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The Greatest American Literature

The list of the United States' greatest literary works is based on the same extensive research and surveys carried out over the past two decades for our Greatest Literature of All Time list—with special attention paid to the views of American readers, writers, critics and scholars.

Within the American context, we have tried to cover all possible genres, cultures and times.

As with the Greatest Literature list, preference is given on this list to major works of creative literature—such as novels, plays, and collections of stories or poems—although some historically significant shorter works have also been included.

Latest update: July 17, 2022

The 333 greatest works of literature from the United States

Click linked titles and authors for details, critiques, text and other information.

1799
Arthur Mervyn
Charles Brockden Brown
United States
Novel
1819
United States
Story
1820
United States
Novella
1821
Poems
William Cullen Bryant
United States
Poetry collection
 
The Pioneers
James Fenimore Cooper
United States
Novel
1826
The Last of the Mohicans
James Fenimore Cooper
United States
Novel
1837
Twice-Told Tales
Nathaniel Hawthorne
United States
Story collection
1839
United States
Story collection
including The Fall of the House of Usher, The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall, MS. Found in a Bottle, and others
1840
Two Years Before the Mast
Richard Henry Dana
United States
Memoir
1841
The Deerslayer
James Fenimore Cooper
United States
Novel
1845
The Raven and Other Poems
United States
Poetry collection
1847
Evangeline
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
United States
Epic poem
1850
Nathaniel Hawthorne
United States
Novel
1851
The House of Seven Gables
Nathaniel Hawthorne
United States
Novel
 
Moby Dick
Herman Melville
United States
Novel
1852
Uncle Tom's Cabin
Harriet Beecher Stowe
United States
Novel
1855
The Song of Hiawatha
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
United States
Epic poem
1855–1892
Leaves of Grass
Walt Whitman
United States
Poetry collection
including Song of Myself; I Sing the Body Electric; O Captain! My Captain!; Pioneers! O Pioneers!; and others
1868–1869
Louisa May Alcott
United States
Novel
1876
Mark Twain
United States
Novel
1879
Daisy Miller
Henbry James
United States
Novella
1880
Ben-Hur
Lew Wallace
United States
Novel
1881
The Portrait of a Lady
Henry James
United States
Novel
 
Mark Twain
United States
Novel
1884
Mark Twain
United States
Novel
1889
Mark Twain
United States
Novel
1892
Tales of Soldiers and Civilians
Ambrose Bierce
United States
Story collection
1894
Pudd'nhead Wilson
Mark Twain
United States
Novel
1895
United States
Novel
1896
The Bostonians
Henry James
United States
Novel
1898
The Turn of the Screw
Henry James
United States
Novella
1899
The Awakening
Kate Chopin
United States
Novel
1900
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
L. Frank Baum
United States
Novel
 
Sister Carrie
Theodore Dreiser
United States
Novel
1902
The Wings of the Dove
Henry James
United States
Novel
1903
The Ambassadors
Henry James
United States
Novel
 
The Call of the Wild
Jack London
United States
Novella
1904
Cabbages and Kings
O. Henry
United States
Story cycle
 
The Golden Bowl
Henry James
United States
Novel
1905
The House of Mirth
Edith Wharton
United States
Novel
1906
The Jungle
Upton Sinclair
United States
Novel
1908
The Circular Staircase
Mary Roberts Rinehart
United States
Novel
1911
Ethan Frome
Edith Wharton
United States
Novella
1912
Riders of the Purple Sage
Zane Grey
United States
Novel
1913
O Pioneers!
Willa Cather
United States
Novel
1914
Tarzan of the Apes
Edgar Rice Burroughs
United States
Novel
 
North of Boston
Robert Frost
United States
Poetry collection
including Mending Wall, The Death of the Hired Man, After Apple-Picking, and others
1915
Spoon River Anthology
Edgar Lee Masters
United States
Poetry
1916
Chicago Poems
Carl Sandburg
United States
Poetry
1918
United States
Novel
1919
Winesburg, Ohio
Sherwood Anderson
United States
Story cycle
1920
Main Street
Sinclair Lewis
United States
Novel
 
The Age of Innocence
Edith Wharton
United States
Novel
1922
United States
Story collection
including May Day, The Diamond as Big as the Ritz, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and others
 
