The 10 Greatest Books Ever, According to 125 Top Authors (Download Them for Free)

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Ear­li­er this month, we high­light­ed The 10 Great­est Films of All Time Accord­ing to 846 Film Crit­ics. Fea­tur­ing films by Hitch­cock, Kubrick, Welles and Felli­ni, this mas­ter list came togeth­er in 2012 when Sight & Sound (the cin­e­ma jour­nal of the British Film Insti­tute) asked con­tem­po­rary crit­ics and direc­tors to name their 12 favorite movies. Near­ly 900 cinephiles respond­ed, and, from those sub­mis­sions, a meta list of 10 was culled.

So how about some­thing sim­i­lar for books, you ask? For that, we can look back to 2007, when J. Ped­er Zane, the book edi­tor of the Raleigh News & Observ­er, asked 125 top writ­ers to name their favorite books — writ­ers like Nor­man Mail­er, Annie Proulx, Stephen King, Jonathan Franzen, Claire Mes­sud, and Michael Chabon. The lists were all com­piled in an edit­ed col­lec­tion, The Top Ten: Writ­ers Pick Their Favorite Books, and then pref­aced by one uber list, “The Top Top Ten.”

Zane explained the method­ol­o­gy behind the uber list as fol­lows: “The par­tic­i­pants could pick any work, by any writer, by any time peri­od.… After award­ing ten points to each first-place pick, nine to sec­ond-place picks, and so on, the results were tab­u­lat­ed to cre­ate the Top Top Ten List — the very best of the best.”

The short list appears below, along with links to elec­tron­ic ver­sions of the works (and tra­di­tion­al pub­lished edi­tions). There’s one notable excep­tion, Vladimir Nabokov’s Loli­ta. We could­n’t pro­vide that elec­tron­ic text, but we do have some­thing spe­cial — an audio record­ing of Nabokov read­ing a chap­ter from his con­tro­ver­sial 1955 nov­el.

The texts list­ed below are per­ma­nent­ly housed in our col­lec­tion of Free eBooks, along with many oth­er clas­sics. In many cas­es, you’ll find audio ver­sions of the same works in our ever-grow­ing col­lec­tion of Free Audio Books. If you have ques­tions about how to load files onto your Kin­dle, please see this relat­ed instruc­tion­al video.

Got an issue with any of the selec­tions? Tell us all about it in the com­ments sec­tion below.

1. Anna Karen­i­na, by Leo Tol­stoy

iPad/iPhone — Kin­dle + Oth­er For­mats

2. Madame Bovary, by Gus­tave Flaubert

3. War and Peace, by Leo Tol­stoy

4. Loli­ta, by Vladimir Nabokov

5. The Adven­tures of Huck­le­ber­ry Finn, by Mark Twain

6. Ham­let, by William Shake­speare

7. The Great Gats­by, by F. Scott Fitzger­ald

8. In Search of Lost Time, by Mar­cel Proust

9. The Sto­ries of Anton Chekhov

10. Mid­dle­march, by George Eliot

Look­ing for free, pro­fes­sion­al­ly-read audio books from Here’s a great, no-strings-attached deal. If you start a 30 day free tri­al with, you can down­load two free audio books of your choice. Get more details on the offer here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties.

The Ten Great­est Films of All Time Accord­ing to 358 Film­mak­ers

1,000 Free Audio Books: Down­load Great Books for Free.

Nabokov Reads Loli­ta, Names the Great Books of the 20th Cen­tu­ry

18 (Free) Books Ernest Hem­ing­way Wished He Could Read Again for the First Time

Neil deGrasse Tyson Lists 8 (Free) Books Every Intel­li­gent Per­son Should Read

F. Scott Fitzger­ald Cre­ates a List of 22 Essen­tial Books, 1936

Down­load 55 Free Online Lit­er­a­ture Cours­es: From Dante and Mil­ton to Ker­ouac and Tolkien

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Comments (220)
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  • fishnloaves says:

    Why is Gats­by on this list? Why is there noth­ing by Faulkn­er?

  • MB says:

    No Dos­toyevsky?!? Are you KIDDING me?! He’s the inven­tor of the mod­ern nov­el!!!

  • finnyfall says:

    So many of those are bor­ing. Where’s Ulysses?!

  • Manuel Camblor says:

    No “Moby-Dick”? Real­ly? And two by Tol­stoy on the list is a bit much, I think. Also, no “Don Qui­jote de la Man­cha”? Seri­ous­ly? And I echo the sen­ti­ment of MB. The absence of Dos­toyevsky is mind-bog­gling. Also, “The 10 Great­est Books” list your authors com­piled invoves eight nov­els, one col­lec­tion of short fic­tion, and one play. So, there is noth­ing else to great lit­er­a­ture? No non-fic­tion? No poet­ry? Hmm­mm… Oh, and while we’re bring­ing up com­plaints and griev­ances, the com­pil­ers of this list were a bit short on com­e­dy (“Huck­le­ber­ry Finn” and “Loli­ta” pro­vide some com­e­dy, but in a side­ways sort of fashion).nnnSeriously, guys, a very strange list.

    • Dana Whaley says:

      Moby Dick? Nev­er. Bartle­by the Scriven­er should be here, but not Moby Dick–one of the most bor­ing books I ever read.

  • Mehmet Arat says:

    Lists always come with ques­tions and dis­cus­sions. Who are the “125 Top Authors”? How were they select­ed? Was a com­par­i­son made with a list deter­mined by an alter­na­tive “125 Top Authors”?nBut any­way, I believe lists are use­ful as guides help­ing read­ers to notice impor­tant works.

    • Louis Goldworm says:

      Agreed ! “Top Ten” In rela­tions to what ? “great­est” Because why ? i.e best read, most sold, best sto­ry, I am opposed to list, and num­ber’s to prove a point…

      • Mehmet Arat says:

        I think when read­ers are con­scious enough, the lists can be more help­ful and mean­ing­ful. A list can be like the cen­tral meet­ing place in a city.

