The Greatest Books Since 1950


How is this list generated?


This list is generated from 128 "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. 1 . One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    One of the 20th century's enduring works, One Hundred Years of Solitude is a widely beloved and acclaimed novel known throughout the world, and the ultimate achievement in a Nobel Prize–winning car...

  2. 2 . Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

    The book is internationally famous for its innovative style and infamous for its controversial subject: the protagonist and unreliable narrator, middle aged Humbert Humbert, becomes obsessed and se...

  3. 3 . Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

    Catch-22 is a satirical, historical novel by the American author Joseph Heller, first published in 1961. The novel, set during the later stages of World War II from 1943 onwards, is frequently cite...

  4. 4 . Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

    The novel addresses many of the social and intellectual issues facing African-Americans in the early twentieth century, including black nationalism, the relationship between black identity and Marx...

  5. 5 . To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

    As a Southern Gothic novel and a Bildungsroman, the primary themes of To Kill a Mockingbird involve racial injustice and the destruction of innocence. Scholars have noted that Lee also addresses is...

  6. 6 . Beloved by Toni Morrison

    Beloved (1987) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison. The novel, her fifth, is loosely based on the life and legal case of the slave Margaret Garner, about whom Morrison...

  7. 7 . The Stories of Anton Chekhov by Anton Chekhov

    Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was a Russian short-story writer, playwright and physician, considered to be one of the greatest short-story writers in the history of world literature. His career as a dram...

  8. 8 . Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

    Midnight's Children is a loose allegory for events in India both before and, primarily, after the independence and partition of India, which took place at midnight on 15 August 1947. The protagonis...

  9. 9 . The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

    The Lord of the Rings is an epic high fantasy novel written by philologist and Oxford University professor J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's earlier, less complex children'...

  10. 10 . The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

    The Old Man and the Sea is one of Hemingway's most enduring works. Told in language of great simplicity and power, it is the story of an old Cuban fisherman, down on his luck, and his supreme ordea...

  11. 11 . Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

    A novel of great power that turns the world upside down. The Nigerian novelist Achebe reached back to the early days of his people's encounter with colonialism, the 1890's, though the white man and...

    - Time
  12. 12 . The Complete Stories of Franz Kafka by Franz Kafka

    The Complete Stories of Franz Kafka is a compilation of all Kafka's short stories. With the exception of Kafka's three novels (The Trial, The Castle and Amerika), this collection includes all of Ka...

  13. 13 . Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

    The novel is presented as a poem titled "Pale Fire" with commentary by a friend of the poet's. Together these elements form two story lines in which both authors are central characters. The int...

  14. 14 . The Color Purple by Alice Walker

    Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on female black life during the 1930s in the Southern United States, addressing the numerous issues including their exceedingly low position ...

  15. 15 . Lord of the Flies by William Golding

    Lord of the Flies discusses how culture created by man fails, using as an example a group of British schoolboys stuck on a deserted island who try to govern themselves, but with disastrous results....

  16. 16 . The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe by Edgar Allan Poe

    Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American writer, poet, editor and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery...

  17. 17 . On the Road by Jack Kerouac

    On the Road is a largely autobiographical work that was based on the spontaneous road trips of Kerouac and his friends across mid-century America. It is often considered a defining work of the post...

  18. 18 . The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot

    “For many successive generations now, ‘The Waste Land,’ ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,’ and ‘Four Quartets’ have continued to excited readers and to inspire young poets. Teenagers still disc...

    - Google
  19. 19 . Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

    An anti-war science fiction novel by Kurt Vonnegut about World War II experiences and journeys through time of a soldier called Billy Pilgrim.

  20. 20 . The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

    The Handmaid's Tale is a feminist dystopian novel, a work of science fiction or speculative fiction, written by Canadian author Margaret Atwood and first published by McClelland and Stewart in 1985...

  21. 21 . Charlotte's Web by E. B. White

    The novel tells the story of a pig named Wilbur and his friendship with a barn spider named Charlotte. When Wilbur is in danger of being slaughtered by the farmer, Charlotte writes messages praisin...

  22. 22 . A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

    The title is taken from an old Cockney expression, "as queer as a clockwork orange" and alludes to the prevention of the main character's exercise of his free will through the use of a classical co...

  23. 23 . The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

    The Master and Margarita (Russian: Ма́стер и Маргари́та) is a novel by Mikhail Bulgakov, woven around the premise of a visit by the Devil to the fervently atheistic Soviet Union. Many critics consi...

  24. 24 . The Tin Drum by Günter Grass

    Acclaimed as the greatest German novel written since the end of World War II, The Tin Drum is the autobiography of thirty-year-old Oskar Matzerath, who has lived through the long Nazi nightmare and...

  25. 25 . Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

    In Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Bertha is the madwoman locked in the attic by her husband Rochester, the simmering Englishman whose children Jane has been hired to tutor. In Bronte's novel we lear...

