The Hundred Greatest Novels Of All Time

So many books in the world – so sometimes it’s useful to have a reading list, to concentrate your efforts on a set of particularly rewarding recommended titles.

Here’s our list of recommendations. Of course there’s no such thing as the definitive listing of all-time great novels. Any list is likely to be either the result of arbitrary selection, like this, or perhaps a chart compiled from some kind of public vote. The selection criteria for this list were fairly simple:

  • No more than two titles per author
  • Books have to be available in print in the UK
  • I needed to have read all the books chosen, so no unread ‘usual suspects’ simply because they tend to get on lists like this (I’ve never managed Proust’s Remembrance Of Things Past, for instance, so it’s not here even though I suspect it ought to be) 
  • The books needed to be ones that made a significant impression on me at the time of reading. Clearly that doesn’t make them the best books ever written – and I’m not even sure I could read some of them again now without a twinge of embarrassment – but they made a difference to my life at one point or another

We’d love you to read some of these books – particularly if they’re new to you – so to incentivise you to do so there’s a ‘buy one, get one half price’ offer across all the books on the list.

There’s generally a single paperback edition available of most of the modern books here. Many of the older titles are ‘classics’ now out of copyright and readily available in several different editions. The editions chosen are sometimes here because they’re cheap (the Wordsworth Classics range at £1.99 is good value, even if the text is sometimes a little small) or because they’re in attractive editions (the Penguin English Library titles, for instance, are generally beautifully bound). You don’t need to feel restricted to these editions, of course.

You almost certainly won’t want to read them all – or at any rate not now: some books need to be read at a particular time in your life, so Steppenwolf and Catcher in the Rye, for instance, are probably going to appeal more to teenagers than War And Peace. But whatever your age and reading tastes we’re convinced you’ll find something wonderful somewhere on this list. If you do we’d love to hear about it. And if you have alternative suggestions for the greatest books of all time we’d love to hear them. If enough people give us their suggestions we might just take a vote on the subject…

