What’s the Best Book of the Past 125 Years? We Asked Readers to Decide.

By The New York Times Dec. 28, 2021

In October, as we marked the Book Review’s 125th anniversary, we invited readers to nominate the best book published during that time. This was a nod to our history: In its first few decades, the Book Review often asked readers to anoint the best books, the best short stories, the best poems. We wanted this project, like those early ones, to reflect readers’ tastes and preferences.

Responses began pouring in from all 50 states and 67 countries. In November, we presented a list of the 25 most-nominated books (one per author) for a vote. After tallying more than 200,000 ballots, the winner, by a narrow margin, is …

To Kill a Mockingbird

By Harper Lee

“I am 52. I grew up in public housing, on welfare, parented by angry, erratic alcoholics, with little guidance and even less continuity. Atticus, Jem, Scout, Calpurnia and Dill taught me everything I needed to know about life, love, friendship and honor. These lessons reverberated throughout my life and I truly believe that my path would have been very different without them.”

Corina Jensen, Stanhope, N.J.

“Each time I read it with my students, I find in the author’s words something brilliant and entirely new to discuss with my classes. ‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.’”

Ronnie Madanick, Dade County, Fla.

“I grew up in a small, insular, white, Protestant town in the West, and this book first exposed me to the cruelty of racism. I do believe it changed my life and made me a person who cares about social justice. Plus, it is beautifully written with characters I have loved my whole life. I always wanted to be Scout.”

Nancy Foxley, Fort Collins, Colo.

Our critic reconsiders “To Kill a Mockingbird”

When you revisit in adulthood a book that you last read in childhood, you will likely experience two broad categories of observation: “Oh yeah, I remember this part,” and “Whoa, I never noticed that part.” That’s what I expected when I picked up “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which was voted the best book of the past 125 years by readers in a recent New York Times poll. Two decades had passed since I’d absorbed Harper Lee’s 1960 novel. And yes, there was a huge amount I’d missed on my first time through, ranging from major themes (the prevalence of child abuse) to minor details (unfamiliar words, like “flivver”).

Inexcusable lapses in reading comprehension also surfaced, such as the fact that I hadn’t realized Mrs. Dubose — the cranky neighborhood villain — was a morphine addict. (“Mrs. Dubose is a morphine addict,” Atticus states in the book. In my defense … well, I have no defense.) As an adult, I can perceive why the novel might hold enduring appeal for many and enduring repulsion to perhaps just as many. I cannot fathom the complexities of teaching it to elementary school students in 2021, especially after reading online accounts from teachers on both the “pro” and “against” sides.

These apprehensions were present as I worked through the pages a second time, but they were overridden by the instant resurrection of exactly what I’d liked about the book the first time, which is Lee’s depiction of life in a small town. You wouldn’t think the Great Depression-era fictional Southern town of Maycomb, Ala., would have much in common with the nonfictional Northern California small town where I grew up and read “Mockingbird” in the 1990s — and yet!

Take the grim joke about a pair of Atticus’s clients, the Haverfords, who ignored their lawyer’s advice to take a plea deal and wound up hanging. No explanation is needed for their recklessness other than, as Scout puts it, that they were “Haverfords, in Maycomb County a name synonymous with jackass.” That’s on Page 5, and it’s precisely where I remember my attention perking up as a teenager. Only in a place of minimal citizenry can surnames carry such determinative weight. In my town, which had a population of approximately 1,000, the nominative shorthand took a more neutrally descriptive form: There was Barefoot Dave, who preferred to go shoeless on his rambles, and Treehouse Todd, who lived in a treehouse, and Tepee Dan — you can guess where he lived.

Much else in “Mockingbird” was recognizable from small-town living: the temptation to invent boogeymen; the excessive reliance on euphemism; the kneejerk ostracizing of those perceived as outsiders, with vandalism a common mode of reinforcement. There was the importance placed on mundane local landmarks: a certain tree, a specific fence, the house on the corner. There was the fiercely held conviction that one must mind one’s own business coupled with the exasperating practice of everyone minding everyone else’s business 100 percent of the time. (When I first moved to New York and lived in an apartment, I wondered if this last paradox would replicate itself within the diorama of my building. It did not. My urban neighbors took great pains to avoid even a molecule of anyone else’s business.)

Lee writes about the unremitting surveillance of Maycomb — of the reality that no act ultimately goes unobserved. At the age I originally read “Mockingbird,” I stole a candy bar from my town’s sole market, bragged about it to one individual and within hours was escorted by my mother back to the store and forced to apologize to the owner (and pay for the candy). There was no point in asking my mother how she knew. All knowledge was public knowledge.

I hadn’t known until reading Lee’s novel that what seemed like punishments and glories unique to my home turf were characteristic ones: the freedom to run amok, the inevitability of getting caught, the fiber-optic speed of rumor mongering, the magnification of every feud into a catastrophe.

So what struck me, rereading it, was not the totality of the book but one of its humbler accomplishments, which is how keenly Lee recreates the comforts, miseries and banalities of people gathered intimately in one little space.

— Molly Young

The Runners-Up

2. the fellowship of the ring by j.r.r. tolkien.

“The depth of lore for an imagined world and the story of friendship that it accompanies lay the foundation for the rest of the fantasy genre that would follow. Yet few stories live up to the standards set by Tolkien.” Owen Clarke, Provo, Utah

The Fellowship of the Ring

3. 1984 By George Orwell

“It still resonates with us up to this day, around 70 years after it was written. Its warning against the excesses of human pride and hunger for power and its challenge to use our love of freedom to guard against these problems are timeless and universal.” Kathlynn Rebonquin, Mandaluyong City, Philippines


4. One Hundred Years of Solitude By Gabriel García Márquez

“As a piece of literature, it was an earthquake moment, shattering the expectations of a typical realist novel and spawning influences in authors and works from Japan to India and beyond. Out of all the works to have emerged in the last 125 years, none has created a ripple effect, or changed the landscape of literature, as much as this has.” Rizowana Hussaini, Guwahati, India

One Hundred Years of Solitude

5. Beloved By Toni Morrison

“It’s not a bump in the night, subtle haunting. It’s loud and sick. There are images and emotions from ‘Beloved’ that are stuck in my mind now permanently. This ghost story has taught me more about the legacy of slavery than history books ever did.” Brontë Mansfield, Chicago, Ill.


The Nominations

The story of the nominations we received is not consensus, but diversity — not just in the sheer number of books that readers nominated, but in the ways that they interpreted what “best book” meant. Of the more than 1,300 books nominated, 65 percent were nominated by only one person. And only 31 percent nominated a book that made it to our list of 25 finalists. Here are some titles that speak to the breadth of readers’ choices.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

“A bone-chillingly beautiful and heartbreaking tale of exactly what could happen if we don’t take steps now as a society to address social inequalities and the climate crisis.”

Courtney Daron, Anaheim, Calif.

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

“A beautifully written, sweeping history of the past century in America. Never heavy-handed, Wilkerson’s storytelling places real people in real places, making it possible for any reader to grasp the various impacts of inequality and inequities that still plague America.”

Patricia Methe, Cincinnati, Ohio

Dracula by Bram Stoker

“Grabbing the dark corners of one’s imagination for 125 years.”

Eleanor Najjar, San Francisco, Calif.

The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer

“It may be thin on plot or character, but it opened new worlds to me and my family.”

Cody Clark, Houston, Tex.

Watership Down by Richard Adams

“Yeah, yeah, I get it — James Joyce, Toni Morrison, Yasunari Kawabata, Clarice Lispector, Gabriel García Márquez —they're all great, they changed fiction forever. You’re not wrong. But answer me this: How many of them wrote a book entirely about rabbits that could make you laugh, cry, get angry and question the deeper meaning of life?”

Brian Dowd, Edgartown, Mass.

The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck

“His opening sentence, ‘Life is difficult’ affirmed my real-life experience. His wise insights into discipline, grace, love, and sin offered hope when I needed it. I ultimately attended seminary and became a pastor who often gifts this book.”

Marcia Bilyk, Knowlton Township, N.J.

Why readers nominated

Some readers prized lyrical writing above all..

“Silko wonderfully mixes narrative forms, incorporating poetry, rituals and Native American creation stories in a web-like structure that mirrors Pueblo Indian identity and perspective. … Her spectacularly descriptive language, the depth with which she portrays the human condition and the melancholy tone inspire readers.”

Dana Raja Wahab, Miami, Fla. on “Ceremony,” by Leslie Marmon Silko

For others, an author’s imagination was everything.

“It propels the Modernist advances of books like ‘Ulysses’ into the postmodern world, kicking and screaming. It’s a book of superlatives: It’s the smartest, stupidest, most sacred, most profane, most profound, phantasmagoric, lyrical, direct, demanding, rewarding book I’ve ever read.

C. Bleakley, Milan, Italy on “Gravity’s Rainbow,” by Thomas Pynchon

Many nominated novels expanded the kinds of stories told in literature.

“I first read this book in high school in a rural town in New Hampshire. I was one of about 10 people of color in the whole town. This book was the first time I felt seen in an English classroom in white America. The narrator’s impotent rage, and this unshakeable feeling of being a blank slate for others to place their own expectations and guilt ("No don’t worry, you’re one of the good ones."), all resonated with me. This is one of those books that awaken something in you, and it did in me.”

Ruth Ramjit, New York City on “Invisible Man,” by Ralph Ellison

Other readers considered a book’s influence and legacy.

“It exploded the idea of what literature can be.”

Susannah Breslin, Burbank, Calif. on “Ulysses,” by James Joyce

Many people nominated children’s books — especially the ones that fostered a lifelong love of reading.

“From cadence and rhythm to the art and story itself, “Where the Wild Things Are” is the most perfect book. This is a hill I will die on.”

Sara Beth West, Chattanooga, Tenn. on “Where the Wild Things Are,” by Maurice Sendak

Most popular authors

Three writers — John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner — received nominations for seven of their books.

Other popular authors included James Baldwin, Margaret Atwood and Virginia Woolf, who each had five books nominated.

And readers nominated four of Joan Didion’s books: “The Year of Magical Thinking,” “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” “The White Album” and “Play It as It Lays.”

stack of books

A love for literature

Finally, so many nominations we received spoke to deeply personal relationships with books..

“The Nobel Prize winner’s novel evokes the best of modern literature, whilst keeping the classics’ heart and soul at the center of it. The central love story involves not only the two main characters, but the city of Istanbul as well (if not above), thus making it simultaneously intimate … and part of something grander.”

Dalila Sadinlija, Bosnia and Herzegovina on “The Museum of Innocence,” by Orhan Pamuk

“It’s a book … no, THE book about books, celebrating a seemingly idealized (but true!) relationship between a reader and a bookseller. There’s no better epistolary, literary memoir, bathed in the glow of wartime and mid-century New York City, looking eastward to romanticize a ration-booked London that knows its classic authors.”

Darren Sextro, Kansas City, Mo. on “84, Charing Cross Road,” by Helene Hanff

“​​This book captures what it means to be human. The writing is exquisite — you feel the pain and joy of the characters. The world building is subtle but profound. It is simply stunning.”

Chelsea Brislin, Lexington, Ky. on “Never Let Me Go,” by Kazuo Ishiguro

“Because it rails against darkness. Because it’s a testament to the enduring power of love to carry us and transcend death itself. Because it taught me to keep the fire burning, always.”

Max Widmer, New York City on “The Road,” by Cormac McCarthy

“I’ve never been more engrossed in the minutiae of nature. Reading this book nudges and reminds me to slow down and absorb the utter beauty surrounding me each day.”

Brandon O’Connor, Chicago, Ill. on “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,” by Annie Dillard

Illustrations by Timo Lenzen.

Designed by Deanna Donegan, Rebecca Lieberman and Hang Do Thi Duc. Edited by Tina Jordan, Rebecca Halleck, Joumana Khatib and John Williams, with contributions from Scott Blumenthal, John Cruickshank, Asmaa Elkeurti, MJ Franklin, Jennifer Harlan, Marie Tessier and Urvashi Uberoy. Additional production by Aliza Aufrichtig.

To Kill a Mockingbird: Cover image via Raptis Rare Books. The Fellowship of the Ring: Cover image via Heritage Auctions, HA.com. 1984: Cover image via Bauman Rare Books. One Hundred Years of Solitude: Cover image via Harper Perennial Modern Classics. Beloved: Cover image via Heritage Auctions, HA.com.


best reviewed books of all time

37 Best Books of All Time You Must Read

In life, there are things you could do, things you should do, and things you must do. These same categories apply to the choice of book you read next. You could read any number of books, for reasons ranging from guilty pleasure to the fact that your book club meets in two days. You should probably read any number of classic novels that will expand your literary palate or teach you a thing or two. And then, there are the books you must read, best books of all time we daresay, no matter who you are. There are a lot of reasons books becomes must-reads, and it’s not necessarily just their literary quality or fame. This list of 37 books to read have much to offer anyone who picks them up.

Love in the Time of Cholera

Love in the Time of Cholera

Paperback $14.00 $17.00

Please enable javascript to add items to the cart.

Gabriel García Márquez , Edith Grossman

In Stock Online

Featuring a main protagonist whose methods and motives may be seen as somewhat controversial by today’s standards, this is one of those beautifully written, classic stories that keeps us hopeful about the possibility of love finding us in whatever stage of life we’re in. First translated to English in 1988,  Love in the Time of Cholera  was written by the Nobel Prize-winning author of  One Hundred Years of Solitude   Gabriel Garcia Marquez and is a romance that  Newsweek  calls “[a] love story of astonishing power.”

The Talented Mr. Ripley (B&N Exclusive Edition)

The Talented Mr. Ripley (B&N Exclusive Edition)

Paperback $12.95 $15.95

Patricia Highsmith

Many of us dream of winning the lottery and changing our lives. Some of us fantasize about being another person; losing one’s identity to someone else “better.” And then, there are very, very few people who will risk life and limb (their own or another’s) to make such a change. Have ANY of those thoughts ever entered your mind? If so, then we introduce you to  The Talented Mr. Ripley .

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

Paperback $7.99 $8.99

E. L. Konigsburg

Who hasn’t dreamt of spending the night in their favorite museum, surrounded by a vast collection of ancient artifacts and beautiful artwork?  From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler  follows siblings Claudia and Jamie as they run away from their suburban Connecticut home to the revered Metropolitan Museum of Art in bustling New York City. This clever and charming tale is equal parts adventure, mystery, wisdom and wit, and is just as enjoyable today as it was when it was originally published in 1967.


Paperback $8.99

Daphne du Maurier

Daphne du Maurier’s classic gothic novel Rebecca is about a woman unraveling the truth about her new husband’s dead first wife. Du Maurier deftly blurs the line between dreams and reality in this haunting, unforgettable tale.  


Louis Sachar

Quirky, fun, and mysterious all at once,  Holes  is a modern classic worthy of a spot on every young reader’s bookshelf. Louis Sachar deftly weaves together stories from the past and present, creating a brilliant and thought-provoking tale about Stanley Yelnats, Camp Green Lake, and the power of strength and perseverance in the face of adversity. A must-read at any age.


When an intimate moment is misinterpreted by a young girl, the consequences are tragic. Ian McEwan’s novel of two lovers separated by an imagined crime, explores the redemptive nature of storytelling.


Hardcover $26.95

Octavia E. Butler

While many early Black classics center around slavery or its aftermath, Octavia Butler took a unique approach with her 1979 novel,  Kindred . A neo-slave narrative that crosses genre lines mixing in Butler’s usual science fiction elements left many people scratching their heads about how to classify it. Her unique perspective to a largely white genre is one that  Essence  calls “truly terrifying . . . a book you’ll find hard to put down.” 

Play It As It Lays

Play It As It Lays

Paperback $15.49 $17.00

Joan Didion , David Thomson

Told in flashbacks as the story cuts between Hollywood, Las Vegas and a film shoot in the Mojave Desert,  Play It As It Lays  is the indelible story of Maria Wyeth, a woman whose marriage and acting career are both failing. She’s become an alien in her own world, endlessly driving the freeways of Los Angeles (and cracking hard-boiled eggs on the steering wheel) because that’s the only true comfort she can find. Is her world the problem? Or is she?

The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth

Norton Juster , Jules Feiffer

“So many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.” Generations of readers discovered that life is full of adventure as they journeyed with Milo to the Lands Beyond in this beloved classic. Published 60 years ago, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster is a beguiling read ― whether it’s your first or your 50th.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

We Have Always Lived in the Castle: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

Paperback $14.99 $17.00

Shirley Jackson , Jonathan Lethem , Thomas Ott

Written from the point of view of 18-year-old Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood who lives in isolation with her older sister, Constance, and uncle, Julian,  We Have Always Lived in the Castle  is a timeless story about feeling unwelcome in the world and finding solace in the confines of one’s home. For those of us coming out of quarantine and those of us weary to return to normalcy, this is the perfect and timely read. If you’ve read Shirley Jackson’s psychological horror novel,  The Haunting of Hill House , you already know you’re in for a treat with this one.

The Westing Game

The Westing Game

Paperback $7.99

Ellen Raskin

For over thirty-five years, Ellen Raskin’s Newbery Medal-winning The Westing Game has been an enduring favorite. Samuel W. Westing’s vast fortune is up for grabs. How to acquire it? Play the mysterious and dangerous games laid out in his will. The winner walks away a millionaire.

Address Unknown

Address Unknown

Paperback $13.99 $16.99

Kathrine Kressmann Taylor , Margot Livesey

A searing, heartbreaking tale told in letters; author Kathrine Kressmann Taylor chronicles the catastrophic destruction of a friendship through pernicious ideologies. A slim novel originally written in the 1930s,  Address Unknown  cautioned readers to the splintering of humanity and the rise of hateful moralities ahead of World War II. A tale of vengeance, a classic and a literary triumph.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963

The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963

Christopher Paul Curtis

In  The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 , Christopher Paul Curtis has expertly crafted a story that stands the test of time. Though originally published in 1995, its nuanced depiction of a Black family at the height of the civil rights movement gives young readers important insight into a period they typically only read about in history books.