  • Bonnie says:

    Recent­ly reread Loli­ta; it does­n’t belong on this list. Wan­ders wide­ly off base at the end and sim­ply isn’t one of Nabokov’s best. Gats­by’s great but in the top ten? The whole list rates an eh? It’s as if the names were pulled out of a hat.

  • StepTb says:

    No Odyssey, no Don Qui­jote, no Kaf­ka, no Dos­toyevsky… not a very sol­id list.

    • mariam says:

      I’m con­fused too

    • Bruce Alan Wilson says:

      Agreed. And both Anna Karin­i­na and Madame Bovary are about women who com­mit­ted adul­tery and could­n’t live with the consequences–one by tak­ing arsenic and the oth­er by throw­ing her­self under a train. One or the oth­er might be on the list, but not both.

    • Bruce Alan Wilson says:

      Agreed. And both Anna Karin­i­na and Madame Bovary are about women who com­mit­ted adul­tery and could­n’t live with the consequences–one by tak­ing arsenic and the oth­er by throw­ing her­self under a train. One or the oth­er might be on the list, but not both.

  • peter says:

    i guess i’ll be the one to say it? 9 out of 10 by white males and the 10th by a white women writ­ing under the name of a white male? weird/not weird

    • Anna Hovey says:

      What does it have to do with being white or any oth­er col­or????? The mas­ter­piece must be eval­u­at­ed by it’s depth and beau­ty, not by the race of the writer. How­ev­er, this list is high­ly sub­jec­tive.

  • wellread says:

    Hmm, no books were ever writ­ten in the east­ern hemi­sphere? Either that or this list mak­er has nev­er read any of them.

  • u0392u03b1u03c3u03b9u03bbu03b9u03bau03ae u039cu03bfu03c5u03c3u03c4u03b1u03c6u03adu03c1u03b7 says:

    no Franz Kafka???no Dos­toyevsky???? no James Joyce????no Albert Camus???NO Fer­nan­do Pes­soa????

  • IR Vijayan says:

    Rub­bish! 10 great­est books ‚with­out a sin­gle title out­side Europe-and Amer­i­ca

  • Ricardo Bechelli Barreto says:

    C’mon. Two Tol­stoy books and no Dos­toyevsky? Chekhov, Flaubert, Nabokov are excel­lent writ­ers but they are pet­ty bour­geois com­pared to authors such as Dos­toyevsky, Homer, Balzac, Macha­do de Assis, Borges, Faulkn­er, Mishi­ma, Goethe, Joyce…

  • Ricardo Bechelli Barreto says:

    C’mon. Two Tol­stoy books and no Dos­toyevsky? Chekhov, Flaubert, Nabokov are excel­lent writ­ers but they are pet­ty bour­geois com­pared to authors such as Dos­toyevsky, Homer, Balzac, Macha­do de Assis, Borges, Faulkn­er, Mishi­ma, Goethe, Joyce…

  • Primetime50 says:

    All big, expan­sive reads. Should­n’t Pride & Prej­u­dice be on this list?

  • Primetime50 says:

    All big, expan­sive reads. Should­n’t Pride & Prej­u­dice be on this list?

  • Bitte says:

    Only men, but I sup­pose only men were asked

    • Bitte says:

      And I can see that not only men were asked, but still, only men at the top ten list.

      • Mark Sullivan says:

        What female work would you nom­i­nate?

        • maxhawthorne says:

          to the light­housen­le pianiste nto kill a mock­ing bird­n­mrs dal­loway nbeloved­nI know why the caged bird singsnthe awak­en­ing nnnThose are just off the top of my head and all are bet­ter than Gatsby!nnnAlso, to be fair, let’s not for­get about the tremen­dous oppres­sion of female any­things pri­or to this cen­tu­ry, and for that mat­ter, in the present.

    • peter says:

      george eliot is a woman, but yeah

  • Bitte says:

    Only men, but I sup­pose only men were asked

  • Mark Sullivan says:

    I’m not a big fan, but what about The Bible…? Ham­let isn’t a book, is it? And, at the risk of seem­ing undu­ly low­brow, Dick­ens deserves a men­tion.

  • rupertmundy says:

    Ham­let is a play.

  • KS says:

    Clear­ly their most favorite favorites but leav­ing the ques­tion of top ten best wide open…

  • Adam says:

    I agree, no Dos­to­evsky? Then no Faulkn­er? Almost each book by Dos­to­evsky is a real mas­ter­piece: Demons, Idiot, Broth­ers Kara­masov!…

  • badbit says:

    No Don Qui­jote? The great­est nov­el ever writ­ten?

  • David V. Johnson says:

    Don Quixote is #1 on many lists, includ­ing mine. And Ham­let isn’t a “book.”

  • David V. Johnson says:

    Also…what about Pla­to’s Repub­lic? Why restrict “books” to fic­tion? And if you’re going to add a play, Sopho­cles Oedi­pus … hel­lo?

  • maxhawthorne says:

    sad there are ZERO women. The her­itage of world cul­ture leaves a fem­i­nist want­i­ng…

  • maxhawthorne says:

    Also, I find these lists pet­ty, if slight­ly use­ful for adding clas­sics I’ve missed to my to-read list. How can you com­pare great works of art and attempt to rank them like a sports team? it’s asi­nine.

  • Pigeon Lady says:

    The com­ments have more of inter­est than the top ten list. There are some good reads post­ed.

  • enzofloc says:

    It seems Kaf­ka and Dos­to­evsky are too dark and com­plex for this bunch. Maybe we should select the top ten crit­ics first.

  • enzofloc says:

    “The Top Ten: Writ­ers Pick Their Favorite Books.“nnnnNot nec­es­sar­i­ly the “great­est” books.

  • mpjr says:

    A list that excludes King Lear, Don Quixote, The Divine Com­e­dy, and The Broth­ers Kara­ma­zov is a list beg­ging to be mocked. nLoli­ta? Real­ly? nFeh.

  • Mason Kelsey says:

    Like any list, it is only a list and can be ignored quite eas­i­ly.

