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Literature's Top 99

Frankly, if you're looking for the books to help you become well read, you're better off dipping into our chronological list of the Greatest LIterature of All Time. More diversity, more to discover, more to enjoy.

But we get it. The nearly thousand entries there can be daunting. Here's a stripped down list that's easier to handle.

The ninety-nine works below are all taken from that larger list—itself selected from hundreds of sources from around the world. The points system used in "Creating the Greatest Literature of All Time list" is adopted here to rank them. The points for each of the top titles below are indicated, to give you an idea of their relative ratings.

Are these really the ninety-nine best, greatest or most honoured works of all time? Maybe. But the list purports to shows you only the consensus on the works most acclaimed by readers, writers, critics and scholars as of this moment.

As evaluations change over time, you'll see this list adjusting as well. Will Don Quixote, Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary keep contending for the top spot as the world's favourite novel? Will more diverse and modern writers break into the top ranks of the established canon? Is The Maltest Falcon really better than Great Expectations? Will Nineteen Eighty-Four still rank high on the list as we approach 2084?

In the meantime here are the ninety-nine currently most noted literary works to help you along in your project of reading the greatest books ever. Or just to give you something to argue about.   

Latest revision: June 14, 2022

The Top 99 greatest works of literature of all time

Click linked titles and authors for details, critiques and other comments.

2. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy, novel 325
3. Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert, novel 308
4. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy, novel 298
5. Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky, novel 280
6. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov, novel 274
7. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain, novel 267
9. The Odyssey, Homer, poem 248
10. Oedipus Rex, Sophocles, play 234
12. Iliad, Homer, poem 224
14. Middlemarch, George Eliot, novel 214
15. The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky, novel 214
16. The Divine Comedy, Alighieri Dante, poem 213
17. Moby Dick, Herman Melville, novel 212
18. Ulysses, James Joyce, novel 210
19. In Search of Lost Time, Marcel Proust, novels 208
21. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez, novel 197
23. The Tale of Genji, Murasaki Shikibu, prose narrative 190
25. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe, novel 185
26. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, novel 181
27. Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift, novel 180
28. The Outsider, Albert Camus, novella 176
      Beloved, Toni Morrison, novel 176
31. Antigone, Sophocles, play 168
32. Candide, François-Marie Arouet de Voltaire, novella 161
33. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie, novel 160
34. A Doll's House, Henrik Ibsen, play 157
36. Faust, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, play 153
      Animal Farm, George Orwell, novella 151
      The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer, poems and prose 151
40. The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka, novella 150
41. Aeneid, Virgil, poem 146
42. Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison, novel 144
      The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James, novel 144
44. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, novel 142
45. Les Misérables, Victor-Marie Hugo, novel 141
48. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë, novel 135
      To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee, novel 134
      The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway, novella 134
52. The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner, novel 133
      Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf, novel 133
54. Waiting for Godot Samuel Beckett, play 132
55. The Time Machine, H.G. Wells, novella 131
      The Trial, Franz Kafka, novel 131
57. Medea, Euripides, play 130
      The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Leo Tolstoy, novella 130
61. The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco, novel 125
62. Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien, novel 123
63. The War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells, novel 122
      Dead Souls, Nikolai Gogol, novel 118
      The Idiot, Fyodor Dostoevsky, novel 117
68. Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys, novel 115
      Dracula, Bram Stoker, novel 114
      The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing, novel 114
73. A Passage to India, E.M. Forster, novel 112
74. Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe, novel 111
75. The Red and the Black, Stendhal, novel 110
      The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins, novel 110
77. One Thousand and One Nights, Anonymous, stories 109
      The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger, novel 109
79. One Day in the lIfe of Ivan Denisovich, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, novella 108
82. Life of Pi, Yann Martel, novel 103
      Emma, Jane Austen, novel 103
84. The Sorrows of Young Werther, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, novel 102
85. The Decameron, Gikovanni Boccaccio, story cycle 101
86. Tom Jones, Henry Fielding, novel 100
      A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess, novel 100
      Brave New World, Aldous Huxley, novel 100
90. Eugene Onegin, Alexander Pushkin, poem 98
91. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray, novel 97
      A Sentimental Education, Gustav Flaubert, novel 97
93. The Cherry Orchard, Anton Chekhov, play 96
      Macbeth, William Shakespeare, play 96
96. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier, novel 93
      Metamorphoses, Ovid, poem 93
      The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde, play 93
99. Old Goriot, Honoré de Balzac, novel 92

 
Contenders

That's the current top 99 but, in case you're interested, here are a dozen more titles that either just missed the cut or slipped off earlier versions of this list and—who knows?—may appear on future editions of this list:

      Fathers and Sons, Ivan Turgenev, novel
      Mahābhārata, Vyasa, epic poem
      On the Road, Jack Kerouac, novel
      Atonement, Ian McEwan, novel
      Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck, novella
      The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Agatha Christie, novel
      Fictions, Jorge Luis Borges, story collection
      The Tempest, William Shakespeare, play
      The Life of Gargantua and Pantagruel, Francois Rabelais, novel series