The Hustler

The Hustler

Paperback $14.00 $16.00

Walter Tevis

A taut novel full of suspense, smoke, and pool sharks. “Fast” Eddie Felson is ready to make it in the big times of competitive pool playing but needs to best top player Minnesota Fats to do it. From the author of  The Queen’s Gambit ,  The Hustler  ruminates once again on the importance, and cost, of winning it big.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (George Smiley Series)

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (George Smiley Series)

Paperback $16.99 $19.00

John le Carré

John le Carré’s brilliant 1974 novel ratchets up tension so deliberately and subtly it’s almost supernatural. The hunt for a Soviet spy deeply embedded in a position of influence in the British secret service and the retired spy, George Smiley, charged with identifying him. This is not a spy thriller composed of fisticuffs and gun fights, but rather meticulous spycraft and the quietly fascinating work of piecing together a puzzle.

Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Castle Series #1)

Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Castle Series #1)

Paperback $9.99

Diana Wynne Jones

An irresistible character who comes to town, stealing hearts? That’s pretty much a spot-on description of Wizard Howl — at least in his heart-stealing days, before he runs into Sophie Hatter.

Beloved (Pulitzer Prize Winner)

Beloved (Pulitzer Prize Winner)

Toni Morrison

A lot of classic writers lived in an age before many of us existed. But not Toni Morrison; her death was monumental for generations of readers. She wrote for Black people, specifically Black women, and she was the first black woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.   Inspired by a true story,  Beloved  is about an enslaved woman who believes that killing her child would be a better life than having them grow up as a slave. Many different themes are explored when the ghost of her baby comes back to her 18 years later. In 1988,  Beloved  won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. 

The God of Small Things

The God of Small Things

Paperback $15.99 $18.00

Arundhati Roy

With nearly 800,000 copies sold and 40 different language translations, winner of the the Man Booker Prize for fiction, The God of Small Things tells the story of fraternal twins that explored how even the smallest of instances can affect our lives and change us forever.

The Bell Jar (P.S. Series)

The Bell Jar (P.S. Series)

Paperback $18.00 $20.00

Sylvia Plath

This novel, which explores the pangs of teenage love and rejection, along with the pressures to achieve perfection in a competitive world, is a timeless story.

Life of Pi: A Novel

Life of Pi: A Novel

Paperback $15.99 $17.99

Yann Martel

A tiger, a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a boy named Pi are the lone survivors of a shipwreck. In time, only the boy and the tiger remain. The two survive for months at sea before landing in Mexico. Pi is eager to tell his story, but will anyone believe him?

Things Fall Apart (African Trilogy #1)

Things Fall Apart (African Trilogy #1)

Paperback $12.49 $14.00

Chinua Achebe

One of the first African novels to be widely studied and read in the English-speaking world, Achebe’s book remains a must-read for the uniqueness of its literary vision and characters. Focused on a fictional village in Nigeria, the book’s epic scope traces how life changes from pre-colonial times to post-colonial modernity (for the time; the novel was published in 1958).

The Color Purple: A Novel

The Color Purple: A Novel

Alice Walker

Brutal, harsh, yet somehow raggedly beautiful, Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a must read because its subject matter, focused on the grim lives of African-American women in 1930s rural Georgia, shouldn’t be turned away from. Exploring the long ragged scars of racism, slavery, and class inequality, it’s one of those novels people are always trying to get banned—and you know what? Any novel certain people don’t want you to read is a novel you must read.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou , Oprah Winfrey

Maya Angelou’s autobiography is, in a word, breathtaking. In several words, it’s poignant, brutal, honest, warm, funny, devastating, and powerful. Drawing from her experiences growing up largely in Stamps, Arkansas, poet and civil rights activist Angelou has woven together a narrative about the loneliness of childhood and her subsequent search for identity all while having to navigate the injustices of racism and segregation.

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Paperback $15.49 $17.99

Zora Neale Hurston

With hauntingly lyrical prose and characters so real they practically leap off the page, this Zora Neale Hurston novel about love and independence has no business languishing unread on your shelf. Published in 1937, Their Eyes Were Watching God went largely unappreciated until author Alice Walker revived public interest in Hurston in the 1970s, giving both the book and its author the acclaim they dearly deserved.


Paperback $8.99 $9.99

George Orwell , Erich Fromm

Orwell’s imagination of what a future society might look like at its worst has some shocking similarities to modern times. In this dystopian tale, mindless obedience rules, and as the main character finds himself straying, the regime crushes in. Although written in 1949, Orwell makes indirect references to “fake news,” “facetime,” “social media,” and more. Big Brother is watching!

The Book Thief

The Book Thief

Paperback $12.99 $14.99

Markus Zusak

For a novel narrated by Death (yes, you read that right), this book sure has a lot of heart. Published in 2003 but set in Germany during World War II, Zusak’s historical novel follows young Liesel as her world is expanded by two things: the books she steals and loves, and the connection she forms with Max, the Jewish man her family hides from the Nazis. Due to its wholly original style and themes of the power of kindness and sacrificial love, The Book Thief has quickly become an enduring classic.

The Kite Runner (10th Anniversary Edition)

The Kite Runner (10th Anniversary Edition)

Paperback $14.49 $17.00

Khaled Hosseini

While the title of this one holds promise of childhood whimsy, Khaled Hosseini’s 2003 novel actually tells a heartbreaking tale of betrayal, devastation, and—ultimately—redemption. Set against the backdrop of Afghanistan’s tumultuous history, The Kite Runner centers on Amir, the main character who wrestles in the aftermath of witnessing and allowing the sexual assault of his friend. Because of its universal themes of friendship, guilt, and atonement, The Kite Runner has deeply resonated with readers of varying cultural backgrounds, as evidenced by the seven-million-plus copies that have been sold in the United States alone.

Invisible Man

Invisible Man

Paperback $13.99 $16.00

Ralph Ellison

Ellison combines a fluid, compelling writing style with a robust exploration of life as a black man in mid-century America. The unnamed narrator tells his story from his youth in a small Southern town, where he wins a scholarship to college that he can secure only after taking part in a brutal fight for the amusement of rich white sponsors, to his engagement with rising black nationalism and his realization that his color renders him, for all practical purposes, invisible to society at large.

Jane Eyre (Barnes & Noble Signature Classics)

Jane Eyre (Barnes & Noble Signature Classics)

Paperback $14.99

Charlotte Bronte

A coming-of-age story, a mystery, a romance, and a Gothic horror novel all rolled into one, this darkly atmospheric Charlotte Brontë classic is a timeless tale of twisted love that’s full of passion, drama, and things that go bump in the night. Jean Rhys’ last novel, The Wide Sargasso Sea , is a feminist and anti-colonial response to Charlotte Brontë’s  Jane Eyre , telling the story of Antoinette Cosway, a Creole heiress who is sold into a marriage to Mr. Rochester. Rhys highlights the oppression of women and people of color under the white supremacist patriarchy of the mid-1800s.


Paperback $19.99

Alan Moore , Dave Gibbons

Watchmen  a graphic novel that demonstrates the true potential of the format. If you think comic books are just for kids, this is the book that will change your mind. Even better, if you have a vast collection of comics and graphic novels, it can be appreciated as a story that simultaneously celebrates and deconstructs superhero tropes.

Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies

Paperback $8.99 $11.00

William Golding , Lois Lowry , Jennifer Buehler

What happens when a group of boys who are stranded on a deserted island have to learn how to survive? With politics, clashing personalities, and strong survival instincts comes a story of morality and immorality. Golding’s account of children stranded on an island without supplies or adult supervision is absolutely terrifying for one simple reason: there’s nothing supernatural going on. It’s a story about insufficiently socialized humans descending into savagery because that’s our fundamental nature. You look into the abyss at the center of this novel and the abyss looks back.

Frankenstein (Barnes & Noble Signature Classics)

Frankenstein (Barnes & Noble Signature Classics)

Mary Shelley

Surely you know the story of Frankenstein by now, or at least the concept. Whether you’ve never read the book or it’s been too long to remember the details, this classic horror story is one to add to your to-be-read list.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide Series #1)

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide Series #1)

Douglas Adams

. This hilarious sci-fi is the perfect novel for some light reading, despite its lengthy size. Featuring a sarcastic man from Earth, a depressed robot, and some wacky interstellar travelers who hitchhike through space, this slightly absurd comedy is one that will have you asking, “what is the answer to the universe?” Already read it? Start the 2nd book in the series, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe .

Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death

Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death

Kurt Vonnegut

It’s strange to call a critically acclaimed science fiction, anti-war novel  quirky , but Kurt Vonnegut’s  Slaughterhouse-Five  is definitely quirky. Published in 1969, the story follows the life and experiences of an American Veteran, Billy Pilgrim, his life as a prisoner of war in Dresden during WWII and his life postwar as a successful optometrist. With non-linear order, time travel, and an unreliable narrator, Vonnegut tells his readers important messages on the brutality of war, illusion of free will, and existentialism in a disorganized, yet straightforward way.

Giovanni's Room

Giovanni's Room

Paperback $13.49 $15.00

James Baldwin

The list of mainstream fiction that deals with homosexuality in a sincere and powerful way remains woefully short, but at the top of it is this remarkable novel by Baldwin, one of the most complex examinations of a gay character (now more accurately considered a bisexual character) of its era. The story of an American’s affair with a Parisian man who is eventually executed for murder is a fantastic story and a crucial example of representation.

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

Paperback $9.00

Jane Austen , Vivien Jones , Tony Tanner

Pride and Prejudice is one of the most popular novels in English literature to illustrate social issues. Featuring a strong female character, Lizzy’s intelligence, charm, and resilience shows off a feminist perspective and social class deconstruction that was rare in the 19th century. If that isn’t enough to want to read this popular classic, how about an enchanting romance story and comedy, too?

best reviewed books of all time

The 20 most popular books of all time, according to Goodreads members

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers to rate and review their favorite books and authors , track their reading, participate in challenges, and discover new book recommendations. No matter what you like to read, you can find it on Goodreads along with tons of fellow readers who love the same books. 

With millions of ratings and community reviews, readers are encouraged to share their opinions to help others determine their next read. We used the number of ratings of each book to determine the most popular books amongst Goodreads members, so whether you're curious if your favorite book made the list or are looking for a new read with millions of recommendations , here are the top 20 most popular books on Goodreads. 

The 20 most popular books of all time on Goodreads:

"harry potter and the sorcerer's stone" by j.k. rowling.

best reviewed books of all time

"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" by J.K. Rowling, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $6.98

With nearly 8 million ratings, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" is the most popular book of all time on Goodreads and has sold over 120 million copies. In this first book of the "Harry Potter" series, readers meet a young orphan boy who learns he's a wizard and begins his magical training at Hogwarts, a special school for witches and wizards.

"The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins

best reviewed books of all time

"The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $11.69

With almost 7 million ratings on Goodreads, "The Hunger Games" is the first book in a young adult dystopian series where the country is divided up into districts that annually select one boy and one girl to fight to the death in a highly publicized arena. When Katniss's little sister is chosen for the games, she volunteers in her sister's place and immediately begins training before entering the deadly arena.

"Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer

best reviewed books of all time

"Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $10.16

"Twilight" is an iconic young adult vampire romance novel about a high school girl named Bella who falls in love with a mysterious boy named Edward and quickly finds out he's a vampire. As the threat of a nearby nomadic vampire looms, Bella chooses to be with Edward and discovers the secrets of his world, despite the nearly constant risks to her life. 

"To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee

best reviewed books of all time

"To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.19

"To Kill A Mockingbird" is an American classic from 1960, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and frequently voted as one of the best books of the 20th century . It's about a young girl named Scout who's growing up in a time of racial division, amplified as her lawyer father defends an innocent Black man wrongly accused of a horrible crime. 

"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

best reviewed books of all time

"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $5.97

First published in 1925, "The Great Gatsby" is a classic Jazz Age novel about millionaire Jay Gatsby and his love for Daisy Buchanan. Narrated by Gatsby's neighbor, Nick Carraway, the novel follows Gatsby's shady business dealings, extravagant parties, and pursuit of Daisy's affection. 

"The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green

best reviewed books of all time

"The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $6.10

In this absolute tear-jerker, Hazel is battling a terminal cancer diagnosis, offered a few extra years by a miracle medical advancement. In her cancer support group, she meets Augustus Waters and they immediately begin to fall for each other in this tragic and beautiful young adult love story. 

"1984" by George Orwell

best reviewed books of all time

"1984" by George Orwell, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.48

In this novel predicting a dystopian future from its original publication in 1949, Winston Smith is living in a totalitarian world defined by strict mass surveillance and inundating propaganda. Winston works at the Ministry of Truth, rewriting history to fit the government's narrative, and can't help but wonder what the world was truly like before the revolution. 

"Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen

best reviewed books of all time

"Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $5.47

"Pride and Prejudice" is an 1813 romantic classic about Elizabeth Bennet, a young woman who is pressured to marry a wealthy man in order to provide for her family. She meets the brooding Mr. Darcy, with whom she begins a witty but civilized sparring banter as they slowly fall for each other in this novel about the influences of class and the importance of being true to yourself. 

"Divergent" by Veronica Roth

best reviewed books of all time

"Divergent" by Veronica Roth, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $8.46

In the dystopian science fiction world of "Divergent," all 16-year-olds must devote themselves to one of five factions in society, each dedicated to a virtue. Beatrice Prior is torn between staying with her family and being true to herself, so she makes a daring and shocking decision, thrusting her into an intense initiation and transformation while keeping a potentially deadly secret and discovering the growing conflict within her seemingly flawless society. 

"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" by J.K. Rowling

best reviewed books of all time

"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" by J.K. Rowling, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $8.78

When a murderer named Sirius Black escapes the wizarding world's highest security prison, rumor says he's headed to kill Harry since the dark Lord Voldemort's downfall was his as well. Even with the soulless prison guards searching the castle for Sirius, danger seems to follow Harry at every turn. 

"The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien

best reviewed books of all time

"The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $14.37

This fantastical classic introduces readers to magical Middle-Earth where Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit, sets out on a quest to win a treasure guarded by a dragon. Initially written for the author's children, this adventure novel is a prequel to the epic "Lord of the Rings" series and is a charming favorite with over three million ratings and 1.6 million five-star reviews on Goodreads.  

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" by J.K. Rowling

best reviewed books of all time

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" by J.K. Rowling, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $9.98

In the final book of the "Harry Potter" series, Harry and his two best friends are on a cross-country journey to find the final answers that will help them defeat the dark wizard Lord Voldemort. Cumulating in an epic and devastating battle at Hogwarts, this intense novel closes the fantastical series with a shocking and emotional resolution. 

"Animal Farm" by George Orwell

best reviewed books of all time

"Animal Farm" by George Orwell, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.48

"Animal Farm" is a classic satirical novel about a group of mistreated farm animals who rebel against the human farmer to take over the farm and attempt to create a system where all animals are free and equal. But when the community is betrayed and collapses under a single dictator, the animals' hopes for equality diminish. 

"The Diary of a Young Girl" by Anne Frank

best reviewed books of all time

"The Diary of a Young Girl" by Anne Frank, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.35

Written by Anne Frank during the Nazi occupation of Holland, this diary is a firsthand, nonfiction account of the two years Anne and her family spent hiding in a secret annex of an old office building. With thoughtful insight and emotional impressions of the time, Anne's diary is a testament to her courage during the final years of her life. 

"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" by J.K. Rowling

best reviewed books of all time

"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" by J.K. Rowling, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $6.98

Before returning to Hogwarts for his second year of school, Harry receives an ominous message of the danger that awaits him if he's to return. Needing to escape his dreadful aunt and uncle, Harry ignores the warning and happily returns to school — until students begin to turn to stone and a strange voice in the wall means Harry might be the only one who can save them.

"The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger

best reviewed books of all time

"The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $5.21

"The Catcher in the Rye" is a young adult classic about a 16-year-old boy named Holden Caulfield and his three-day adventure through New York City. Heavily impacted by his experiences, Holden is an example of teenage rebellion as he navigates complex feelings about innocence, connection, and loss. 

"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" by J.K. Rowling

best reviewed books of all time

"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" by J.K. Rowling, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $6.92

In this fourth book of the "Harry Potter" series, Hogwarts is one of three schools participating in a Triwizard Tournament where one representative witch or wizard from each school must complete three extremely challenging tasks. When Harry's name is picked in addition to the three competitors, he must compete in the tournament, despite not knowing how he was entered. 

"Angels & Demons" by Dan Brown

best reviewed books of all time

"Angels & Demons" by Dan Brown, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $16.20

"Angels & Demons" is the first book in the "DaVinci Code" series, a thrilling mystery novel where readers meet world-renowned symbologist Robert Langdon as he's called to help explain the mysterious symbols left seared into the chest of a murdered physicist. His research takes him through an intense investigation that leads him towards a deadly vendetta from the Illuminati. 

"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson

best reviewed books of all time

"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $9.19

In this international psychological thriller, Henrik Vanger is a billionaire whose niece disappeared over 40 years ago. Still searching for answers, he hires Mikal Blomkvist, a renowned journalist who recently lost a libel lawsuit, along with Lisbeth Salander, a mysterious but brilliant computer hacker. As the duo digs deeper into the investigation, they uncover a complex weave of family and financial secrets in this captivating Swedish thriller. 

"Catching Fire" by Suzanne Collins

best reviewed books of all time

"Catching Fire" by Suzanne Collins, available on Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.98

The second book in the "Hunger Games" saga follows Katniss and her public love interest, Peeta, after their historic arena win. Though they should be celebrating, rumors of a growing rebellion infuriate the Capitol and threaten their safety in this fast-paced, science-fiction sequel.