Babbitt
Sinclair Lewis
United States
Novel
1923
Tulips and Chimneys
e.e. cummings
United States
Poetry collection
 
New Hampshire
Robert Frost
United States
Poetry collection
including Fire and Ice, Nothing Gold Can Stay, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, and others
 
The Prophet
Kahlil Gibran
United States
Prose poetry
 
Harmonium
Wallace Stevens
United States
Poetry collection
1924
Billy Budd, Foretopman
Herman Melville
United States
Novel
1925
An American Tragedy
Theodore Dreiser
United States
Novel
 
United States
Novel
 
United States
Story collection
including The Doctor and the Doctor's Wife, The Three-Day Blow, The Big Two-Hearted River, and others
1925–1970
The Cantos
Ezra Pound
United States
Poetry collection
1926
United States
Novel
1927
United States
Novel
 
Men Without Women
United States
Story collection
 
The Bridge of San Luis Rey
Thornton Wilder
United States
Novella
1929
The Sound and the Fury
William Faulkner
United States
Novel
 
United States
Novel
 
Look Homeward, Angel
Thomas Wolfe
United States
Novel
1930
The Bridge
Hart Crane
United States
Poetry
 
As I Lay Dying
William Faulkner
United States
Novel
 
William Faulkner
United States
Story
 
United States
Novel
1930–1936
U.S.A.
John Dos Passos
United States
Novel series
including The 42nd Parallel, 1919, The Big Money
1931
Pearl S. Buck
United States
Novel
 
The Glass Key
United States
Novel
 
At the Mountains of Madness
H.P. Lovecraft
United States
Novel
 
Mourning Becomes Electra
Eugene O'Neill
United States
Play
 
Guys and Dolls
Damon Runyon
United States
Story collection
1932
Tobacco Road
Erskine Caldwell
United States
Novel
 
Light in August
William Faulkner
United States
Novel
 
United States
Novel
1932–1935
Studs Lonigan
James T. Farrell
United States
Novel trilogy
including Young Lonigan, The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan, Judgment Day
1933
The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
Gertrude Stein
United States
Novel
 
Miss Lonelyhearts
Nathanael West
United States
Novella
1934
United States
Novella
 
United States
Novel
 
The Children's Hour
Lillian Hellman
United States
Play
 
Tropic of Cancer
Henry Miller
United States
Novel
 
United States
Novel
1935
United States
Story collection
 
Awake and Sing!
Clifford Odets
United States
Play
 
Call It Sleep
Henry Roth
United States
Novel
1936
Nightwood
Djuna Barnes
United States
Novel
 
Absalom, Absalom!
William Faulkner
United States
Novel
 
Gone with the Wind
Margaret Mitchell
United States
Novel
1937
Their Eyes Were Watching God
Zora Neale Hurston
United States
Novel
 
United States
Novella
1938
Who Goes There?
John W. Campbell
United States
Novella
 
The Book of the Dead
Muriel Rukeyser
United States
Poem cycle
 
Thornton Wilder
United States
Play
1939
United States
Novel
 
Lillian Hellman
United States
Play
 
Pale Horse, Pale Rider
Katherine Anne Porter
United States
Story collection
 
United States
Novel
 
Nathanael West
United States
Novel
1940
Farewell My Lovely
United States
Novel
 
United States
Novel
 
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Carson McCullers
United States
Novel
 
Native Son
Richard Wright
United States
Novel
1941
United States
Novel
1942
Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes
Edith Hamilton
United States
Story collection
1943
Double Indemnity
United States
Novella
 
The Fountainhead
Ayn Rand
United States
Novel
1945
Cannery Row
John Steinbeck
United States
Novel
 
The Glass Menagerie
Tennessee Williams
United States
Play
1946
Lord Weary's Castle
Robert Lowell
United States
Poetry
 
The Iceman Cometh
Eugene O'Neill
United States
Play
 
All the King's Men
Robert Penn Warren
United States
Novel
1947
I, the Jury
Mickey Spillane
United States
Novel
 
The Pearl
John Steinbeck
United States
Novella
 
A Streetcar Named Desire
Tennessee Williams
United States
Play
1948
United States
Novel
1949
The Man With the Golden Arm
Nelson Algren
United States
Novel
 
