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A Consolidated List of 100 Novels

Sometimes I can be a “web-fly” who searches the inernet for interesting poll results. My favorite lists, indubitably, are lists of books. Since they can be very subjective matter, just like the “listmania” that users can compile on Amazon, I try to ignore lists that reflect sheer personal whims. I came across this post that has generated a list of 100 novels by merging 10 different top 100 lists from the UK. How authoritative does that sound! Only one book appears in every list, and it’s in first place on this consolidated list.

Read/Want to Read/Don’t Care/Never Heard of It

46/29/14/11

1. Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell
2. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
3. The Grapes Of Wrath John Steinbeck
4. The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger
5. Catch-22 Joseph Heller
6. One Hundred Years Of Solitude Gabriel García Márquez
7. Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell
8. Ulysses James Joyce*
9. On The Road Jack Kerouac
10. The Lord of the Rings J.R.R. Tolkien
11. To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
12. Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
13. Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë
14. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe C.S. Lewis
15. Great Expectations Charles Dickens
16. War and Peace Leo Tolstoy
17. Lolita Vladimir Nabokov
18. Animal Farm George Orwell
19. Crime And Punishment Fyodor Dostoyevsky
20. Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy
21. Lord Of The Flies William Golding
22. Brideshead Revisited Evelyn Waugh*
23. Midnight’s Children Salman Rushdie
24. Love In The Time Of Cholera Gabriel García Márquez
25. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams
26. Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë
27. The Hobbit J.R.R. Tolkien
28. To the Lighthouse Virginia Woolf
29. Middlemarch George Eliot
30. Rebecca Daphne du Maurier
31. Dune Frank Herbert
32. Brave New World Aldous Huxley
33. A Prayer For Owen Meany John Irving
34. Watership Down Richard Adams
35. The Sound and the Fury William Faulkner
36. Little Women Louisa May Alcott
37. Invisible Man Ralph Ellison
38. Anne Of Green Gables LM Montgomery
39. Emma Jane Austen
40. Memoirs Of A Geisha Arthur Golden
41. Beloved Toni Morrison
42. Of Mice And Men John Steinbeck
43. The Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad
44. Les Miserables Victor Hugo
45. The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame
46. The Da Vinci Code Dan Brown
47. Tess Of The D’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy
48. Winnie the Pooh A.A. Milne
49. Birdsong Sebastian Faulks
50. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Louis de Bernieres
51. Slaughterhouse Five Kurt Vonnegut
52. Life of Pi Yann Martel
53. A Clockwork Orange Anthony Burgess
54. The Count Of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas
55. A Passage to India E.M. Forster
56. Moby Dick Herman Melville
57. A Suitable Boy Vikram Seth
58. The Stand Stephen King
59. Possession A.S. Byatt
60. Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
61. A Tale Of Two Cities Charles Dickens
62. The Trial Franz Kafka
63. I, Claudius Robert Graves
64. The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood
65. The Secret History Donna Tartt
66. His Dark Materials Philip Pullman
67. The Harry Potter Series J.K. Rowling
68. The Brothers Karamazov Fyodor Dostoyevsky
69. Don Quixote Miguel de Cervantes
70. Sons and Lovers D.H. Lawrence
71. The Pillars Of The Earth Ken Follett
72. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man James Joyce
73. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain
74. The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini
75. An American Tragedy Theodore Dreiser
76. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland Lewis Carroll
77. Bleak House Charles Dickens
78. The Time Traveller’s Wife Audrey Niffenegger
79. A Fine Balance Rohinton Mistry
80. The Sun Also Rises Ernest Hemmingway
81. Nostromo Joseph Conrad
82. Under the Volcano Malcolm Lowry
83. The Golden Notebook Doris Lessing
84. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter Carson McCullers
85. The Stranger Albert Camus
86. Native Son Richard Wright
87. Gravity’s Rainbow Thomas Pynchon
88. The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver
89. Perfume Patrick Süskind
90. Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe
91. David Copperfield Charles Dickens
92. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl
93. Pale Fire Vladimir Nabokov
94. Persuasion Jane Austen
95. Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand
96. The Tin Drum Gunter Grass
97. Vanity Fair William Makepeace Thackeray
98. Atonement Ian McEwan
99. Light in August William Faulkner
100. The Secret Garden Frances Hodgson Burnett

It’s bovious that many of these titles have stood the test of time and tenured on reading lists in high schools and colleges, a few make this list only because of the popularity at the time of poll, like Memoirs of a Geisha. I’m appalled that The Brothers Karamazov is ranked below The Harry Potter Series.