Sign up for Insider Reviews' weekly newsletter for more buying advice and great deals. You can purchase logo and accolade licensing to this story here . Disclosure: Written and researched by the Insider Reviews team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our partners. We may receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at [email protected] .

Encyclopedia Britannica

12 Novels Considered the “Greatest Book Ever Written”

The curation of this content is at the discretion of the author, and not necessarily reflective of the views of Encyclopaedia Britannica or its editorial staff. For the most accurate and up-to-date information, consult individual encyclopedia entries about the topics.

Close up of books. Stack of books, pile of books, literature, reading. Homepage 2010, arts and entertainment, history and society

Literary critics, historians, avid readers, and even casual readers will all have different opinions on which novel is truly the “greatest book ever written.” Is it a novel with beautiful, captivating figurative language? Or one with gritty realism? A novel that has had an immense social impact? Or one that has more subtly affected the world? Here is a list of 12 novels that, for various reasons, have been considered some of the greatest works of literature ever written.

Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina (1935) Actress Greta Garbo as Anna Karenina in a scene from the film directed by Clarence Brown. Movie. Leo Tolstoy

Any fan of stories that involve juicy subjects like adultery, gambling, marriage plots, and, well, Russian feudalism, would instantly place Anna Karenina at the peak of their “greatest novels” list. And that’s exactly the ranking that publications like Time magazine have given the novel since it was published in its entirety in 1878. Written by Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy , the eight-part towering work of fiction tells the story of two major characters: a tragic, disenchanted housewife, the titular Anna , who runs off with her young lover, and a lovestruck landowner named Konstantin Levin , who struggles in faith and philosophy. Tolstoy molds together thoughtful discussions on love, pain, and family in Russian society with a sizable cast of characters regarded for their realistic humanity. The novel was especially revolutionary in its treatment of women, depicting prejudices and social hardships of the time with vivid emotion.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Book cover (circa 2015?) To Kill A Mockingbird By Harper Lee. Hardcover book first published July 11, 1960. Novel won 1961 Pulitzer Prize. Later made into an Academy Award winning film.

Harper Lee , believed to be one of the most influential authors to have ever existed, famously published only a single novel (up until its controversial sequel was published in 2015 just before her death). Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960 and became an immediate classic of literature. The novel examines racism in the American South through the innocent wide eyes of a clever young girl named Jean Louise (“Scout”) Finch. Its iconic characters, most notably the sympathetic and just lawyer and father Atticus Finch, served as role models and changed perspectives in the United States at a time when tensions regarding race were high. To Kill a Mockingbird earned the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961 and was made into an Academy Award-winning film in 1962 , giving the story and its characters further life and influence over the American social sphere.

The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald ’s The Great Gatsby is distinguished as one of the greatest texts for introducing students to the art of reading literature critically (which means you may have read it in school). The novel is told from the perspective of a young man named Nick Carraway who has recently moved to New York City and is befriended by his eccentric nouveau riche neighbor with mysterious origins, Jay Gatsby . The Great Gatsby provides an insider’s look into the Jazz Age of the 1920s in United States history while at the same time critiquing the idea of the “American Dream.” Perhaps the most famous aspect of the novel is its cover art—a piercing face projected onto a dark blue night sky and lights from a cityscape—an image that is also found, in a slightly different configuration, within the text itself as a key symbol.

One Hundred Years of Solitude

Garcia Marquez, 1982.

The late Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez published his most famous work, One Hundred Years of Solitude , in 1967. The novel tells the story of seven generations of the Buendía family and follows the establishment of their town Macondo until its destruction along with the last of the family’s descendents. In fantastical form, the novel explores the genre of magic realism by emphasizing the extraordinary nature of commonplace things while mystical things are shown to be common. Márquez highlights the prevalence and power of myth and folktale in relating history and Latin American culture. The novel won many awards for Márquez, leading the way to his eventual honor of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982 for his entire body of work, of which One Hundred Years of Solitude is often lauded as his most triumphant.

A Passage to India

Still from a passage to india, 1984, directed by David Lean. Judy Davis as Adela Quested and Victor Banerjee

E.M. Forster wrote his novel A Passage to India after multiple trips to the country throughout his early life. The book was published in 1924 and follows a Muslim Indian doctor named Aziz and his relationships with an English professor, Cyril Fielding, and a visiting English schoolteacher named Adela Quested . When Adela believes that Aziz has assaulted her while on a trip to the Marabar caves near the fictional city of Chandrapore, where the story is set, tensions between the Indian community and the colonial British community rise. The possibility of friendship and connection between English and Indian people, despite their cultural differences and imperial tensions, is explored in the conflict. The novel’s colorful descriptions of nature, the landscape of India, and the figurative power that they are given within the text solidifies it as a great work of fiction.

Invisible Man

Head and shoulders portrait of American author Ralph Ellison, 1952. Photograph taken in advance of publication of his novel, "Invisible Man."

Often confused with H.G. Wells’s science-fiction novella of nearly the same name (just subtract a “The”), Ralph Ellison ’s Invisible Man is a groundbreaking novel in the expression of identity for the African American male. The narrator of the novel, a man who is never named but believes he is “invisible” to others socially, tells the story of his move from the South to college and then to New York City. In each location he faces extreme adversity and discrimination, falling into and out of work, relationships, and questionable social movements in a wayward and ethereal mindset. The novel is renowned for its surreal and experimental style of writing that explores the symbolism surrounding African American identity and culture. Invisible Man won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction in 1953.

Don Quixote

Don Quixote (right) and his servant Sancho Panza are pictured in an illustration from the book The History of Don Quixote, Volume 1, Complete by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. 1880 edition of J. W. Clark with illustrations by Gustave Dore.

Miguel de Cervantes ’s Don Quixote , perhaps the most influential and well-known work of Spanish literature, was first published in full in 1615. The novel, which is very regularly regarded as one of the best literary works of all time, tells the story of a man who takes the name “Don Quixote de la Mancha” and sets off in a fit of obsession over romantic novels about chivalry to revive the custom and become a hero himself. The character of Don Quixote has become an idol and somewhat of an archetypal character, influencing many major works of art, music, and literature since the novel’s publication. The text has been so influential that a word, quixotic , based on the Don Quixote character, was created to describe someone who is, “foolishly impractical especially in the pursuit of ideals; especially: marked by rash lofty romantic ideas or extravagantly chivalrous action.”

American author Toni Morrison at her upstate New York home, c. 1980-87.

Toni Morrison ’s 1987 spiritual and haunting novel Beloved tells the story of an escaped slave named Sethe who has fled to Cincinnati, Ohio, in the year 1873. The novel investigates the trauma of slavery even after freedom has been gained, depicting Sethe’s guilt and emotional pain after having killed her own child, whom she named Beloved, to keep her from living life as a slave. A spectral figure appears in the lives of the characters and goes by the same name as the child, embodying the family’s anguish and hardship and making their feelings and past unavoidable. The novel was lauded for addressing the psychological effects of slavery and the importance of family and community in healing. Beloved was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1988.

Mrs. Dalloway

An undated photo of Virginia Woolf a British author and member of the intelligentsia circle known as the Bloomsbury Group.

Possibly the most idiosyncratic novel of this list, Virginia Woolf ’s Mrs. Dalloway describes exactly one day in the life of a British socialite named Clarissa Dalloway. Using a combination of a third-person narration and the thoughts of various characters, the novel uses a stream-of-consciousness style all the way through. The result of this style is a deeply personal and revealing look into the characters’ minds, with the novel relying heavily on character rather than plot to tell its story. The thoughts of the characters include constant regrets and thoughts of the past, their struggles with mental illness and post-traumatic stress from World War I, and the effect of social pressures. The novel’s unique style, subject, and time setting make it one of the most respected and regarded works of all time.

Things Fall Apart

Albert Chinualumogu Achebe, November 16 1930 - March 21, 2013 a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic

The Western canon of “great literature” often focuses on writers who come from North America or Europe and often ignores accomplished writers and amazing works of literature from other parts of the world. Chinua Achebe ’s Things Fall Apart , published in 1958, is one such work of Nigerian literature that had to overcome the bias of some literary circles and one that has been able to gain recognition worldwide despite it. The novel follows an Igbo man named Okonkwo, describing his family, the village in Nigeria where he lives, and the effects of British colonialism on his native country. The novel is an example of African postcolonial literature, a genre that has grown in size and recognition since the mid-1900s as African people have been able to share their often unheard stories of imperialism from the perspective of the colonized. The novel is frequently assigned for reading in courses on world literature and African studies.

Illustration by Fritz Eichenberg for an American edition of "Jane Eyre."

Charlotte Brontë ’s Jane Eyre , another novel often assigned for reading in school, was initially published in 1847 under the pseudonym Currer Bell to disguise the fact that the writer was a woman. Fortunately, a lot has changed with regard to women in literature since 1847, and Brontë now receives the credit she deserves for one of the most groundbreaking novels about women in history. At a time when the author felt compelled to hide her true identity, Jane Eyre provided a story of individualism for women. The novel’s eponymous character rises from being orphaned and poor into a successful and independent woman. The work combines themes from both Gothic and Victorian literature, revolutionizing the art of the novel by focusing on the growth in Jane’s sensibility with internalized action and writing.

The Color Purple

Author Alice Walker attends the opening of "The Color Purple" at the Broadway Theatre December 1, 2005 in New York City. Writer novelist

Though the epistolary novel (a novel in the form of letters written by one or more characters) was most popular before the 19th century, Alice Walker became a champion of the style with her 1982 novel The Color Purple , which won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award . Set in the post-Civil War American South, the novel follows a young African American girl named Celie into adulthood in letters she writes to God and to her sister Nettie. Celie faces sexual abuse by her father and eventually her husband, chronicling her own suffering and growth as well as that of her friends and family. The novel explores themes of sexism, racism, gender, sexual orientation, and disability through its grouping of disadvantaged and damaged characters who, over time, grow to shape their own lives. The story was adapted into an Academy Award-nominated film in 1985 that, despite widespread critical acclaim, was notoriously snubbed of all 11 awards it was nominated for.

Spring's Most Anticipated New Books

Listopia > Highest Rated Book Lists

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Browse By Tag

Welcome back. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account.

best reviewed books of all time

best reviewed books of all time

best reviewed books of all time

The 10 Best Book Reviews of 2021

Merve emre on simone de beauvoir, justin taylor on joy williams, and more.

Book Marks logo

The older I get, the more I’m interested in critics who play around with form and style. Mixing genres, experimenting with voice and structure, and tapping into personal experience are some of my favorite devices, though I still have a soft spot for the formal limitations of an 800-word newspaper writeup. From longform online essays to crisp perspectives in print, here are my 10 favorite book reviews of 2021.

Brought to you by Book Marks , Lit Hub’s “Rotten Tomatoes for books.”

Parul Sehgal on Soyica Diggs Colbert’s Radical Vision: A Biography of Lorraine Hansberry ( New York Times )

Sehgal deftly takes on the style of the theatre in her review of a book about Chicago’s greatest playwright, by opening her first paragraph like the first scene in a play.

“The curtain rises on a dim, drab room. An alarm sounds, and a woman wakes. She tries to rouse her sleeping child and husband, calling out: ‘Get up!’ It is the opening scene—and the injunction—of Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 play A Raisin in the Sun , the story of a Black family living on the South Side of Chicago.”


Merve Emre on Simone de Beauvoir’s The Inseparables (tr. Lauren Elkin) ( The New Yorker )

Emre always helps readers see things in a new way, in this case not just Simone de Beauvoir’s lost novel, but also Simone de Beauvoir herself.

“To read The Inseparables is to learn what could have been, and to judge what was a little more harshly. It is to see in the memoirs a lingering refusal to give Zaza the autonomy that everyone in life seems to have denied her at the greatest possible cost. And it is to see in The Second Sex an inability, or perhaps an unwillingness, to make as affirmative a case as possible for lesbian identity.”

Sho Douglas Kearney

Victoria Chang and Dean Rader on Douglas Kearney’s Sho ( Los Angeles Review of Books )

Reviews-in-dialogue are my new favorite thing. I love how naturalistic and conversational they are, as the form really allows critics to be themselves. Chang and Rader are a joy to read.

“Kearney’s body of work is very much about play with language, yet, that somehow feels like it diminishes the political aspects of his poems and his body of work. Perhaps play itself in Kearney’s work is a political act. I find this tension fascinating because on the one hand, I often get carried away in Kearney’s language (and the conceptual aspects of his work), but I’m also acutely aware of the humanity in his work (or the exploration of anti-humanity). In this way, maybe play and the political are not mutually exclusive. Maybe for Kearney, play = confrontation.”

Frederick Seidel

J. Howard Rosier on Frederick Seidel’s Selected Poems ( Poetry Foundation )

Rosier does a great job bringing paratext to bear on the text itself, in this case interviews and Seidel’s other work.

“For a poet as revered as Seidel, there are scant mentions of turns of phrase being Seidelian, few poetic narratives or structures construed as Seidelesque. Chalk it up to the oddity of a formalist disassociating form from content; Seidel uses form like a hypnotist to mesmerize readers so that they are sedated, or at the very least put at ease, in spite of his content.”


Sheila Liming on Edith Wharton’s Ghosts ( Cleveland Review of Books )

Every editor’s dream assignment is a critic with deep subject matter expertise, and you can’t beat Liming—author of What A Library Means to A Woman: Edith Wharton and the Will to Collect Books —writing about Wharton’s ghost stories.

“Here are ‘fetches’ (ominous doppelgangers) of Celtic superstition, zombie mistresses rising from the grave, and ghost dogs, even. But for each of these paranormal threats there is an equally normal, equally mundane, and equally human villain attached to the story. In this way, Wharton’s Ghosts can be read and interpreted in concert with many of her better-known works, including novels like The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence , which tell stories of everyday human malice.”

Meg Ringer on Jon McGregor’s Lean Fall Stand ( Chicago Review of Books )

Some of the best reviews are the product of a critic who brings personal experience into their analysis of the book at hand. Ringer’s perspective on Lean Fall Stand is full of unique insights and emotional power. (Disclosure: I founded the Chicago Review of Books in 2016, but stepped back from an editorial role in 2019.)

“Though there was a time—before we met, before his diagnosis—when my husband traveled to Antarctica, Robert and Anna’s story is not ours. It is barely even close. But Lean Fall Stand reads like a meditation on the questions we all must someday face: Who am I? What can I stand? Who will be there when I fall?”

The Aesthetic of Resistance

Ryan Ruby on Peter Weiss ( The Point )

Speaking of hybrids between personal essays and reviews, Ruby’s experience discovering the work of Weiss during the 2016 election is riveting stuff.

“By creating physical objects that survive their creators and the world in which they were made, the artist helps to manufacture the continuity of our collective experience of historical time, and to the extent that it distinguishes itself, the work of art can become a symbol of that continuity. ‘Imagination lived so long as human beings who resisted lived,’ the narrator writes, but in the end what Weiss demonstrates in The Aesthetic of Resistance is that the converse is also true, and just as important, then as now, for what the imagination always has and always will resist is death.”

Justin Taylor on Joy Williams’ Harrow ( Bookforum )

I love a good delayed lede. In this marvelous example, the title of the book Taylor’s reviewing doesn’t even appear until more than 800 words have passed.

“I drove across the Everglades in May. I had originally planned to take Alligator Alley, but someone tipped me off that, in the twenty years since I left South Florida, the historically wild and lonesome stretch of road had been fully incorporated into I-75, turned into a standard highway corridor with tall concrete walls on both sides, designed to keep the traffic noise in and the alligators out.”

Lauren LeBlanc on Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You ( Los Angeles Times )

Ruffin’s fiction does a lot of interesting things with place, and LeBlanc smartly centers her review on New Orleans, as well as the way Ruffin subverts geographical expectations.

“Several recent story collections (Bryan Washington’s Lot and Dantiel W. Moniz’s Blood Milk Heat spring to mind) present geographies as characters. While Ruffin’s stories can’t help but transport the reader to humid, sunken, decaying New Orleans, it’s too easy to say this book is merely a set of love songs to the city. What makes such collections ring true is the way they subvert conventional knowledge.”

Victor LaValle on James Han Mattson’s Reprieve ( New York Times )

Opening a review with a question can be a powerful way to focus a reader’s attention, as LaValle does here with a compelling lede drawn from his own insights as a horror fiction writer.

“Why do people enjoy being scared? This is a pretty common question for those of us who write horror, or stories tinged with horror, and maybe for those who design roller coasters too. Why do some people take pleasure in terror?”

Adam Morgan

Adam Morgan

Previous article, next article, to the lithub daily, popular posts.

best reviewed books of all time

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook

best reviewed books of all time

Ginsberg, Didion, Sontag: Inside the Apartments of New York City Literary Legends, c. 1995

Literary Hub

Created by Grove Atlantic and Electric Literature

Advertisers: Contact Us

Privacy Policy

The Art of Living

Best Fiction Books: The 100 Best Novels Of All Time

Blog > Book Recommendations

Arthur Worsley

Looking for the best fiction books of all time?

You're in the right place!

Here's what you'll find on this page...

Why These Best Fiction Books Matter

Why include a list of the best fiction books of all time on a blog that’s mostly devoted to nonfiction book recommendations ?

Partly because there’s more to life than reading instruction manuals.

But mostly because devouring the best nonfiction AND fiction books is what keeps reading enjoyable and exciting. And keeping reading enjoyable and exciting is vital to reading more overall; it’s the secret to a voracious, sustainable and life-long passion for books.

The most impressive people I know always have at least one nonfiction and one fiction book going at the same time . That way, whether it’s an hour in bed, or 5 minutes in a line, they always have something perfect for their time, mood and appetite.

