, she watches over her family and friends as they struggle to cope with her loss. She also keeps an eye on her killer, hoping that he will eventually be brought to justice. Through her observations, she explores the complexities of human relationships, the ripple effects of her death, and the concept of moving on while still holding onto memories.

    The 1066th Greatest Book of All Time
  • After You’d Gone by Maggie O'Farrell

    The novel revolves around a young woman named Alice Raikes, who, after an unexpected and traumatic event, slips into a coma. As she lies unconscious in a hospital, the narrative delves into her past, unraveling the complexities of her relationships with her family and her intense love affair. Through a series of flashbacks and the perspectives of different characters, the story explores themes of love, loss, and the intricate tapestry of human emotions that bind and separate us. The reader is taken on a poignant journey through Alice's life, uncovering the secrets and memories that led up to the fateful moment that changed everything.

    The 9597th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt

    A group of six classics students at a small, elite Vermont college, led by a charismatic professor, become entranced by the study of Greek culture and decide to recreate a Dionysian ritual, which ends in a tragic accident. The group, bound by their shared secret, begins to unravel as paranoia and guilt take hold. The novel explores themes of beauty and terror, the allure of the esoteric, and the destructive consequences of obsession.

    The 190th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

    The book follows the lives of two Jewish cousins, one a skilled escape artist and the other a talented artist, before, during, and after World War II. They create a popular comic book superhero, which brings them fame and fortune. However, their success is complicated by personal struggles, including the escape artist's attempts to rescue his family from Nazi-occupied Prague and the artist's struggle with his sexuality. The narrative explores themes of escapism, identity, and the golden age of comic books.

    The 254th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

    This thrilling novel revolves around the sudden disappearance of a woman on her fifth wedding anniversary. As the investigation unfolds, all evidence points to her husband as the prime suspect. However, the story takes a twist as the wife's diary entries reveal a darker side to their seemingly perfect marriage. The narrative alternates between the husband's present-day perspective and the wife's diary entries, leaving readers in suspense about what truly happened. The book explores themes of deceit, media influence, and the complexities of marriage.

    The 795th Greatest Book of All Time
  • We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

    "We Need To Talk About Kevin" is a gripping and unsettling novel that explores the complex relationship between a mother and her troubled son. Told through a series of letters written by the mother to her estranged husband, the book delves into the aftermath of a horrific school massacre committed by Kevin. As the mother reflects on her own guilt, fears, and doubts, she questions whether her own actions and choices played a role in shaping Kevin's violent nature. This thought-provoking and chilling narrative explores themes of nature versus nurture, parental responsibility, and the profound impact of tragedy on a family.

    The 1739th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Normal People by Sally Rooney

    "Normal People" is a novel that explores the complex relationship between two high school students from different social classes in a small town in Ireland. Despite their contrasting backgrounds, they form a strong bond that continues into their university years at Trinity College. The narrative follows their journey, filled with misunderstandings, miscommunications, and emotional intimacy, as they navigate their way through love, friendship, mental health issues, and the struggles of growing up.

    The 2038th Greatest Book of All Time
  • 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.

    The 54th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Betty by Tiffany McDaniel

    This novel is a poignant coming-of-age story set in the rural town of Breathed, Ohio, during the mid-20th century. It follows the life of a young girl of mixed white and Cherokee heritage, who grows up in a large, impoverished family plagued by dark secrets and personal tragedies. Through her eyes, we experience the harsh realities of racism, sexism, and the struggles of her family against the backdrop of Appalachian folklore and the deep connection to nature. The narrative is a tapestry of the protagonist's resilience, the power of storytelling, and the unbreakable bond she shares with her father, who instills in her the importance of her heritage and the strength found in one's roots.

    The 10586th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

    In this unique novel, a Venetian traveler describes 55 different cities to the Mongol emperor, each city more fantastical and surreal than the last. The cities are divided into categories such as "Cities and Memory," "Cities and Desire," "Cities and Signs," etc. As the traveler continues to describe these cities, it becomes clear that they are all actually the same city, Venice, seen from different perspectives and points in time. The novel explores themes of memory, perception, and the nature of human experience.

