The Greatest "Wales" 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 280 '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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  1. 1. Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh

    This novel follows the story of Paul Pennyfeather, a young man studying at Oxford University who is unfairly expelled and forced to take a job as a teacher at a chaotic school in Wales. His life takes a turn when he meets a wealthy widow and gets sucked into the high society lifestyle, only to be betrayed and sent to prison. The narrative is a satirical critique of the British class system, education, and the moral corruption of the rich.

  2. 2. The Expedition of Humphry Clinker by Tobias Smollett

    This novel is a humorous epistolary narrative, told through a series of letters, that follows the adventures of the Bramble family as they travel throughout England and Scotland. The family's travels are filled with a variety of comical incidents, and their encounters with different people and places provide a satirical commentary on 18th century British society. The novel also explores themes of class, romance, and the contrast between city and country life.

  3. 3. Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas by Dylan Thomas

    This collection presents a comprehensive compilation of works by a renowned 20th-century poet, known for his powerful, rhythmic and visionary verse. The book includes all of his poems, from his early, surrealistic pieces to his later, more personal and introspective works, reflecting the poet's profound fascination with life, death, and the human condition. The compilation also features his most famous pieces, renowned for their musicality and for the unique, captivating voice that has made him one of the most celebrated poets of his time.

  4. 4. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

    In a magical land where witches and wizards exist, a young hat maker named Sophie is cursed by a jealous witch and transformed into an old woman. Determined to break the curse, Sophie seeks refuge in the mysterious moving castle of the feared wizard Howl. As Sophie navigates the castle's enchanting rooms and encounters its eccentric inhabitants, she discovers the power of love, friendship, and self-acceptance. Together with Howl and his apprentice Michael, Sophie embarks on a captivating journey filled with adventure, magic, and unexpected twists that will change their lives forever.

  5. 5. The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper

    In "The Dark Is Rising," a young boy named Will Stanton discovers on his eleventh birthday that he is the last of the Old Ones, a group of immortal beings who must protect the world from the forces of darkness. As he embarks on a dangerous quest to find six powerful signs, Will must navigate a treacherous battle between good and evil, facing ancient magic, time travel, and his own inner demons along the way. With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Will must embrace his destiny and harness his newfound powers to save humanity from the rising darkness.

  6. 6. On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin

    "On the Black Hill" is a novel that explores the lives of twin brothers, Lewis and Benjamin, who live on a farm on the English-Welsh border. The book spans 80 years of their lives, from the late 19th century to the 1960s, and examines the changes that occur in their rural world during this time. Despite the outside world's transformation, the brothers' lives remain largely unchanged, demonstrating the enduring nature of their close relationship and their connection to the land.

  7. 7. The Owl Service by Alan Garner

    "The Owl Service" is a gripping and mysterious novel that follows three teenagers, Alison, Roger, and Gwyn, as they uncover a dark and ancient secret hidden within a Welsh valley. As they become entangled in a haunting and supernatural phenomenon involving an ancient Welsh myth, the three must confront their own fears and unravel the truth before it consumes them. With elements of folklore, mythology, and psychological suspense, this atmospheric tale explores themes of identity, destiny, and the power of ancient forces that still hold sway in the present day.

  8. 8. How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn

    This novel is a poignant coming-of-age tale set in a Welsh mining community. The narrative follows the life of a young boy and his family as they navigate the harsh realities of the coal industry, including strikes, poverty, and social unrest. Despite these hardships, the book also explores themes of love, family bonds, and the beauty of the Welsh landscape. The boy's perspective offers a nostalgic view of a simpler time and the loss of traditional ways of life due to industrialization.

  9. 9. The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart

    "The Crystal Cave" is a historical fiction novel that tells the story of Merlin, the legendary wizard of King Arthur's court. The book follows Merlin's early life, from his birth as the illegitimate son of a Welsh princess to his discovery of his magical powers and his journey to become a wise and powerful advisor to the future King Arthur. Set against the backdrop of early medieval Britain, the novel explores themes of destiny, power, and the struggle between pagan and Christian beliefs.