The Sheltering Sky
Paul Bowles
United States
Novel
 
The Lottery and Other Stories
Shirley Jackson
United States
Story collection
 
Death of a Salesman
Arthur Miller
United States
Play
1950
United States
Story collection
 
The Martian Chronicles
United States
Story collection
 
Strangers on a Train
Patricia Highsmith
United States
Play
1951
The Illustrated Man
Ray Bradbury
United States
Story collection
 
Montage of a Dream Deferred
Langston Hughes
United States
Poetry cycle
 
From Here to Eternity
James Jones
United States
Novel
 
United States
Novel
1951–1953
United States
Novel series
including Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation
1952
Invisible Man
Ralph Ellison
United States
Novel
 
United States
Novella
 
Wise Blood
Flannery O'Connor
United States
Novel
 
United States
Novel
 
Baby Is Three
Theodore Sturgeon
United States
Novella
 
Last Seen Wearing...
Hilary Waugh
United States
Novel
 
Charlotte's Web
E.B. White
United States
Novel
1953
The Adventures of Augie March
Saul Bellow
United States
Novel
 
United States
Novel
 
United States
Novel
 
Nine Stories
United States
Story collection
including A Perfect Day for Bananafish, For Esmé—With Love and Squalor, and others
1954
Go Tell It on the Mountain
James Baldwin
United States
Novel
 
I Am Legend
Richard Matheson
United States
Novella
1955
The Complete Poems
Emily Dickinson
United States
Poetry collection
 
The Recognitions
William Gaddis
United States
Novel
 
The Talented Mr. Ripley
Patricia Highsmith
United States
Novel
 
Beast in View
Margaret Millar
United States
Novel
 
A Good Man Is Hard to Find
Flannery O'Connor
United States
Story collection
1956
Giovanni's Room
James Baldwin
United States
Novel
 
Howl
Allen Ginsberg
United States
Poem
 
Long Day's Journey into Night
Eugene O'Neill
United States
Play
 
Night
Elie Wiesel
United States
Memoir
 
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Tennessee Williams
United States
Play
1957
United States
Novel
 
The Wapshot Chronicle
John Cheever
United States
Novel
 
United States
Novel
 
Atlas Shrugged
Ayn Rand
United States
Novel
1958
Breakfast at Tiffany's
Truman Capote
United States
Novella
 
A Coney Island of the Mind
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
United States
Poetry
 
Anatomy of a Murder
Robert Lovesey
United States
Novel
1959
Henderson the Rain King
Saul Bellow
United States
Novel
 
Naked Lunch
William S. Burroughs
United States
Novel
 
A Raisin in the Sun
Lorrraine Hansberry
United States
Play
 
United States
Novel
 
United States
Novella
1960
United States
Novel
 
A Canticle for Leibowitz
Walter M. Miller
United States
Novel
 
Rabbit Run
John Updike
United States
Novel
 
Joseph Heller
United States
Novel
 
The Moviegoer
Walker Percy
United States
Novel
 
Franny and Zooey
J.D. Salinger
United States
Novel
 
Revolutionary Road
Richard Yates
United States
Novel
1962
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Edward Albee
United States
Play
 
A Wrinkle in Time
Madelein L'Engel
United States
Novel
 
The Reivers
William Faulkner
United States
Novel
 
We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Shirley Jackson
United States
Novella
 
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Ken Kesey
United States
Novel
 
Ship of Fools
Katherine Anne Porter
United States
Novel
1963
The Crucible
Arthur Miller
United States
Play
 
Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters
J.D. Salinger
United States
Novella
 
Seymour: An Introduction
J.D. Salinger
United States
Novella
 
Short Friday and Other Stories
Isaac Bashevis Singer
United States
Story collection
 
Cat's Cradle
Kurt Vonnegut
United States
Novel
1964
Herzog
Saul Bellow
United States
Novel
1965
Frank Herbert
United States
Novel
 
Everything That Rises Must Converge
Flannery O'Conner
United States
Story collection
 
Ariel
Syvia Plath
United States
Poetry collection
1966
Giles Goat-Boy
John Barth
United States
Novel
 