    The 293rd Greatest Book of All Time
  • Based On A True Story by Norm Macdonald

    The book is a memoir that blends fact with fiction, offering a comedic and surreal account of the life of a well-known comedian and former "Saturday Night Live" cast member. It delves into his upbringing in Canada, his rise to fame, and his experiences in the world of comedy, all while playing fast and loose with the truth. The narrative is filled with the author's trademark wit and deadpan humor, as he recounts stories of gambling, the pitfalls of celebrity, and his own unique perspective on life, often questioning the nature of storytelling and the reliability of memory itself.

    The 10469th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

    The novel is a vibrant portrayal of the lives of twelve different characters, primarily black British women, spanning over a century. Each character has their own unique story, tackling issues such as feminism, politics, sexuality, and identity. The narrative is a blend of poetry and prose, exploring the interconnected lives of these women and their personal struggles and triumphs. It is a powerful exploration of race, gender, and the changing face of Britain.

    The 3047th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

    Set in Nazi Germany during World War II, the novel follows the story of a young girl who finds solace in stealing books and sharing them with others. In the midst of the horrors of war, she forms a bond with a Jewish man her foster parents are hiding in their basement. The story is narrated by Death, offering a unique perspective on the atrocities and small acts of kindness during this period. The girl's love for books becomes a metaphor for resistance against the oppressive regime.

    The 552nd Greatest Book of All Time
  • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

    The novel is a deeply moving portrayal of four friends in New York City, spanning over several decades. It primarily focuses on Jude, a man with a mysterious and traumatic past, who struggles with physical disability and emotional trauma. The story explores themes of friendship, love, trauma, suffering, and the human will to endure in spite of life's hardships. It is an epic tale of heartbreak and despair but also of resilience and enduring love.

    The 1588th Greatest Book of All Time
  • They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib

    In this collection of essays, the author weaves together personal anecdotes, music criticism, and social commentary to explore the ways in which music shapes our identities and experiences. Through a lens that is both deeply introspective and widely resonant, the essays delve into the cultural impact of artists ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Chance the Rapper, examining the intersections of race, politics, and popular culture. The author's lyrical prose and poignant reflections offer a unique perspective on the power of music to articulate emotion, forge connections, and provide solace in times of turmoil.

    The 10503rd Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

    A young Andalusian shepherd named Santiago dreams of finding a worldly treasure and sets off on a journey across the Egyptian desert in search of it. Along the way, he encounters a series of characters who impart wisdom and help guide his spiritual journey. The novel explores themes of destiny, personal legend, and the interconnectedness of all things in the universe. The boy learns that true wealth comes not from material possessions, but from self-discovery and attaining one's "Personal Legend".

    The 308th Greatest Book of All Time
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

    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 Greatest Book of All Time
  • 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.

    The 8th Greatest Book of All Time
  • My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

    This novel tells the story of two friends, Elena and Lila, growing up in a poor neighborhood in Naples, Italy in the 1950s. Their intense, complicated friendship is marked by competition, mutual respect, and deep affection. As they navigate the challenges of adolescence, including family drama, academic struggles, and romantic entanglements, their bond is tested and transformed. The narrative explores themes of female friendship, social class, education, and the struggle for personal autonomy in a patriarchal society.

    The 1212th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

    This novel follows the journey of Cora, a young slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia, who escapes and embarks on a journey towards freedom via the Underground Railroad. The book presents a literal version of the historical Underground Railroad, portraying it as a physical network of tunnels and tracks beneath the Southern soil. As Cora travels from state to state, she encounters different worlds and harsh realities, each one illuminating the various forms of oppression Black people faced in America. The narrative is a brutal exploration of America's history of slavery and racism, and a testament to the unyielding spirit of those who fought against it.

    The 1058th Greatest Book of All Time
  • White Teeth by Zadie Smith

    This novel follows the lives of two friends, a working-class Englishman and a Bangladeshi Muslim, living in London. The story explores the complex relationships between people of different races, cultures, and generations in modern Britain, with themes of identity, immigration, and the cultural and social changes that have shaped the country. The narrative is enriched by the characters' personal histories and the historical events that have shaped their lives.

