The Greatest Books Since 1900

How is this list generated?

This list is generated from 130 "best of" book lists from a variety of great sources. An algorithm is used to create a master list based on how many lists a particular book appears on. Some lists count more than others. I generally trust "best of all time" lists voted by authors and experts over user-generated lists. On the lists that are actually ranked, the book that is 1st counts a lot more than the book that's 100th. If you're interested in the details about how the rankings are generated and which lists are the most important(in my eyes) please check out the list details page.

If you have any comments, suggestions, or corrections please feel free to e-mail me.

  1. 1701 . The Spectator Bird by Wallace Stegner

    The Spectator Bird is a 1976 novel by Wallace Stegner. The book tells the story of retired literary agent Joe Allston, who receives a postcard from an old friend, a Danish countess named Astrid. Jo...

  2. 1702 . Seaview by Toby Olson

    Publisher Comments: The action of Toby Olson's PEN/Faulkner Award-winning novel "Seaview" sweeps eastward, following three men and two women across a wasted American continent to an apocalyptic co...

  3. 1703 . Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

    The first ten lies they tell you in high school. "Speak up for yourself--we want to know what you have to say." From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this i...

    - Google
  4. 1704 . Rites of Passage by William Golding

    To the Ends of the Earth is a trilogy of novels by William Golding, consisting of Rites of Passage (1980), Close Quarters (1987), and Fire down Below (1989).

  5. 1705 . The Old Forest by Peter Taylor

    From the grand master of the American short story, these fourteen tales of domestic life in the South during the thirties and forties explore that extraordinary world of manners, expectations and u...

  6. 1706 . Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth

    Sacred Hunger is a historical novel by Barry Unsworth first published in 1992. It was joint winner of the Booker Prize that year, sharing the position with Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient. ...

  7. 1707 . Alice Adams by Booth Tarkington

    This is the story of a middle-class family living in the industrialized midland country at the turn of the 20th century. It is against this dingy backdrop that Alice Adams seeks to distinguish hers...

  8. 1708 . Charming Billy by Alice McDermott

    Billy Lynch's family and friends have gathered at a small Bronx bar. They have come to comfort his widow and to eulogize one of the last great romantics, trading tales of his famous humor, immense ...

  9. 1709 . Ship Fever and Other Stories by Andrea Barrett

    The elegant short fictions gathered hereabout the love of science and the science of love are often set against the backdrop of the nineteenth century. Interweaving historical and fictional charact...

  10. 1710 . Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen

    Shadow Country is actually a trilogy of books about Florida sugar cane planter and outlaw Edgar Watson all collected in one volume, re-edited, and retitled. Set in Florida's Ten Thousand Islands re...

  11. 1711 . The Late George Apley by John P. Marquand

    The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that charts the diminishing fortunes of a distinguished Boston family in the early years of the 20th century. Sweeping us into the inner sanctum of Boston society, ...

  12. 1712 . The Collected Stories by Grace Paley

    Here are all of Grace Paley's classic stories collected in one volume. Her quirky, boisterous characters and rich use of language have won her readers' hearts and secured her place as one of Americ...

    - Google
  13. 1713 . The Centaur by John Updike

    The Centaur is a 1963 novel by John Updike. It won the National Book Award in 1964. The story concerns George Caldwell, a school teacher, and his son Peter, outside of Alton (i.e., Reading), Pennsy...

  14. 1714 . Guard of Honor by James Gould Cozzens

    Guard of Honor is a Pulitzer Prize winning novel by James Gould Cozzens published in 1948. The novel is set during World War II, with most of the action occurring on or near a fictional Army Air Fo...

  15. 1715 . One of Ours by Willa Cather

    Willa Cather's Pulitzer Prize-winning narrative of the making of a young American soldier Claude Wheeler, the sensitive, aspiring protagonist of this beautifully modulated novel, resembles the y...

  16. 1716 . The Barracks Thief by Tobias Wolff

    The Barracks Thief is a novella by Tobias Wolff, first published in 1984. The story concerns paratroopers in training during the time of the Vietnam war.

  17. 1717 . Dart by Alice Oswald

  18. 1718 . The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

    The Fifth Season is a 2015 science fantasy novel by N. K. Jemisin. It was awarded the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2016. It is the first volume in the Broken Earth series and is followed by The Obe...

  19. 1719 . The Voyeur by Alain Robbe-Grillet

    Mathias, the voyeur, returns to the island of his birth and wanders about for several days. When a thirteen-year-old girl is found drowned, murder is suspected. Did Mathias do it?

    - Google
  20. 1720 . The Dying Earth by Jack Vance

    New races of man had evolved, new species of beast; science had vanished and magic had arisen to dominate the twilight of our world as it dominated the earth's morning. The Dying Earth is Jack Vanc...

    - Google
  21. 1721 . Galileo by Bertolt Brecht

    Dramatizes Galileo's conflict with the church over his assertion that the Earth revolves around the sun.

    - Google
  22. 1722 . Cane by Jean Toomer

    Cane is a 1923 novel by noted Harlem Renaissance figure and author Jean Toomer. The novel is structured as a series of vignettes revolving around the origins and experiences of African Americans in...

  23. 1723 . Men Without Women by Ernest Hemingway

    First published in 1927, Men Without Women represents some of Hemingway's most important and compelling early writing. In these fourteen stories, Hemingway begins to examine the themes that would o...

  24. 1724 . Libra by Don DeLillo

    Libra (1988) is a novel written by Don DeLillo. It focuses on the life of Lee Harvey Oswald and offers a speculative account of the events that shaped the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

  25. 1725 . Mensagem by Fernando Pessoa

    Mensagem in Portuguese is a very unusual twentieth century book: it is a symbolist epic made up of 44 short poems organized in three parts or Cycles. - Wikipedia

    - Google
  26. 1726 . Roots by Alex Haley

  27. 1727 . Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin

    Winter's Tale is a 1983 novel by author Mark Helprin. It takes place in a mythical New York City near the turn of the 20th century, markedly different from the world we live in.

