The Greatest Books of All Time

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books in literature. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 215 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed literary works. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details about the selection process can be found on the rankings page.

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  1. 7526. Ombria in Shadow by Patricia A. McKillip

    "Ombria in Shadow" by Patricia A. McKillip is a fantasy novel set in the mysterious city of Ombria, where magic and politics intertwine. After the death of the Duke of Ombria, his mistress, Domina Pearl, takes control of the city and begins to unravel the secrets of its past. As the story unfolds, we follow the lives of several characters, including a changeling prince, a young girl with a mysterious connection to the city's shadows, and a sorceress seeking revenge. The novel is a complex and atmospheric tale of power struggles, love, and the search for identity in a world where nothing is as it seems.

  2. 7527. What It Takes by Richard Ben Cramer

    This book provides an in-depth look at the 1988 United States presidential election, focusing on the personal and political lives of the candidates. It delves into the grueling process of running for president, exploring the intense scrutiny, relentless schedule, and the physical and emotional toll it takes on the candidates and their families. The book also explores the complexities of American politics, the role of media, and the power dynamics within the political landscape.

  3. 7528. Non Stop by Brian W. Aldiss

    In this gripping science fiction novel, a group of humans living on a generational spaceship called the "Non-Stop" embark on a dangerous journey through a mysterious and ever-changing environment. As they navigate the treacherous landscape, they encounter strange creatures and uncover shocking secrets about their own existence. Filled with suspense and thought-provoking themes, the book explores the human instinct for survival and the limits of knowledge in an unfamiliar world.

  4. 7529. Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth

    "Jerusalem" is a contemporary play set in the English countryside, which vividly captures the spirit of an eccentric local daredevil, Johnny "Rooster" Byron, on St. George's Day. The story delves into the tensions between the modern world and old English folklore, as Rooster, a defiant and charismatic outsider, tells outlandish tales and provides sanctuary to the town's youth against the encroaching forces of authority and gentrification. The narrative unfolds with a mix of humor and tragedy, exploring themes of national identity, social change, and the erosion of rural traditions in the face of progress and conformity.

  5. 7530. Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire by David Remnick

    This book provides an in-depth account of the final days of the Soviet Union, focusing on the period from 1989 to 1991. It explores the political, economic, and social factors that led to the collapse of the Soviet empire, including the role of key figures such as Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin, and others. The author, a journalist who lived in Moscow during this time, combines historical analysis with personal observations and interviews, offering a unique perspective on this significant period in world history.

  6. 7531. The Haunted Land by Tina Rosenberg

    "The Haunted Land" is a compelling exploration of the aftermath of communism in Eastern Europe, specifically in the Czech Republic, Poland, and Germany. The book delves into the struggles of these nations as they grapple with their pasts under oppressive regimes, and their attempts to move forward towards democracy. The narrative also examines the moral dilemmas faced by these societies as they confront issues of justice, retribution, and memory.

  7. 7532. The Orphan Master's Son: A Novel by Adam Johnson

    This novel follows the life of Pak Jun Do, a man who rises from humble beginnings as an orphan in North Korea to a high-ranking official in Kim Jong-Il's government. The narrative provides a glimpse into the harsh realities of living under a totalitarian regime, as Jun Do navigates a world of propaganda, forced labor, and political prison camps. His journey takes a turn when he becomes involved in a diplomatic mission, falls in love with a famous actress, and is forced to assume the identity of a rival commander. This leads him into a dangerous game of deception and survival, providing a chilling and engrossing exploration of identity, love, and the human spirit in the face of extreme adversity.

  8. 7533. A Life of Picasso by John Richardson

    This biography delves into the life of one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Picasso. The book provides an in-depth look into his early life, his relationships, his artistic evolution, and his influence on the art world. It offers a comprehensive exploration of Picasso's personal and professional life, shedding light on his genius and the complexities of his character. The author's detailed research and intimate knowledge of the artist's life make this book a definitive biography of Picasso.