39 Responses

  1. Looks like an interesting list. I recently flipped through a book of 1001 books to read. I was surprised at how many were written in the 2000s, but I think it is only because of the popularity of the books right now, as you said with some of the books above.

  2. Great list! I was very interested to see which books you’ve never heard off. They are all British classics and I am surprised to hear that they are not known in other countries. I’ll have to read books like Watership Down to let more people know about them.

    I was interested to see that you have read the ones I haven’t heard of (Native Son, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Under the Volcano) It would be interesting to compare the lists of ones people haven’t heard of and see how they differ between countries.

  3. did try to follow the Random House list of 100 greatest novels of the 20th century released in 1999 to buy books and do my reading yet … well those novels are sleeping quietly on my shelves and bed now :p

  4. It wasn’t compiled only from UK lists: as the first line of the post says, the 10 lists were from the UK, US, Australia and Canada. Only 4 of the lists are from the UK.

    I hadn’t heard of Birdsong, but it’s an excellent read. I’m currently reading The Stand, my first Stephen King book: easy to read, and it’s currently got me hooked, but it could never be claimed as literature.

  5. I’m actually quite surprised to see the ones you’ve never heard of. But you have read some that I’ve never heard of…

  6. I am never really a fan of these lists. I generally find them to be heavy in best seller or Victorian lit. I AM shocked that you’ve never heard of Hitchhiker’s Guide, Owen Meany, Anne of Green Gables…the lot. I don’t blame you for having no interest in things like Harry Potter (although, if you ever need a bed time story for a ten year old, they’re wonderful) but I do think you might enjoy Midnight’s Children or On the Road. I really need to sit down and come up with my own list of 100 books because I don’t like the popular choices, more often than not.

  7. #50 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (Corelli’s Mandolin in the US) is one of my all-time favorites! I love these lists and may do this one, too.

  8. oh, I was thinking not bad…until I got to #46. Dan Brown? Oh, save me…

  9. I think this would be a very good list for high school kids planning to go to college. A decent variety of quality books, with the usual number of questionable choices thrown in for fun.

    But, as usual, only nineteen books by women out of 100. And I count 93 titles written by white people.

  10. I’m shocked you haven’t heard of Watership Down! It’s one of those books where the premise sounds really silly but the book is absolutely amazing. You have to read it. Ditto The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe. Classic.

  11. Matt, I can’t believe you never heard of The Wind in the Willows! It is one of my most cherished books from childhood. I will have to find a copy of it for you. In a weird side note, I believe the attraction at Disneyland, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, is based on this book.

  12. I agree totally about Life of Pi (not worth the time!) and On The Road (one of my least favorite books on the whole planet). But I think Poisonwood Bible is worth the read!

  13. Interesting list! I suppose we’ll let it slide that you haven’t heard of Anne of Greene Gables. I’ll even still call you a kindred spirit. 🙂

  14. I can’t believe some of the books you haven’t heard of!

  15. Just so you know, there are some great books among those you’ve never heard of (or aren’t interested in). Interesting that most of them are science fiction or fantasy… Regardless your taste (in case you ever decide to go someplace different with your reading), His Dark Materials is a great series even with the fantasy aside, “Watership Down” and “A Prayer for Owen Meany” are wonderful books, and “Dune” is one of the greatest sci-fi books ever written.

  16. I love lists like these just because I’m always checking to see how many I’ve read. I typically don’t do so well but this time I’ve read 33 out of these. Woot 😉

    And, can I recommend A Prayer for Owen Meany and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin? Those are really good!