  • Tamaresque says:

    You peo­ple who are bitch­ing about what’s been left off, it’s not the web­site’s fault. Did you read what the cri­te­ria is? “…asked 125 top writ­ers to name their favorite books…” nBlame the writers!nPersonally I don’t agree with a cou­ple of selec­tions, Madame Bovary heads my list. I found it dif­fi­cult to read because the main char­ac­ter is just so unlik­able. Same with Loli­ta, I hat­ed the lech­er­ous main char­ac­ter and the way he excus­es his actions.

  • poser, the says:


  • TByers says:

    Well, they’re all good books, but of course one could argue end­less­ly about what is and isn;t here. I’d pick Moby Dick and Absa­lom, Absa­lom myself. But my greater con­cern is that there’s a rad­i­cal flaw in this. The authors were asked what are their FAVORITE books, and this was trans­lat­ed into what are the GREATEST books. These are prob­a­bly over­lap­ping lists, but I seri­ous­ly doubt that for most seri­ous read­ers they are iden­ti­cal.

  • David Allen says:

    How is every­one miss­ing the point that this isn’t a list of the ten great­est books? Read the arti­cle, not just the (mis­lead­ing) title. This is a list of ten books that were most fre­quent­ly nom­i­nat­ed as favourites by 125 top writ­ers. I’m not sure who every­one is argu­ing with in their out­raged com­ments.

  • Marcelo Estrada says:

    no Joyce, Beck­ett, Dos­toyevsky, Kaf­ka, Mar­quez, Borges?!!!

  • Patricia says:

    This per­son obvi­ous­ly has a soft­ness for realism/naturalism or trag­ic point­less deaths (some­times all com­bined) nnHam­let, Gats­by and Mid­dle­march are amongst my favourites, for the rest… not real­ly.

  • dailyllama says:

    Stunned. Where is Crime & Pun­ish­ment ? Ulysses and/or Dublin­ers ? And what is Gats­by doing in there ?

  • curtains4u says:

    shite.… read that.

  • Cardinal Charles Ng says:

    It shows that even great writ­ers do not read wide­ly enough.

  • Cronopio says:

    No Cortu00e1zar, Borges .…. real­ly fun­ny

  • Maggie Dodson says:

    Only ONE woman writ­ing under a male pseu­do­nym! And what is the bal­ance of male/female amongst the ‘125 Top Authors’ Who decreed these 125 ‘Top’ authors? Who are they?

  • oktayne says:

    What bugs me is that there is noth­ing on this list writ­ten after the mid-fifties! Are you seri­ous­ly telling us that noth­ing good has been writ­ten in the last 50+ years?

  • Igor says:

    Bul­gakov? I would pick “Mas­ter and Mar­gari­ta”, “White Guard”, “Beg” and bump Tol­stoy, Chekhov and Nabokov off the top 10 list.nnnBrodsky? Even though he is most­ly known for poet­ry, his prose is great.

  • SocraticGadfly says:

    Wow. Right. No Dos­toyevsky? Although rel­a­tive­ly “light,” I would have put one of Hes­se’s works there some­where, too. Gats­by? No way. And, if you’re going to include one of Shake­speare’s plays, why not oth­er the­ater? Lysis­tra­ta? Yes, also on Camus.

  • zevgoldman says:

    I think this list should have been pre­sent­ed as works of fic­tion. How was Ham­let list­ed as a book when it is a stage play?

  • Ramasamy Balakrishnan says:

    won­der­ful list …most of them are tragedies!

  • disqus_KxAHnCo4Tu says:

    This list is by the Gay and Les­bian leage. It is the fore­run­ner to the deca­dent state of affairs we have today where trash like “Ger­ry Springer” and ” Real House­wives of …” are more wide­ly viewed than the clas­sics as aired on Mas­ter­piece The­ater. It s no won­der that the soci­ety is about to dis­in­te­grate with crit­ics who view the above list as worth­while. 80% of the above belongs in the shred­der. I am glad I am an old man and my time will end soon…

    • androphiles says:

      Where in the world did you come up with a non­sen­si­cal idea like that? What is “the Gay and Les­bian leage”? Google it. There’s no such thing.

    • foreignerph says:

      It all start­ed with the rail­ways when the cows stopped giv­ing milk. Civ­i­liza­tion is going down the drains since Socrates and Nero.

      • docbets says:

        Well of course that’s true but cows and trains have lit­tle to do with it. That most peo­ple have nev­er heard of any of these books or authors is more like­ly the prob­lem.

    • Hugh Little says:

      “80% of the above belongs in the shred­der” Seri­ous­ly? Give your head a shake. Btw, what exact­ly is the “Gay and Les­bian leage” I’m neither.…but just to piss you off I think I’ll sign up.…if they’ll have me.

  • Dana Whaley says:

    Go Down Moses, Light in August, the Snopes Tril­o­gy by Faulkn­er. East of Eden by John Stein­beck. Sophie’s Choice by William Stry­on. The Col­or Pur­ple. To Kill a Mock­ing­bird by Harp­er Lee. Nev­er read any­thing by Nathaniel Hawthorne or Edgar Allen Poe. Only read short sto­ries by Heminway–a mas­ter of them. And always, always read Huck­le­ber­ry Finn–it is the first excel­lent Amer­i­can nov­el and always on point.

  • Rhet says:


  • CSZ says:

    So arbi­trary. No Harp­er Lee? No Art Of War? Mar­garet Mitchell?The Brontes? Austen? Come on.…WHO are these “writ­ers” any­way?

  • Ingrid says:

    Well, all I can say is:nThe russ­ian writ­ers are the best!nAccept that.n

  • Ingrid says:

    I would choose Dos­toievs­ki as well.nNow thats a good ranking:n

  • foreignerph says:

    I did­n’t read any of them. Writ­ers about oth­er writ­ers? That sounds like the madame of a broth­el com­ment­ing on the per­for­mance of the employ­ees of the broth­el nextdoor. :-p

  • Ames361 says:

    Nice incom­plete list. Dante, Jean Gion­no, Hen­ry Miller, Alice Walk­er, Tom Wolfe, Don Delil­lo, Mar­garet Atwood,Goldsmith,Dickens,Porter,Roth,Wharton.

  • derekwashington says:

    Noth­ing by Jack­ie Collins? I’d much rather read her than some of this drudgery.