  10. 10. Monica by Saunders Lewis

    "Monica" is a historical novel set in the 19th century that explores the life of a Welsh woman named Monica. The narrative provides a vivid portrayal of her struggles and experiences as she navigates through the societal norms and expectations of her time. The book is a rich tapestry of Welsh culture and history, highlighting the complexities of gender roles, social class, and the human condition.

  11. 11. The Old Devils by Kingsley Amis

    The novel focuses on a group of aging friends in Wales who have spent their lives drinking, gossiping, and backstabbing. When an old acquaintance, a successful writer, returns to town with his younger wife, the group's dynamics are thrown into chaos. The story delves into themes of aging, nostalgia, and the complexities of long-term friendships, all with a heavy dose of dark humor.

  12. 12. Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Dog by Dylan Thomas

    This book is a collection of semi-autobiographical stories that delve into the early life and formative years of a young Welsh poet. Through vivid, evocative prose, the reader is taken on a journey through the author's childhood and adolescence in Swansea, Wales, during the 1920s and 1930s. The stories are rich with the sensory experiences of youth, capturing moments of joy, confusion, and the pains of growing up. The narrative explores universal themes of nostalgia, the loss of innocence, and the artistic awakening of a young man with a keen eye for the beauty and absurdity of the world around him.

  13. 13. A Small Country by Sian James

    "A Small Country" is a poignant novel set in a rural Welsh community, where the lives of the inhabitants are deeply intertwined with the land and each other. The narrative explores the complexities of human relationships, the challenges of change, and the enduring strength of family and tradition. As the characters navigate personal struggles and societal shifts, the story delves into themes of identity, belonging, and the bittersweet nature of progress. The novel paints a vivid portrait of a way of life that is at once resilient and vulnerable to the inexorable march of time.

  14. 14. The Valley Of Bones by Anthony Powell

    This novel, part of a larger series exploring British society across the mid-20th century, delves into the experiences of a British Army officer during the early stages of World War II. Set against the backdrop of military life, it combines humor with a keen observation of character and social dynamics. The narrative focuses on the protagonist's adjustment to army life and the diverse array of soldiers he encounters, offering a detailed and nuanced exploration of the impact of war on individuals and their relationships. Through its vivid portrayal of military and social settings, the book provides a reflective and at times satirical look at the complexities of human behavior in times of crisis.

  15. 15. Carrie's War by Nina Bawden

    This novel is a poignant tale of evacuation, friendship, and the complexities of growing up during wartime. It follows the journey of Carrie and her younger brother, Nick, who are sent to the Welsh countryside to escape the dangers of World War II in London. In their rural refuge, they encounter a mix of characters, including the strict Mr. Evans and his kind sister, Lou, as well as other individuals who impact their lives in unexpected ways. As Carrie navigates the challenges of displacement and the mysteries surrounding her temporary home, she learns valuable lessons about love, loss, and the power of memory. The story is a reflective exploration of the impact of war on children and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

  16. 16. The Pendragon Legend by Antal Szerb

    In "The Pendragon Legend," a young academic from London is drawn into a world of esoteric mysteries and occult practices when he visits a friend's ancient Welsh estate. The narrative weaves together elements of gothic horror, romantic adventure, and comedic intrigue as the protagonist encounters a colorful cast of characters, including a beautiful cousin, a secretive uncle, and a charismatic count. As he delves deeper into the family's history and the local legends of the Pendragons, he finds himself entangled in a plot involving alchemy, ancestral curses, and a secret society, leading to a series of thrilling and supernatural events that challenge his rational worldview.

  17. 17. A tour thro' the whole island of Great Britain by Daniel Defoe

    This book offers a comprehensive travel guide and social commentary on Great Britain during the early 18th century. The author provides a detailed account of the geography, culture, and economy of the cities and towns he visits, including London, Edinburgh, and York. The book also includes observations on the living conditions, industries, and social customs of the people, offering a unique historical perspective on life in Britain during this period.

