Top 100 Best Books Ever [You Must Have Read This List] [2023 Update]
Which greatest books of all time should I read? In this article you will find a list of the top 100 books of all time in world literature that you must read before you die: a mix of beautiful novels, thrillers and classic books. Read along…
Most beautiful, most exciting, most moving book ever?
Criteria for compiling these recommended books
Our editors have carefully read as many as possible books about this subject. Then, they used the following criteria for choosing the best picks:
- The literary quality of the books.
- The amount of books sold worldwide.
- The professional reviews in newspapers.
- The expertise and experience from the author.
- The quality of the examples, knowledge and practicality
- The actuality and whether the information is useful or too old.
- Our editor’s opinions: they have read and judged the books extensively.
Full disclosure: as Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
It is difficult to call one book the best book. Yet we have combined the reviews of The Guardian & Time Magazine, among others, into an ultimate top 100 of all time. The invitation is to find out for yourself which one is your favorite through this list of well-known writers and novels. The books in this list are also the best-selling.
This must-go list covers all kinds of genres, such as thrillers, from the world’s best writers. This literature is popular with women and men worldwide (although it is most read by women). Are you looking for a good book for a holiday? Maybe the best novels ever? These good books are, for example, nice to take with you on your holiday.
What is this list based on?
The list of popular reading books below was updated in 2023 and is based on The Guardian and Time lists of the best novels. You will notice that it also contains many ‘e-book’ versions. Very handy to take with you on a trip and they have a friendly price.
This list contains works that were originally written in English, but the foreign language version of all this literature is also available and very easy to find.
And now the top 100 books: the best books ever …
What are classic books you should read? Let’s start with the list …
1. Don Quixote – Miguel De Cervantes
The story of the gentle knight and his servant Sancho Panza has kept readers in suspense for centuries. This was the first truly modern novel of our time.
2. Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan
This book is credited to be the most translated and sold book in the world alongside the Bible. It is not an easy book because it dates from the 17th century, but it is a true literary monument.
3. Robinson Crusoë – Daniel Defoe
This first English novel is an exciting classic.
4. Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift
A wonderful satire that still works for all ages, despite Swift’s cruel vision …
5. Tom Jones – Henry Fielding
The adventures of a temperamental orphan boy.
6. Clarissa – Samuel Richardson
One of the longest novels in the English language, but it cannot be put down.
7. Tristram Shandy – Laurence Laurence Sterne
One of the first bestsellers.
8. Dangerous Liaisons – Pierre Choderlos De Lacloss
A novel of letters and a handbook for seducers: French and cruel.
9. Emma – Jane Austen
To choose between this book and Pride and Prejudice is an impossible choice. But Emma continues to fascinate and annoy …
10. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
The classic horror story.
11. Nightamare Abbey – Thomas Love Peacock
A classic miniature: a brilliant satire on the romantic novel.
12. The Black Sheep – Honoré De Balzac
Two rivals fight for the love of a femme fatale. Falsely overlooked by many.
13. The Charterhouse of Parma – Stendhal
Penetrating and compelling chronicle of life at an Italian court in post-Napoleonic France.
14. The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
A thriller of revenge after Bonaparte is also set in France: a masterpiece of adventurous writing.
15. Sybil – Benjamin Disraeli
Besides Churchill, no other British politician showed himself to be a literary genius.
16. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
This highly autobiographical novel is the one that Chalres Dickens himself liked best of all his work.
17. Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff are impossible to ignore.
18. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
The spooky story has long held readers in an obsessive emotional grip.
19. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
The improved story of Becky Sharp.
20. The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
A classic investigation of the American way of thinking.
21. Moby-Dick – Herman Melville
‘Call me Ishmael’ is one of the most famous opening lines of a novel.
22. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert …
You could sum this up as a story of adultery in provincial France, and you could miss the point completely.
23. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
Gripping mystery novel about hidden identity, kidnapping, fraud and mental cruelty.
24. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
A story – written for the nine-year-old daughter of an Oxford teacher – that still amazes most children.
25. Little Women – Louisa M. Alcott
Victorian bestseller about a New England family of girls.
