The Greatest "Diaries" Books of All Time

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 305 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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Diaries are a category of books that typically consist of personal accounts of daily experiences, thoughts, and emotions written by an individual. These books offer a unique insight into the author's life and can cover a wide range of topics, from travel and adventure to love and loss. Diaries can be fictional or non-fictional and can be written in various formats, including traditional journal entries, letters, and even social media posts. They provide readers with an intimate look into the author's life and can be a source of inspiration, entertainment, and reflection.

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  1. 1. The Golden Notebook by Doris May Lessing

    The novel centers around a woman named Anna Wulf, a writer who keeps four notebooks, each representing a different aspect of her life: her experiences in Africa, her current life in London, a novel she is writing, and her personal experiences. As Anna's mental state deteriorates, she attempts to unify her fragmented self in a fifth notebook, the golden notebook. The novel explores themes of mental breakdown, communism, the changing role of women, and the fear of nuclear war.

    The 87th Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

    "I Capture the Castle" is a coming-of-age novel that tells the story of 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain and her eccentric family living in a dilapidated English castle during the 1930s. Cassandra's father is a reclusive writer suffering from writer's block and her stepmother is a bohemian artist. The family's life changes dramatically when two American brothers inherit the estate. The novel, written in diary format, explores themes of love, poverty, and the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

    The 373rd Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

    The book follows the adventures of an inquisitive and fiercely independent eleven-year-old girl who loves to write and aspires to be a spy. Armed with her trusty notebook, she observes her friends, family, and neighbors, jotting down candid and sometimes unkind notes about them. Her world turns upside down when her secret notebook is discovered and read by her classmates, leading to a backlash that tests her friendships and her understanding of honesty and privacy. Through her trials, she learns valuable lessons about empathy, trust, and the consequences of her actions.

    The 696th Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend

    The book is a humorous and touching glimpse into the life and mind of a British adolescent boy, navigating the challenges of teenage life. Written in diary format, the protagonist grapples with everything from acne, unrequited love, school bullies, family issues, and his aspirations of becoming an intellectual. His misinterpretations of the adult world around him, coupled with his overly serious and introspective nature, provide plenty of comedy and make for an endearing and relatable coming-of-age story.

    The 718th Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding

    The book is a humorous and honest portrayal of a single woman's life in London. The protagonist, a 30-something year old woman, struggles with her weight, smoking, and alcohol consumption, all while trying to navigate her love life and career. The story is told through her personal diary entries, which include her daily calorie counts, number of cigarettes smoked, and other personal anecdotes. It's a modern take on romantic relationships and self-improvement, with a healthy dose of comedy.

    The 752nd Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. 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 804th Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. The Diary of Samuel Pepys by Samuel Pepys

    "The Diary of Samuel Pepys" is a detailed personal account written by a 17th-century English naval administrator and Member of Parliament. The diary offers an intimate look at life in London during a time of great historical significance, including the Great Fire of London, the Great Plague of London, and the Second Dutch War. Pepys' entries provide keen observations on politics, social customs, and personal relationships, making it an invaluable primary source for understanding the period.

    The 1086th Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. The Journal of Jules Renard by Jules Renard

    "The Journal of Jules Renard" is a collection of the author's personal thoughts, observations, and reflections recorded over a period of almost 30 years. The entries range from the author's insights into human nature, his commentary on social and political issues of his time, his struggles with writing and creativity, and his personal life. The journal is celebrated for its sharp wit, keen observation, and profound insight into the human condition, making it a timeless classic in literature.

    The 1690th Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. Journals by Meriwether Lewis, William Clark

    This book is a compilation of the detailed journals kept by two explorers during their expedition across the American West, from 1804 to 1806. The journals provide a first-hand account of their encounters with Native American tribes, their observations of new plant and animal species, and the challenges they faced while traversing uncharted territories. The explorers' writings not only offer insights into their historic journey but also serve as a valuable resource for understanding early 19th-century American history and the country's westward expansion.

    The 1919th Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

    The book is a semi-autobiographical novel that follows a Native American teenager who leaves his school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white high school in a neighboring town. The protagonist grapples with his own identity, the perceptions and prejudices of his new classmates, and the harsh realities of life on the reservation. Throughout the story, he uses humor and his passion for drawing cartoons to navigate the challenges he encounters.

    The 2391st Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. Flowering Nettle by Harry Martinson

    "Flowering Nettle" is a semi-autobiographical novel that follows the journey of a young boy who, after losing his parents, is sent to a rural village in Sweden to live with his aunt. The story details his experiences and struggles growing up in poverty, while also exploring his love for nature and the natural world. Despite his hardships, the protagonist manages to find beauty and solace in the world around him, ultimately expressing a profound sense of resilience and hope.