  • Tolga Otabatmaz says:

    Where is Dos­toyevs­ki?? “Crime and Punishment“ndeserves to be in this list.

  • Dani-madrid says:

    Unre­li­able. The lack of Don Qui­jote is a joke I guess…

  • Suki says:

    Are you kid­ding me!!!! Where is the hunger games or diver­gent

  • Catcher says:

    Catch­er in the Rye

  • Zo Newell says:

    Total­ly Euro­cen­tric list of 10 great­est books by West­ern Euro­pean male writ­ers (except for George Elliott, who was only pre­tend­ing to be a man) — cho­sen by whom?

  • Peter B. Gillis says:

    If you can put up ‘The Short Sto­ries of Chekhov,’ you can put up ‘The Plays of Shake­speare.’

  • Meg says:

    So, 125 (male?) authors rel­ish suf­fer­ing women sto­ries.

  • Jimmy Drozdenko zerdian. says:

    Nabakov Loli­ta seems like a father daugh­ter trick­le down Oedi­pus reversed love affair. Psy­cholithis­to­ry vs Sci­col­it­fu­ture

  • BOW says:

    Opin­ions are like…, every­body has one. At least no one is sug­gest­ing they burn all those not on the “list”.

  • Txea says:

    Why not Joseph Heller’s Catch-22?
    Hon­est­ly, the obses­sion with Russ­ian nov­el­ists is hard to under­stand. And, Madame Bovary? Please.

  • NIHILISZT says:

    #1 Div­ina Com­me­dia n#2 Bha­gavad Gitan#3 Don Quixote

    • Augustine says:

      Well, con­sid­er­ing the deep Chris­t­ian beliefs of Dante and Cer­vantes, I feel the Bha­gavad Gita should be replaced with the Bible. But, thanks for list­ing some greats that are over­looked by this trashy list!

  • Cu00e6sar_Had_Epilepsy says:


  • Anne Dyer Walker says:

    i don’t see moby-dick in this list. odd, because the old­er i get, the more i appre­ci­ate its bril­liance, both in con­tent and style. it set a high bar for every­thing that fol­lowed. yes, it makes cer­tain demands of the read­er, but then, great art should pro­voke thought and curios­i­ty.

  • lissener says:

    Such a list sans Dick­ens is not worth its weight in pix­els.

  • Rex J Ablett says:

    The Very Hun­gry Cater­pil­lar did­n’t make the list? WTF?!

  • They should have read Borges before giv­ing their opin­ion.

    • M H says:

      Agree. No Men­tion of Gabriel Gar­cia Mar­quez? Simone de Beauvoir?Jorge Luis Borges? Goethe? Niet­zche? It seems the list is for high­school lev­el read­ers with­in the USA: real­ly real­ly weak lit­er­a­ture.

  • They should have read Borges before giv­ing their opin­ion.

  • Very Lou says:

    Stend­hal: Le rouge et le noir, La char­treuse de Parme…

  • komal says:

    I am shocked to see no Jane Austen list­ed here

    • Kay Foley says:

      She seems to be omit­ted fre­quent­ly in these “polls”, which make them com­plete­ly bogus, in my opin­ion. She was the pre­dom­i­nant Euro­pean writer, ever.

      • Hardscrabblehammer says:

        She was the pre­dom­i­nant Euro­pean writer, ever? You’re out of your mind.

        • djrjr says:

          If by “the” you mean “a”, and if by “pre­dom­i­nant” you mean “pret­ty good”, and if by If by “Euro­pean” you mean “British,” and if by “ever” you mean…something else, then…yeah, absolute­ly.

  • Tyrell_Corp says:

    “Mid­dle­march” is soooo great. Every page con­tains a per­fect, orig­i­nal metaphor, expressed as effort­less­ly as if gift­ed from the gods. Fan­tas­ti­cal­ly real­ized char­ac­ters. And long, a long book, the read­er lives in the epony­mous town for a sur­ro­gate life­time. Won­der­ful.

  • carbonmind says:

    What you real­ly mean is “10 good books whose copy­right has expired” ! — anoth­er arti­cle engi­neered specif­i­cal­ly for SEO.

  • rhin0 says:

    All good books, the idea of pick­ing the best 10 is not so great.

  • Julie says:

    FYI George Eliot was the pen name of Mary Ann Evans

  • Rafael Franco says:

    real­ly? no Don Qui­jote?

  • william flores says:

    What para­me­ters those “125 top authors” used?

  • Terry Ruddy says:

    Why not pre­tend you can’t see their names, read them and see what you think regard­less of gen­der or race? Of course you can always like what you feel is bet­ter — it’s art.

  • M H says:

    Besides Proust, Tol­stoy, and Shake­speare, those are WEAK. Hmmm, some of these are not close to being in my top 50… No Men­tion of Gabriel Gar­cia Mar­quez? Simone de Beauvoir?Jorge Luis Borges? Goethe? Niet­zche? It seems the list is for high­school lev­el read­ers with­in the USA: real­ly real­ly weak lit­er­a­ture.

  • M H says:

    Hmmm, some of these are not close to being in my top 50… No Men­tion of Gabriel Gar­cia Mar­quez? Simone de Beauvoir?Jorge Luis Borges? Goethe? Niet­zche? It seems the list is for high­school lev­el read­ers with­in the USA: real­ly real­ly weak lit­er­a­ture.

  • Open Culture says:

    Hi there,nnnWas just curi­ous, could any­one tell us who gave our post a men­tion on Facebook?nnnThanks nDan (edi­tor)

  • orion says:

    El Feli­bus­ter­is­mo by Jose Rizal made waves in the ear­ly 20th Cen­tu­ry. And is still being read in Europe and the Amer­i­c­as.

  • Ricco Suave says:

    Crit­i­cize instead of say­ing some­thing use­ful. Must be a Demo­c­rat huh?

  • djrjr says:

    George Eliot was white but she lacked that cer­tain some­thing.