If you don’t normally read fiction books – give them a chance. You’ll learn as much (if not more) about being human from the best novels and poems than from hundreds of their nonfiction counterparts.

And if you already love fiction? Then you’re in the right place. I hope you find something below that touches and lightens your soul. Here’s the list of the 100 best fiction books of all time…

(P.s., If you enjoy this list, don’t forget to check out my lists of the best fantasy books of all time and best sci-fi books of all time .)

The 100 Best Fiction Books Ever Written (by Rank)

Why these best fiction books and not others? To stay objective, I rank all my book recommendations by what’s most loved (Goodreads rating), what’s most popular (Goodreads review count) and what’s proven timelessly relevant (first publication date).

This isn’t a whimsical list . It’s a data-driven, crowdsourced collection of the best fiction books ever published as decided by book lovers just like you. ( Note : To maximise diversity, I only include the top ranking book from any series in a list.)

And if you think something's missing?  I LOVE book recommendations so if there are any other best fiction books that you think deserve mentioning, email me and I’ll be sure to include them in the next round of updates.

Until then, enjoy this ultimate list of the 100 best fiction books of all time...

Books 1-10: The Top 10 Best Fiction Books of All Time

The top 10 best fiction books of all time are...

Best Fiction Books: Pride and Prejudice

Books 11-100: The Best Fiction Books to Read Next

Here are the next best fiction books from my database...

The 100 Best Fiction Books (by Publication Date)

One of my favourite ways to work through a reading list (both fiction and non-fiction) is chronologically.

It’s amazing to trace the development of and flow of influences in a genre or subject.

So – for the nerds out there like me – here’s a bonus list of the 100 best fiction books of all time above, organised from earliest to latest publication date…

More Book Recommendations

Enjoyed this list of the best fiction books of all time?

You'll also like TAoL 's other book recommendations...

More Best Books of All Time (by Type)

These are some lists of overall best books to read...

More Best Nonfiction Books (by Topic)

These are some lists of best nonfiction books to read...

More Best Fiction Books (by Genre)

These are some lists of best fiction books to read...

Or, you can read all my book recommendations .

Wish There Was a Faster/Easier Way?

Whenever you’re ready, here are four ways I can help you be more productive, find more balance and live life more on purpose…

Want A FREE 10-Step Speed Reading Cheatsheet?

Get a FREE 10-step cheatsheet to help you read faster and remember more of what you read based on the classic guide,  How to Read a Book .

The Art of Living will never share your email.  Unsubscribe easily anytime.

Want A FREE Character Traits Cheatsheet?

Send Yourself A FREE Printable Cheatsheet Of 800 Positive, Neutral & Negative Character Traits...

Want A FREE Printable Weekly Planner Template?

Send yourself a FREE  printable weekly planner template you can use to set every week up for success...

Want 6 FREE Interactive Memory Templates?

Get 6 FREE templates  & master the same tools used by Dominic O'Brien to become the 8-time World Memory Champion .

Want 5 FREE Printable Productivity Templates?

Includes : Wheel of Life, Habit & Value Trackers, Goal Setting Worksheet, Daily Planner and Guided Reflection...

Want A FREE Language Learning Toolkit?

Save thousands of dollars and hours with this  FREE 8,000-word language learning guide and toolkit ...

The Greatest Books of All Time, as Voted by 125 Famous Authors

Tolstoy holds an 11-point lead over Shakespeare in these literary opinion polls.


“Reading is the nourishment that lets you do interesting work,” Jennifer Egan once said . This intersection of reading and writing is both a necessary bidirectional life skill for us mere mortals and a secret of iconic writers’ success, as bespoken by their personal libraries . The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books asks 125 of modernity’s greatest British and American writers—including Norman Mailer, Ann Patchett, Jonathan Franzen, Claire Messud, and Joyce Carol Oates—“to provide a list, ranked, in order, of what [they] consider the ten greatest works of fiction of all time—novels, story collections, plays, or poems.”

Of the 544 separate titles selected, each is assigned a reverse-order point value based on the number position at which it appears on any list—so, a book that tops a list at No. 1 receives 10 points, and a book that graces the bottom, at No. 10, receives one point.

In introducing the lists, David Orr offers a litmus test for greatness:

If you’re putting together a list of “the greatest books,” you’ll want to do two things: (1) out of kindness, avoid anyone working on a novel; and (2) decide what the word “great” means. The first part is easy, but how about the second? A short list of possible definitions of “greatness” might look like this: 1. “Great” means “books that have been greatest for me.” 2. “Great” means “books that would be considered great by the most people over time.” 3. “Great” has nothing to do with you or me—or people at all. It involves transcendental concepts like God or the Sublime. 4. “Great”? I like Tom Clancy.

From David Foster Wallace (No. 1: The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis) to Stephen King (No. 1: The Golden Argosy , a 1955 anthology of the best short stories in the English language), the collection offers a rare glimpse of the building blocks of great creators’ combinatorial creativity —because, as Austin Kleon put it, “ you are a mashup of what you let into your life. ”

The book concludes with an appendix of “literary number games” summing up some patterns and constructing several overall rankings based on the totality of the different authors’ picks. Among them (*with links to free public domain works where available):

1. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

3. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust

4. Ulysses * by James Joyce

5. Dubliners * by James Joyce

6. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

7. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

8. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

9. The complete stories of Flannery O'Connor

10. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

1. Anna Karenina * by Leo Tolstoy

2. Madame Bovary * by Gustave Flaubert

3. War and Peace * by Leo Tolstoy

4. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn * by Mark Twain

5. The stories of Anton Chekhov

6. Middlemarch * by George Eliot

7. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

8. Great Expectations * by Charles Dickens

9. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

10. Emma * by Jane Austen

1. William Shakespeare – 11

2. William Faulkner – 6

3. Henry James – 6

4. Jane Austen – 5

5. Charles Dickens – 5

6. Fyodor Dostoevsky – 5

7. Ernest Hemingway – 5

8. Franz Kafka – 5

9. Tied: James Joyce, Thomas Mann, Vladimir Nabokov, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf – 4

1. Leo Tolstoy – 327

2. William Shakespeare – 293

3. James Joyce – 194

4. Vladimir Nabokov – 190

5. Fyodor Dostoevsky – 177

6. William Faulkner – 173

7. Charles Dickens – 168

8. Anton Chekhov – 165

9. Gustave Flaubert – 163

10. Jane Austen – 161

As a nonfiction loyalist, I'd love a similar anthology of nonfiction favorites—then again, famous writers might wave a knowing finger and point me to the complex relationship between truth and fiction .


This post appears courtesy of Brain Pickings , an Atlantic partner site .

Image credits: AP Images / Wikimedia Commons


A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

RD.COM Arts & Entertainment Books Best Books & Must-reads

50 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time

Jennifer Kushnier

Looking to read something enlightening, educational, and utterly compelling? These beloved, best-selling nonfiction books will do the trick.

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

Nonfiction Books Opener With 100th Badge

Popular nonfiction books that are as fascinating as fiction

It’s easy to get lost in a good book, especially if you’re reading one of the best fiction books of the year, a sizzling romance novel , or some seriously good  historical fiction . But the best nonfiction books can equally capture your attention and draw you into their worlds. These works can take many forms and focus on anything and everything—from true crime, science, history, and travel to gender, race, politics, and economics. They may offer a comprehensive view of a topic, provide essential tips and tricks that make your life easier, or even change the way you look at the world. But they all have one thing in common: Their authors bring the subjects to life and make them incredibly compelling.

Here, you’ll find the best nonfiction books of all time—the ones that will really make you think. Many of these titles were culled from the annals of Pulitzer, the National Book Critics Circle, the National Book Foundation, and influential best-seller lists. Some are classics that have a lasting legacy. Some are important works that help us understand humanity. Some blow us away with their beautiful storytelling. And some are just plain good reads—some of the best books of all time , in fact.

Join the free Reader’s Digest Book Club for great reads, monthly discussions, author Q&As and a community of book lovers.

Behind The Beautiful Forevers Book

1. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo (2012)

What does it mean to strive for a better life when everything is against you? How do we maintain our humanity in the face of poverty and longing? Boo delves into the lives of the families who live in the Annawadi slum, squatting on forgotten land owned by the Sahar International Airport in Mumbai and striving to make their lives better. As India transforms and modernizes, those who’ve resided in the traditionally “lower” castes have a glimpse of upward mobility and what it takes to get there. This beautifully written masterpiece was a national best seller, the winner of the National Book Award, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and one of Time ‘s Best Books of the Decade. Boo herself won a coveted MacArthur “Genius” Grant for her work. Behind the Beautiful Forevers rightfully earns its spot on this list of the best nonfiction books—it’s one of the books everyone should read in their lifetime.

Freakonomics Book

2. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (2005)

The concept of Freakonomics looks at a variety of behavioral and social phenomena through an economic lens. This best seller, which sold more than four million copies worldwide, spawned numerous other books and a podcast that changed the way we look at the world. The authors discuss the everyday workings of everyday things, like how to catch a cheater or why your new car is worth so much less the moment you drive it off the lot. With a following of readers from the New York Times , economist Levitt received a wide range of queries from both ordinary people and the likes of a Tour de France champ and the CIA. Here, with the help of Dubner’s humorous writing, he provides the answers to life’s somewhat-pressing questions.

Looking for your next great book? Read four of today’s bestselling novels in the time it takes to read one with  Reader’s Digest Select Editions . And be sure to follow the Select Editions page on Facebook !

Far From The Tree Book

3. Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon (2012)

The winner of more than a dozen awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award and Books for a Better Life Award, Solomon’s work draws on a decade of research interviewing more than 300 families. What he found is that when children are faced with adversity or exceptionality, their experience of being different within their families is universal. And he raises this question: Whether a child is deaf, gay, autistic, or genius, do we strive to raise our kids to be like us, or do we nurture their differences and allow them to find a community of their own?

As Solomon notes, while the apple generally doesn’t fall far from the tree, in these cases, they are “apples that have fallen elsewhere.” In family after family, Solomon found that love triumphs and that happy families who strive to accept these children are happy in many other ways. Ever wonder if you’re a toxic parent? See if you have any of these bad parenting traits .

Minor Feelings Book

4. Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong (2020)

Published mere months after the discovery of the novel coronavirus and just ahead of the resulting surge of anti-Asian violence and othering that Asian Americans experienced in its wake, this is an essential read for the moment we’re in. Korean American essayist Hong vividly portrays the “minor feelings,” like shame and depression, that are often part of the Asian American experience. Part memoir , part cultural criticism, Hong’s book touches on the all-too-common dismissal of these feelings in conversations about race and immigration. Minor Feelings resonated in a major way: It’s a New York Times best seller, National Book Critics Circle Award winner, Pulitzer Prize finalist, and soon to be a TV series. Next, make sure to check out the most anticipated new books to read this year.

The Omnivores Dilemma Book

5. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan (2006)

Named one of the ten best books of 2006 by the New York Times and the Washington Post , Pollan’s James Beard Award–winning book was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. The Omnivore’s Dilemma was one of the first critically acclaimed books to look at how we eat in terms of our species’ survival—both in terms of the health of our families and of the planet—answering the question, “Where does my food come from?” It’s essential reading for anyone concerned with the choices they make about what goes into their bodies.

Fast Food Nation Book

6. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser (2001)

Twenty years after its initial publication, Eric Schlosser’s engrossing exposé on the fast-food industry is as relevant as ever. A New Yor k Times best seller and one of Time ‘s 100 Best Nonfiction Books, Fast Food Nation reveals more than what’s in that burger you’re eating. Americans spend more money on fast food than they do on new cars and on any given day, one-quarter of American adults visit a fast-food establishment. The industry, writes Schlosser, helped transform the American diet as well as “our landscape, economy, workforce, and popular culture.” It has, in short, become inescapable. Schlosser, an adept storyteller, believes people should know where their food comes from, how it’s made, and what it’s doing to their community.

The Sea Around Us Book

7. The Sea Around Us (1951) and Silent Spring (1962) by Rachel Carson

The Sea Around Us , an overnight best seller and winner of the National Book Award winner in 1952, combines Carson’s thorough research (much of it from World War II–era submarine warfare) with her poetic prose. In wondrous detail, she describes the ocean floors and how they were mapped, how islands are born, and how tsunamis remind us of their destructive power. A decade later, Silent Spring , a forerunner for environmental activism, revealed the devastating environmental and human toll of excessive pesticide use, how pesticides contaminate and poison our planet , and how those behind the indiscriminate use of pesticides profit from it. Carson’s classic book spurred changes in legislation that affect our air, water, and planet to this day. Both books are as essential in 2022 as when they were first published.

Pilgrim At Tinker Creek Book

8. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard (1974)

Dillard’s book tells of a year’s exploration in Virginia’s Roanoke Valley, where Tinker Creek runs. In addition to capturing the beauty and horror of nature and the creatures that inhabit it through the seasons, it’s a “chronicle of solitude,” according to the Atlantic (though Dillard continued to live at home with her husband while she walked about the suburban woods) . Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1975, this book placed Dillard among the best nature writers, in the vein of Henry David Thoreau and John Muir. Her lovely writing captures the magic of being alone in nature. FYI, this isn’t a strict, factual account of her time at Tinker Creek but instead, as she once noted, “a novelized book of nonfiction.” Pilgrim should be the first of many Dillard books you read. These beautiful nature quotes will put you in the right mindset before curling up with this excellent book.

How The Word Is Passed Book

9. How the Word Is Passed by Clint Smith (2021)

Smith, a writer for  The Atlantic , provides a frank account of just how engrained the legacy of slavery is in the United States in this masterwork. Named one of the New York Times ‘s Best Books of 2021 and one of Time ‘s Best Nonfiction Books of 2021,  How the Word Is Passed  examines the many monuments, locations, and even whole neighborhoods that are inexorably tied to American slavery, whether overtly or less so, and how we as a country can and should move forward armed with that knowledge. It’s one of many new books by Black authors you should know about.

Grand Canyon Book

10. Grand Canyon by Jason Chin (2017)

Nonfiction books aren’t just for grown-ups. This book, targeted at readers ages 7 and up, is far from a dry national landmark explainer for kids. It boasts all sorts of impressively illustrated materials, like a fold-out panorama and a map. With its thorough rundown of the canyon’s wildlife and geology, it’s an especially great choice for kids interested in science and nature. For more impactful reads for the younger set, check out these children’s books about diversity .

Into Thin Air Book

11. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer (1997)

This riveting account of the 1996 disaster on Mount Everest that left five people dead is Krakauer’s attempt to provide insight into what went wrong and examine his own culpability. A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 and a number one national best seller that sold more than two million copies, it ranks “among the great adventure books of all time,” according to the Wall St reet Journal. If you’re not familiar with the story, here’s the Reader ‘s Digest version: Krakauer was sent on the expedition by Outsi de magazine to cover a guided ascent with seven other clients. While at the summit, a rogue storm blew in, ultimately killing three climbers from four expeditions and claiming the lives of three more within the month. This is an engrossing read, even 30 years after that fateful climb. Check out the best biographies you should have read by now.

The Second Sex Book

12. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir (1949)

This seminal text chronicles the treatment of women throughout history, particularly the imbalanced gender roles. And though it was published more than 70 years ago in France, de Beauvoir’s exploration of women’s objectified status, their “otherness,” and their absolute identity only in relation to men resonates with modern Americans. While her meticulous research does point to “essential” differences between men and women, she does not uncover a rationale for female inferiority, something women still grapple with today. Here are more feminist books every woman (and man) should read.

The Feminine Mystique Book

13. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan (1963)

Friedan’s book criticized the idea that women could only find fulfillment through homemaking and child-rearing and that their identities were limited to “happy housewife” or “mother.” More broadly, she explored the idea that these widely held beliefs made women themselves think they had no intellectual value outside the home, which ultimately served to keep them there. Friedan has been credited with sparking second-wave feminism, which focused on issues of equality and discrimination, and this book was named as one of the Library of Congress’s Books That Shaped America and one of Time magazine’s 100 Best Books of All Time. Here are more great books written by female authors that people of all genders can enjoy.

Unnatural Selection Book

14. Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men by Mara Hvistendahl (2011)

A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, this impeccably researched nonfiction book shows how the epidemic of selecting for boys has skewed the natural sex ratio (of 105 boys to every 100 girls) for the entire world. What started as firsthand observation of China’s “missing” girls led to similar observations in other countries. But the research led beyond one-child policies and orphanages overrun with girls to an even darker secret, including in the West, that involves sorting sperm and selective abortion. Hvistendahl warns that by condemning men to singlehood, we’re creating a world that will be dominated by male violence , prostitution, and sexual predation.

Dog Flowers Book

15. Dog Flowers: A Memoir by Danielle Geller (2021)

Combining images and text, Dog Flowers tells Geller’s personal story. She writes of the loss of her mother to alcohol withdrawal and the journey she took to learn more about her mother’s life. The search takes her to a Navajo reservation, her mother’s onetime home, where an uneasy reunion and revelations—equal parts hopeful and heartbreaking—await. A beautiful book by a Native American author ,  Dog Flowers explores themes of addiction, family, and community.

The Tipping Point Book

16. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell (2000)

Both The Tipping Point and Blink: The Power of Thinking Wit hout Thinking are essential Gladwell reads. Twenty years ago, in The Tipping P o int , he laid out what would today be called influencing: that singular moment when an idea becomes a trend, both in business and in human behavior. In exploring how something small can blow up, he also delved into how we can use it to affect positive change. In his second international best seller, Bli nk , he turns the lens inward and looks at how we make decisions and how to block out the noise and focus on the essentials. Why are some decisions good while others not? And why, he asks, are some people generally better at making them than others?