  28. 1728 . The Pursuit Of Love by Nancy Mitford

    ew aristocratic English families of the twentieth century enjoyed the glamorous notoriety of the infamous Mitford sisters. Nancy Mitford's most famous novels, The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold...

  29. 1729 . A New Life by Bernard Malamud

    Sy Levin, a high school teacher beset by alcohol and bad decisions, leaves New York for the Pacific Northwest to start over, imagining that an extraordinary new life awaits him there. Soon after ar...

    - Google
  30. 1730 . City of Salt by Abdelrahman Munif

    Banned in Saudia Arabia, this is a blistering look at Arab and American hypocrisy following the discovery of oil in a poor oasis community.

  31. 1731 . The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak

    Populated with vibrant characters, The Bastard of Istanbul is the story of two families, one Turkish and one Armenian American, and their struggle to forge their unique identities against the backd...

    - Google
  32. 1732 . Palace of Desire by Naguib Mahfouz

    Continuing the story of al-Sayyid Ahmad and his family, this is a fascinating look at Egypt in the 1920s. Increased personal freedoms mix tenuously with traditions of family control, as two of Ahma...

    - Google
  33. 1733 . Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz

    Palace Walk is the first novel in Nobel Prize-winner Naguib Mahfouz’s magnificent Cairo Trilogy, an epic family saga of colonial Egypt that is considered his masterwork. The novels of the Cairo Tri...

    - Google
  34. 1734 . Sugar Street by Naguib Mahfouz

    A Nobel laureate's collection of five original tales inspired by the Egypt of the pharaohs brings the world of ancient Egypt face-to-face with modern times. Reprint.

    - Google
  35. 1735 . Rhinoceros and Other Plays by Eugène Ionesco

    Presents three dramatic works by the contemporary French experimental playwright: The Leader, The Future Is in Eggs or It Takes all Sorts to Make a World, and Rhinoceros.

    - Google
  36. 1736 . Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata

    Snow Country is the first full-length novel by the Nobel Prize-winning Japanese author Yasunari Kawabata. The novel established Kawabata as one of Japan's foremost authors and became an instant cla...

  37. 1737 . The Heather Blazing by Colm Toibin

    Eamon Redmond is a judge in Ireland’s high court, a completely legal creature who is just beginning to discover how painfully unconnected he is from other human beings. With effortless fluency, Col...

    - Google
  38. 1738 . An Accidental Man by Iris Murdoch

    A scintillating novel of fate, accidents, and moral dilemmas Set in the time of the Vietnam War, this story concerns the plight of a young American, happily installed in a perfect job in England, e...

    - Google
  39. 1739 . Waiting for the Mahatma by R. K. Narayan

    In the novels of R. K. Narayan (1906-2001), the forefather of modern Indian fiction, human-scale hopes and epiphanies express the promise of a nation as it awakens to its place in the world. In Wai...

    - Google
  40. 1740 . Cities of the Red Night: A Novel by William S. Burroughs

    Clem Snide, a private detective, has to solve a case of ritual murder. In the Gobi Desert 100,000 years ago, a red virus has erupted. And in the 18th century, gay pirates have set up their own repu...

    - Google
  41. 1741 . The Illustrious House of Ramires by Eça de Queirós

    "Eça de Queiros (1845-1900) ought to be," as the London Observer stated, "up there with Balzac, Dickens, and Tolstoy as one of the talismanic names of the nineteenth century." His superlative penul...

    - Google
  42. 1742 . My Life and My Life in the Nineties by Lyn Hejinian

    Lyn Hejinian is among the most prominent of contemporary American poets. Her poem My Life has garnered accolades and fans inside and outside academia. First published in 1980, and revised in 1987 a...

    - Google
  43. 1743 . The Bottle Factory Outing by Beryl Bainbridge

    The Bottle Factory Outing is a 1974 novel written by Beryl Bainbridge, it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize that year and won the Guardian Fiction Prize. It is also listed as one of the 100 grea...

  44. 1744 . The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis

    Charles Highway, a precociously intelligent and highly sexed teenager, is determined to sleep with an older woman before he turns twenty. Rachel fits the bill perfectly and Charles plans his seduct...

    - Google
  45. 1745 . The Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers

    A classic work that has charmed generations of readers, this collection assembles Carson McCullers’s best stories, including her beloved novella “The Ballad of the Sad Café.” A haunting tale of a h...

    - Google
  46. 1746 . Sweet Days of Discipline by Fleur Jaeggy

    The story of a fourteen-year-old girl living in a bording school in postwar Switzerland.

    - Google
  47. 1747 . I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem by Maryse Condé

    This wild and entertaining novel expands on the true story of the West Indian slave Tituba, who was accused of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, arrested in 1692, and forgotten in jail until the ...

    - Google
  48. 1748 . The Periodic Table by Primo Levi

    The stories have various themes: the experiences of life in Nazi concentration camps, legacies from the profession of chemistry, tales both true and with his own fantasy, creating a vision of the s...

  49. 1749 . The Loser by Thomas Bernhard

    Thomas Bernhard (1931-1989) has been hailed by Gabriel Josipovici as 'Austria's finest postwar writer' and by George Steiner as 'one of the masters of contemporary European fiction.' Faber Finds is...

    - Google
  50. 1750 . Distant Star by Roberto Bolaño

    The star in this hair-raising novel is Alberto Ruiz-Tagle, an Air Force pilot who exploits the 1973 coup in Chile to launch his own version of the New Chilean Poetry, a multimedia enterprise that s...

    - Google