  • djrjr says:

    So, Proust, Gats­by and Loli­ta are the only 20th Cen­tu­ry choic­es to make the Top Ten — and only one of those from the lat­ter half? Inter­est­ing. No Ulysses. No Dick­ens or Bronte sis­ter or Austen or Whar­ton or Hen­ry James, but Eliot (I actu­al­ly love “Mid­dle­march” but…). Heavy on the Russkies. Chekhov and dou­bling down on Tol­stoy, but why no Dos­to­evsky (I woul­da tak­en “Broth­ers Karamo­zov” over “War and Peace”). No Latin or African writ­ers — agree with those who think Mar­quez or Borges or Var­gas Llosa or Achebe could/should have snuck in there. Also, isn’t there ANY late 20th Cen­tu­ry, ear­ly 21st Cen­tu­ry work that mea­sures up? Pyn­chon? Wal­lace? Heller? Hell, Von­negut. And, I know this sounds shit­ty, and I’m not one of the great 125 writ­ers polled, but gimme Stein­beck­’s “Grapes of Wrath” or “East of Eden” over any­thing Fitzger­ald ever wrote any day of the week. In fact, I’ll take Dreis­er or even Sin­clair Lewis over Fitzger­ald. Final­ly, am I the only one who thinks “Loli­ta” is just kin­da creepy. I will say this. Total­ly not shocked to see a dearth of Ayn Rand. Let’s all say a prayer for that one.

  • Ciprianoff Ciprianoff says:

    A list with­out Dos­toievsky, Borges, Bul­gakov and Sartre it’s not a real list to me! You do your lists and charts and i’ll read what is a real work of art.

  • Patrick J. says:

    Whit­man’s Moby dick, Thore­au’s Walden?nnEven on an sub­jec­tive list, omit­ting Walt Whit­man ..odd

  • Chuck Howell says:

    I’d pre­fer a list that does­n’t com­pare apples and oranges — Proust’s entry is actu­al­ly 7 books (!), and short sto­ry col­lec­tions and dra­mat­ic works are not nov­els (obvi­ous­ly). If the rules are this ill-defined, I would put the com­plete “Peanuts” by Charles Schultz as issued by Fan­ta­graph­ics Books on the list!

  • Christian Khalil Ziadeh says:

    What about “The Prophet”?

  • tyrope says:

    Great Gats­by is the most over­rat­ed nov­el of all times

  • Mary Gayoso says:

    I’ve read all of them and many, many, many more. It’s impos­si­ble to put the best in such a small list, there should be at least 100. And it is always a sub­jec­tive list, so bet­ter not do it. The lack­ing writ­ers are so impor­tant! Cul­ture would not be the same with­out them.

  • Mary Gayoso says:

    I’ve read all of them and many, many, many more. It’s impos­si­ble to put the best in such a small list, there should be at least 100. And it is always a sub­jec­tive list, so bet­ter not do it. The lack­ing writ­ers are so impor­tant! Cul­ture would not be the same with­out them.

  • thatwave says:

    I did­n’t find any of these espe­cial­ly great. Loli­ta in par­tic­u­lar was a huge let down. Maybe I will re-read them.

  • doop says:

    1. These are all nov­els. Not all books are novels.nnn2. Two books by Tol­stoy, but no Dostoevsky?nnn3. They are all rel­a­tive­ly recent books. There is noth­ing from the ancient authors or any­thing before the 1800s. Pret­ty glar­ing omis­sion, if you ask me.nnn4. Great Gats­by? Real­ly?

  • cortomaltese says:

    Don Qui­jote by Cer­vantes???????

  • Abhishek says:

    What about The Hob­bit by J.R.R Tolkien.…??

  • David Levine says:

    I would add cer­tain non fic­tion such as Dar­win’s Ori­gin of the Species.

  • Orestes says:

    Sor­ry Homer, Aeschy­lus, Vir­gil, Ovid, Dante, Chaucer, Cer­vantes, Mil­ton, and Goethe, you did­n’t make the cut. This just shows why mod­ern lit­er­a­ture is friv­o­lous. “What are the clas­sics but the noblest thoughts record­ed by man?” (Thore­au, Walden “Read­ing).

  • Michael G says:

    Gats­by is a good book, but Emi­ly Bronte did the whole love triangle/boy amass­es wealth and pres­tige to win over girl who reject­ed him so much bet­ter, with more com­plex­i­ty, depth and exper­i­men­ta­tion in Wuther­ing Heights. As for 20th Cen­tu­ry lit­er­a­ture? The Leop­ard by Guiseppe Lampe­dusa real­ly is deserv­ing of a place in more of these polls, cer­tain­ly one of the great­est nov­els writ­ten in my mind.

  • Praneet Thakur says:

    A very spe­cial edi­tions of Geron­i­mo Stil­ton is — The hunt for the gold­en book,The king­dom of fantasy,The amaz­ing voy­age, drag­on prophe­cy and the Jour­ney through the time are the very spe­cial edi­tions of Geron­i­mo Stilton.I love these kind of books very much.

  • Ana says:

    No Dos­toyevs­ki? Hahah, shame on you igno­rant bas­tard!

  • Pierre Bastien says:

    125 top authors and they haven’t heard of Dos­toyevs­ki ? Or Austen? Or Homer? This is sil­ly.

  • lalit sharma says:

    just want­ed to know some works to read but peo­ple’s com­ments say oth­er­wise… now total­ly con­fused

  • Grace Jung says:

    This list is too lily white and full of men. Ms. Eliot is the sole excep­tion as a female, but there are no peo­ple of col­or on this list.

    Why lists like these con­tin­ue to per­pet­u­ate that books writ­ten by old white men are to be her­ald­ed as the default “great” and the rest are either too “niche” for women and/or PoC or sim­ply not good enough con­tin­ues to frus­trate and even baf­fle me.

    The more peo­ple are exposed to these “top ten” lists that sup­pos­ed­ly have great book sug­ges­tions which include women and peo­ple of col­or, the more peo­ple’s minds can shift. Isn’t that obvi­ous?

    I think cura­tors of such lists need to under­stand that. I think that the jour­nal­ists or writ­ers who ASK the ques­tion, “What are you favorite books?” or “favorite authors?” need to ask ques­tions that would inspire answers that include con­tem­po­rary writ­ers who ARE women AND PoC.