The Emporor Of All Maladies Book

17. The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee (2010)

Mukherjee, an oncologist and researcher, tells the gripping story of cancer and how it has affected human lives for thousands of years. He recounts the discoveries and victories as well as the setbacks and adversities. The book won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011, for which the jury called it “an eloquent inquiry, at once clinical and personal.” It was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and became the subject of a Ken Burns documentary on PBS. It’s a biography in the true sense of the word—an intimate look inside the “mind” of cancer in order to understand and demystify it—and Mukherjee raises the ultimate question: Is cancer’s demise in our future?

How We Die Book

18. How We Die: Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter by Sherwin B. Nuland (1993)

The one thing we all have in common is death. Nuland, who was a clinical professor of surgery at Yale University, attempts to demystify the process of dying by presenting it in its biological and clinical reality so that we can deal with what frightens us the most. To illustrate, he chose six of our most common disease categories because they represent “certain universal processes that we will all experience.” If we know the truth about death, he writes, we can prepare for it with less fear. Winner of the National Book Award in 1994, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and a nominee for the National Book Critics Circle Award, it’s a moving account of what it is to die our own unique deaths.

The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks Book

19. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (2010)

When Henrietta Lacks was dying of cervical cancer, her cells were taken without her knowledge or consent. Those cells, called HeLa, are still alive more than 70 years later and have contributed to remarkable strides in medicine, including the polio vaccine, in vitro fertilization, gene mapping, and chemotherapy. But at what cost? This number one Ne w York Times best seller, which appeared on more than 60 best-of-the-year lists in 2010, tells the story of Lacks, the journey of her cells, and what happened when her children learned of the medical theft 20 years after her death—and the millions of dollars they were excluded from. In this important and engaging read, Skloot turns a light on medical ethics and the long history of medical experimentation on Black Americans.

Between The World And Me Book

20. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2015)

At its most basic, Bet ween the World and Me is a letter to the author’s adolescent son. But Coates’s profound text goes beyond his own experiences about his place in the world as a Black man by eloquently weaving it with historical and current events as they relate to race. How can we reckon with this history—a history that was built on the suffering of others—and find a way forward? Called “required reading” by Toni Morrison, Betw e en the World and Me was the winner of the National Book Award, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and one of Time ‘s Best Nonfiction Books of the Decade. It’s an essential book about race relations in America , and one everyone ought to read.

Parting The Waters Book

21. Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954–63 by Taylor Branch (1988)

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, this is the first of three volumes by Branch. It details the early years of Martin Luther King Jr. and his rise to greatness as a leader of the Civil Rights Movement. But it’s more than a biography of King; it’s a civil rights history of the United States, starting with Brown v. Board of Educ ation in 1954 and ending with John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. Branch profiles the key players (Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, J. Edgar Hoover) and events (the Freedom Rides, King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the bombing of the Birmingham Baptist church) that came together to form the basis of a movement that still carries on today. While everyone knows who Martin Luther King Jr. was, here are some other important Black Americans you probably didn’t learn about in history class .

Mans Search For Meaning Book

22. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl (1946)

During his years imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps, psychiatrist Viktor E. Frankl developed the field of logotherapy that gave us Man’s Search for Meaning . Part memoir, part psychological treatise, this book and its reflections on humans’ purpose and drive are crucial parts of 20th-century literary thought. Despite its devastating subject matter, Man’s Search for Meaning is hopeful at its core. Here are other valuable Holocaust books you should add to your reading library.

The Warmth Of Other Suns Book

23. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson (2010)

Like many of the authors on this list, Isabel Wilkerson, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, is a talented researcher with a gift for storytelling. Her 2020 book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents , was an Oprah’s Book Club pick and a number one New York Times best seller. But her true masterpiece is The Warmth of Other Suns , which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was named on several best-of-the-year lists. For the book, Wilkerson interviewed more than a thousand families to find three that represented the untold story of the decades-long migration of nearly six million Black Americans out of the South in search of a better life. She beautifully captures their cross-country trips and how they set up in their new cities, bringing with them Southern food, faith, music, and culture. Wilkerson asks: Were the people who left the South better off for having left?

My Broken Language Book

24. My Broken Language: A Memoir by Quiara Alegría Hudes (2022)

If you like your nonfiction books to be vibrant and filled with poetic language, then look no further than the Pulitzer Prize–winning My Broken Language . Hudes, the screenwriter behind the film In the Heights , works magic with language in this memoir. She describes struggling with her identity while growing up with her Puerto Rican family in Philadelphia. It’s a powerful addition to the catalog of books by Latinx authors .

Notes Of A Native Son Book

25. Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin (1955)

This compilation of previously published essays from the 1940s and 1950s also landed on The Guardian ‘s and Time ‘s lists of the best nonfiction books of all time. The essays explore what it means to be Black in America, touching on Baldwin’s life in both Harlem and in Europe. Though written at the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement, his observations are still pertinent today. Baldwin was “one of the leading interpreters of the dramatic social changes erupting in the United States in the 20th century, and many of his observations have proven almost prophetic,” according to the publisher of a recent edition. Another book by Baldwin is considered one of the most controversial of all time .

The Souls Of Black Folk Book

26. The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois (1903)

Du Bois was a civil rights activist, sociologist, historian, and one of the founders of the NAACP. In The Souls of Black Folk , he focused on the experiences of Black Americans under the post-Reconstruction Jim Crow “color line,” which suggested that one’s skin color dictated which part of the train they could sit in or which water fountain they could drink from. Du Bois also explored the concept of “double consciousness,” in which he suggested that Black Americans must be aware of themselves both as to how their families and communities view them but also as how White America sees them, and he touches on how one carries on when the world looks at you with this double standard. This text is as critical today as when Du Bois wrote it at the turn of the 20th century.

The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up Book

27. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo (2010)

You’ve heard of it; now it’s time to give it a try. If you ignored the  Tidying Up with Marie Kondo  craze that swept pop culture in 2019, now might be the time to see what all the fuss is about. The book, which came out before the show, is a powerhouse self-help book about how prioritizing your “stuff” can change your life and your outlook on how you use your space. It fueled a movement across the globe through its groundbreaking simplicity.

The New Jim Crow Book

28. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander (2010)

This New York Times best seller, which spent nearly 250 weeks on the list, was named one of the best books of the 21st century by Slate and the Chronicle of Higher Education and won the NAACP Image Award in 2011. It also helped inspire the Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization dedicated to the U.S. criminal justice system. The book looks at the justice system as a form of racial control that ravages communities of color—and the crises faced by these communities as a result of mass incarceration and institutional racism . As Alexander writes, it’s no longer permissible to use race as a justification for discrimination, but by using the criminal justice system to label people of color as criminals, it’s “perfectly legal” to discriminate against them. The 10th-anniversary edition contains an update by the author that looks at the state of criminal justice reform today.

The right Stuff Book

29. The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe (1979)

Credited as a founder of New Journalism, Wolfe married traditional journalism—the reporting of facts—with the narrative elements typically found in novels and other fiction writing. In The Right Stuff, he recounts the USA’s first human spaceflight program, Project Mercury , from the seven astronauts’ perspectives. By focusing on the lives of the “Mercury Seven,” we glimpse not only the dangers of their mission but also the tolls that the Space Race took on families. The winner of the National Book Award in 1980 and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, this book was made into a motion picture and remains one of the most compelling stories of our attempt to leave Earth. Here are more books that were made into hit movies .

In Cold Blood Book

30. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (1965)

Capote’s stark examination of a brutal quadruple murder from the 1950s is a seminal true crime book , an essential read for anyone interested in the genre. This genre-breaking “nonfiction novel” from the author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s tells the true tale of the Clutter family murders and the subsequent trial and execution of the two perpetrators. In addition to retelling the facts of the story, Capote brings to life the emotional turmoil of the residents in the small Kansas town where the murders took place and paints empathy for the men who committed them. Capote was one of the pioneers of this form of narrative, or literary, nonfiction—what was called New Journalism. Originally serialized in The New Yorker, In Cold Blood was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1966 and was later made into a film of the same name.

Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil Book

31. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt (1994)

This engaging and beautifully written book tells the story of a murder in Savannah, Georgia. Or was it self-defense? Unraveling the mystery involves a rich tapestry, ripe with eccentric characters. There’s the genteel new-money antique dealer and the redneck boy toy at the center of the tale, the potty-mouthed transgender performer, a voodoo priestess, the society ladies of the Married Woman’s Card Club, and a bulldog named Uga. Steeped in tradition, with gorgeously painted scenic beauty making Savannah its own character, the book was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize that was later made into a motion picture.

I Am Malala Book

32. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai (2013)

Even more essential now that the Taliban is back in control of Afghanistan, Malala’s story is a must-read for book lovers of all ages and is especially empowering for teens. You’ll find a young readers’ version aimed at teens and tweens as a well as a chapter book edition for even younger readers. The Nobel Peace Prize–winning activist tells her own story, from childhood to the book’s publication, in one of the best autobiographies of all time.

Stiff Book

33. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (2003)

This often-hilarious tale of what happens in the “life” of a human cadaver is a compelling read. Roach’s storytelling leads us through the centuries and how cadavers have been a part of not only major medical advancements (such as heart transplants) but scientific discoveries as well (via a trip aboard a space shuttle). Cadavers have been used as crash-test dummies, and they’ve helped answer the mysteries of plane crashes. Roach, a science and humor writer, moves beyond the “ew” and makes this curious New York Times best seller well worth the read. If you enjoy humor writing, give some of these funniest books of all time a whirl.

The Shallows Book

34. The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr (2010)

The Shallows asks the question on everybody’s minds: As we embrace the Internet, what do we sacrifice intellectually? Carr provides compelling research that shows how the Internet is rewiring our brains, affecting how we communicate, socialize, and remember. We think we’re in control … but are we? “We’re too busy being dazzled or disturbed by the programming to notice what’s going on inside our heads,” he writes. A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and a New York Times best seller, this tenth-anniversary updated edition includes a new afterword that examines the effects of social media and smartphones on our cognitive and behavioral health.

The Making Of The Atomic Bomb Book

35. The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes (1986)

This sweeping literary account of the atomic bomb—from the discovery of nuclear fission through the conception of the weapon with the Manhattan Project to the devastating horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—won the National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. Though written like a suspense novel, this mesmerizing history of nuclear weapons still resonates 35 years after it was first published. Next, learn about the man who survived both atomic blasts —and lived to be 93.

A Breif History Of Time Book

36. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (1988)

Hawking’s prose is accessible and gripping, and it reads as if you’re talking to your favorite physics professor. He asks (and answers) questions like: Where did the universe come from? Did it have a beginning, and if so, what came before? What is the nature of time, and will it ever come to an end? It was a number one New York Times best seller and a presence on the London Sunday Times best seller list for 237 weeks. In the edition published in 2017 (the year before his death), Hawking updates topics that “underpin some of [his] proudest accomplishments as a physicist.”

Astrophysics For People In A Hurry Book

37. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson (2017)

From America’s beloved astrophysicist comes this number one New York Times best seller, which spent more than a year on the list and sold more than 1 million copies. Science frequently makes the headlines, but do you know what the discoveries actually mean? Can you talk about black holes, quantum mechanics, and whether life exists outside our own planet? With this title, broken down into manageable chapters that you can read and digest just about anywhere, you’ll know what those cosmic headlines mean and “be culturally conversant” in Tyson’s field—so much so that you may even want to read more. Tyson’s engaging tone is what’s made him both a regular presence on late-night television and a friend of Sesame Street ‘s lovable characters.

A Short History Of Nearly Everything Book

38. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (2003)

For a more humorous answer to how we got here, there’s Bill Bryson. The prolific, best-selling author—who has written about travel and nature ( A Walk in the Woods ), his own life ( The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid ), and language ( The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way )—is known for his entertaining takes on every topic he tackles. In A Short History of Nearly Everything , Bryson attempts to understand the universe, starting with the Big Bang and moving through the rise of civilization (and the coinciding extinction of several animal species), by interviewing the world’s top scientists in his characteristically charming way.

Annals Of The Former World Book

39. Annals of the Former World by John McPhee (1998)

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this compilation of four previously published works includes 20,000 new words. The conceit is simple: For one year, McPhee, accompanied by geologists, journeyed across the United States at about the 40th parallel. The result is an unparalleled geology primer of North America, plate tectonics (what it is and who figured it out), different geologic eras, the tensions between geological discovery and environmental preservation, and the geologists themselves. Written by one of our most revered and prolific writers, Annals is as sweeping a narrative as the topic it covers.

Finding Winnie Book

40. Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick (2015)

You’ve certainly heard of Winnie-the-Pooh, but did you know that this character was based on a real bear? Young fans of the silly old bear (and their parents) will be fascinated by this 2015 nonfiction book for kids written by the great-granddaughter of Harry Colebourn, the man who originally “found Winnie.” Colebourn, a soldier in World War I, bought a bear cub off a hunter and donated her to the London Zoo, where she’d be discovered by a young boy named Christoper and his father, A. A. Milne.

The Sixth Extinction Book

41. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert (2014)

There have been five mass extinctions on Earth in the past half-billion years, which caused the diversity of life to plummet. (Looking at you, asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs.) Scientists are monitoring the next great extinction, and we’re the cataclysm. Kolbert, a staff writer for The New Yorker, blends elegant writing with hard research into a compelling and entertaining read; each chapter examines an extinct species and how we learned about it, or a declining ecosystem where die-off is currently happening. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and one of the New York Times Book Re view ‘s Best Books of the Year, The Sixth Extinction makes us look at the disappearances happening right before us —and consider our lasting legacy.

All The Presidents Men Book

42. All the President’s Men: The Greatest Reporting Story of All Time  by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward (1974)

The exposé on the Watergate scandal and President Nixon’s role in it earned the authors, both Washington Post reporters, a Pulitzer Prize in journalism   in 1973. This book, named one of Time magazine’s 100 best nonfiction books of all time, went beyond the headlines, introducing readers to the “Deep Throat” informant and other behind-the-scenes aspects of their investigative journalism. Engagingly written, the 40th-anniversary edition includes an afterword on the legacy of Watergate, which is as pressing in our current political climate as ever. Part detective story, part political thriller, this book inspired a generation of journalists.

A Peoples History Of The United States Book

43. A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn (1980)

Zinn undertook the monumental task of rewriting the “official” history that’s been taught in schools: the history of the wars, the presidents, and the victors. Instead, he presents history from the eyes of the underdogs—the Native Americans, enslaved people, laborers, immigrants, and women—starting with the landing of Columbus and ending, in the latest edition, with President Clinton’s first term in office. A finalist for the National Book Award, it has sold nearly five million copies since its publication and has been heralded as essential reading for every American. If you love history, these are the best podcasts to listen to right now.

The Looming Tower Book

44. The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright (2006)

It’s been 20 years since the events of 9/11, and questions remain. Many books have been written in the aftermath, but Wright’s Pulitzer-winning account uncovers the five decades preceding the attack. He explains in sweeping detail the growth of Islamic fundamentalism, the rise of al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, and where our own intelligence failed to prevent the attacks. The book was a finalist for the National Book Award and was named one of Time magazine’s best books of all time, and it’s the basis of a Hulu television series of the same name.

Nothing Ever Dies Book

45. Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War by Viet Thanh Nguyen (2016)

Written by a Vietnamese-born, American-raised novelist, this finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award asserts that “all wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory.” The naming difference alone—the Vietnam War to us in the United States and the American War to those in Vietnam—shows how the war will be known and remembered. It’s a compelling look at how we remember the dead and how we remember the living and what they did during the war.

The years of Extermination Book

46. The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939–1945 by Saul Friedländer (2007)

As a follow-up to Friedländer’s 1997 volume, Nazi Germany and the Jews: Volume 1 , this Pulitzer Prize winner follows the trajectory of Jewish persecution and relocation to its terrible conclusion. Together, the two books form “the standard historical work on Nazi Germany’s mass murder of Europe’s Jews,” according to the New York Times. In this second volume, Friedländer weaves historical accounts of the war with hundreds of witness testimonies, diary entries (including those of Anne Frank), letters, and postwar trial transcripts. Friedländer, who was born in Prague but spent his boyhood in Nazi-occupied France, lays the blame squarely on the shoulders of Adolf Hitler, but he also touches on those who served him as well as the countries and leaders who resisted (and those who remained fearfully silent). This sweeping account reads like a novel, but it gets at the heart of this dark subject.

Sister Outsider By Audre Lorde Via Amazon Ecomm

47. Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde (1984)

In 15 essays, Black lesbian poet Audre Lorde powerfully addresses a range of important subjects, from sexuality to class to police violence. Much of its subject matter feels so at home in the conversation around today’s racial reckoning that it can be easy to forget it was first published in 1984. It defies being labeled with a single identity or issue; it’s a crucial LGBTQ+ book about Black womanhood, the call to action, and more.

Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee Book

48. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown (1970)

In this heartbreaking portrayal of how the West was “won,” Brown tells the tale of those who “lost” it. He used council records and first-person accounts of the chiefs and warriors of several Native American tribes to describe the massacres and broken treaties their people endured. Published in 1970, shortly after the horrors of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam shocked the nation, Bury My Heart brought home the “dark roots of American arrogance.” Brown reveals how the U.S. government lied and manipulated to take Native lands and emphasizes that Native Americans are anything but the “savages” depicted in Westerns. Called “impossible to put down” by the New York Times and named one of the 100 best books of all time by Time, it has sold nearly five million copies. After seeing the ongoing struggle for sovereignty play out in the fight against the Line 3 pipeline, which would cut through tribal lands, this book is as important as ever.

And The Band Played On Book

49. And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts (1987)

An international best seller and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Shilts’ story of the dawn of the AIDS epidemic is a shocking look at how the stigmatized virus was left unchecked to spread, with no safeguard for public health. It details the tragic irony that by the time America paid attention, it was already too late. In a thoroughly researched and compelling narrative, Shilts describes the discovery of the disease, patient zero, and the race to tame this looming threat. In talking about the virus, Shilts could have been speaking about the current pandemic: “There were the first glimmers of awareness that the future would always contain this strange new word. AIDS would become a part of American culture and indelibly change the course of our lives.”