In Cold Blood
Truman Capote
United States
Novel
 
Flowers for Algernon
Daniel Keyes
United States
Novel
 
The Crying of Lot 49
Thomas Pynchon
United States
Novel
1967
Camp Concentration
Thomas Disch
United States
Novel
 
Dangerous Visions
ed. Harlan Ellison
United States
Story collection
 
The Outsiders
S.E. Hinton
United States
Novel
 
The Confessions of Nat Turner
William Styron
United States
Novel
1968
The Last Unicorn
Peter S. Beagle
United States
Novella
 
In Watermelon Sugar
Richard Brautigan
United States
Novel
 
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
United States
Novella
 
The Lion in Winter
James Goldman
United States
Play
 
United States
Novel
 
Dragonflight
Anne McCaffrey
United States
Novel
 
The Séance and Other Stories
Isaac Bashevis Singer
United States
Story collection
 
Myra Breckinridge
Gore Vidal
United States
Novel
1968–2001
United States
Novel series
including A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, The Other Wind, and others
1969
Ubik
Philip K. Dick
United States
Novel
 
them
Joyce Carol Oates
United States
Novel
 
The Godfather
Mario Puzo
United States
Novel
 
United States
Novel
 
Slaughterhouse Five
Kurt Vonnegut
United States
Novel
1970
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Maya Angelou
United States
Memoir
 
Deliverance
James Dickey
United States
Novel
1971
The Bell Jar
Sylvia Plath
United States
Novel
 
Angle of Repose
Wallace Stegner
United States
Novel
 
Rabbit Redux
John Updike
United States
Novel
1971–1983
United States
Novel series
including To Your Scattered Bodies Go, The Fabulous Riverboat, The Dark Design, and others
1972
Bless Me, Ultima
Rudolpho Anaya
United States
Novel
 
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Hunter S. Thompson
United States
Novel
1973
Dance Hall of the Deed
Tony Hillerman
United States
Novel
 
Gravity's Rainbow
Thomas Pynchon
United States
Novel
1974
The Dispossessed
United States
Novel
 
Enormous Changes at the Last Minute
Grace Paley
United States
Story collection
 
Dog Soldiers
Robert Stone
United States
Novel
1975
Humboldt's Gift
Saul Bellow
United States
Novel
 
Ragtime
E.L. Doctorow
United States
Novel
 
The Wind's Twelve Quarters
United States
Story collection
1976
Will You Please Be Quiet, Please
Raymond Carver
United States
Story collection
 
A River Runs Through It
Norman Maclean
United States
Novel
 
Interview With the Vampire
Anne Rice
United States
Novel
1977
Song of Solomon
Toni Morrison
United States
Novel
1978
The Stories of John Cheever
John Cheever
United States
Story collection
 
United States
Novel
1978–2004
The Dark Tower
Stephen King
United States
Novel series
including The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, The Waste Lands, Wizard and Glass, and others
1979
Legends of the Fall
Jim Harrison
United States
Novella
 
The Executioner's Song
United States
Nonfiction novel
 
Sophie's Choice
William Styron
United States
Novel
1980
Riddley Walker
Russell Hoban
United States
Novel
 
So Long, See You Tomorrow
William Maxwell
United States
Novel
1981
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
Raymond Carver
United States
Story collection
 
The Hotel New Hampshire
United States
Novel
 
Gorky Park
Martin Cruz Smith
United States
Novel
 
Red Dragon
Thomas Harris
United States
Novel
 
Rabbit Is Rich
John Updike
United States
Novel
1982
Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption
Stephen King
United States
Novel
 
The Color Purple
Alice Walker
United States
Novel
1982–1984
The Belgariad
David Eddings
United States
Novel
1983
The Mists of Avalon
Marion Zimmer Bradley
United States
Novel
 
Cathedral
Raymond Carver
United States
Story collection
 
Ironweed
William Kennedy
United States
Novel
1984
Bright Lights, Big City
Jay McInerney
United States
Novel
 
Glengarry Glen Ross
David Mamet
United States
Play
1985
United States
Novel series
 