    No one’s argu­ing that those writ­ers up there are good writ­ers. We’ve been TOLD that they are since mid­dle school all the way through col­lege. But we’re not told ENOUGH about writ­ers who hap­pen to be women and PoC.

    That needs to change.

  • clem richalds says:

    Where the red fern grows beeeeatch

  • saman from iran says:

    les misrables of vic­tor hugo is real­ly best best best best nov­el of all time.victor hugo is my god.go and read les misrables

  • nbrk says:

    The inse­cure list.

  • Gilbert Gélinas says:

    My favorite author is Émile Zola. I also love Dos­toievs­ki

  • Josh says:

    The method­ol­o­gy is faulty. That’s why this list is so bad. This is more like a list of what 125 writ­ers con­sid­er the best sin­gle book. If you went back to the orig­i­nal authors and asked them what impor­tant books are miss­ing, then you’d get a bet­ter list.

  • Mustafa Kaya says:

    “Les Misrables” is the best of all …

  • Thomas Renhult says:

    Only one female author. I’ve read most of the books on that list and not many are as great as Don­na Tart­t’s The Secret His­to­ry or Atwood’s Oryx & Crake.

  • jean-jacques zuber says:

    C’est une plaisan­terie! Vos 125 experts n’ont jamais lu de lit­téra­ture alle­mande, ital­i­enne, espag­nole, entre beau­coup d’autres? Ils n’ont pas enten­du par­ler de Rabelais, de Rousseau ou de Balzac? Ils n’ont pas lu Lawrence, Faulkn­er, Joyce, Dos­toyevs­ki? et tant d’autres.
    Je ne vois que qua­tre géants dans la liste pro­posée: Shake­speare, Tol­stoï, Proust, Tchékov.

  • waliyi says:

    thank you for hav­ing this oppor­tu­ni­ty

  • Instead of mak­ing a point of a nov­el den why cant you come and write one novel.…Den we all will gonna make com­ment on dat.….

  • Mcbert says:

    If Don Quixote is not on the list, this is rub­bish. The jury should be ashamed of the result. Like the Times list and oth­ers, too much fash­ion, sno­bism and anglosax­on chau­vin­ism. Also they for­got Dos­toievs­ki, Homer and oth­ers…
    This is a list made by writ­ers from ALL the world, not your sad “con­cil­i­ab­u­lo” of suposed top authors

  • John Butler says:

    Such lists are quite mean­ing­less: they could have picked anoth­er group of dis­tin­guished literati who would have come up with some­thing dif­fer­ent. How­ev­er, in the present list I would not include Mark Twain and Fitzger­ald. If there are any Amer­i­can writ­ers who have achieved some sort of uni­ver­sal­i­ty, they would be Melville and Faulkn­er. I sus­pect the oth­ers were there because it was most­ly an Amer­i­can pan­el and they all read them in school or col­lege. Homer and Sopho­cles should have been there, as well as Dick­ens, Dos­to­evsky, Kaf­ka, Leopol­do Alas and Cer­vantes (DQ is the great­est nov­el no-one has actu­al­ly read today). I would also have added Vir­ginia Woolf. These lists are fun, but reduc­ing them to ten peo­ple is arbi­trary.

  • Grubbanax says:

    No Alain Robbe-Gril­let, WIlliam H. Gass or Zamyetin???

  • benvolio says:

    I com­plete­ly agree. Wur­ther­ing Heights is one of the great­est nov­els of all time !

  • Colin Davey says:

    Charles Dick­ens.

  • Doug says:

    Where’s Wuther­ing Heights by Emi­ly Bronte
    Seri­ouslys one of the great­est boots ever penned

  • Doug says:

    Books dam auto cor­rect

  • me says:

    Ham­let was a book? and Loli­ta should be no.1

  • tesio says:

    great­est nov­el ever writ­ten this is Anna Karen­i­na

  • Akam says:

    Where is Dos­toievs­ki!!! Crime and punishment,demons,Idiot… Or you still dont know him!!!

  • ferrox says:

    My favorite ten Books, in no par­tic­u­lar order:

    -Illu­mi­na­tions by Arthur Rim­baud
    ‑The Cat Inside by William Bur­roughs
    ‑Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
    ‑For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hem­ing­way
    ‑The Twelve Cae­sars by Sue­to­nius
    ‑Brew­er’s Dic­tio­nary of Phrase and Fable
    ‑A Lover’s Dis­course by Roland Barthes
    ‑Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges
    ‑Dune by Frank Her­bert
    ‑The Psy­cho­analy­sis of Fire by Gas­ton Bachelard

    I have found that all of these titles reward­ed mul­ti­ple read­ings. Cheers!

  • Guus Mulders says:

    William Faulkn­er — As I lay dying
    Franz Kaf­ka — The pro­ces
    Thomas Mann — The mag­ic Moun­tain
    James Joyce — Ulysses
    Dos­toyevs­ki — The broth­ers Kara­zov

  • Stefania says:

    Cer­tain­ly, lists are always ques­tion­able for their arbi­trari­ness, but the two books you men­tioned are indis­putable two great mas­ter­pieces.

    The lit­er­a­ture means metaphors; it means explo­ration of human beings and it is moti­vat­ed by the writ­ers’ urgency to inves­ti­gate the com­plex­i­ty and con­tra­dic­to­ry human souls’ depth and/or the social rela­tions.

    While Tolstoy’s inspi­ra­tion is the empa­thy with the oth­ers to under­stand him­self bet­ter, and so his nov­els are always moral, philo­soph­i­cal, soci­o­log­i­cal explo­ration, Flaubert’s intent is a social crit­i­cism.

