The Best Books of All Time, as Chosen by the Good Housekeeping Team

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

  • 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
  • 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.

    The 10th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey

    This sprawling narrative weaves together the lives of several characters amidst the backdrop of Los Angeles, painting a gritty and vivid portrait of the city's diverse inhabitants. From the glamorous to the destitute, the novel explores the dreams, struggles, and realities of those seeking fulfillment and redemption in a metropolis synonymous with both opportunity and despair. It juxtaposes personal sagas with historical vignettes and factual lists, creating a tapestry that captures the complexity and contradictions of the urban American experience.

    The 7823rd 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
  • Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf

    The novel centers on Addie Moore and Louis Waters, two elderly neighbors in a small Colorado town who have both lost their spouses and are living in quiet solitude. Seeking companionship to combat the loneliness, Addie proposes that they start sleeping in bed together, platonically, to talk and provide comfort for each other during the night. As their unconventional relationship evolves, they share intimate conversations, revealing their life stories, regrets, and the challenges they face with their families and the town's residents. The story is a tender exploration of aging, companionship, and the courage to seek connection in the twilight years of life.

    The 8719th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

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

    The 4th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

    This book is a collection of poignant and powerful advice columns compiled from the author's time as an online advice columnist. With empathy and honesty, the author responds to letters from people seeking guidance through their various life challenges, ranging from love and relationships to self-discovery and healing from personal trauma. The responses are woven with personal anecdotes from the author's own life, offering raw and heartfelt wisdom that resonates with readers facing their own struggles, ultimately serving as a testament to the human experience and the transformative power of compassion.

    The 8086th 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
  • His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

    "His Dark Materials" is a fantasy trilogy that follows the journey of a young girl named Lyra Belacqua and her daemon, Pantalaimon, across parallel universes. Throughout their adventures, they encounter a variety of mythical creatures, confront religious and political systems, and grapple with complex themes such as free will, original sin, and the nature of consciousness. The series also delves into the mysteries of Dust, a strange particle integral to the multiverse's function.

    The 342nd Greatest Book of All Time
  • Restoration by Rose Tremain

    "Restoration" is a historical novel set in 17th-century England during the reign of King Charles II. The story follows Robert Merivel, a young physician who rises to favor in the royal court only to fall from grace due to his own vanity and indiscretions. Merivel's journey is one of personal growth and self-discovery as he navigates the complexities of love, friendship, and the pursuit of happiness. Along the way, he encounters a rich tapestry of characters and experiences that reflect the moral and social dilemmas of the Restoration period, ultimately leading him to seek redemption and a deeper understanding of what it means to lead a meaningful life.

    The 3022nd Greatest Book of All Time
  • Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho

    The novel centers around Veronika, a young woman from Slovenia who, disillusioned by her life and the world, decides to commit suicide. Surviving her attempt, she wakes up in a mental institution where she learns that her failed attempt has left her with only a few days to live. During her stay, she meets a variety of characters, each with their own mental issues, who help her to see her life in a new perspective. The story explores themes of madness, individuality, and the value of life, challenging societal norms and questioning the meaning of sanity.

    The 1902nd Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Life Changing Magic Of Numbers by Bobby Seagull

    This book is a passionate exploration of the world of numbers and how they shape our daily lives, written by an enthusiastic mathematician and educator. It serves as both a personal narrative and a guide to the practical applications of mathematics, aiming to demystify mathematical concepts and demonstrate their relevance. The author uses anecdotes, puzzles, and real-world examples to illustrate the beauty of mathematics and its crucial role in everything from personal finance to sports, music, and beyond. The book seeks to inspire a newfound appreciation for numbers and their life-changing magic, encouraging readers to see the subject not as a daunting school topic but as a powerful tool for making sense of the world around us.