    The 216th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

    This book is a deeply personal memoir about a woman's quest for identity and happiness amidst a turbulent childhood. Raised by an abusive and religiously fanatic adoptive mother in a small, industrial town in Northern England, the author struggles with her sexuality, eventually being thrown out of her home for having a relationship with another woman. She later embarks on a journey to find her biological mother, all while wrestling with her own mental health issues and trying to make sense of her place in the world. The narrative is a raw exploration of love, loss, and the power of literature as a means of escape and self-discovery.

    The 7028th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino

    This book is a collection of essays that delve into the complexities of self-delusion in the context of contemporary culture. It offers a sharp and incisive examination of the forces shaping the sense of identity in the internet era, from the rise of social media to the pressures of the modern beauty industry. The author weaves personal anecdotes with cultural criticism to explore how the systems of the internet, politics, and pop culture can trap individuals in reflective loops of performance and validation. Through its pages, the book challenges readers to consider how they can navigate a world where the line between perception and reality is increasingly blurred.

    The 10554th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Yes Please by Amy Poehler

    In this candid and humorous memoir, a celebrated comedian and actress shares personal stories, life lessons, and behind-the-scenes anecdotes from her journey in show business. From her childhood to her time on iconic television shows and her experiences as a mother, she offers insights into the challenges and triumphs of her life with wit and wisdom. The book is a collection of essays, lists, and photographs that together provide an honest look at her struggles with self-doubt, the realities of being a working woman in Hollywood, and the joy she finds in creating and collaborating with friends and colleagues in the industry.

    The 10398th Greatest Book of All Time
  • On Writing by Stephen King

    This book is a memoir that serves as a guide for aspiring writers. The author shares his journey as a writer, his struggles, and his successes, while also providing practical advice on the craft of writing. It delves into the mechanics of writing, the importance of reading, the role of an editor, and the perseverance required to be a successful writer. The book also discusses the author's near-fatal accident and how it impacted his writing process, emphasizing the importance of resilience and dedication to the craft.

    The 1313th Greatest Book of All Time
  • I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

    In this candid memoir, a former child actress chronicles her tumultuous journey through the entertainment industry, detailing the intense pressures and emotional abuse she faced from a controlling mother. She opens up about her struggles with eating disorders, addiction, and the quest for independence, all while grappling with the complex grief following her mother's death. The book offers a raw and poignant exploration of her path to healing, self-acceptance, and the difficult process of breaking free from the toxic dynamics that dominated her early life and career.

    The 10639th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Dress Your Family In Corduroy And Denim by David Sedaris

    This book is a collection of autobiographical essays that delve into the quirks and complexities of family life, as seen through the author's sharp and often humorous lens. The stories explore the bonds of sibling rivalry, the eccentricities of parents, and the awkwardness of childhood, all while navigating themes of identity, belonging, and the search for connection. With a mix of poignancy and wit, the author reflects on his experiences growing up in a dysfunctional family, coming to terms with his sexuality, and finding his place in the world. The essays are both deeply personal and universally relatable, showcasing the author's talent for turning the mundane into the profound.

    The 5803rd Greatest Book of All Time
  • Just Kids by Patti Smith

    "Just Kids" is a poignant memoir that explores the journey of two friends in New York City during the late 1960s and 70s. The book delves into their dreams, struggles, and successes as they navigate their way through the city's vibrant art and music scene. It's a tale of love, friendship, and the pursuit of artistic inspiration, providing a raw and intimate look into their lives as they strive to make a name for themselves in the world of art and music.

    The 5366th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Know My Name by Chanel Miller

    The book is a powerful and transformative memoir by a young woman who reclaimed her identity after being known to the world as "Emily Doe" in a highly publicized sexual assault case. With unflinching honesty and profound eloquence, she shares her harrowing experience of trauma and the grueling path through the criminal justice system. Her narrative goes beyond the assault and its aftermath, delving into the societal attitudes toward sexual assault and the personal journey of healing and empowerment. Her story is a testament to resilience, a call to change the culture that shames survivors, and an inspiration for others to assert their own identity and tell their truth.