  18. 18. The Grey King by Susan Cooper

    In this captivating installment of a classic fantasy series, a young boy, recovering from a severe illness, is sent to Wales to recuperate. There, amidst the mystical Welsh landscape, he discovers his deep connection to ancient magical forces and his crucial role in the ongoing battle between good and evil. Guided by a prophecy, he seeks out a legendary golden harp and allies, including a mysterious boy and a loyal dog, to awaken the ancient and powerful Sleepers to aid in the fight against the malevolent Grey King. This tale weaves together myth, magic, and the rich lore of Welsh legends to create a compelling narrative of courage, friendship, and the eternal struggle against darkness.

  19. 19. Silex Scintillans, Etc by Henry Vaughan

    "Silex Scintillans, Etc" is a collection of metaphysical poetry that delves into the spiritual and religious experiences of the human soul. The poems reflect the author's deep contemplation of nature, mortality, and his relationship with God, often drawing upon personal struggles and the search for divine grace. Rich in imagery and characterized by intense emotional depth, the work explores themes of redemption, the transient nature of life, and the eternal qualities of the spiritual realm, all while showcasing the poet's mastery of language and profound understanding of the human condition in relation to the divine.

  20. 20. Bad Blood by Lorna Sage

    "Bad Blood" is a memoir about a woman's escape from a repressive childhood in post-WWII Britain. The author recounts her experiences growing up in a dysfunctional family with a philandering vicar for a grandfather and a depressed and distant mother. Despite the bleak surroundings, she manages to find solace in literature and education, ultimately earning a scholarship to university. The book is a testament to the transformative power of education and the author's fierce determination to escape her past.

  21. 21. Among Others by Jo Walton

    The novel is a captivating blend of fantasy and coming-of-age story, told through the diary entries of a fifteen-year-old girl who has survived a tragic accident that took her twin sister's life and left her with a crippling injury. She navigates the complexities of adolescence, boarding school life, and family drama while also dealing with the magical abilities she inherited from her mother. As she seeks solace in the pages of science fiction and fantasy novels, she grapples with her own magical powers and the ethereal creatures that only she can see, leading to a poignant exploration of grief, growth, and the transformative power of storytelling.

  22. 22. Poems Of R. S. Thomas by R. S. Thomas

    This collection of poetry delves into the complex and often stark realities of rural Welsh life, nature, and the human condition, as seen through the eyes of a reflective and sometimes acerbic observer. The poet's work is characterized by its austerity, spiritual searching, and a profound sense of place, often touching on themes of faith, doubt, and the unrelenting passage of time. With a style that ranges from traditional to modernist, the poems offer a window into the soul of a man deeply rooted in his landscape, wrestling with the divine and the mundane in equal measure.

  23. 23. The Book Of Fame by Lloyd Jones

    "The Book of Fame" by Lloyd Jones is a captivating novel that delves into the lives of the 1905 All Blacks, New Zealand's first national rugby team. Through a series of interconnected stories, the book explores themes of fame, identity, and the impact of sport on society. It offers a unique perspective on the players' journey to international recognition, their struggles, triumphs, and the lasting legacy they leave behind. With its lyrical prose and rich characterization, this book is a celebration of both rugby and the human spirit.

  24. 24. Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

    This novel follows the story of a young boy who, after a family tragedy, discovers an abandoned orphanage on a remote Welsh island. As he explores the decrepit building, he finds peculiar photographs that lead him to uncover the existence of children with extraordinary abilities and a dangerous secret. The boy learns that these children are protected by a bird who can manipulate time, and he must help them fight off creatures intent on destroying them. Blending fantasy with haunting vintage photography, the story weaves a tale of adventure, bravery, and the importance of accepting one's uniqueness.

  25. 25. The Song of Rhiannon by Evangeline Walton

    "The Song of Rhiannon" is a re-telling of the Welsh mythological tale of the Mabinogion. The story follows the beautiful and mysterious Rhiannon, who is accused of murdering her own child and is forced to endure punishment and humiliation. However, with the help of her loyal husband and the powerful magic of the Otherworld, Rhiannon is able to clear her name and reclaim her rightful place as a queen. The novel explores themes of love, betrayal, and the power of the supernatural, all set against the backdrop of ancient Wales.

Reading Statistics

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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.