Eats Shoots And Leaves Book

50. Eats, Shoots, and Leaves: The Zero-Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss (2003)

This New York Times best seller is more than just a grammar book. It’s a humorous and historical proclamation that proper punctuation matters. The title stems from a joke about a panda, which eats shoots and leaves—except with a misplaced comma, as in the title, the panda’s actions can be misconstrued. And therein lies Truss’s reasoning for standing up for punctuation: Without it, there’s no reliable way of conveying meaning. Though we might not speak in commas, em dashes, and semicolons, proper punctuation tells us how to read the same way sheet music instructs a musician how to properly play a song. Earning a spot among the best nonfiction books, it’s a must-read for grammar nerds as well as those who could use a little help in that area. While you wait for your copy to arrive, check out the most confusing grammar rules in English.

Jennifer Kushnier

We are no longer supporting IE (Internet Explorer) as we strive to provide site experiences for browsers that support new web standards and security practices.

We recommend our users to update the browser.

The 60 Best Audiobooks of All Time

Join Discovery, the new community for book lovers

Trust book recommendations from real people, not robots 🤓

Blog – Posted on Thursday, Apr 08

The 60 best audiobooks of all time.

The 60 Best Audiobooks of All Time

Whether you’re doing the dishes, running errands, or going for a long walk, audiobooks are a fantastic way to keep your mind active as well as your body. Especially in today’s busy and stressful world where there’s not necessarily time to sit down and read a physical book, audiobooks have become more in demand than ever.

If you’ve never gotten into audiobooks before, you may be wondering where to start. Well, you could start by listening to some free audiobooks to see if you enjoy the audio experience — or you could let us do the hard work of choosing for you! Below, we’ve gathered 60 of the best audiobooks out there, from classics and old standbys to new books every book club will be talking about . Whether you're interested in fiction or nonfiction, you'll find something for you. So make sure your earbuds are charged, because once you start listening, you’re not going to want to stop!

Best audiobooks in fiction

1) the dutch house by ann patchett, narrated by tom hanks.

Perfectly narrated by the iconic voice of Tom Hanks, The Dutch House traces the life of Danny Conroy. After a series of tragic events, siblings Danny and Maeve are kicked out of the glamorous house their father had bought several years earlier, the titular Dutch House. This series of losses shakes them so much that, no matter how much happiness and stability they manage to create for themselves in the decades to come, the two of them keep returning to sit together across the street from the Dutch House every time they see each other. What follows is a sweeping family story about loss, growing up, and finding your place in the world.

2) Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, narrated by Nicole Lewis

This thoroughly modern novel revolves around Emira, a 25-year-old Black woman desperately trying to make ends meet, and Alix, her peer by age but not by social status. Alix — white, married, successful in a private blogging enterprise — hires Emira to be a regular babysitter of her two kids. One night, in an effort to keep Alix’s daughter out of the house during a family emergency, Emira takes young Briar to the grocery store, where they’re confronted by a security guard wanting to know what this Black woman is doing with a white child.

Thus begins a plot that could only happen in the present day, as Emira struggles to navigate racial issues and potential social media scandals, all while trying to hold together a job, a social life, and some semblance of sanity. Narrated in Nicole Lewis' confident (and confidential) tone, Such a Fun Age is one of those best audiobooks that feels like listening to a friend confess the latest details of their own life.

⭐ For more books that discuss race, check out our guide to African American Literature .

3) Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, narrated by Jennifer Lim

Whether you’ve already binged the compelling Hulu adaptation of Little Fires Everywhere , or are just looking for an incredibly engaging story of family drama, Celeste Ng has got you covered. This story is about the Richardsons — a picture-perfect family from the picture-perfect suburban community of Shaker Heights, Ohio, whose lives are turned upside down when Mia Warren and her daughter, Pearl, move into the Richardsons’ rental property. These free spirits set off a chain reaction of events that will forever change how the Richardsons think about life, and the assumptions we make about what it means to do the right thing.

4) Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, narrated by Davina Porter

Time travel, the romance of the Scottish Highlands, and dashing men in kilts? It’s no wonder Outlander has been a bestseller since its introduction in the 1990s — and now gone on to become a hit TV series!

If you'd like to go back to the series roots, the Outlander books aren’t one to be missed — and that includes this audiobook. Starting when Claire Randall is thrown back in time to 18th-century Scotland, these books are equal parts sweeping romance and gripping time-travel fantasy. Spicy, sweet, and more than a little twisty-turny, these books will wrap you up in their world to the point where you’ll be sorely reluctant to leave .

5) Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, narrated by Nick Offerman et al.

You may well have heard people sing the praises of Lincoln in the Bardo before, and rightly so. This 2017 release swept across the stage with its fascinating exploration of the death of Abraham Lincoln’s son, Willie. Imaginative, supernatural, and a deeply compelling look at the loss of a child, this novel hit countless “best of” lists and took home the coveted Man Booker Prize.

However, if you’ve never experienced the audiobook version of it, it’s safe to say that you still have plenty more to discover about this book. Packed with an absolutely stunning array of 166 narrators (including such blockbuster names as Julianne Moore, Nick Offerman, Don Cheadle, and Susan Sarandon), this audiobook changes what it means to use a full cast. Breathtaking in its scope and brilliantly executed, Lincoln in the Bardo will stand as a pinnacle of audiobook performances for decades to come.

6) The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, narrated by David Pittu

In this coming-of-age novel by literary powerhouse Donna Tartt, we’re introduced to Theo, a 13-year-old boy who’s suffered a tragic loss. In the wake of this, he becomes fixated with a painting — an obsession that will ultimately lead him toward a whole new trajectory in life. The Goldfinch follows Theo into adulthood, and the seedy underbellies of the art world. Note that the audio version is a hefty time commitment, clocking in at over 32 hours — but the intricate character details, spellbinding language choices, and deeply personal suspense will make it feel much shorter.

7) Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, narrated by Cassandra Campbell

Written by a real-life zoologist, Where the Crawdads Sing tells the story of Kya Clark, a girl who raised herself in a North Carolina marsh after her father abandoned her. Kya has lived in isolation for years, surrounded by and learning from nothing but the wilderness around her. But her life is upended by different men, and what follows is a riveting mystery of new lessons, heartbreak, and even suspected murder. Filled with rich environmental details, this novel will immediately transport you to the untamed world of the marshlands, surrounding you with all the suspense and wonder they possess.

8) The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, narrated by Shayna Small

In The Vanishing Half , the Vignes twins split apart at age 16, each of their lives going in a very different way: one runs away and sets up a life far away from the small town she grew up in, passing herself and her daughter off as white; the other marries the darkest man she can find, and, years later, is still in the same town where she spend her childhood years. The story of what happens when these two sides of the family finally come together again is intense and compelling, ultimately deeply interrogating race relations in the second half of the twentieth century. All that would be reason enough to read this already! But this audiobook version is the cherry on top, especially thanks to Shayna Small’s rich, no-nonsense voice, which carries this multi-generational family saga forward with grace and pizzazz.

9) Milkman by Anna Burns, narrated by Bríd Brennan

As we all know, the best audiobooks are the ones with a unique voice — both from the author and the narrator. Milkman has both of these in spades.

The story itself is pretty straightforward: a coming-of-age tale, it's centered around an unnamed young woman living in Northern Ireland during “The Troubles.” But her character is unforgettable, as she tells us about her world through the lens of someone who manages the fine line of being distinct enough to remain compelling but relatable enough to feel like her experiences could belong to anyone. Tack on the biting insight and the beautifully authentic accent in which it's narrated, and you have an audiobook that's the sort you’ll want to lavish in, doling it out over multiple days so that your experience isn’t over too soon.

10) Sabrina & Corina: Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine, narrated by Almarie Guerra et al.

This emotional collection of short stories brings to the forefront voices that are often overlooked — specifically, those belonging to indigenous Latinas living in the American West. Centered in Denver, Colorado, author Kali Fajardo-Anstine brings to life eleven women, each with their own unique challenges and strengths. Yet through her words, she manages to capture a universality as the women in her collection struggle with abandonment, family, and their attempts to belong. With each story read by a different narrator, Sabrina & Corina is sure to captivate audiences, letting them see a piece of themselves even in difference.

11) Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, narrated by Dominic Hoffman

Sweeping across two continents, 300 years, and eight generations, Homegoing is a remarkable display of the power of narrative form. Starting in the 1700s, it tells first the story of two half-sisters: one, married off to a British slaver; the other, sold into slavery. Readers then watch (or listen, in this case) as this one decision plays out over centuries to come, shaping and impacting generation’s worth of lives and experiences. With Dominic Hoffman's expert narration guiding the way, this audiobook experience is not one you want to miss.

12) Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, narrated by Jennifer Beals et al.

Some stories just beg to be audiobooks, and Daisy Jones and the Six is one such book. Told through a series of Behind the Music-style interviews, this full-cast narration quickly brings you into the whirlwind history of the (sadly fictional) band Daisy Jones and the Six. From their chance formation when a music producer throws them all together, to the heyday of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, all the way to their sudden and dramatic split, this book will have you bobbing your head to songs that don’t actually exist, desperately wishing they did.

13) Circe by Madeline Miller, narrated by Perdita Weeks

They say history is written by the victors, but what women everywhere know is that it’s also largely been written by men.

Circe aims to change that — at least for one woman from Greek mythology. Considered a “minor goddess,” Circe is known mostly from Homer’s Odyssy , as the enchantress who turned his crew into pigs and then births him two sons. She’s often depicted as distant, cold, and fickle — but that’s only because you never got a chance to really know her. This powerful, fiercely feminist novel will cast its own special spell on you, as you dive deep into a world of gods and mortals, and the dividing line that isn’t always as clear as we’re taught to believe.

14) The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, narrated by Polly Stone

Another novel that seeks to center women in a narrative too-often overshadowed by men, The Nightingale tells the story of two sisters during World War II . One is a mother, forced to house a Nazi officer in her occupied French home; the other, a brash young woman who suffers a terrible betrayal and joins the Resistance movement.

Through beautiful yet accessible prose that's accentuated by Polly Stone's rich voice, Kirstin Hannah weaves a tale of two women struggling to survive a situation under almost impossible odds. With no good options before them, they must each dig deep and make the best choices they can under the circumstances — and the strength and resilience that fills this book will bolster your own spirits, reminding you of the courage you sometimes need to move forward.

15) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, narrated by Allan Corduner

Listen, when you tell us that a book is narrated by Death, we’re going to sit up and take notice. And we’re happy to say this modern classic rises up to the challenge with flawless grace, humor, and poignancy.

Set in World War II Germany, The Book Thief tells the story of a young girl named Liesel. In the midst of the horrors of the war, Liesel scrapes together a meager life, stealing books and sharing them with her neighbors during bombing raids. But through Death’s pointed observations and Allan Corduner's unforgettable narration, we’re given a story of heartache and hope, one that will forever impact all those who read it.

Looking for something new to read?

Trust real people, not robots, to give you book recommendations.

Or sign up with an email address

16) All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, narrated by Zach Appelman

A brilliant, beautiful novel, All the Light We Cannot See takes us once again behind the scenes of World War II, this time centering on a pair of children. Blinded at age six, Maurie-Laure’s father built her a scale model of the town they live in so that she can learn to navigate the city. Now, at twelve, she finds herself fleeing to a citadel to avoid the war.

Meanwhile, a boy from a mining town finds a valued place among the Hitler Youth for his ability to repair broken radios. What starts as two separate and harrowing stories eventually blends together in a single thread that's at once thought-provoking and heartwarming.

17) The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, narrated by Clare Corbett et al.

The runaway hit of 2015, Girl on the Train is a edge-of-your-seat thriller that follows Rachel: a commuter, taking the same route every morning, watching the same couple have breakfasts on their deck.

Sounds like a routine that could lull anyone to sleep, right? That is, until one day she witnesses something out her little window — something so disturbing she feels compelled to bring her knowledge to the police. What ensues is a haunting, engrossing story that will grip you until the end. Told by three outstanding narrators who perfectly encapsulate the suspense of this infamous story, the audio edition is definitely the way to go with this one.

18) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, narrated by Julia Whelan et al.

If you thought this book was electrifying the first time you read it, just wait until you hear it in the character’s own voices.

Gone Girl took the literary world by storm in 2012, but let's rewind just in case you somehow missed the hype: this psychological thriller tells the story of Amy and Nick Dunne, opening on their 5th anniversary when Amy goes missing. Told from both Nick’s point of view in the present and Amy’s diary entries over the last 5 years, Gone Girl is an unforgettable story full of twists, turns, and breathless realizations. And whether you love the controversial ending or not, this book certainly gives you plenty to talk about!

19) Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, narrated by Jason Reynolds

Speaking of shocking twists, think poetry can’t be as heart-poundingly tense as a good thriller? If so, you’ve clearly never read — or listened to — Long Way Down . This novel-in-verse, narrated by author Jason Reynolds, grabs you from the first line and holds your heart hostage until its breathless conclusion.

Our protagonist is Will, a young Black man whose brother was just murdered on his way home from the store. Will is convinced that he knows who did it, and according to The Rules, there’s only one way to respond: by taking his dead brother’s gun, and killing the killer. What follows is a 60-second ride down the elevator that sends Will on a riveting journey through his past — one that will forever change how he sees The Rules of the street, and his own place within them.

20) The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo

Another novel-in-verse, this dazzling debut by Elizabeth Acevedo is also not afraid of tough subjects. Xiomara, a young Dominican woman living in Harlem, is unsure how to navigate the world ever since her body developed curves. Turning to rage and poetry instead, Xiomara pours her feelings into her notebook — it’ll be fine, she thinks, so long as her extremely religious mother doesn’t find out about her feelings for a boy in her biology class.

Delving into divided feelings on faith, the pull of young romance, and Xiomara’s place in a world that she doesn’t seem to fit into, The Poet X is already a book that pulls you in and won’t let go. But when narrated in the author’s own voice, this story takes on a whole new level that you won’t soon forget.

21) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, narrated by Bahni Turpin

Since bursting onto the literary stage in 2017, The Hate U Give has become the go-to book for young adults dealing with racial issues in the US today. And it’s easy to see why: following the life of 16 year old Starr, the story begins when a cop murders one of her oldest friends right in front of her. Now Starr is put in the painful position of either staying quiet and letting the horrible assumptions people are making about her friend stand — or step into the spotlight, and become fodder for accusations hurtled at her own character. A poignant inquisition of gentrification, interracial relationships, and of course police brutality, The Hate U Give is a sadly timeless tale in both novel and audiobook form that will remain an important part of the literary canon for decades to come.

22) Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente, narrated by Heath Miller

What happens when you cross the sci-fi wackiness of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with the glam rock lifestyle of Eurovision? You get the delightful, bouncing disco ball of a novel, Space Opera ! Revolving around has-been rockstar Decibel Jones, Space Opera opens with the collective lifeforms of the galaxy making first contact with Earth — specifically, with Decibel, who they have selected to represent humanity in a high-stakes, intergalactic musical contest. How high stakes? Oh, just determining whether the human race will be welcomed into the universe or wiped from existence. No pressure.

Thus begins Decibel’s journey as he navigates the narrowing rules of the contest, but also his efforts to tackle his own self-doubt and the many (many) scars from his past. It’s a touching, deeply universal story of connection, perseverance, and what it means to be human. It’s also a story of aging punk rock stars, wildly imagined aliens, and the beauty and stupidity of life as we know it. In short, it’s everything you could ask for in a book.

23) A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine, narrated by Amy Landon

Mahit is an ambassador to the Teixcalaanli Empire — a newly minted diplomat, out on her first assignment. The only problem? Her assignment is to find out what happened to the previous ambassador, who died under, well, less-than-usual circumstances. What's more: her “imago," a sort of digital memory that each ambassador is supposed to pass on to the next, is missing.

Thrown into a city she doesn’t understand and surrounded by cutthroat, unreliable diplomats, Mahit finds herself in the middle of a political uprising, a murder mystery, and intrigue on all fronts. This stunning debut manages to balance all those threads with effortless grace, making A Memory Called Empire a must-read for any fan of politically-driven science fiction — and a must-listen for any fan of best audiobooks.

24) The Martian by Andy Weir, narrated by Wil Wheaton

Astronaut Mark Watney has a big problem: after being abandoned by his crew, he’s stuck on Mars, with limited supplies and no way to contact Earth to let them know he’s still alive. He’s already claimed the honor of being one of the first people to walk on the planet, but now it’s looking more and more likely he’ll become the first person to die on it. Not exactly the legacy he had in mind when he signed up.

And so begins a harrowing journey of survival and sheer stubborn-minded determination. Though narrator Wil Wheaton’s pitch-perfect blend of honesty and snark, you’ll find yourself completely engrossed as Mark encounters (and deals with) one disaster after another, the tension mounting at every turn, until finally….

What, you didn’t think we were going to spoil the ending, did you?

25) The Poppy War: A Novel by R. F. Kuang, narrated by Emily Woo Zeller

A brilliant and brutal fantasy grounded in Chinese history, The Poppy War tells the tale of Rin, a young girl from a poor province who shocks everyone (including herself) by landing a spot in her country’s elite military academy. As The Poppy War reveals the grim truth of war with unflinching realism, the internal and external struggles Rin faces will hold you hostage as she learns what it means to be a soldier, a person, and a woman.

26) The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi, narrated by Wil Wheaton

From science fiction powerhouse John Scalzi and acclaimed narrator Wil Wheaton, The Collapsing Empire is the first book in a series where humanity has long since abandoned Earth and set up an interstellar empire connected by something called the Flow. This natural phenomenon is what makes faster-than-light travel possible — but when humanity realizes that the Flow is shifting its location in a way that will cut us off not only from the rest of the galaxy, but each other, it’s up to a starship captain, a scientist, and the Empress herself to charge into space and figure out how to hold our species together.