    The 10477th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

    This book is a raw and honest exploration of grief and mourning, written by a woman who lost her husband of 40 years to a heart attack while their only child lay comatose in the hospital. The narrative delves into the year following her husband's death, a year marked by grief, confusion, and a desperate hope for things to return to normal. The author's poignant reflections on death, love, and loss serve as a powerful testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

    The 583rd Greatest Book of All Time
  • Crying In H Mart by Michelle Zauner

    This memoir is a poignant exploration of grief, identity, and heritage through the lens of food and family. The author recounts her experiences growing up as a Korean-American, the complex relationship with her mother, and the profound loss she endures after her mother's death. The narrative weaves between past and present, detailing the author's struggle to find her identity in the intersection of two cultures and her journey to understanding and accepting her heritage, all while navigating the universal experiences of love, loss, and healing. The supermarket H Mart serves as a symbolic anchor for the author's reflections on her mother's homeland and the culinary traditions that serve as a vital link to her memories and cultural roots.

    The 10613th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

    The book is an insider's account of the culinary world, revealing the harsh realities of restaurant kitchens. The author, a professional chef, shares his personal experiences, the good and the bad, in a brutally honest and witty manner. He provides an unvarnished look at the industry, from the chaotic kitchen environment and the high-pressure service, to the eccentric characters he has worked with. The book also includes his reflections on food culture, cooking techniques, and his own journey in the culinary field.

    The 2231st Greatest Book of All Time
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

    The book delves into the two systems that drive the way we think—System 1, which is fast and intuitive, and System 2, which is slow and deliberate. The author, a Nobel laureate, explores how these systems shape our judgments and decision-making. He presents several groundbreaking experiments that have shaped our understanding of human thought, revealing where we can trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. The book also discusses how our cognitive biases often lead to errors in judgment and affect our decision-making processes.

    The 2662nd Greatest Book of All Time
  • Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski

    The book is a groundbreaking exploration of the science behind female sexuality, debunking common myths and providing a comprehensive understanding of the factors that influence sexual well-being. It emphasizes the uniqueness of every woman's sexual journey and the role of stress, mood, trust, and body image in shaping sexual experiences. The author combines psychology, anatomy, and personal anecdotes to empower women to embrace their sexuality, understand their bodies, and pursue authentic sexual pleasure. The central message is that women's sexual experiences are normal and that understanding the dual control model of sexual response can lead to healthier and more satisfying sex lives.

    The 10437th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Burnout by Amelia Nagoski, Emily Nagoski

    The book explores the science behind stress and the phenomenon of burnout, particularly in women. It delves into the psychological and societal factors that contribute to chronic stress and offers practical strategies for managing emotional exhaustion. The authors combine evidence-based research with personal anecdotes to illustrate how stress operates differently in the female body and provide insights on completing the stress response cycle, dealing with the "human giver syndrome," and breaking the cultural habits that exacerbate burnout. The book aims to empower readers to create sustainable change in their lives by addressing the roots of their stress and fostering wellness.

    The 10554th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Period Power by Maisie Hill

    "Period Power" is a transformative guide that aims to enlighten and empower individuals with uteruses by providing a comprehensive understanding of menstrual health and the menstrual cycle. The book delves into the science of hormones, offers practical advice on how to navigate different phases of the cycle, and encourages readers to harness the potential of their hormonal fluctuations for improved physical and mental well-being. By debunking myths and fostering a positive conversation around periods, the book seeks to eradicate stigma and provide readers with the tools to take charge of their health, improve their relationships, and optimize their lives according to the natural rhythms of their bodies.

    The 10554th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday

    The book in question is a motivational guide that draws on Stoic philosophy to argue that the challenges and adversities we face in life are not only inevitable but also essential to our personal growth and success. It suggests that by embracing obstacles, rather than avoiding them, we can turn them into opportunities for self-improvement. The author provides historical anecdotes and practical strategies to help readers learn how to remain resilient, persistent, and adaptable in the face of difficulties. By reframing our mindset and approach to problems, the book teaches that what stands in the way becomes the way forward.

    The 10398th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

    This gripping non-fiction book recounts the tragic events of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster. The author, a journalist and experienced climber, was part of a commercial expedition to summit Everest. The expedition soon turned disastrous due to a severe storm, leading to the death of several climbers from various teams. The book provides a vivid, personal account of the harrowing ordeal, detailing the physical and psychological challenges faced by climbers at high altitudes, as well as the ethical and commercial aspects of mountaineering expeditions.

