The 100 Best Books I’ve Read

When I say that these are the “best” books I’ve read, I don’t mean that they are the most aesthetically pleasing or the most difficult to read.  Some of them are purely entertaining and others are more literary.  What I mean by this list is that they touched me and I liked them.  I suppose I should try to articulate that more clearly, but I won’t. This list includes fiction, non-fiction, and children’s books.

  1. Watership Down by Richard Adams
  2. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
  3. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
  4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  5. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
  6. Rebecca’s Tale by Sally Beauman
  7. Little Big Man by Thomas Berger
  8. Corelli’s Mandolin by George de Bernieres
  9. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Bianco
  10. March by Geraldine Brooks
  11. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
  12. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
  13. My Antonia by Willa Cather
  14. Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary
  15. The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
  16. The Green Years by A. J. Cronin
  17. The Hours by Michael Cunningham
  18. The Witches by Roald Dahl
  19. Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
  20. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
  21. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
  22. Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy by Carlos Eire
  23. Middlemarch by George Eliot (Three posts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)
  24. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  25. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
  26. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
  27. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
  28. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  29. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
  30. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  31. Bee Season by Myla Goldberg
  32. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  33. Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
  34. Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh
  35. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
  36. Tess of the D’urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  37. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  38. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
  39. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  40. A Modern Instance by William Dean Howells
  41. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  42. Broken For You by Stephanie Kallos
  43. A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel
  44. View From Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg
  45. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
  46. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  47. Quicksand by Nella Larsen
  48. Understanding the Borderline Mother by Christine Ann Lawson
  49. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  50. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
  51. Unbowed: A Memoir by Wangari Maathai
  52. Christy by Catherine Marshall
  53. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  54. Boy’s Life by Robert R. McCammon
  55. Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
  56. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  57. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
  58. Atonement by Ian McEwan
  59. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
  60. Liars and Saints by Maile Meloy
  61. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  62. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  63. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  64. Mama Day by Gloria Naylor
  65. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
  66. Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates
  67. The Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue by Edna O’Brien
  68. Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein
  69. Goodbye, I Love You by Carol Lynn Pearson
  70. A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer
  71. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
  72. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
  73. The Ballad of the Whiskey Robber by Julian Rubenstein
  74. The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan
  75. Holes by Louis Sachar
  76. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
  77. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  78. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  79. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
  80. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
  81. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  82. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  83. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  84. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  85. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  86. The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington
  87. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
  88. Follow the River by James Alexander Thom
  89. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  90. The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler
  91. Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
  92. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  93. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
  94. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  95. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  96. Because of the Lockwoods by Dorothy Whipple
  97. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  98. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  99. The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women by Naomi Wolf
  100. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
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76 thoughts on “The 100 Best Books I’ve Read

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  1. Some of my all-time favorites are also All the King’s Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, Little House on the Prairie, Gone with the Wind, and Let the Great World Spin. I’m always looking for suggestions for great books to read and will have to try a few of the others.

  2. Hi…I love to hear about people who love to read as much as I do…! One book suggestion for you, I havent met one person who hasnt liked it yet…its called ‘Me Before You’ by Jojo Moyes. I identified with each and every character in this book and just could not put it down…hope you like!

  3. I notice you listed The Kite Runner, which I also read and think everyone in America should read it. I also read another by the same author that I highly recommend: A Thousand Splendid Suns. Another very educational experience throwing light on the culture I knew absolutely nothing about.

  4. I had one of those heart-touching moments (one of those when you reach a hand to your chest when recalling a good or endearing memory) when I saw ‘The Good Earth’ on there. I sometimes forget how much I love that book. Also, I discovered that I was mistaken in thinking the book title is ‘The Portrait of Dorian Gray’ rather than ‘The Picture of..’. I wounder how often I’ve said it incorrectly!
    What a wonderful list! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

    1. Thanks for reading it! I’m glad you liked it and that it brought back some memories. I love The Good Earth too. It was my “favorite book” for the longest time after I read it for the first time as a fourteen-year-old.

  5. Anyone who can have Edith Wharton and Ramona in her top 100 books is my kind of reader! This list made me smile and gave me so books to add to my list. Thank you for posting it.

  6. Great list! Makes me want to pay more attention to my own. One of my all time favorites A Prayer for Owen Meany, made me fall in love with John Irving for a while.

  7. Nice list!
    I recognise some timeless masterpieces,like ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’,’Anna Karenina’ or ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, and some modern gems like ‘Life of Pi’ and ‘The Kite Runner’. I think from now on,I’ll use the list as a reference.

    May I suggest that you take a look at ‘The God of Small Things’,which is another modern gem.It won the Booker Prize in 1997,and I think you’ll like it.

  8. Thanks for posting such a fantastic list. I saw several of my favourites in it, and non of the ones I truly dislike (Catcher In The Rye, A Confederacy of Dunces, and others). I intend to switch over from my current 100 books to read list to yours. 100 Books and a blog :).