    The 2734th Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. Diaries by Alan Clark

    "Diaries" is a candid and often controversial collection of journal entries by a prominent British politician and historian. The book offers a unique insider's perspective on the UK's political landscape from the 1970s to the late 1990s. It is filled with the author's personal observations, experiences, and interactions with key political figures, providing readers with a rare glimpse into the inner workings of British politics. The author's sharp wit, colorful language, and unabashed honesty make this book a compelling read.

    The 2953rd Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. The Spectator Bird by Wallace Stegner

    The novel follows the story of a literary agent, now retired, who lives a quiet life with his wife in California. Their peace is disrupted when an old postcard from a Danish aristocrat arrives, prompting them to revisit their past. The protagonist begins reading from his old journal, recounting their trip to Denmark years ago, where they became entangled in a mysterious and unsettling affair. The novel explores themes of memory, aging, and the choices that shape one's life.

    The 3715th Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. Journals (Cook) by James Cook

    This book is a compilation of the personal journals of an 18th-century British explorer and naval captain, who embarked on three significant voyages of discovery across the Pacific Ocean. These entries provide a firsthand account of his encounters with various indigenous peoples, his detailed observations of the flora, fauna, and geography of newly discovered lands, and his experiences of seafaring life. The journals also record his scientific experiments and astronomical observations, contributing to the fields of geography, anthropology, and ethnography.

    The 4901st Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. A World Apart by Gustaw Herling-Grudziński

    "A World Apart" is a powerful memoir that recounts the author's experiences as a political prisoner in a Soviet labor camp during World War II. Through vivid and harrowing descriptions, the book exposes the brutality and inhumanity of the camp system, as well as the resilience and strength of the prisoners. It serves as a haunting reminder of the atrocities committed during this dark period of history and the enduring human spirit.

    The 4994th Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

    The book is a humorous portrayal of the protagonist's daily life as he navigates the trials and tribulations of middle school. Through his diary entries, the reader gets a glimpse into his struggles with family, friends, and school. With a unique blend of text and cartoons, the book provides an engaging and relatable depiction of the protagonist's attempts to gain popularity and survive the school year, despite his many embarrassing incidents and frequent misadventures.

    The 5492nd Greatest Book of All Time
  17. 17. The Diary of Fanny Burney by Fanny Burney

    "The Diary of Fanny Burney" is a collection of personal entries by a prominent English novelist and playwright from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The diary provides a unique perspective on the social and literary life of England during this period, with Fanny Burney's observations on the people and events around her. It offers intimate glimpses into her relationships with notable figures such as Samuel Johnson and King George III, as well as her own struggles with her writing career and personal life.

    The 5763rd Greatest Book of All Time
  18. 18. Boswell's London Journal, 1762-1763 by James Boswell

    This book is a journal-style account of a young Scottish man's experiences in 18th-century London. It provides a vivid and detailed account of the social, political, and cultural landscape of the time. The author, a law student, records his interactions with notable figures of the day, his romantic pursuits, his struggles with depression, and his efforts to establish himself in London society. His observations offer unique insights into the life and times of 18th-century London.

    The 6194th Greatest Book of All Time
  19. 19. Untold Stories by Alan Bennett

    "Untold Stories" is a collection of essays, diary entries, and recollections by a renowned playwright. It provides an insightful look into his life, experiences, and thoughts. The book is divided into two parts, with the first part focusing on his family history and the second part containing his personal reflections and observations about various topics, including art, architecture, and literature. It offers a unique perspective on the author's upbringing in Leeds and his later life in London, as well as his views on society and culture.

    The 6450th Greatest Book of All Time
  20. 20. The Blair Years by Alastair Campbell

    "The Blair Years" is a comprehensive and insightful account of British politics from 1994 to 2003, as seen through the eyes of the author, who served as the Director of Communications and Strategy for Prime Minister Tony Blair. The book provides readers with an insider's perspective on the key political events of the time, including the 1997 general election victory, the peace process in Northern Ireland, and the controversial decision to go to war in Iraq. This memoir offers a unique, behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of Downing Street and the complex dynamics of Blair's government.

    The 9541st Greatest Book of All Time
  21. 21. Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Life by Joan D. Hedrick

    This book is a comprehensive biography of Harriet Beecher Stowe, the renowned author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin". It delves into her personal life, her family upbringing, her marriage, and her relationships with her children. The book also explores her fervent abolitionist beliefs, her writing career, and the impact of her work on the American Civil War. It paints a vivid picture of Stowe's life and times, providing an in-depth look at her contributions to American literature and social reform.

    The 11289th Greatest Book of All Time

Reading Statistics

Click the button below to see how many of these books you've read!


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.