Chris Rushby
Jarrold Book Buyer

  Title Author Imprint RRP
1 1984 George Orwell Penguin Modern Classics £8.99
2 A Little Life Hanya Yanagihara Picador £8.99
3 A Month In The Country JL Carr Penguin Modern Classics £7.99
4 A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man James Joyce Macmillan Collector's Library £9.99
5 A Room With A View EM Forster Penguin English Library £5.99
6 Amongst Women John McGahern Faber £8.99
7 An Ice Cream War William Boyd Penguin  £8.99
8 Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy Wordsworth £1.99
9 Arthur: The Seeing Stone Kevin Crossley Holland Orion Children's £7.99
10 Beloved Toni Morrison Vintage Classics £9.99
11 Billy Liar Keith Waterhouse Penguin £8.99
12 Birdsong  Sebastian Faulks Vintage £8.99
13 Blood Meridian Cormac McCarthy Picador Classic £8.99
14 Breathing Lessons Anne Tyler Vintage £8.99
15 Brighton Rock Graham Greene Vintage Classics £8.99
16 Cannery Row John Steinbeck Penguin Modern Classics £8.99
17 Captain Corelli's Mandolin Louis de Bernieres Vintage £8.99
18 Catch 22 Joseph Heller Vintage £8.99
19 Cloud Atlas David Mitchell Sceptre £8.99
20 Cold Comfort Farm Stella Gibbons Penguin Classics £7.99
21 David Copperfield Charles Dickens Penguin English Library £7.99
22 Diary Of A Nobody  George and Weedon Grossmith Wordsworth Classics £1.99
23 Dune Frank Herbert Hodder £8.99
24 Eating People Is Wrong  Malcolm Bradbury Picador £9.99
25 Fatherland Robert Harris  Arrow £8.99
26 Flaubert's Parrot Julian Barnes Vintage £8.99
27 Gorky Park Martin Cruz Smith Simon & Schuster £8.99
28 Great Expectations Charles Dickens Macmillan Collector's Library £9.99
29 Heart Of Darkness Joseph Conrad Wordsworth Classics £1.99
30 How To Be Both Ali Smith Penguin £8.99
31 Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain Penguin English Library £5.99
32 I, Robot Isaac Asimov Harper Voyager £8.99
33 Invisible Man Ralph Ellison Penguin Modern Classics £9.99
34 Jane Eyre  Charlotte Bronte Penguin English Library £5.99
35 Journey To The Centre Of The Earth Jules Verne Wordsworth Classics £1.99
36 LA Confidential James Ellroy Windmill Books £8.99
37 Larry's Party Carol Shields Fourth Estate £8.99
38 Lost Empires JB Priestley Great Northern Books £9.99
39 Mansfield Park Jane Austen Penguin English Library £5.99
40 Moby Dick Herman Melville Penguin English Library £5.99
41 Mrs Dalloway Virginia Woolf Wordsworth Classics £1.99
42 Northern Lights Philip Pullman Scholastic £7.99
43 Norwegian Wood Haruki Murakami Vintage £8.99
44 On The Black Hill Bruce Chatwin Vintage Classics £8.99
45 One Day David Nicholls Hodder £8.99
46 Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit Jeanette Winterson Vintage £8.99
47 Oscar And Lucinda Peter Carey Faber £8.99
48 Our Man In Havana Graham Greene Vintage Classics £8.99
49 Pride And Prejudice Jane Austen Vintage Classics £7.99
50 Riddley Walker Russell Hoban Bloomsbury £8.99
51 Robinson Crusoe Daniel Defoe Penguin Clothbound Classics £14.99
52 Rogue Male Geoffrey Household  Orion Children's  £8.99 
53 Sacred Country Rose Tremain  Vintage  £8.99 
54 Seize The Day Saul Bellow  Penguin Modern Classics  £8.99 
55 Silence Of The Lambs  Thomas Harris  Arrow  £7.99 
56 Slow Horses  Mick Herron  John Murray  £7.99 
57 Sons And Lovers  DH Lawrence  Wordsworth Classics  £1.99 
58 Steppenwolf  Hermann Hesse  Penguin Modern Classics  £9.99 
59 Stoner  John Williams  Vintage Classics  £8.99 
60 Strange Meeting  Susan Hill  Penguin   £8.99 
61 Sword Of Honour  Evelyn Waugh  Penguin Classics  £14.99 
62 Tess Of The D'Urbervilles  Thomas Hardy  Penguin Clothbound Classics  £14.99 
63 The Big Sleep  Raymond Chandler  Penguin  £8.99 
64 The Catcher In The Rye  JD Salinger  Penguin  £8.99 
65 The Code Of The Woosters  PG Wodehouse  Arrow  £8.99 
66 The Corrections  Jonathan Franzen  Harper Perennial  £9.99 
67 The Count of Monte Cristo  Alexandre Dumas  Wordsworth Classics  £1.99 
68 The French Lieutenant's Woman John Fowles  Vintage Classics  £9.99 
69 The Glass Bead Game  Hermann Hesse  Vintage Classics  £9.99 
70 The Great Gatsby  F Scott Fitzgerald  Penguin Modern Classics  £6.99 
71 The Handmaid's Tale  Margaret Atwood  Vintage Contemporary Classics  £8.99 
72 The Leopard  Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa  Vintage Classics  £9.99 
73 The Lord Of The Rings  JRR Tolkien  HarperCollins  £20.00 
74 The Lost World  Arthur Conan Doyle  Wordworth Classics  £1.99 
75 The Magic Mountain   Thomas Mann  Vintage Classics  £10.99 
76 The Martian Chronicles  Ray Bradbury  Flamingo Modern Classics  £8.99 
77 The Name Of The Rose  Umberto Eco  Vintage   £9.99 
78 The Old Devils  Kingsley Amis  Vintage Classics  £9.99 
79 The Old Man And The Sea  Ernest Hemingway  Arrow   £6.99 
80 The Once And Future King  TH White  Harper Voyager  £9.99 
81 The Portrait Of a Lady   Henry James  Penguin Classics  £6.99 
82 The Red Badge Of Courage  Stephen Crane  Wordsworth Classics  £1.99 
83 The Riddle Of The Sands  Erskine Childers  Penguin Classics  £9.99 
84 The Secret History  Donna Tartt  Penguin  £8.99 
85 The Shipping News  Annie Proulx  Fourth Estate  £8.99 
86 The Silver Chair   CS Lewis  HarperCollins Children's  £6.99 
87 The Spy Who Came In From The Cold  John Le Carre  Penguin Classics  £8.99 
88 The Third Policeman  Flann O'Brien  Harper Perennial  £8.99 
89 The Thirty-Nine Steps  John Buchan  Polygon  £6.99 
90 The Trial  Franz Kafka  Penguin Modern Classics  £6.99 
91 The Wind In The Willows  Kenneth Grahame  Usborne  £17.99 
92 The Woman In White  Wilkie Collins  Penguin English Library  £5.99 
93 Time's Arrow  Martin Amis  Vintage  £8.99 
94 Titus Groan  Mervyn Peake  Vintage Classics  £9.99 
95 To Kill A Mockingbird  Harper Lee  Vintage Classics  £7.99 
96 Tristram Shandy  Laurence Sterne  Wordsworth Classics  £1.99 
97 Under The Volcano  Malcolm Lowry  Penguin Modern Classics  £9.99 
98 War and Peace  Leo Tolstoy  War And Peace  £1.99 
99 Woman On The Edge Of Time  Marge Piercy  Del Rey   £8.99 
100 Yellow Blue Tibia  Adam Roberts  Orion   £8.99 
Follow us