26. The way we live now – Anthony Trollope
A majestic attack on the corruption of late Victorian England.
27. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
The great novel about the passion of the married woman for a younger man.
28. Daniel Deronda – George Eliot
A passion and an exotic grandeur that is strange and disturbing.
29. The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoevsky
Mystical tragedy from the author of Crime and Punishment.
30. The Portrait of a Lady – Henry James
The story of Isabel Archer shows how witty and polished James writes.
31. Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
Twain was a humorist, but this picture of Mississippi life is deeply moral and still incredibly influential.
32. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
A brilliantly evocative, resonant study of human duality – told by a natural storytelling talent.
33. Three Men in a Boat – Jerome K. Jerome
One of the funniest English books ever written.
34. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
A coded and epigramatic melodrama, inspired by his own tortured homosexuality.
35. The Diary of a Nobody – George Grossmith
This Victorian suburban classic will always be known for its character, Mr Pooter.
36. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
Its ferocious gloom makes it one of the first twentieth-century novels.
37. The Riddle of the Sands – Erskine Childers
A pre-war invasion – a spy thriller by a writer who was later shot for his part in the Irish republican uprising.
38. The Call of the Wild – Jack London
The story of a dog who joins a pack of wolves after the death of his master.
39. Nostromo – Joseph Conrad
Conrad’s masterpiece: a story of money, love and revolutionary politics.
40. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
This children’s classic is inspired by the bedtime stories for Grahame’s son.
41. In Search of Lost Time – Marcel Proust
An unforgettable portrait of Paris in the Belle Époque. Probably the longest novel on this list.
42. The Rainbow – DH Lawrence
Police-seized novels, like this one, have a special life after the war.
43. The Good Soldier – Ford Madox Ford
This account of the adulterous lives of two Edwardian couples is a classic in unreliable storytelling techniques.
44. The Thirty-Nine Steps – John Buchan
A classic adventure story for boys, full of action, violence and suspense.
45. Ulysses – James Joyce
This book was also banned by the British police. This is a novel that is more discussed than read.
46. Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
This book confirms Woolf’s position as one of the great twentieth century English novelists.
47. A Passage to India – EM Forster
Forster’s great love song to India.
48. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
The typical Jazz Age novel.
49. The Trial – Franz Kafka
The enigmatic story of Joseph K.
50. Men Without Women – Ernest Hemingway
He is known for his novels, but it was the short stories that first caught the eye.
51. Journey to the End of the Night – Louis-Ferdinand Celine
The experiences of an unattractive slum doctor during The Great War: a masterpiece of linguistic innovation.
52. As I Lay Dying -William Faulkner
A strange black comedy by an American master.
53. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
Dystopian fantasy about the world of the seventh century NF (after Ford).
54. Scoop – Evelyn Waugh
The great Fleet Street novel.
55. USA – John Dos Passos
An extraordinary trilogy that uses a variety of narrative means to express America’s story.
56. The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler
Philip Marlowe’s introduction: cool, sharp, beautiful – and bitter-lonely.
57. The Pursuit Of Love – Nancy Mitford
A wonderful comedy about manners, with countless fans.
58. The Plague – Albert Camus
A mysterious plague blows through the Algerian city of Oran.
59. Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
This story of one man’s struggle against totalitarianism has gone all over the world.
60. Malone Dies – Samuel Beckett
Part of a trilogy of amazing monologues in the black comic voice of the author of Waiting for Godot.
61. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
A week in the life of Holden Caulfield. A cult novel that still enchants.
62. Wise Blood – Flannery O’Connor
A disturbing novel about religious extremism in the Deep South.
63. Charlotte’s Web – EB White
How Wilbur the pig was saved by the literary genius of a friendly spider.
64. The Lord Of The Rings – JRR Tolkien
No comment needed;)
65. Lucky Jim – Kingsley Amis
An astonishing debut: a painfully funny 1950s English novel.
66. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
Schoolboys become wild men: a bleak vision of human nature.
67. The Quiet American – Graham Greene
Prophetic novel set in 1950 in Vietnam.
68. On the Road – Jack Kerouac
The Beat Generation Bible.
69. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
Humbert’s obsession with Lolita is a tour de force of style and story.
70. The Tin Drum – Günter Grass
Very influential, Rabelaisian novel from Hitler’s Germany.
71. Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
Nigeria at the dawn of colonialism. A classic of African literature.
72. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark
A writer who made her debut in The Observer – and her prose is like cut glass.
73. To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Scout, a six-year-old girl, tells a captivating story of racial prejudice in the Deep South.
74. Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
A famous quote from the book: ‘He would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to.’
75. Herzog – Saul Bellow
Adultery and a nervous breakdown in Chicago.
76. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel García Márquez
A post-modern masterpiece.
77. Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont – Elizabeth Taylor
An oppressive, subdued study of old age.
78. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – John Le Carré
An exciting elegy for post-imperial England.
79. Song of Solomon – Toni Morrison
The best novelist of the African American experience.
80. The Bottle Factory Outing – Beryl Bainbridge
Macabre comedy of provincial life.
81. The Executioner’s Song – Norman Mailer
This quasi-documentary account of the life and death of Gary Gilmore is possibly his masterpiece.
82. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler – Italo Calvino
A strange, compelling story about the joys of reading.
83. A Bend in the River – USA Naipaul
The best living writer of English prose. This is his masterpiece: stimulating story, reminiscent of Heart of Darkness.
84. Waiting for the Barbarians – JM Coetzee
A gloomy but ghostly allegory of apartheid by this Nobel Prize winner.
85. Housekeeping – Marilynne Robinson
Spooky, poetic story, drowned in water and light, about three generations of women.
86. Lanark – Alasdair Gray
Seething vision of Glasgow. A Scottish classic.
87. The New York Trilogy – Paul Auster A
dazzling metaphysical thriller set in 1970s Manhattan.
88. The BFG – Roald Dahl
A bestseller from the most popular post-war writer for children of all ages.
89. The Periodic Table – Primo Levi
A prose poem about the joys of chemistry.
90. Money – Martin Amis
The novel that normally ranks # 1 on many lists.
91. An Artist of the Floating World – Kazuo Ishiguro
An employee from pre-war Japan reluctantly reveals his betrayal to friends and family.
92. Oscar and Lucinda – Peter Carey
A great contemporary love story set in nineteenth-century Australia.
93. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting – Milan Kundera
Inspired by the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 – this is a magical fusion of history, autobiography and ideas.
94. Haroun and the Sea of Stories – Salman Rushdie
In this compelling story, Rushdie plays with the idea of storytelling itself.
95. LA Confidential – James Ellroy
Three LAPD detectives are confronted with the secrets of their corrupt and violent careers.
96. Wise Children – Angela Carter
A theatrical extravaganza of a brilliant exponent of magical realism.
97. Atonement – Ian McEwan
Acclaimed short story writer achieves a contemporary classic with spellbinding narrative conviction.
98. Northern Lights – Philip Pullman
Lyra’s quest weaves fantasy, horror and the play of ideas into a truly great contemporary children’s book.
99. American Pastoral – Philip Roth
This book was the revival for this American writer.
100. Austerlitz – WG Sebald
A series of dreamy fictions, spun from memories, photos and the German past.
Nice to hear your opinion about good books
That was the end of the list. We’ve just had the top 100 based on the picks of major international sources like The Gaurdian and Time. We could also have made a top 20, but we opted for the full top 100 world literature of all time. It might be nice to start with the above list.
Why do you read good books? You may be following the lead of the world’s great millionaires. They go to bed at 9:00 PM and then they read a book: novels and poetry! So they leave other inspiring books outside the bedroom.
We’d love to hear from you in the comments. We are also curious about your opinion and your favorites. What are the best books you’ve ever read – and others should have read too? Your best books of all time? Your best book ever read? Let us know in the comments and take a look at the big overview of top 10 book lists.
Why does this ‘top 100 best books ever’ consist only of Anglo-Saxon literature?
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Keen observation and a good point. This is the list from The Guardian & Time Magazine – US magazines. They have also listed American names. Other parts of the world are missing here – so you can speak of a biased list.
Kafka is also there and number 1 is also not English.