    The 9425th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Crimson Petal And The White by Michel Faber

    This novel transports readers to Victorian London, where we follow the complex and interwoven lives of a young, intelligent prostitute named Sugar and a well-to-do businessman, William Rackham. As Sugar becomes Rackham's mistress, her influence expands beyond the bedroom, affecting his personal and professional life. The narrative, rich in detail and social commentary, delves into the stark contrasts of the era, from the grim realities of poverty and exploitation to the opulent lifestyles of the elite, while exploring themes of ambition, desire, and the quest for a better life amidst the rigid class structures of the time.

    The 6665th 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
  • Generation X by Douglas Coupland

    The book is a novel that captures the disaffections of young adults growing up in the late 20th century, specifically those born in the late 1950s to the early 1980s. It follows the lives of three friends who have retreated to the California desert to escape the complexities and frustrations of the modern world. Through their stories, the novel explores themes of aimlessness, consumer culture, and the search for authenticity in a society saturated with media and technology. The characters' tales are interspersed with quirky definitions and cartoons that reflect their cynical, yet deeply yearning outlook on life, coining terms and concepts that resonate with a generation struggling to find its identity amidst economic and social uncertainty.

    The 2936th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell

    This book is a semi-autobiographical work that explores the harsh realities of poverty in two of Europe's most renowned cities. The protagonist, a struggling writer, first experiences the squalor, hardship, and vagabond lifestyle of Paris, where he works menial jobs and often goes hungry. The narrative then shifts to London, where the protagonist lives as a tramp, navigating the oppressive rules of homeless shelters and the stigma of poverty. The book is a deeply empathetic and insightful exploration of the often invisible world of the impoverished.

    The 940th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom

    The book is a poignant memoir that recounts the series of visits the author makes to his former sociology professor, who is dying from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Through weekly meetings every Tuesday, the professor imparts wisdom on various aspects of life such as love, work, community, family, aging, and death. These conversations, rich with emotional depth and life lessons, transform into a final "class" on the meaning of life, where the professor's insights and experiences serve not only as a guide for the author but also offer profound lessons for the readers about the importance of human connection, compassion, and living a life filled with purpose.

    The 3186th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

    A captivating tale of mystery and suspense, "The Woman in White" follows the story of a young art teacher, Walter Hartright, who encounters a mysterious woman dressed in white on a moonlit road. The woman is revealed to be a mental asylum escapee, and as Hartright delves into her story, he uncovers a web of deceit, madness, and dangerous secrets involving a wealthy, titled family. The narrative explores themes of identity, insanity, and the abuse of power, with a complex plot filled with twists and turns.

    The 164th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

    The novel follows the life of a convicted Australian bank robber and heroin addict who escapes from prison and flees to India. Settling in the bustling city of Mumbai, he assumes a new identity and immerses himself in the local culture, forming a close bond with the people in a slum. As he navigates his new environment, he becomes entangled in various criminal activities, including running a free health clinic, working for the Bombay mafia, and fighting in Afghanistan. Throughout his journey, he grapples with love, forgiveness, and his quest for redemption, all while exploring themes of good and evil, friendship, and the complexities of the human spirit.

    The 2426th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

    This seven-part series follows the adventures of various children who play central roles in the unfolding history of the fantastical realm of Narnia. The children are magically transported to Narnia from our world, where they aid the noble lion Aslan in his struggles against evil forces in order to restore peace and justice. The series explores themes of good versus evil, the nature of faith, and the power of sacrifice, all set against a richly imagined magical world full of diverse creatures and landscapes.

    The 268th Greatest Book of All Time
About this list

Good Housekeeping, 20 Books

The Good Housekeeping team have all the picked their top read - the one they would happily read, again and again.

Added 3 months ago.

How Good is this List?

This list has a weight of 64%. To learn more about what this means please visit the Rankings page.

Here is a list of what is decreasing the importance of this list:

  • Voters: specific voter details are lacking
  • List: seems biased towards newer, more modern books but not specified
  • Voters: are mostly from a single country/location

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