    - Time
  26. 26 . The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor by Flannery O'Connor

    The publication of this extraordinary volume firmly established Flannery O'Connor's monumental contribution to American fiction. There are thirty-one stories here in all, including twelve that do n...

  27. 27 . Rabbit, Run by John Updike

    Rabbit, Run depicts five months in the life of a 26-year-old former high school basketball player named Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom, and his attempts to escape the constraints of his life.

  28. 28 . A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

    A Confederacy of Dunces is a picaresque novel written by John Kennedy Toole, published in 1980, 11 years after the author's suicide. The book was published through the efforts of writer Walker Perc...

  29. 29 . Atonement by Ian McEwan

    Atonement is a 2001 novel by British author Ian McEwan. It tells the story of protagonist Briony Tallis's crime and how it changes her life, as well as those of her sister Cecilia and her lover Rob...

  30. 30 . Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

    Waiting for Godot (pronounced /ˈɡɒdoʊ/) is a play by Samuel Beckett, in which two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, wait for someone named Godot. Godot's absence, as well as numerous other aspects...

  31. 31 . White Teeth by Zadie Smith

    This may be the first novel ever written that truly feels at home in our borderless, globalized, intermarried, post-colonial age, populated by "children with first and last names on a direct collis...

    - Time
  32. 32 . The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

    This book, as well as the couple that followed it, enters the realm of what Margaret Drabble in The Oxford Companion to English Literature has called Lessing's "inner space fiction", her work that ...

  33. 33 . Stories of Ernest Hemingway by Ernest Hemingway

    Before he gained wide fame as a novelist, Ernest Hemingway established his literary reputation with his short stories. This collection, The Short Stories, originally published in 1938, is definitiv...

    - Google
  34. 34 . Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson

    Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) was an American poet. Born in Amherst, Massachusetts, to a successful family with strong community ties, she lived a mostly introverted ...

  35. 35 . Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

    Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West is a 1985 Western novel by American author Cormac McCarthy. It was McCarthy's fifth book, and was published by Random House. The narrative foll...

  36. 36 . The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

    The Corrections is a 2001 novel by American author Jonathan Franzen. It revolves around the troubles of an elderly Midwestern couple and their three adult children, tracing their lives from the mid...

  37. 37 . A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

    In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys—best friends—are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy’s mo...

  38. 38 . One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

    Narrated by the gigantic but docile half-Indian "Chief" Bromden, who has pretended to be a deaf-mute for several years, the story focuses on the antics of the rebellious Randle Patrick McMurphy, a ...

  39. 39 . Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike

    Rabbit Is Rich is a 1981 novel by John Updike. It is the third novel of the four-part series which begins with Rabbit, Run and Rabbit Redux, and concludes with Rabbit At Rest. There is also a relat...

  40. 40 . The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

    The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007) is a best-selling novel written by Dominican-American author Junot Díaz. Although a work of fiction, the novel is set in New Jersey where Díaz was raised...

  41. 41 . The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

    World War II has just begun and four children, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, are evacuated from London in 1940 to escape the Blitz. They are sent to live with Professor Digory Kirke, who ...

  42. 42 . The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

    The Moviegoer tells the story of Binx Bolling, a young stockbroker in post-war New Orleans. The decline of Southern traditions, the problems of his family and his traumatic experiences in the Korea...

  43. 43 . The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

    A slender novel but far from flimsy, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie enrolls the reader at Edinburgh's fictional Marcia Blaine School for Girls under the tutelage of one Jean Brodie, a magnetic, unco...

    - Time
  44. 44 . Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

    Doctor Zhivago is a 20th century novel by Boris Pasternak, first published in 1957. The novel is named after its protagonist, Yuri Zhivago, a medical doctor and poet. It tells the story of a man to...

  45. 45 . The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

    The Remains of the Day (1989) is the third published novel by Japanese-British author Kazuo Ishiguro. The Remains of The Day is one of the most highly-regarded post-war British novels. It won the B...

  46. 46 . Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald

    Austerlitz, the internationally acclaimed masterpiece by "one of the most gripping writers imaginable" (The New York Review of Books), is the story of a man?s search for the answer to his life?s ce...

  47. 47 . Rabbit Redux by John Updike

    Rabbit Redux finds the former high-school basketball star, Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, working a dead-end job and approaching middle age in the downtrodden and fictional city of Brewer, Pennsylvania, ...

  48. 48 . The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

    The Leopard is a novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa that chronicles the changes in Sicilian life and society during the Risorgimento. Published posthumously in 1958, after two rejections by the ...

  49. 49 . 2666 by Roberto Bolaño

    2666 (2004) is the last novel written by Chilean-born novelist Roberto Bolaño. Depicting the unsolved and ongoing serial murders of Ciudad Juárez (Santa Teresa in the novel), the Eastern Front in W...

  50. 50 . Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe

    Tom Wolfe’s modern American satire tells the story of Sherman McCoy, a Wall Street “Master of the Universe” who has it all — a Park Avenue apartment, a job that brings wealth, power and prestige, a...