The Top 99 Works of Literature

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 works of literature. More diversity, more to discover, more to enjoy.

But we get it. That nearly thousand entries can be daunting. Here's a 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. (See "Creating the Greatest Literature of All Time list".) A points system was used to rank the ninety-nine most honoured titles. The points for each item are indicated, in case you're curious.

No claim is made that these really are the ninety-nine best, greatest or most illustrious works of all time. The list shows you the current consensus on the works most acclaimed by readers, writers, critics and scholars.

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

In the meantime here are the ninety-nine 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.   

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

2. Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert, novel 297
3. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy, novel 282
4. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain, novel 258
5. The Odyssey, Homer, poem 255
6. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy, novel 254
7. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov, novel 249
8. Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky, novel 240
    Hamlet, William Shakespeare, play 240
10. Oedipus Rex, Sophocles, play 238
11. Iliad, Homer, poem 233
12. The Divine Comedy, Alighieri Dante, poem 228
14. Middlemarch, George Eliot, novel 206
15. Ulysses, James Joyce, novel 206
17. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez, novel 201
18. Moby Dick, Herman Melville, novel 200
20. The Outsider, Albert Camus, novella 191
      Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift, novel 191
22. The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky, novel 189
24. In Search of Lost Time, Marcel Proust, novels 185
25. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe, novel 184
26. Antigone, Sophocles, play 172
27. Beloved, Toni Morrison, novel 171
28. Aeneid, Virgil, poem 169
29. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie, novel 165
31. Candide, François-Marie Arouet de Voltaire, novella 161
34. The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer, poems and prose 155
      Tristram Shandy, Laurence Sterne, novel 155
36. A Doll's House, Henrik Ibsen, play 153
      Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, novel 153
39. Les Misérables, Victor-Marie Hugo, novel 144
40. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, novel 143
      The Tale of Genji, Murasaki Shikibu, prose narrative 143
42. Animal Farm, George Orwell, novella 140
43. Faust, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, play 139
      Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf, novel 136
47. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë, novel 133
48. Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien, novel 132
      Othello, William Shakespeare, play 132
      Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison, novel 132
51. The Time Machine, H.G. Wells, novella 131
53. The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco, novel 128
      The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka, novella 128
58. The Trial, Franz Kafka, novel 122
      The War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells, novel 122
60. The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James, novel 121
63. Waiting for Godot Samuel Beckett, play 115
66. Dracula, Bram Stoker, novel 113
      Great Expectations, Charles Dickens, novel 113
68. The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner, novel 111
70. Paradise Lost, John Milton, poem 107
      Medea, Euripides, play 107
72. The Red and the Black, Stendhal, novel 106
73. Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe, novel 105
      The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing, novel 105
77. Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys, novel 101
78. A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess, novel 100
      Brave New World, Aldous Huxley, novel 100
81. On the Road, Jack Kerouac, novel 98
      The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Leo Tolstoy, novella 98
      The Republic, Plato, dialogue 98
84. The Life of Gargantua and Pantagruel, Francois Rabelais, novels 97
      Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez, novel 97
86. One Thousand and One Nights, Anonymous, stories 96
      Tom Jones, Henry Fielding, novel 96
89. Atonement, Ian McEwan, novella 95
      Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray, novel 93
      Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier, novel 93
      Life of Pi, Yann Martel, novel 91
98. A Passage to India, E.M. Forster, novel 89
      Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck, novella 89


That's the current top 99 but, in case you're interested, here are a few 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:

      The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Agatha Christie, novel
      One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, novella
      The Sorrows of Young Werther, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, novel
      Old Goriot, Honoré de Balzac, novel
      Little Women Louisa May Alcott, novel
      Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling, novel
      Dream of the Red Chamber, Cao Xueqin, novel
      Emma, Jane Austen, novel 147
      Eugene Onegin, Alexander Pushkin, poem
      The Call of the Wild, Jack London, novella