27) A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, narrated by Roy Dotrice

This epic fantasy series needs no introduction these days. Following the lives of the Starks, the Lannisters, and the Targaryans as they fight for control of the Iron Throne of Westeros, this brutal series takes no prisoners. With its extensive cast, numerous weaving plot threads, and enough feasts and political intrigue to keep a kingdom busy, it’s no wonder this series has become synonymous with epic fantasy . And since the audiobook for the first book alone clocks in at a whopping 33 hours, there’s definitely no shortage of adventure to be found here.

28) The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin, narrated by Robin Miles

N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth fantasy trilogy does not mess around. Each book in the series won the Hugo award for “Best Novel” — the first time any author can claim that particular feat — and, listening to this gem of an audiobook, it’s easy to see why. The plot is engrossing and intricate (and impossible to condense into a paragraph summary), the characters are compelling and nuanced, and the prose is second to none. With multiple points of view, including one in second person, and a uniquely unconventional structure, The Fifth Season is so complex in its vision and execution, and yet so masterfully put together, that it will leave even the most jaded fantasy reader in awe of Jemisin’s skill.

29) Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett, narrated by Martin Jarvis

For a devilishly good time, you need look no further than Good Omens . This delightfully funny fantasy novel from the minds of Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett has it all: life and death, prophecies and chosen ones, angels and demons, witches and witch finders. When the Antichrist is born, demon Crowley is given orders to swap it with the son of a diplomat — however, Crowley quite likes Earth and would rather not see the End Times, so he convinces the angel Aziraphale to help him influence the child’s development. However, in a twist of fate, the Antichrist is mixed up at the hospital, and the boy they think is destined to end the word is, in fact, an ordinary child; meanwhile, the real Antichrist grows up in obscurity. It’s a topsy-turvy journey that only the keen prophetic eyes of Agnes Nutter, witch, could have foretold!

Best audiobooks in nonfiction and memoir

31) born a crime: stories from a south african childhood by trevor noah, narrated by trevor noah.

Long before he became the host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah was a young boy growing up in apartheid South Africa. However, Trevor wasn’t just any boy: with a Black mother and a white father, Trevor’s very existence in that time and place was illegal.

His childhood, then, became a delicate balancing act, one that would have brought devastating consequences if they’d messed it up. Under a brutal regime, intense poverty, and the constant need to look over his shoulder, it would have been understandable if Trevor Noah had grown into a suspicious and bitter man — however, as his memoir shows, he’s anything but. Full of warmth, humor, and the best of humanity, this endearing personal account — read in his own voice — will make you laugh, cry, and think, but most of all: hope.

32) Becoming by Michelle Obama, narrated by Michelle Obama

We know her, we admire her, we love her — and now, Michelle Obama invites the American people into her heart once more by taking us step-by-step through the events that took her from a young girl growing up in her parents modest apartment to one of the most influential First Ladies in history. Narrated in Michelle’s own warm voice, Becoming feels less like a memoir and more like listening as a wise and dear friend shares her life with you. If you’ve ever wondered what it took to do such a demanding series of jobs under the worst public scrutiny, while still maintaining your marriage, your sanity, and your unflappable grace, this book will show you the struggle that went into it. Uplifting, inspiring, and mesmerizing all at once, this book, like Michelle Obama herself, is a triumphant tour de force, and one of the best audiobooks out there.

33) A Promised Land by Barack Obama, narrated by Barack Obama

Turning from the wife to the husband, now we can hear in Barack Obama’s own words exactly what it was like to become the first Black President of the United States. But before A Promised Land gets into that, he sets the stage by giving you insightful details about his life as a young man, tracing back to the first time he felt a calling toward politics. This groundwork is not only fascinating in its own right, but makes the achievements that follow all the more impressive. With wise and detailed accounts, we’re taken on a journey inside the Oval Office like we’ve never seen, witnessing historic moments and the daily impact living such an historic life has on both him and his family. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in politics, American history, or civic responsibility — and, combined with Michelle Obama’s own memoir, makes for an intense double feature that you won’t ever forget.

34) Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller, narrated by Chanel Miller

If you’ve ever heard people wondering why sexual assault survivors didn’t step forward sooner (or never stepped forward at all), feel free to shove this book into their hands. Chanel Miller’s case should have been open-and-shut: she had all the “right” evidence she needed, and yet, as Know My Name reveals, her journey toward justice was anything but easy. For fellow survivors, this memoir may well be the voice they need in order to heal; someone strong, wise, and vulnerable, who tells a story so much like their own, who makes them feel seen, heard, and understood. For everyone else, they’ll learn what it’s like for these brave women, and the horrors they are often forced to endure in order to find peace. Haunting, honest, and real, it’s safe to say this memoir is one of the most important books to be published in the last few years.

35) Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay, narrated by Roxane Gay

Women everywhere understand (or, as is often the case, struggle to understand) the complex relationship between themselves and their bodies — so it’s no wonder that Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body is so easy to relate to. Even if you don’t see yourself exactly in Gay’s journey, there will still be pieces of it that resonate with anyone. With heartbreaking honesty and a beautiful author voice, Gay takes readers through every turn of her relationship with food, weight, and her own self-image.  One of our picks for the best memoirs of all time , it’s a book about losing and finding yourself, about the balance of self-comfort and self-care, and about the deeply personal ways that weight impacts a person’s life and relationships.

36) Untamed by Glennon Doyle, narrated by Glennon Doyle

It’s fair to say that most women can relate to the feeling of being trapped in who they are. Society drills a set of instructions into them from day one: sit up straight, be a good girl, don’t make noise, smile, find a good husband, raise a perfect family, handle it all with no apparent effort. And while it’s true that some women find happiness in this route, for many, it becomes a trap in a world that ignores whether this path is something they want.

In Untamed , we find the story of a woman who followed it for years, only to realize one day that it wasn’t making her as happy as it could. And so, with courage and a fierce desire to reclaim her own life, Glennon Doyle decided to start making her own rules for herself. Part memoir and part rallying cry, this book will comfort and inspire women all over the world who are longing for something more.

37) Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover, narrated by Julia Whelan

This uniquely fascinating memoir swept the literary scene upon its release in 2018. Born in rural Idaho to survivalist parents, Tara Westover did not set foot into a classroom until she was seventeen — but once she got a taste of education, it launched a thirst that sent her to Cambridge, Harvard, and all over the world in search of knowledge. Throughout her journey, Westover manages to make her unique circumstances deeply relatable, harkening to feelings and experiences that anyone can understand. Whether you’re looking for a powerful insight into someone else’s life, inspiration to pursue your dreams, or simply want to read a great story about one woman’s quest to improve herself, Educated will deliver.

38) Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling, narrated by Mindy Kaling et al.

Combining Mindy Kaling’s signature humor with surprisingly deep insights for a comedic memoir, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? offers a little bit of everything. In this collection, you’ll find random lists, tales of Mindy’s childhood and formative years, and a wide range of her opinions, including what makes a good best friend and what it means to be famous. Listeners will laugh and cry (and often, laugh until they cry) as Mindy takes them on a whirlwind journey through her life and her mind. If you’ve ever wished you knew Mindy Kaling better after seeing her shows, this is an auditory experience not to be missed.

39) Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris, narrated by David Sedaris

This collection of personal essays is pretty much a classic in the genre of humor writing these days. Covering everything from Sedaris’s childhood, to his attempts at being a performance artist, his time as a writing teacher, and even through a move to France despite not actually speaking French, Me Talk Pretty One Day is another brilliant example of why Sedaris is the king of his field. Each essay by itself provides enough laughs and insights to leave you both smiling and mulling over the story for days — add Sedaris' exquisite, wonderfully dry narration into the mix, and you have a one of the best audiobooks in nonfiction on your hands. Together, they create an experience that is uniquely Sedaris. The only downside is that you’ll wish this slim, 6-hour audiobook was at least twice as long.

40) Bossypants by Tina Fey, narrated by Tina Fey

What could be better than reading the hilarious, often outlandish memoir of the one and only Tina Fey? Listening to it narrated in her own voice, of course!

Bossypants tells the zigzagging story of a multi-faceted woman. Broken into a series of bitingly funny essays, it covers everything from her childhood, through her marriage and the arrival of her children, and dives deep into all the behind-the-scenes details from her time on 30 Rock and SNL. It’ll teach you about life, love, and what it means to be a boss. Women will relate so much it’ll often be painful, while men will hopefully get a glimpse into what it’s really like for women to live and work in a male-dominated world. But most of all, you’ll laugh. A lot. Seriously, this book is not something to read while recovering from surgery. For everyone else, turn up the volume and prepare to be entertained!

41) This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jerkins, narrated by Morgan Jenkins

There are few identities that get dealt a harder hand to play than Black women. If you don’t immediately believe that, considering giving This Will Be My Undoing a listen — in it, Morgan Jerkins takes you behind the scenes into the daily lives, struggles, and fears of Black women in America. This unflinching account is not afraid to show you what it’s really like or tackle controversial subjects. It’s the perfect balance of honesty and humor, perfect for Black women to nod along to enthusiastically, and for everyone else to sit back and see what Black women have been trying to tell you. It’s a vital listen for anyone in America today.

43) At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson, narrated by Bill Bryson

After 2020, so much of us have spent more time at home than ever before — but have you ever stopped to wonder what really goes into the choices behind what we consider a “home”? From living rooms to bathrooms to kitchens, Bill Bryson takes us on a whirlwind tour of both his home and ours, as he reveals all the social-political, cultural, and practical considerations that lead to the rooms and fixtures we’re most familiar with. At Home: A Short History of Private Life will bring a deeper appreciation for your home, and forever change the way you view the walls that protect you.

44) Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly, narrated by Robin Miles

Maybe you’ve already seen and loved the movie, or maybe you’re just interested in knowing more about the early history of space travel. Maybe you’re looking for the nearly-forgotten story of women whose voices were repeatedly silenced. Maybe you’d just like a really good book about a fascinating time and place. Regardless of your reasons, Hidden Figures has got your back. In this fascinating account, Shetterly lifts a curtain many of us never even noticed was there, revealing the hidden secrets of the women who held up the burgeoning space age without a lick of recognition or thanks. By turns inspiring and a call to do better, this book will entertain and educate all at once.

45) Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou, narrated by Will Damron

Everyone knows that the world of startups is a wild ride, but few companies follow as shocking a trajectory as the one documented in Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup .

Originally, CEO Elizabeth Holmes was seen as something of a female Steve Jobs, launching a company with such a unique and revolutionary vision that surely it was a guaranteed success. Promising a technology that would vastly improve the process of testing blood, her company quickly grew to a worth of $9 billion dollars. The only problem? The technology didn’t actually work. Bad Blood takes readers along the entire journey, tracking the most rollercoaster scandal this side of Enron.

47) The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson, narrated by Scott Brick

Speaking of gruesome murders, a world-renowned 1893 fair known as “The White City” was built in Chicago’s swampy Jackson Park… and Dr. Henry H. Holmes used the appeal of this magical world of wonders to lure in victims and become America’s first serial killer. The proprietor of The White City’s World’s Fair Hotel, Holmes created a horrific building that became a torture chamber with no escape.

In The Devil in the White City , Erik Larson deftly untangles this twisted tale, inviting readers back in time as the architects of The White City race to both complete construction, and stop a killer before the masses truly start pouring in.

48) How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi, narrated by Ibram X. Kendi

Even long before the Black Lives Matter movement, Black activists have been struggling for centuries to bring not only awareness, but true and lasting change to America. In How to Be an Antiracist , Kendi breaks down exactly how systemic racism works: the minor and major effects it has on Black people, the many ways white people are taught to ignore it, and, most important of all, active and concrete steps that people of all colors can take to fight this terrible injustice. Of course, it’ll take a lot more than one book to undo hundreds of years of damage caused by racism (and the damage will never be fully undone), but listening to this book, and taking its message to heart, is undoubtedly a good first step.

49) Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear, narrated by James Clear

Everyone wants to be healthier, happier, and more organized — especially in our social-media-saturated era, when it feels like everyone has their lives more put together than you do. We can all probably think of a dozen different habits we’d like to cultivate that will put us closer to those goals, but how do we go about integrating them into our day?

That’s where Atomic Habits comes in. In James Clear’s refreshingly approachable book, you’ll learn the shockingly easy way that anyone, no matter how busy their life is, can integrate new habits into their routine while excising the ones holding them back. Scientifically proven and loaded with inspiring examples of sports figures, entertainers, and industry-changing professionals, this audiobook will give you all the tools you need to craft your best life.

50) Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, narrated by Derek Perkins

Not a science book and not strictly a history book, Sapiens breaks the mold by being a little bit of both. In this fascinating look into humanity, Dr. Yuval Noah Harari takes us back 70,000 years, and covers extraordinarily broad terrain: from our species’ rise to dominance over our closest cousins, to the development of civilizations and empires, all the way up to a time when we can begin to manipulate our own genetic future. Through this uniquely overarching view, readers will gain a deeper insight into who we are as a people, as well as what our species may become in the future.

Evergreen classics audiobooks

51) to kill a mockingbird by harper lee, narrated by sissy spacek.

Some books have such an iconic setting that the accent of the location seems to waft up from the text. To Kill a Mockingbird is one such example — set in rural Alabama in the 1930s and centered on the unjust trial of a Black man, it would be impossible to imagine this book in anything other than the rustic cadence of the deep South. Luckily the narrator of this edition, Sissy Spacek, gets the voice of this story so perfectly, you’d swear you were listening to Scout herself. If you’re ready to fall in love with this classic novel all over again, you’d do well to pick up this audiobook. Listening to Scout tell you all about the noble efforts of Atticus Finch will have you fired up to fight for justice and equality in your own life, whenever there’s a voice that needs lifting.

52) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, narrated by Rosamund Pike

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a reader in possession of an audiobook app, must be in want of a Jane Austen classic. What better one to start with than (almost) everybody’s favorite, Pride and Prejudice ? True, the audiobook does lack the Colin-Firth-coming-out-a-lake appeal, but in this edition Rosamund Pike’s nuanced narration illuminates so many hidden layers, and brings the characters to life so well, that you’ll find yourself not even missing it — or at least, not too badly. At any rate, you could always pull up an animated gif on your phone to keep you company as you lose yourself in the many dramatic twists and turns of the Bennett sisters’ achingly romantic troubles.

53) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, narrated by Bryony Hannah et al.

Unlike most of the best audiobooks, this edition isn’t quite a straight-forward copy of the original, with a narrator reading straight from the book. Instead, BBC Radio produced a full-cast audio drama of Little Women ; but the resulting story is so engrossing, so thoroughly enjoyable, that we can heartily recommend the slightly abridged adaptation for those looking for a uniquely audio experience of this classic novel. Set against the backdrop of crackling hearths, merry singing, and any other ambient sounds that exist in the room with the characters, this fully-immersive edition will transport you away from the stress and busyness of 21st-century life to the simpler, quieter struggles and dramas of the March sisters.

(Want the full text? Many sites offer classic novels as free books online !)

54) Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, narrated by Stephen Fry

Is there anyone more suited to narrate a Sherlock Holmes audiobook than Stephen Fry? We think not. With his droll wit and the rich, rolling tones of his voice, Fry brings a distinguished air to these classic mysteries that would fit right in to the drawing room at 221B Baker Street.

Including not only the complete set of Sherlock Holmes stories, this special audiobook edition contains nine fascinating, insightful, and deeply personal introductions to some of the most iconic Holmes tales. Truly, we can think of no better way for new readers to familiarize themselves with the Sherlock Holmes stories — and for long-time fans, the extra insight is merely icing a cake you already know will be delicious.

55) And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, narrated by Dan Stevens

The original queen of intrigue and suspense, it’s hard to go wrong with any novel by Agatha Christie. But for audiobook fans specifically, we’d recommend And Then There Were None , narrated by Dan Stevens. Considered to be the best-selling crime novel of all time, this mystery centers on eight visitors who’ve all been invited to a small island off the Devon coast. The hosts are not in attendance, but have left strict instructions for how the days are to proceed. When an audio recording accuses each of the guests of murder, and then one by one they start being killed, it’s a race to figure out who is ultimately behind this vigilante-justice bloodbath — and why.

56) Beloved by Toni Morrison, narrated by Toni Morrison

It’s hard to imagine that anyone other than Toni Morrison could have handled such an emotionally fraught book with even half the skill she brings to the table. Telling the story of Sethe, a formerly enslaved woman who made the impossible choice to kill some of her younger children in her escape rather than allow them to fall back into a slaver’s hands, Beloved is a read that is equal parts painful and necessary. With a nuanced hand, Morrison captures the horrors enslaved people faced, the thought processes and decisions that no one should ever have to make, and the haunting effect that lingers in people’s hearts and lives even after their trauma has “ended.” Beloved is one of the best books of all time — fittingly, its audiobook is also one of the best audiobooks of the past few decades.

57) The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, narrated by Kenneth Branagh et al.

There are few children’s tales quite as enchanting as The Chronicles of Narnia . From the instant Lucy steps through those wardrobe doors onto the soft snow, readers everywhere find themselves transported. And it’s no wonder: a world full of wonder, magic, and adventure, who wouldn’t want to spend the rest of their lives in Narnia? And with an audiobook, you can get the extra comfort of sitting back and reliving the early childhood experience of being read to, when the world seemed to fall away and the thrill of a story took the place of ordinary life. This full box set contains the complete series, and features such notable narrative talent as Kenneth Branagh, Michael York, and even Sir Patrick Stewart himself. Talk about magical!