  9. 7534. The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke by Jeffrey C. Stewart

    This comprehensive biography delves into the life and work of Alain Locke, the first African American Rhodes Scholar and a leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance. The book explores Locke's upbringing, his education, and his struggles with racism and homophobia. It also highlights his role in promoting and shaping black culture and arts during the Harlem Renaissance, his philosophy of the "New Negro," and his influence on a generation of African American artists and intellectuals.

  10. 7535. Russia Leaves the War by George F. Kennan

    "Russia Leaves the War" is a comprehensive historical analysis of the political, social, and economic factors that led to Russia's withdrawal from World War I. The book provides a detailed account of the internal struggles, international pressures, and key figures that influenced this critical decision. It also explores the impact of the Russian Revolution and the rise of the Bolsheviks on the nation's foreign policy, offering a nuanced understanding of this pivotal period in world history.

  11. 7536. Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner

    "Thomas the Rhymer" is a novel by Ellen Kushner that tells the story of a young man named Thomas who is taken to the fairy realm by the Queen of Elfland. There, he is gifted with the power of prophecy and returns to the mortal world to become a renowned poet and seer. However, his supernatural abilities come with a price, and Thomas must navigate the dangerous politics of both the fairy and human realms while trying to fulfill his destiny. The novel is a blend of historical fiction, fantasy, and romance, and explores themes of love, power, and the consequences of making deals with the supernatural.

  12. 7537. Mission Of Gravity by Hal Clement

    In a fascinating and imaginative science fiction novel, "Mission of Gravity" takes readers on an extraordinary journey to the planet Mesklin. The story follows a team of explorers as they navigate the extreme gravitational pull of this peculiar world, where the inhabitants are shaped by this force. With vivid descriptions and intricate world-building, the book explores the challenges and wonders of Mesklin, offering a thrilling and thought-provoking adventure.

  13. 7538. The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed

    This book explores the complex and controversial history of Thomas Jefferson's relationship with his slave, Sally Hemings, and her family. It provides a detailed account of the Hemings family's life at Monticello, their interactions with Jefferson, and their experiences during and after his presidency. The narrative also delves into the wider context of slavery, race, and society in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, challenging traditional views and offering a fresh perspective on a well-known historical figure and his time.

  14. 7539. The Inverted World by Christopher Priest

    "The Inverted World" is a science fiction novel set in a future world where a city called "Earth" is constantly on the move, with the aim of staying ahead of a mysterious and dangerous force known as "the slowing." The story follows a young apprentice named Helward Mann, who discovers unsettling truths about the city's true nature and its inhabitants. As he delves deeper into the secrets of the city, he must confront the ethical dilemmas and existential challenges that arise, ultimately questioning the very fabric of his reality.

  15. 7540. Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

    The novel concludes a trilogy that chronicles the colonization and terraforming of Mars, exploring the complex interactions between politics, science, and ecology in the process. As the Martian society stabilizes after a period of revolution and unrest, the inhabitants of the red planet grapple with the long-term implications of their transformation, both for their own society and their relationship with Earth. The narrative delves into the lives of the colonists who have become the first Martians, addressing themes of longevity, environmental responsibility, and the quest for a sustainable future for humanity across two worlds. With a backdrop of a vividly imagined Martian landscape, the story reflects on the human capacity for adaptation and the ethical dimensions of altering an entire planet's ecosystem.

  16. 7541. Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge

    Set in the near future, the novel explores a world transformed by technological advancements in communication, security, and augmented reality. The protagonist, a man who has recovered from Alzheimer's thanks to new medical technology, struggles to adapt to the fast-paced changes and reconnect with his estranged family. As he navigates this brave new world, he becomes entangled in a complex plot involving an omnipresent surveillance system, a potential global conspiracy, and the power of information control. The story delves into themes of intelligence, consciousness, and the impact of technology on society, questioning the nature of reality in a digitized age.