    Emma Bovary is a crit­ic of the bour­geoisie whose behav­ior is deter­mined by appear­ance and alien­ation from one­self. Emma mar­ried a physi­cian to upgrade her social sta­tus. Con­verse­ly, she dis­cov­ers that the “right groom” is only a coarse peas­ant with­out either voca­tion or intel­lect. He became physi­cian only for the same desire of social climb­ing that pushed her to mar­ry him. Thus, dis­ap­point­ed not to have found the glit­ter­ing life that she want­ed first she push­es her hus­band to try a risky surgery hop­ing to let him get fame so she could enjoy reflex of his glo­ry, suc­ces­sive­ly, this attempt failed, she vents her dis­con­tent by look­ing for love. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, self­ish, super­fi­cial peo­ple can­not love, and so she falls in an equiv­o­cal and expen­sive love affair that makes her in debts. There­fore, she swal­lows rat poi­son to escape the usurer’s black­mail. Is it a real sui­cide, or an attempt went over due? The author describes an equiv­o­cal sit­u­a­tion. Maybe she sim­u­lat­ed to get the erase of her debt promis­so­ry, or she want­ed to over­turn her unpleas­ant sit­u­a­tion, or she did not exact­ly know what she want­ed because she can­not intro­spect. Dur­ing the tri­al for obscen­i­ty, the writer said “Emma Bovary, c’est moi!” a claim that the obscen­i­ty is the appearance’s empti­ness and alien­ation that con­cern all of us.

    On the con­trary Tolstoy’s emo­tion­al mas­ter­piece is a com­plex plot of many sto­ries, e.g. Levin’s Bil­dungsro­man (by the way, Levin=diminutive of Lev, the name of the author), the Oblovsky’s adul­tery, Nikolai’s ill­ness, etc.

    There is the con­tra­po­si­tion of the puri­ty of the ide­al­ized coun­try­side life and the cor­rupt and the hyp­ocrite life of aris­toc­ra­cy, and a deep analy­sis of social and mat­ri­mo­ni­al usages, the asym­me­try of the hus­bands that can grant the divorce or deny it, and the wives that are at the mer­cy of their “own­ers”. The writer crit­i­cizes the per­ni­cious influ­ence of reli­gious fanati­cism that for­gives lust, but pun­ish­es love, and so on.

    At the end, the Anna‘s sui­cide is the con­se­quence of her and Vroskij’s exile in his estate because of the ostracism for their “Werther­ian pas­sion” (Vronskij’s mother’s quote). Her iso­la­tion push­es her to doubt of her lover’s feel­ings and sus­pect that it was only an infat­u­a­tion. She asks her­self if she sac­ri­ficed all of her life, her son, her hon­ored posi­tion, her social rela­tions for an illu­sion. As in the pre­des­ti­na­tion fig­ured in the sce­nario of her meet­ing with Vron­skij, she throws her­self on the tracks, but she does not die imme­di­ate­ly. Vron­skij gets to the sta­tion and founds her on the table of tick­et office. She is ago­niz­ing, deformed by the bro­ken spine, gib­ber­ing in a painful mask. He is upset, and he declares he is going to leave for Crimea’s war, and his moth­er agrees because she thought he lost his hon­or. His train trip towards the front is one of the most pow­er­ful anti­mil­i­tarist man­i­festo indeed the descrip­tion of play­ers who flee gam­bling debts, peas­ants who wish to offer a chance to their fam­i­lies, and so on, shows war as an escape for losers.

    It is impos­si­ble to sum­ma­rize the rich­ness and the beau­ty of these works and explore all their mul­ti­fac­eted, deep metaphors. Any­way, I had to tes­ti­fy their val­ue.

  • Wayne Prophet says:

    Some­one wrote What no Faulkn­er! Indeed!! Absa­lom Absa­lom belongs on this list. I won’t quib­ble over where on this list it belongs. Replace Huck­le­ber­ry Finn if you have to.

  • Gordana Kisic says:

    Such a poor list, with very low cri­te­ria.

  • Sam says:

    This is not the 10 great­est books ever. It’s the 10 great­est books in Europe and US! There are many great books, much greater than many books in this list, in oth­er parts of the world.

  • Ankita says:

    I want to see the list of Indi­a’s top author book. Your web­site is very infor­ma­tive I just search about lat­est jobs in I found your web­site is very use­ful for lat­est updates about edu­ca­tion and stu­dents. Who want to know about edu­ca­tion I book­mark your site and also recruit­ment to all of my friends.

  • yep says:

    Cor­mac McCarthy belongs here

  • Barbara Lang says:

    Had a ball read­ing all the com­ments. Just like com­par­isons, lists are odi­ous. I’m sug­gest­ing a much more recent book, Free­dom by Jonathon Franzen. Don’t any­one throw stones. I absolute­ly loved it. Wal­ter Berg­land is my fave. Oh and I agree about Cor­mac McCarthy. He should be on the odi­ous list as well.

  • Hektor Atredes says:

    A list is a list is a list. Sure, none of the books on this list are bad, most of them are bet­ter than bad, they’re good. Are they great? Sure. Per­son­al­ly, I’m glad to see “In Search of Lost Time” but con­fused by the absence of “Ulysses.” I enjoyed “Wuther­ing Heights” more than “Pride and Prej­u­dice,” but the lat­ter might be a bet­ter choice for such a enu­mer­a­tion. Kafka’s “The Tri­al” would make my list, but not every read­er can relate to it’s sen­ti­ment. Then again, I cer­tain­ly can­not relate to Gats­by. “War and Peace” is mas­sive, but isn’t “Les Mis­er­able” a bet­ter sto­ry? “Moby Dick,” “Ili­ad,” and “Odyssey” are all on my list, but that reflects the kinds of books I like to read. My point? My point is that these types of lists serve us best as cat­a­lysts for dis­cus­sion, with civil­i­ty I would hope, and that such a con­ver­sa­tion might lead us to con­sid­er a few well aged titles we’d not pre­vi­ous­ly con­sid­ered.

  • Gary DeWitt says:

    Loli­ta belongs on most any­one’s top ten list. The Grapes of Wrath should be too. I’ve read many books in my life and sev­er­al on this list. Here’s a book that few have heard of but should read. The Stones of Sum­mer. It reach­es inside of you with the best of them. And I might add Hek­tor Atre­des sen­ti­ments about lists was right on the mon­ey.

  • Tom Hamilton says:

    The only list that Moby Dick belongs on is the list of most bor­ing nov­els. God, what drudgery. Rather lis­ten to Ted Cruz all damn night.