58) The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien, narrated by Rob Inglis

Speaking of all things magical, no list of best audiobooks would be complete without The Lord of the Rings . This time-honored fantasy story set the stage for the genre, though few books manage to meet the impossibly high bar it left behind. If you’ve ever wanted to escape the real world for a while, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option than this. With the first book clocking in at a svelte 19 hours, there’s more than enough time in this trilogy to lose yourself in the wilds of Middle Earth. Just be sure to pack a bagged lunch, as well as an elevenses, a nap cake, and a night lunch. After all, better safe than hungry!

Want to read even more of the best audiobooks without breaking the bank? Check out our guide to using Kindle Unlimited audiobooks !

Continue reading

More posts from across the blog.

The 30 Best Manhwa Of All Time

A handpicked list of the 30 best manhwas in a range of genres and styles, cover topics as far and wide as first loves to epic monster slaying to gaming.

The Ultimate Guide to Reading the Star Wars Books In Order

Say you decided you’d like to read all the Star Wars books in existence. You would find yourself reading for a long, long time. In other words, you wouldn’t have time to finish them all by the time Rogue Squadron hits theaters in 2023. The...

10 Exciting New Books From Up-and-Coming Authors

Looking for some new reads in 2021? Check out these up-and-coming authors in genres ranging from sci-fi to romance to financial satire.

Heard about Reedsy Discovery?

Or sign up with an

Or sign up with your social account

best reviewed books of all time

These Are 19 Of The Highest Rated Books on Goodreads

What are the highest rated books on Goodreads? The answer is harder to come by than you might expect.

Why Is It So Hard To Find The Highest Rated Books On Goodreads?

First, there is no easy way to sort books by rating in Goodread’s “advanced” search options. And while lists like Popular Top Rated Books  exist, they’re populated and voted on by users, not generated through an algorithm.

That’s how an obscure book like  NICU II and Victoria’s Incestuous Romance  gets to the top of Most Popular Young Adult Books or Best Popular Romance Books , even though it’s neither YA or romance, and each list is supposed to have a minimum of 100K ratings: someone decided to be clever and vote for it multiple times.

Goodreads also has a “shelves” feature to define book genres, but again, the shelves are generated by readers and subject to user error.

Some lists have questionable parameters, for example  Books With a Goodreads Average Rating of Over 4.5 and With At Least 100 Ratings isn’t terribly useful when the number of ratings is set so low . Can a book with 1 million ratings and a book with 100 really be considered as “competing” on the same playing field when it comes to ratings? After all, the more people who read a book, the more people there are who are bound to dislike it .

Also, bestsellers often attract readers who would never normally pick up that type of book. Whereas books with a lower number of ratings are probably being read by those who are already fans of the genre or topic, and therefore more likely to give it a good rating.

How we arrived at our list

That’s why when creating this list, we didn’t solely rely on Goodreads’s “most popular” lists, nor is this list mathematically scientific. We took into account the number of ratings, the ratings spread (i.e., what percentage are 5 stars?), and the genre, since Goodreads heavily favors fantasy and young adult (as you’ll see in a bit).

Not seeing some highly rated books on Goodreads you think should be on here? Chances are it likely didn’t have enough ratings, was by an author already on the list (we limited it to one book per author), or we simply missed it! Hey, it happens. There are a lot of books on Goodreads. Feel free to mention it in the comments.

The highest rated books on Goodreads

And now on to the list of highest rated books on Goodreads (according to our calculations)!

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

4.46 avg rating—1,744,568 ratings

A book club favorite , Stockett’s novel tackles heavy-hitting topics like race, gender, and class with a story that’s funny, heart-warming, and approachable. Despite the fact that it’s received a fair bit of criticism for its portrayal of African American women, it’s easy to understand why this book became such a huge bestseller.

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) by George R.R. Martin

4.45 avg rating—1,603,578 ratings

It’s not a surprise to see Martin’s epic fantasy series on Goodread’s Most Popular lists, thanks to the HBO TV series. But the fact that more than a million and a half people have read the books and the average rating is perilously close to 4.5 is a testament to Martin’s ability to tell a gripping tale and keep a plot moving over hundreds and hundreds of pages. No easy feat! Now if he’d only finish the next book in the series…

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2) by Sarah J. Maas

4.70 avg rating—257,774 ratings

If you haven’t read a book by Maas yet, maybe you should get on that. Her young adult fantasy series, A Court of Thorns and Roses and Throne of Glass, are both highly rated across the board, rarely dropping below 4.5. That’s probably why she’s been a Goodreads Choice Awards winner three times over.

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1) by Brandon Sanderson

4.64 avg rating—197,108 ratings

Sanderson’s epic fantasy series are all hugely popular and highly rated, but the Stormlight Archive fantasy saga appears to be readers’ favorite. The average Goodreads rating for the books published in the series so far is 4.6.

Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices, #3) by Cassandra Clare

4.59 avg rating—270,032 ratings

Clare is another YA fantasy author whose books are frequently found in the top rated shelves on Goodreads. You might be more familiar with her Mortal Instruments series, but the Infernal Devices books are her highest rated—so far!

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1) by Patrick Rothfuss

4.55 avg rating—521,085 ratings

Another epic fantasy told from the viewpoint of a wizard turned…bartender? Fans describe it as addictive, beautifully written, and inventive. Most of Rothfuss’s other novels are just as highly rated, including the sequel to this book, The Wise Man’s Fear .

The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #5) by Rick Riordan

4.5 avg rating—539,901 ratings

Whether you think of this book as a YA or MG fantasy, Riordan deserves to be on a list of top rated Goodreads books. He’s won the GR Choice Awards more times than any other writer—seven since 2011—and every book he’s written rates above an average of four stars. The Last Olympian is the highest rated book in his Percy Jackson series at 4.5.

As mentioned before, the vast majority of the books above are fantasy, either of the YA or adult variety. So we decided to expand our list to include a few other popular genres.

Highest Rated Literary/Historical Fiction

The nightingale by kristin hannah.

4.53 avg rating—655,848 ratings

Set in WWII France during the Occupation, this book will gut you. Guaranteed.

Top Rated Horror Novel

The green mile by stephen king.

4.43 avg rating—205,883 ratings

As you might imagine, a list of the most popular horror novels on Goodreads is basically a Stephen King wash out, with a couple of Neil Gaiman’s novels thrown in for some variety. The Green Mile is the highest rated of King’s many novels.

Highest Rated Comic/Graphic Novel

I included two here because I wanted to.

The Essential Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

4.63 avg rating—102,811 ratings

Who doesn’t love Calvin and Hobbes ? Judging by Goodreads, only 1% of the human population.

Death Note, Vol. 1: Boredom (Death Note, #1) by Tsugumi Ohba,  Takeshi Obata (Illustrator), Pookie Rolf (Translator)

4.42 avg rating—152,754 ratings

If you know anything about manga, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Death Note, which is by far the most popular manga on Goodreads and ranks among the highest rated graphic novel series on the site.

Top Rated Romance

Hopeless (hopeless, #1) by colleen hoover.

4.33 avg rating—367,809 ratings

TBH, I would have been shocked if Hoover wasn’t the author of Goodread’s highest rated romance. She’s a perennial Goodreads Choice Awards nominee and winner, and her emotional new adult romances have a super-loyal fanbase.

Top Rated Mystery

And then there were none by agatha christie.

4.24 avg rating—549,284 ratings

For some reason it’s difficult to find a highly rated mystery with more than 100,000 ratings on Goodreads. The Complete Sherlock Holmes could arguably be the winner at 4.5. But with nearly 5x the number of ratings, And Then There Were None from the Queen of Crime deserves to be crowned the highest rated with a 4.24 average.

(Looking for a mystery novel published in the 21st century? The Girl Who Played with Fire and Big Little Lies are both rated 4.23.)

Highest Rated Classic Novel

To kill a mockingbird by harper lee.

4.26 avg rating—4,636,296 ratings

Classics are another genre with typically low Goodreads ratings. Probably (I’m speculating) because so many people are forced to read them in school. With 4.6 million ratings and counting, To Kill a Mockingbird is the clear leader, even though it’s only rated at 4.26. Pride & Prejudice is a close second at 4.23. And if you’re an Austenite with nothing to do and want to start a social media campaign to jack that number up, who am I to stop you??

Top Rated Non-Fiction Book

Sapiens: a brief history of humankind by yuval noah harari.

4.45 avg rating—136,877 ratings

4.45 is a very high rating for non-fiction on Goodreads, which is somewhat comforting in that it suggests people are engaging critically with their non-fiction content. In Sapiens , Harari tells the story of how humans became what we are, starting with our prehistoric roots and ending with a view to the future. Most people call this book enlightening and informative, although some accuse Harari of being, “biased against humans and society” and not offering proper evidence to support his claims. You decide!

Highest Rated Memoir

Born a crime: stories from a south african childhood by trevor noah.

4.42 avg rating—128,738 ratings

Noah’s memoir of growing up mixed-race in Apartheid and post-Apartheid South Africa is the perfect blend of fascinating, funny, moving, illuminating, and entertaining as heck. Noah can tell a story like nobody’s business (hint: the more off-topic he gets, the better the twist will be at the end), and I learned so much from this book.

Born a Crime is also one of the top rated audiobooks on Goodreads.

Highest Rated Fantasy Novel (not mentioned above)

The return of the king (the lord of the rings, #3) by j.r.r. tolkien.

4.51 avg rating—545,469 ratings

Let’s face it, if you’ve gotten to the third LotR book, there’s no way you’re not giving it a high rating. You’ve come this far, Frodo!

Highest Rated YA Contemporary Novel

The hate u give by angie thomas.

4.56 avg rating—147,301 ratings

John Green and The Fault in Our Stars may own this category in terms of sheer volume of reads, but at 4.56 stars, The Hate U Give blows TFiOS out of the water. Last year’s Goodreads Choice Awards winner, The Hate U Give is a timely, unflinching, engaging, and über-relevant read by an author you need to have on your shelves . I imagine the rating will only go up after the movie comes out.

Highest Rated Book from 2017 (whose author has yet to appear on this list)

Dear ijeawele, or a feminist manifesto in fifteen suggestions by chimamanda ngozi adichie.

4.56 avg rating—22,586 ratings

Maas, Sanderson, and Clare all released highly rated books last year . Coming in right behind them is this non-fiction book by the author of We Should All Be Feminists . Inspired by a question from a friend asking for advice on how to raise her newborn daughter to be a feminist, Adichie offers fifteen essays on empowering little girls. Her suggestions are both general and specific and cover a wide range of feminist issues. Readers call this book relatable, readable, and powerful.

Want more Goodreads goodness? Follow the Book Riot Community page and get reviews, recs, and all the bibliophile discussion you could desire in one place.

You Might Also Like

8 Books That the Authors Regretted Writing


  1. Here are the best reviewed books of the week. ‹ Literary Hub

    best reviewed books of all time

  2. 100 Best Books of All Time

    best reviewed books of all time

  3. The Best Reviewed Books of the Month ‹ Literary Hub

    best reviewed books of all time

  4. Here are the best reviewed books of the week. ‹ Literary Hub

    best reviewed books of all time

  5. The Best Reviewed Books of 2020: Fiction Book Marks

    best reviewed books of all time

  6. The Best Classic Novels of All-Time, According to Readers

    best reviewed books of all time


  1. The Author of One of 2015's Best-Reviewed Books

  2. Elite Reviews October 2022

  3. Guessing the Top 5 Selling Artists of All Time!! Get Any Right? #shorts

  4. 🎄 My Favorite Books Of 2020 🌟📚 The Best Books I Read in 2020 ❄⛄

  5. top 3 horror books of all time

  6. Guessing the TOP 5 GROSSING MOVIES of All Time!! #shorts #top5 #movies #film #grossing


  1. 25 Great Book Reviews From the Past 125 Years

    Williams, who had won a Pulitzer Prize in 1948 for his play "A Streetcar Named Desire," reviewed this debut novel by Bowles, which went on to be acclaimed as one of the best of the 20th...

  2. Readers Pick the Best Book of the Past 125 Years

    The Fellowship of the Ring By J.R.R. Tolkien "The depth of lore for an imagined world and the story of friendship that it accompanies lay the foundation for the rest of the fantasy genre that would...

  3. The 20 most-reviewed books of all time on Amazon

    The 20 most customer-reviewed books of all time on Amazon: Book descriptions, provided by Amazon, are lightly edited for length. "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins Amazon Buy it here In the...

  4. 37 Best Books of All Time You Must Read

    37 Best Books of All Time You Must Read Discover what are arguably some of the best books of all time. These are books that everyone should read at least once in their lifetime! Go to previous promo Buy One, Get One 50% Off Manga & Anime Buy One, Get One 50% Off Books for All Ages Up to 30% Off Pre-Orders Explore All Kids' Special Offers

  5. The Highest-Rated Books on Goodreads

    This original Calvin and Hobbes collection, which was a favorite Sunday-morning comic for a decade, has a 4.6-star average from more than 130,000 ratings and is frequently lauded as "the best...

  6. Best Books Ever (103865 books)

    Best Books Ever. The best books ever, as voted on by the general Goodreads community. Note to librarians: do not edit this list's description. flag. All Votes Add Books To This List. 1. The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1) by. Suzanne Collins.

  7. Time Magazine's All-Time 100 Novels (100 books)

    As for the 'top book,' Time never ranked them, they just listed 100 books. On their website, the books appear alphabetically. David wrote: "Time somehow missed "Ulysses" and "Finnegan's Wake," which are clearly genius works of the English language.

  8. Highest Reviewed Book Lists

    Listopia > Highest Reviewed Book Lists Books With a Goodreads Average Rating of 4.5 and above and With At Least 100 Ratings 2,039 books — 3,625 voters Foreign Lands 2,323 books — 2,664 voters Best Action-Adventure Novels 2,287 books — 2,426 voters Conspiracy Fiction 1,135 books — 1,329 voters Best Trilogies/Book Series EVER!

  9. 100 Best Books of All Time of All Time (March 2023)

    Books 1-10: The Top 10 Best Books To Read of All Time The top 10 best books to read of all time are... 1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen ( FREE Summary) Pride and Prejudice is THE unforgettable, ever-popular and genre-defining love-story story of the 19th century.

  10. The 20 Most Popular Books of All Time, According to Goodreads

    The 20 most popular books of all time, according to Goodreads members Written by Katherine Fiorillo According to Goodreads, some of the most popular books of all time include "The Great...

  11. 12 Novels Considered the "Greatest Book Ever Written"

    The novel, which is very regularly regarded as one of the best literary works of all time, tells the story of a man who takes the name "Don Quixote de la Mancha" and sets off in a fit of obsession over romantic novels about chivalry to revive the custom and become a hero himself.

  12. Highest Rated Book Lists

    Highest Rated Non-Sequel Books (Average Rating 4.5+, 1000+ Ratings) 92 books — 94 voters Books With a Goodreads Average Rating of 4.0 and above and With At Least 30,000 Ratings 2,449 books — 66 voters Highest Rated Non-Sequel Books (Average 4.5+) With 100-1000 Ratings 12 books — 5 voters

  13. What Should You Read Next? Here Are the Best Reviewed Books of the Week

    Eleanor Catton's Birnam Wood, Jenny Odell's Saving Time, and Brigitte Reimann's Siblings all feature among the Best Reviewed Books of the Week. Brought to you by Book Marks, Lit Hub's "Rotten Tomatoes for books." * Fiction 1. Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) 11 Rave • 3 Positive • 1 Mixed • 1 Pan

  14. The 100 best books of the 21st century

    by Rebecca Skloot (2010) Henrietta Lacks was a black American who died in agony of cancer in a "coloured" hospital ward in 1951. Her cells, taken without her knowledge during a biopsy, went on ...

  15. The 10 Best Book Reviews of 2021 ‹ Literary Hub

    From longform online essays to crisp perspectives in print, here are my 10 favorite book reviews of 2021. Brought to you by Book Marks, Lit Hub's "Rotten Tomatoes for books." * Parul Sehgal on Soyica Diggs Colbert's Radical Vision: A Biography of Lorraine Hansberry (New York Times)

  16. Best Fiction Books: The 100 Best Novels Of All Time

    Widely acclaimed as one of the best books of all time, The Brothers Karimazov is a masterwork of philosophy and theology that explores the nature of faith, doubt and reason in a fast-changing world, through the lives, mishaps and thoughts of its unforgettable cast of characters - by novelist and philosopher Fyodor Dostoevsky.

  17. The Greatest Books of All Time, as Voted by 125 Famous Authors

    Top 10 Works of the 20th Century 1. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov 2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 3. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust 4. Ulysses * by James Joyce 5. Dubliners * by...

  18. 50 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time

    10. Grand Canyon by Jason Chin (2017) Nonfiction books aren't just for grown-ups. This book, targeted at readers ages 7 and up, is far from a dry national landmark explainer for kids. It boasts ...

  19. The 60 Best Audiobooks of All Time

    1) The Dutch House by Ann Patchett, narrated by Tom Hanks. Buy on Amazon. Add to library. Perfectly narrated by the iconic voice of Tom Hanks, The Dutch House traces the life of Danny Conroy. After a series of tragic events, siblings Danny and Maeve are kicked out of the glamorous house their father had bought several years earlier, the titular ...

  20. Amazon Best Sellers: Best Books

    81 offers from $8.46. #8. Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents. Lindsay C. Gibson. 16,171. Paperback. 80 offers from $6.99. #9. Baking Yesteryear: The Best Recipes from the 1900s to the 1980s.

  21. These Are 19 Of The Highest Rated Books on Goodreads

    Death Note, Vol. 1: Boredom (Death Note, #1) by Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata (Illustrator), Pookie Rolf (Translator) 4.42 avg rating—152,754 ratings. If you know anything about manga, you've undoubtedly heard of Death Note, which is by far the most popular manga on Goodreads and ranks among the highest rated graphic novel series on the site.