White Noise
Don DeLillo
United States
Novel
 
Blood Meridian
Cormac McCarthy
United States
Novel
 
United States
Novel
 
Lonesome Dove
Larry McMurtry
United States
Novel
 
Contact
Carl Sagan
United States
Novel
 
The Accidental Tourist
Anne Tyler
United States
Novel
1985–1986
The New York Trilogy
Paul Auster
United States
Novel trilogy
1986
United States
Novel
 
The Prince of Tides
Pat Conroy
United States
Novel
 
The Sportswriter
Richard Ford
United States
Novel
1987
United States
Novel
 
Misery
Stephen King
United States
Novel
 
Presumed Innocent
Scott Turow
United States
Novel
 
Beloved
Toni Morrison
United States
Novel
 
United States
Novel
1988
Where I'm Calling Fron
Raymond Carver
United States
Play
 
M. Butterly
David Henry Hwang
United States
Play
 
The Joy Luck Club
Amy Tan
United States
Novel
 
Breathing Lessons
Anne Tyler
United States
Novel
1989
A Prayer for Owen Meany
United States
Novel
1990
L.A. Confidential
James Ellroy
United States
Novel
 
Get Shorty
Elmore Leonard
United States
Novel
 
Like Life
Lorrie Moore
United States
Story collection
 
Devil in a Blue Dress
Walter Mosley
United States
Novel
 
The Things They Carried
Tim O'Brien
United States
Story cycle
1991
Angels in America
Tony Kushner
United States
Play
 
Black Water
Joyce Carol Oates
United States
Novella
1991–
Outlander
Diana Gabaldon
United States
Novel series
1991–1993
The Thrawn Trilogy
Timothy Zahn
United States
Novel trilogy
1992
All the Pretty Horses
Cormac McCarthy
United States
Novel
 
The Secret History
Donna Tartt
United States
Novel
1993
The Shipping News
Annie Proulx
United States
Novel
1994
In the Time of the Butterflies
Julia Alvarez
United States
Novel
1996
Infinite Jest
David Foster Wallace
United States
Novel
 
Drown
Junot Diaz
United States
Story collection
1996–
A Song of Fire and Ice
George R.R. Martin
United States
Novel series
1997
Underworld
Don DeLillo
United States
Novel
 
Mason and Dixon
Thomas Pynchon
United States
Novel
 
American Pastoral
United States
Novel
1998
The Hours
Michael Cunningham
United States
Novel
 
The Poisonwood Bible
Barbara Kingsolver
United States
Novel
 
United States
Novel
1999
Interpreter of Maladies
Jhumpa Lahiri
United States
Story collection
2000
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
Michael Chabon
United States
Novel
 
United States
Novel
2001
The Corrections
Jonathan Franzen
United States
Novel
2002
Middlesex
Jeffrey Eugenides
United States
Novel
2003
The Kite Runner
Khaled Hosseini
United States
Novel
 
The Known World
Edward P. Jones
United States
Novel
 
The Namesake
Jhumpa Lahiri
United States
Novel
 
The Time Traveler's Wife
Audrey Niffenegger
United States
Novel
 
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
ZZ Packer
United States
Story collection
 
Vernon God Little
DBC Pierre
United States
Novel
2004
Gilead
Marilynne Robinson
United States
Novel
2005
The History of Love
Nicole Krauss
United States
Novel
2006
What Is the What
Dave Eggers
United States
Memoir
 
The Road
Cormac McCarthy
United States
Novel
2007
The Great Man
Kate Christenson
United States
Novel
 
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Junot Díaz
United States
Novel
 
A Thousand Splendid Suns
Khaled Hosseini
United States
Novel
2008
Unaccustomed Earth
Jhumpa Lahiri
United States
Story collection
2009
Wolf Hall
Hilary Mantel
United States
Novel
2010
A Visit From the Goon Squad
Jennifer Egan
United States
Novel
 
Freedom
Jonathan Franzen
United States
Novel
2012
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
Ben Fountain
United States
Novel
2013
Tenth of December
George Saunders
United States
Story collection
2014
Family Life
Akhil Sharma
United States
Novel
2015–2017
Broken Earth Trilogy
N.K. Jemisin
United States
Novel trilogy
including The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, The Stone Sky
2016
The Underground Railroad
Colson Whitehead
United States
Novel

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Greatest Novels of All Time

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