  9. Glad to see another Watership Down lover! Not quite sure what it is about it, but I always find myself going back to it.

    I have very recently decided to start blogging on what I read and am inspired by your blog. I hope to someday, in the months and years to come, build as stunning and eclectic collection of the books that are so integral to the life of me and my family.

  10. Thanks Emily for your list. Out of 100 favourites of yours I spotted a good number of books I’ve read and enjoyed very very much. They are part of my “baggage”.I haven’t yet reviewed them in my blog, but sooner or later I’ll do, also thanks to the effect of your great list.
    cheers

    1. Thank you for reading! By “baggage,” I hope you mean that they bring back good memories. I find that even tough books or books read in hard times have a certain glow for me looking backward.

  11. A great idea to establish a list. I’ve began a diary of one page reviews of everything I read followed by a score out of 100. I may collaborate these rankings into a list like this.

    1. I love the idea of one-page reviews. I try to review everything I read, but some of it falls through the cracks. One page equals no pressure but a good and efficient way of documenting. Thanks for the idea!

  12. Greetings Emily,

    I sincerely hope you won’t mind a comment from a man. Tis obvious that many well read and lovely women read your site, but at least one man does also. I’d like to suggest two books if I may, both by deceased women authors, and to the dismay of many, two of my all time favorites. Neither book will take more than an hour of your time and yet they have the power to mesmerize you many times over. I’ve actually read both again this past week. There’s something about epistolary books that captures my imagination and brings to mind years gone by. Thanks for indulging me.

    A manly man that is indeed a sucker for these two books,

    1 – Daddy Long Legs – Jean Webster
    2 – 84 Charing Cross Road – Helene Hanff

    1. Men are welcome! I have quite a few regular male followers and commenters, so don’t let my feminist lens scare you off! These books sound great; I’ve seen the movie for the second one, but I always love a good book by a “forgotten” female novelist. Thanks!

  13. I’ve just stumbled across your blog; fabulous, fabulous list! (Happy to see Peace Like a River on it…that’s one of my two annual reads. [Small Ceremonies by Carol Shields being the other.]) Looking forward to reading your posts.

  14. I just ran across your blog and loved finding this list! There are a few of my all-time favorites on there like Peace Like a River and A Tree Grow in Brooklyn. There’s several I haven’t read or heard of, and I’m excited to check them out! One that I finished not to long ago and really moved me was The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I’d be interested to know what you thought of it! Thanks for the lists!

  15. Love this list, many of my favorites appear. Thank you for listing “March” which I loved, but I think I loved Geraldine Brooks’ “Year of Wonders” even more. Also, have you read “Tenderness of Wolves” by Stef Penney? Possibly my all-time favorite.

  16. It’s inspiring to find a great reader like you. I have read quite some books too; but many of them are self-help books. One book I am happy to find on your list is Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austin is a great author and even though it is so many years since I read her novel,I will hardly forget such characters like Darcy. Elizabeth, Mr. Bingley and Jane. Another great novel I have read is ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achebe. It is worthwhile for those who like to know some aspects of African culture; the world being a global village.

    1. Achebe’s novel is fantastic! It is one I’ve been meaning to reread because it has been so long since I read it. And yes, Austen’s characters are unforgettable. Thanks for the comment.

  17. What?! Can’t believe some of the books that overlap with my favourites! This is wonderful! Am going to the bookshop tomorrow to find some of those that I have not read, I have a feeling I’ll love them too! Peace like a River is one of my top five! Have you read ‘A Gracious Plenty’ by Sheri Reynolds? Will easily end up on your top 100! Can’t wait to explore the rest of your blog!

  18. wow, Watership Down, really? I tried reading this book, but couldn’t get past the first couple of pages 😦 I’d like to read it though….maybe the time just isn’t right yet. Hopefully someday I’ll be able to get back to it.

    1. It may not be for everybody, and I wonder now if I would enjoy it as much as I did in my early twenties. If you end up making it through that one, let me know your verdict!

  19. Glad to see Jane Austen so highly rated. Although I am not a fan of P & P myself, I just love her. Have you read any of her other works? If so, why did you rate P & P above them??

  20. I hope to be looking into this list when I need more books to read! 🙂 Have only read A Child Called “It” and My Sister’s Keeper before. Haven’t read Kite Runner but you should read A Thousand Splendid Suns by the same author, pretty good read!

  21. I’ve read 16 of the books on this list, and enjoyed the ones I’ve read very much, my favorites probably being “The Country Girls Trilogy,” and “I Capture the Castle.” Based on your list, I think you would enjoy “The Woman in White,” by Wilkie Collins.

  22. I would definitely agree that “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen is in your top 5 books to read. It is such a lovely novel filled with romance and lessons that will leave you wondering what will happen next. 🙂

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