    The 1784th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Ariel by Sylvia Plath

    "Ariel" is a collection of poetry which explores the complexities of the human psyche, mental health, female identity, and the personal struggles of life. The poems are known for their vivid and often disturbing imagery, reflecting the author's own experiences with depression and suicidal thoughts. The collection is also notable for its exploration of the author's relationship with her father, her feelings of betrayal and abandonment, and her struggles with motherhood.

    The 2134th Greatest Book of All Time
  • De Profundis by Oscar Wilde

    "De Profundis" is a lengthy letter written by a man during his imprisonment for gross indecency, reflecting on his past life and experiences. The letter is addressed to his former lover, and through it, he expresses his feelings of regret, despair, and hope. The man discusses his spiritual journey during incarceration, his newfound understanding of suffering, and his changing views on art and morality. The work is a profound exploration of love, forgiveness, redemption, and the human spirit's resilience.

    The 1037th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

    This book provides a comprehensive exploration of the history of the human species, tracing back from the earliest forms of Homo Sapiens to the modern day. It delves into evolutionary biology, the development of cultures and societies, and the rise of major ideologies and technologies. The book also discusses the future of the species, posing thought-provoking questions about our roles and responsibilities in a rapidly changing world.

    The 2290th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, Ana Camallonga

    The book in question is a powerful and thought-provoking exploration of race, structural racism, and the black experience in a predominantly white society. It delves into the historical roots of racial inequality, the failures of the mainstream feminist movement to address intersectionality, and the ongoing challenges faced by people of color in the realms of politics, employment, and the justice system. The author articulately expresses her frustration with the lack of understanding and denial of systemic racism by white individuals, which has led her to the titular conclusion. Through personal narrative and incisive analysis, the book serves as a call to action for meaningful conversation and systemic change.

    The 8082nd Greatest Book of All Time
  • All About Love by bell hooks

    This book delves into the multifaceted nature of love, challenging the conventional wisdom that often leads to misunderstandings and heartache. It proposes a transformative approach to love, advocating for its recognition as a combination of care, commitment, trust, knowledge, responsibility, and respect. The author argues that our cultural assumptions about love are flawed and that by embracing a more nurturing and empathetic view, individuals can foster healthier relationships and a more compassionate society. Through a blend of personal anecdotes, philosophical insights, and practical wisdom, the book invites readers to reconsider their beliefs and behaviors around love, and to cultivate it as a verb rather than just an emotion.

    The 9597th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Book Lovers by Emily Henry

    In this witty and heartwarming romantic comedy, two literary-minded individuals—a cutthroat literary agent and a brooding editor—find themselves repeatedly crossing paths in a sleepy North Carolina town. While she's on a mission to support her sister and he's escaping the city's bustle, their professional rivalry and personal banter lead to an unexpected connection. As they challenge each other's firmly held beliefs about life and love, they must confront their own stories to write a new one together, discovering that their perfect match might be found in the most unexpected of pages.

    The 10613th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Red, White & Royal Blue: A Novel by Casey McQuiston

    "Red, White & Royal Blue: A Novel" is a heartwarming and humorous story about the unexpected romance between Alex, the First Son of the United States, and Henry, the Prince of Wales. After a public altercation, they are forced to fake a friendship for the sake of international diplomacy. However, as they spend more time together, their fake friendship turns into a genuine connection, leading them to question their own identities, their responsibilities, and the true meaning of love. This delightful and captivating novel explores themes of self-discovery, acceptance, and the power of love to overcome societal expectations.

    The 9425th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

    The book centers around a young man who, after a tabloid scandal threatens his job at a charity, realizes he needs to clean up his image. To do so, he embarks on a fake relationship with a respectable, no-nonsense barrister who also has his own reasons for needing a pretend partner. Despite their initial lack of genuine affection, the two men find themselves navigating the complexities of their fake relationship, which leads to unexpected personal growth, genuine connections, and the blurring of lines between what's real and what's for show. As they deal with their respective issues and the public's watchful eye, they start to wonder if their fauxmance might just have the potential to become something real.