  17. 7542. Love And Longing In Bombay by Vikram Chandra

    "Love And Longing In Bombay" is a collection of five interconnected stories set in the bustling city of Bombay. Each story explores themes of love, loss, and longing, as characters navigate their way through the complexities of relationships and the challenges of modern life. From a detective investigating a mysterious disappearance to a struggling actor caught in a web of deceit, these stories offer a glimpse into the diverse lives and emotions of Bombay's inhabitants. With richly drawn characters and evocative descriptions of the city, the book captures the essence of Bombay and delves into the universal experiences of love and longing.

  18. 7543. The Fig Tree by Aubrey Menen

    "The Fig Tree" by Aubrey Menen is a thought-provoking novel that delves into the complexities of identity and self-discovery. Set in India during the country's struggle for independence, the story follows the journey of a young man named Raman, who embarks on a quest to find his true purpose in life. Through vivid descriptions and rich character development, the novel explores themes of cultural clash, spiritual enlightenment, and the search for personal fulfillment. With its lyrical prose and insightful reflections, "The Fig Tree" offers a captivating exploration of the human condition and the universal quest for meaning.

  19. 7544. Tales From Firozhsha Baug by Rohinton Mistry

    "Tales From Firozhsha Baug" is a collection of interconnected stories set in a Mumbai apartment complex. Through the lives of its diverse residents, the book explores themes of family, identity, and the complexities of urban life in India. With a blend of humor, compassion, and keen observation, the stories shed light on the struggles, dreams, and resilience of ordinary people, capturing the essence of a vibrant community in a rapidly changing city.

  20. 7545. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

    The novel spans five decades, telling the story of a large blended family that is forever changed when an unexpected romantic encounter occurs at a christening party. The repercussions of this event ripple through the lives of the four parents and six children involved, as secrets are revealed and relationships are forever altered. The story explores themes of love, responsibility, and the effects of a shared history.

  21. 7546. The Impressionist by Hari Kunzru

    "The Impressionist" is a captivating novel that follows the life of a mixed-race boy named Pran Nath. Born in India during the British Raj era, Pran's fate takes a dramatic turn when he is mistaken for the son of a wealthy British aristocrat. As he navigates through various identities and encounters, Pran's journey becomes a reflection of the complexities of race, class, and colonialism. With vivid prose and a keen exploration of identity, this book offers a thought-provoking exploration of one man's quest for belonging and self-discovery in a rapidly changing world.

  22. 7547. Coolie by Mulk Raj Anand

    "Coolie" is a poignant and powerful novel that delves into the life of Munoo, a young boy from a small village in India who is forced into a life of labor as a coolie. Set during the British colonial era, the story explores themes of exploitation, poverty, and the harsh realities faced by the lower classes. Munoo's journey takes him from his village to bustling cities, encountering both cruelty and kindness along the way, ultimately shedding light on the injustices of the time.

  23. 7548. Baumgartner’s Bombay by Anita Desai

    In "Baumgartner's Bombay" by Anita Desai, the story revolves around Hugo Baumgartner, a German Jew who fled to India during World War II. Set in Bombay, the novel explores the themes of identity, displacement, and the search for belonging. As the narrative unfolds, Hugo's life becomes entwined with that of the city's street children, leading to a poignant and thought-provoking exploration of love, loss, and the complexities of human connections.

  24. 7549. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

    "The Interestings" follows a group of six talented friends who meet at a summer camp for the arts in 1974. The novel spans over three decades, exploring their friendships, relationships, successes, and failures as they navigate adulthood. The story delves into themes of talent, envy, money, art, power, and the meaning of success as it examines how these friends' lives diverge and intersect over the years.

  25. 7550. The Trotternama by I Allan Sealy

    "The Trotternama" is a mesmerizing tale that weaves together the lives of various characters in a small Indian village. Set against the backdrop of political and social changes in post-independence India, the story explores themes of identity, love, and the search for meaning. With lyrical prose and rich descriptions, the author takes readers on a journey through the intricacies of human relationships and the complexities of a rapidly changing society.


If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.