World’s Greatest Books

Below is a table that is like a “best sellers” list, except that it only includes books that were published at least 50 years ago. Many of today’s best-selling novels will be forgotten in a few decades. The test of a really good novel is that people continue to read it decades after it was written. Based on this idea, the following table presents a list of novels that were written at least 50 years ago and that continue to be widely read. The books are arranged according to their popularity (how many people have read them) on the website LibraryThing, which tracks the reading habits of millions of users.

Rank Title Author Publication Year
1 The Lord of the Rings Trilogy J. R. R. Tolkien  1954-55
2 The Hobbit J. R. R. Tolkien 1937
3 1984 George Orwell 1949
4 Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen 1813
5 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee 1960
6 The Catcher in the Rye J. D. Salinger 1951
7 The Great Gastby F. Scott Fitzgerald 1925
8 Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë 1847
9 Animal Farm George Orwell 1945
10 Brave New World Aldous Huxley 1932
11 Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury 1953
12 Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë 1845-46
13 Lord of the Flies William Golding 1954
14 The Odyssey Homer 700 BC
 15 The Complete Works of Shakespeare William Shakespeare 1621
 16 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass Lewis Carroll 1871
17 One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez 1967
18 Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoevsky 1866
19 Catch-22 Joseph Heller 1961
20 Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain 1885
21  The Chronicles of Narnia C. S. Lewis 1950-1956
22 The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 1943
23 Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck 1937
24 Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy 1873-1877
25 Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen 1811
26 Frankenstein Mary Shelley 1818
27 Emma Jane Austen 1815
28 Great Expectations Charles Dickens 1861
29 The Iliad Homer 700 BC
30 Dune Frank Herbert 1965
31 The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde 1890
32 The Stranger Albert Camus 1942
33 A Wrinkle in Time Madeleine L’Engle 1962
34 The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne 1850
35 A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens 1859
36 The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck 1939
37 Lolita Vladimir Nabokov 1955
38 Moby Dick Herman Melville 1851
39 Dracula Bram Stoker 1897
40 Charlotte’s Web E. B. White 1952
41 On the Road Jack Kerouac 1957
42 The Secret Garden Frances Hodgson Burnett 1911
43 The Old Man and The Sea Ernest Hemingway 1952
44 The Brothers Karamazov Fyodor Dostoevsky 1879-1880
45 Treasure Island Robert Louis Stevenson 1883
46 The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath 1963
47 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Mark Twain 1876
48 Siddhartha Hermann Hesse 1951
49 Persuasion Jane Austen 1817
50 Don Quixote Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra 1615
51 War and Peace Leo Tolstoy 1867
52 A Clockwork Orange Anthony Burgess 1962
53 Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl Anne Frank 1947
54 Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert 1856
55 Night Elie Wiesel 1956
56 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Ken Kesey 1962
57 Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand 1957
58 Ulysses James Joyce 1918-1920
59 Mere Christianity C. S. Lewis 1952
60 Gone With the Wind Margaret Mitchell 1936
61 Les Misérables Victor Hugo 1862
62 The Sun Also Rises Ernest Hemingway 1926
63 Cat’s Cradle Kurt Vonnegut 1963
64 In Cold Blood Truman Capote 1966
65 Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad 1899
66 Anne of Green Gables Lucy Maud Montgomery 1908
67 Beowulf Anonymous 1025
68 The Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas 1844
69 East of Eden John Steinbeck 1952
70 The Inferno Dante 1320
71 A Farewell to Arms Ernest Hemingway 1929
72 Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak 1963
73 Mansfield Park Jane Austen 1814
74 A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man James Joyce 1916
75 Robinson Crusoe Daniel Defoe 1719
76 Oliver Twist Charles Dickens 1837-39
77 The Prince Niccolò Machiavelli 1532
78 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl 1964
79 The Aeneid Virgil 19 BC
80 Gulliver’s Travels Jonathan Swift 1726
81 The Canterbury Tales Geoffrey Chaucer 1400
82 The Fountainhead Ayn Rand 1943
83 The Elements of Style William Strunk 1918
84 Little Women / Good Wives Louisa May Alcott 1869
85 Northanger Abbey Jane Austen 1803
86 A Christmas Carol Charles Dickens 1843
87 The Republic Plato 380 BC
88 Candide Voltaire 1759
89 Mrs. Dalloway Virginia Woolf 1925
90 David Copperfield Charles Dickens 1849-50
91 The Trial Franz Kafka 1914-15
92 The Three Musketeers Alexander Dumas 1844
93 The Art of War Sun Tzu 450 BC
94 The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame 1908
95 Confessions Augustine 397-400
96 Dubliners James Joyce 1914
97 Foundation Trilogy Isaac Asimov 1951-53
98 Tess of the D’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy 1891
99 The Master and Margarita Mikhail Bulgakov 1928-1940
100 Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe 1958
101 Rebecca Daphne du Maurier 1938
102 Commedia Dante 1308-1321
103 For Whom the Bell Tolls Ernest Hemingway 1940
104 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz L. Frank Baum 1900
105 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Philip K. Dick 1968
106 The Plague Albert Camus 1947
107 To the Lighthouse Virginia Woolf 1927
108 The Outsiders S. E. Hinton 1967
109 Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston 1937
110 All Quiet on the Western Front Erich Maria Remarque 1929
111 The Sound and the Fury William Faulkner 1929
112 And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie Agatha Christie 1939
113 Tao Te Ching Lao Tzu 550 BC
114 Middlemarch George Eliot 1871-72
115 The Time Machine H. G. Wells 1895