    The 10586th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

    In this romantic novel, a young woman finds herself in a predicament when she lies to her family about having a boyfriend and is expected to bring him to her sister's wedding in Spain. Desperate to maintain her ruse, she reluctantly agrees to a proposition from her aggravating but attractive colleague, who offers to pose as her partner for the trip. As they spend time together in the picturesque setting, their feigned relationship begins to reveal genuine chemistry and emotions, leading them to confront their past misunderstandings and the possibility of a real romance.

    The 10613th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Duke and I: A Bridgerton Novel by Julia Quinn

    In this Regency-era romance, a young woman of marriageable age faces societal pressures to find a suitable match. When she forms a pact with a charming and rebellious duke, they agree to a ruse of courtship to stave off the advances of other suitors and meddling family members. However, as they navigate the complexities of their faux engagement, they find themselves drawn to each other in unexpected ways, challenging their initial intentions and leading them to confront the possibility of a genuine and deep-seated love. Their story is a dance of wit, romance, and the intricate social mores of high society, revealing that the path to true love is seldom straightforward.

    The 5102nd Greatest Book of All Time
  • To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

    The novel centers around Lara Jean Song Covey, a high school junior who has written secret love letters to all of her past crushes, never intending to send them. However, her life turns upside down when the letters are mysteriously mailed out, causing her to confront her feelings and the repercussions of her past affections. In a desperate attempt to save face and avoid confrontation with one of her crushes, she enters into a fake relationship with another, which leads to a journey of self-discovery and the realization that sometimes love can be found in the most unexpected places.

    The 6704th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

    The novel is a poignant exploration of desire, passion, and the confusion of young love, set during a sun-drenched summer on the Italian Riviera. It follows the blossoming romantic relationship between a precocious 17-year-old boy and a visiting 24-year-old American scholar staying at his parents' villa. As they bond over literature, music, and the languid Italian landscape, their intimacy grows, leading to a deep and transformative affair that will leave an indelible mark on their lives. The story delves into the complexities of emotions and the heartache of remembering a once-in-a-lifetime connection that both defines and haunts them.

    The 6235th Greatest Book of All Time
  • 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.

    The 11th Greatest Book of All Time
  • 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.

    The 70th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

    "Station Eleven" is a post-apocalyptic novel that revolves around the lives of several characters before and after a devastating flu pandemic wipes out most of the world's population. The narrative jumps back and forth in time, exploring the interconnectedness of the characters' lives through their shared memories and experiences. The story also follows a traveling Shakespearean theatre company as they navigate the dangers of a collapsed civilization, emphasizing the importance of art and human connection in times of crisis.

    The 2376th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Klara And The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

    The novel centers around Klara, an Artificial Friend with keen observational qualities, who, from her place in the store, watches the behavior of those who come in to browse, and those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change forever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans. Set in a dystopian future, the story explores complex themes such as the nature of love, the ethics of artificial intelligence, and what it truly means to be human, all through the eyes of an AI protagonist yearning to understand the people she is meant to serve.

    The 6862nd Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy

    In a post-apocalyptic world, a father and his young son journey through a desolate landscape, struggling to survive. They face numerous threats including starvation, extreme weather, and dangerous encounters with other survivors. The father, who is terminally ill, is driven by his love and concern for his son, and is determined to protect him at all costs. The story is a haunting exploration of the depths of human resilience, the power of love, and the instinct to survive against all odds.

    The 301st Greatest Book of All Time
  • Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell

    Set in a dystopian future, the novel presents a society under the total control of a totalitarian regime, led by the omnipresent Big Brother. The protagonist, a low-ranking member of 'the Party', begins to question the regime and falls in love with a woman, an act of rebellion in a world where independent thought, dissent, and love are prohibited. The novel explores themes of surveillance, censorship, and the manipulation of truth.

    The 5th Greatest Book of All Time
About this list

Refinery29, 75 Books

What is the best book of all time? This question is impossible to answer — to some, the best book of all time might be Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. To others, it could be A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. If we’re looking at plain numbers, it appears that The Bible is the best-selling book of all time — but does that really make it the best book of all time?
Because there are just so many books well worth a read, we’ve collated some of the very best stories ever told for you in the list below. They’re even sorted by genre, so you can pick your favourite and get started — do you like fiction, non-fiction, romance, or even fantasy? We’ve got you covered.

Added 3 months ago.

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