  17. Paige:
    It will be interesting to see what the list contains say in 50 years. I would like to see what books from this decade would stand the test. 🙂

  18. Jackie (Farm Lane Books):
    Native Son and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter are both staples of American classics. I grew up in a former British colony but had made the leap over to the US so I’m not very connected with some of the British classics. I’ve added Watership Down to my list. 🙂

  19. wordy:
    What are some of the titles awaiting their moments? I remember your telling me about your preference on 20th century novels. Do you like Graham Greene, D.H. Lawrence, and W. Somerset Maugham?

  20. neilbowers:
    Thanks so much for the clarification. I appreciate the list because it’s so much more reasonable and workable than most lists published my media. I am sure I will draw a lot of reading ideas from the books listed on here. 🙂

  21. mee:
    I haven’t heard of British classics and children classics because I grew up in a Chinese-speaking country. 🙂

  22. Pam:
    I am surprised by my lack of reading knowledge as well. I just spoken to a friend this morning that throughout high school and college I have bypassed Ayn rand, not that I’m extremely interested in reading her but she certainly has some loyal followers.

    I do plan on reading Midnight’s Children—I just have to put it aside until I’m ready for Mr. Rushdie again. I read Satanic verses earlier this year and it was just arduous!

  23. JoAnn:
    Thank you for alerting me of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which I looked at this morning at the bookstore on the way to work. How did I miss the book? 🙂

  24. caite:
    Hehehe…I was thinking the same. because as you might have realized, the list is quite objective even though it leans toward classics and contemporary classics, but that it’s a consolidated list of 10 lists makes it more plausible and solid. Dan Brown does sell a lot of copies of Da Vinci Code and the book has reached millions of people, some who hardly read at all. I give him the credit of success but whether the book will stand the test of time is altogether another issue.

  25. cbjames:
    Always so observant and analytical. A lot of these books are on school reading lists. I am very surprised not more female authors have made the list.

  26. Jenny:
    Jackie (Farm Lane) said the same about Watership Down, which I quickly wrote down on my list. I feel so left out when bloggers love books that I haven’t heard of and read. 🙂

  27. D:
    I have the book has been a belov3ed classics of many people’s childhood. That I didn’t grow up here makes it not known to me. I have been having a great time exchanging books with you and reading with you, love our book discussion. 🙂

  28. Lu:
    I’ll take your advice for Poisonwood Bible. 🙂 I got rid of Life of Pi after the first three chapters!

  29. Amy Reads Good Books:
    Thank you, you’re so kind. I have it on the list now so I can redeem myself! 🙂

  30. J.T. Oldfield:
    That’s why reading blogs is a learning and enlightening experience! More books to read. 🙂

  31. Biblibio:
    Even the ones in which I don’t interest at the moment are worth exploring I’m sure. I take this list more seriously than most, because it’s consolidated. So I might venture into the titles that I marked not cared for. 🙂

  32. iliana:
    I added both to my list! 🙂

  33. Thanks for the thought-provoking list. I think I’ll do my own based on yours. I think I’ll change “Don’t Care” to “Undecided” because there are books I’ve heard of but don’t know enough about to want to read.

  34. Oh Matt, The Poisonwood Bible is absolutely worth the read (I just finished it, and it will stand the test of time), and so is The Secret History. I would say at least read the first book in the series of the LOTR trilogy just because Tolkien and Lewis were contemporaries but approached the world of fantasy so differently. I think it lends a deeper understanding.

  35. Graham Greene is nice

    W. Somerset Maugham could be the easiest one to follow among the three you mentioned, but sometimes rather long-winded :p

    D.H. Lawrence … such a big name, and the stream of concsciousness (also V Woolf) just scares me away ~

  36. Marieke:
    “Undecided” classification is actually a better idea. I haven’t completely ruled out most of the books I marked “Don’t care”, but I probably won’t get to Lord of the Rings. 🙂

  37. Priscilla:
    I haven’t completely ruled out the “don’t care” books, I just base my decision on a previous book by the author. 🙂

  38. wordy:
    I haven’t read much of D.H> Lawrence for the same reason you stated. Woman in Love is just throwing me off the loop! Maugham is a snob, he pretty much peeled all her peers down to the bone! I do agree that he can be long-winded! Of Human Bondage could have been written with half the pages!

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