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The Top 99 Greatest Works of Literature

(See also The Top 99 Greatest Novels)

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 there, more to discover, more to enjoy.

But we get it. The nine hundred and ninety-nine entries on that list can be daunting. So here's a stripped down and ranked version that's easier to handle.

These ninety-nine "top" works are all taken from that larger list—itself selected from thousands of titles and  hundreds of sources consulted around the world. A complicated algorithm has been used to determine the rankings. (Read all about the process in "Creating the Greatest Literature of All Time list" .)

So, are these really the very best, greatest or most acclaimed works of all time? Maybe. But the list purports to show you only a current consensus of readers, writers, critics and scholars, which can change over time.

You'll see this list adjusting over time as well. So if you're citing it in your own work, please note the latest update. 

And as always, enjoy reading the greatest literature the world has to offer.

Latest update: September 5, 2023

2. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy, novel, 1865–1869
3. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy, novel, 1874
4. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov, novel, 1955
5. Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert, novel, 1857
6. The Odyssey, Homer, poem, c. 750 BCE
7. Iliad, Homer, poem, c. 750 BCE
9. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez, novel, 1967
10. The Divine Comedy, Alighieri Dante, poem, 1307
11. Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky, novel, 1866
12. Ulysses, James Joyce, novel, 1922
13. Oedipus Rex, Sophocles, play, 430 BCE
14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain, novel, 1884
16. In Search of Lost Time, Marcel Proust, novel, 1913–1927
17. The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky, novel, 1880
19. Hamlet, William Shakespeare, play, 1601
20. Antigone, Sophocles, play, 441–442 BCE
21. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe, novel
22. Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift, novel
23. Moby Dick, Herman Melville, novel
25. The Tale of Genji, Murasaki Shikibu, novel
27. Beloved, Toni Morrison, novel
30. Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien, novel
32. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie, novel
33. The Life of Gargantua and Pantagruel, Francois Rabelais, novel series
34. The Oresteia, Aeschylus, play series
35. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, novel
36. The Canterbury Tales, Georffrey Chaucer, prose and poetry
37. The Outsider, Albert Camus, novella
39. Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett, play
40. Dracula, Bram Stoker, novel
41. The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco, novel
42. The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James, novel
43. Dream of the Red Chamber, Cao Xueqin, novel
47. Les Misérables, Victor-Marie Hugo, novel
48. Candide, Voltaire, novella
49. Medea, Euripides, play
50. Paradise Lost, John Milton, poem
51. Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison, novel
53. Aeneid, Virgil, poem
55. Life of Pi, Yann Martel, novel
56. A Doll's House, Henrik Ibsen, play
57. The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde, novel
60. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Luo Guanzhong, novel
61. Faust, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, play
62. The Decameron, Giovanni Boccaccio, story cycle
63. The Count of Monte-Cristo, Alexandre Dumas, novel
64. Dead Souls, Nikolai Gogol, novel
65. Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe, novel
66. The War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells, novel
67. The Sorrows of Young Werther, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, novel
69. Water Margin, Shi Nai'an, Luo Guanzhong, novel
70. The Trial, Franz Kafka, novel
72. The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka, novella
75. Emma, Jane Austen, novel
76. Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak, novel
77. The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner, novel
78. The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Leo Tolstoy, novella
79. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray, novel
80. The Red and the Black, Stendhal, novel
82. Journey to the West, Wu Cheng'en, novel
83. Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell, novel
84. A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess, novel
86. Tom Jones, Henry Fielding, novel
89. The Hobbitt, J.R.R. Tolkien, novel
90. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier, novel
91. The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, novella
92. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Victor Hugo, novel
93. On the Road, Jack Keroac, novel
94. Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys, novel
95. The Magic Mountain, Thomas Mann, novel
96. Memoirs of Hadrian, Marguerite Yourcenar, novel
97. Eugene Onegin, Alexander Pushkin, poem
98. The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy, novel
99. The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov, novel