  • John says:

    1. Catch­er in the Rye
    2. Crime and Pun­ish­ment
    3. Por­trait of the Artist as a Young Man
    4. Black Boy
    5. War and Peace
    6. A Con­necti­cut Yan­kee in King Arthur’s Court
    7. Palace Walk
    8. The Stranger
    9. The Black Prince
    10. Tie — Rab­bit Run and All the Pret­ty Hors­es

    Just my take.

  • Maria S Kottmeier says:

    Anglo-cen­tric and biased. Sub­jec­tive and ulti­mate­ly point­less.

    I grew up in the com­pa­ny of great writ­ers from Brasil, Spain, Italy and France …and I’m sure many here of Asian descent will also resent no rep­re­sen­ta­tion of their authors on the list.

    I expect­ed bet­ter from this page.


  • Andrei says:

    125 of the most promi­nent liv­ing writ­ers sub­mit­ted their indi­vid­ual Top Tens from which this cumu­la­tive list was com­piled, using the stan­dard points for­mu­la. did you not read the method­ol­o­gy of this list? take up your griev­ances with the likes of Nor­man Mail­er, Annie Proulx, Stephen King, Jonathan Franzen, Claire Mes­sud, and Michael Chabon since they are the com­pil­ers.

  • Uberman777 says:

    Stfu sjw fag­got

  • Susan Turi says:

    It is impos­si­ble to pick 10 and even if you list­ed 100 you would still leave out some­one’s favorite.

    But, nice try.

  • Flavia says:

    No James Bald­win? No Thore­au?

  • Flavia says:

    Catch­er in the Rye, yes. Thank you.

  • Chris says:

    Bor­ing? Are you kid­ding me? It is the most vivid and tumul­tuous romp imag­in­able — from begin­ning to end. Try again

  • Elizabeth Scarratt says:

    Dick­ens is hard­ly low­brow!

  • GJ says:

    Russ­ian Far East is very sparse­ly inhab­it­ed; pop­u­lat­ed Rus­sia is part of Europe and the Russ­ian lan­guage is indoeu­ro­pean. It’s a lot of shared cul­ture with West­ern Europe and Amer­i­ca. I live in Japan and have read many nov­els from India, Chi­na Korea, Japan that moved mil­lions and would move you too. This list needs to open up!!

  • Sonavats says:

    Astound­ing! I must say that it is a very com­pre­hen­sive infor­ma­tion! I like every­thing! Thank­ful for shar­ing. If you want to get more about this top­ic then vis­it here:

  • Denia says:

    As a lit­er­a­ture major in col­lege, I would LOVE to know what you would include on the list! I know it would nec­es­sar­i­ly be sub­jec­tive; but at least I’d have the opin­ion of at least ONE avid read­er not liv­ing in the west.
    Since Gar­cía-Mar­quez’s death, my favorite liv­ing author is Muraka­mi BUT I dis­cov­ered him by acci­dent!

    I am a child of the American/European edu­ca­tion­al sys­tem. Some of my favorites are Voltaire, Kaf­ka, Twain, Camus, Hux­ley, Austen, Borges, etc. I’d real­ly like to expand that. Would you mind rec­om­mend­ing?

    And thank you in advance!

  • Pangolin says:

    Oh, FFS — George Eliot was a woman — Mary Anne Evans. Not that I’m defend­ing this idi­ot­ic list in the least. Prob­lem #1 — two by Tol­stoi? #2 Ham­let is a play, not a book. #3 As point­ed out above, the the­mat­ic dupli­ca­tion of Anna Karen­i­na and Madame Bovary. #4 Much as I like Chekhov, an anthol­o­gy does­n’t count. #5 The Great Gats­by?!? Real­ly? #6 Loli­ta? Meh.
    #7 No Ulysses? #8 No Ili­ad? #9 No Quixote? #10 I could go on, but I’ve made my point

    It’s a ridicu­lous list.

  • Chris Basten says:

    Ham­let is not a book.

  • vinay khatwani says:

    Why no Crime and Pun­ish­ment by Dos­tovesky???

  • Kat Granz says:

    agreed — came here to state that. While I’m super sad to see only one woman (who had to write under a male name, sure­ly to even be pub­lished), it did ask women writ­ers to sub­mit lists.

    Too many here are not tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion how the list was curated/formulated.

    What I would love to see is writ­ers of all time who have made com­ments about who their favorite writ­ers were. Sure­ly there are plen­ty of media archives giv­ing infor­ma­tion from inter­views and such. To know who Tol­stoy enjoyed read­ing, that would be some­thing.

  • Art Kinch says:

    As a Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing major in col­lege, I would go with either:
    1. Momen­tum, Heat and Mass Trans­fer, McCabe & Smith, or
    2. Bossy­pants, Tina Fey

  • Bryan Johnston says:

    The Great Gats­by is unread­able. One of the most over­rat­ed nov­els in the Eng­lish lan­guage. And Ham­let? Don’t get me wrong, it’s a clas­sic. But it’s a play meant to be seen and heard, not read.

  • James says:

    1984 and Drac­u­la should be in any top ten. 1984 as a warn­ing and Drac­u­la because it brought hor­ror into the modern(ish) era and spawned a mas­sive genre.

  • Laurent Utang says:

    Only old white men writ­ing about their desire to get laid and what dis­trac­tions they turn to when they real­ize get­ting laid isn’t as easy as they hoped, but with elab­o­rate words… of course…

  • Laurent Utang says:

    African lit­er­a­ture is a fas­ci­nat­ing untapped resource. I have only recent­ly start­ed explor­ing it and already added Ahmadou Kourouma, Pie Tshiban­da and Maria­ma Bâ to my per­son­al pan­theon.

  • CS Reddy says:

    Do you real­ize how like a lot of ‘best of…’ lists how West­ern-cen­tric and there­fore how skewed and pos­si­bly irrel­e­vant the list feels in today’s times.
    I would real­ly like to see such efforts be more inclu­sive of the cor­pus of world lit­er­a­ture — not in a patron­iz­ing way — but for the greater ben­e­fit and expo­sure to all con­cerned.
    This of course in no way takes away from the mer­it of the works in the list. It is only to bring atten­tion to the utter­ly pompous title — 10 Great­est Books Ever!

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