The best 100 novels challenge!

by | May 8, 2017 | Books | 23 comments


Can you do it? Can you name your the 100 novels you think are the best of them all??

If you post this on your own blog or social media feed, link to it in the comments section and I’ll include a link to it in the main post!

A few caveats about my own list:

  • This is limited to books I have actually read.
  • I’m 125% sure there are deserving books I loved that I am forgetting. I may revise through time.
  • OMG did I mention this was hard? We did this a few years back with movies and it was way easier.
  1. Moby-Dick
  2. The Great Gatsby
  3. Frankenstein
  4. The Sound and the Fury
  5. Their Eyes Were Watching God
  6. Sense and Sensibility
  7. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  8. A Tale of Two Cities
  9. Beloved
  10. The BFG
  11. Absalom, Absalom!
  12. Atonement
  13. The Big Sleep
  14. Gilead
  15. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  16. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
  17. The Secret History
  18. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  19. The Wife of Martin Guerre
  20. Island of the Blue Dolphins
  21. Mrs. Dalloway
  22. Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry
  23. After Midnight
  24. Matilda
  25. Cannery Row
  26. White Noise
  27. The Passion
  28. The Sun Also Rises
  29. All the Pretty Horses
  30. The Bluest Eye
  31. Swann’s Way
  32. The Moviegoer
  33. Neuromancer
  34. Never Let Me Go
  35. 1984
  36. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  37. Slaughterhouse-Five
  38. The Octopus
  39. The Twenty-one Balloons
  40. The City and the City
  41. The Day of the Locust
  42. Tender is the Night
  43. The Little Prince
  44. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
  45. For Whom the Bell Tolls
  46. In Cold Blood
  47. VALIS
  48. Enduring Love
  49. The Confidence Man
  50. Number the Stars
  51. Pride and Prejudice
  52. The Phantom Tollbooth
  53. Child 44
  54. The Invention of Hugo Cabret
  55. Motherless Brooklyn
  56. Brave New World
  57. Charlotte’s Web
  58. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  59. The Commissariat of Enlightenment
  60. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
  61. Oliver Twist
  62. McTeague
  63. The Sky is Everywhere
  64. Treasure Island
  65. The Outsiders
  66. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
  67. A Confederacy of Dunces
  68. Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
  69. Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You
  70. A Clockwork Orange
  71. Spin
  72. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  73. East of Eden
  74. Fahrenheit 451
  75. Wild at Heart
  76. Nowhere Man
  77. The Corrections
  78. A Wrinkle in Time
  79. War of the Worlds
  80. The Grapes of Wrath
  81. Heart of Darkness
  82. Station Eleven
  83. The Book Thief
  84. Oryx and Crake
  85. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
  86. Through the Looking Glass
  87. The Spy Who Came In From the Cold
  88. Thérèse Raquin
  89. The Pearl
  90. Catch-22
  91. The Giver
  92. Crytopnomicon
  93. My Side of the Mountain
  94. Fight Club
  95. Tuck Everlasting
  96. Gone Girl
  97. Sphere
  98. The Stranger
  99. The Fellowship of the Ring
  100. Then We Came to the End (Couldn’t resist)

I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and consultations! And if you like this post, check out my guide to writing a novel.

Art: Job Lot Cheap by William Harnett


  1. Kia Abdullah

    1. I'm off to buy them all!

    2. What the deuce, Nathan? You must read/add The Time Traveler's Wife!

  2. Susan Gourley/Kelley

    We share a few. Sense and Sensibility is better than Pride and Prejudice in my opinion so I agree with that inclusion. You have some I haven't read but should because you shouldn't judge a book by its movie.

  3. abc

    My 100 fave books or the books I think are the 100 best? I don't think I can do the latter. Does this question make sense? I am stressed.

  4. Nathan Bransford

    I had intended the books you have read that you think are the best, but whatever you can manage — it's hard either way.

  5. Jennifer R. Hubbard

    I always get hung up on that–favorite vs. best. There are books I admire but don't love, books I love but know are not great literature. I suppose the "best" are those that hit the sweet spot by being well done and enjoyable.

    Another hesitation is that I have great gaps in my reading, not having read a lot of the "classics" but having read many obscure titles found in used bookstores. I've only read a quarter of the books on this list.

    Hmmm …


    An impressive list, Nathan! I've read a lot of them but by no means all. So my TBR pile grows again.

  7. abc

    Welp, I tried and quickly gave up. Mostly because I started to feel gross about all the books I haven't read. I now have a mission, though.

  8. Amy Eyles

    I am accepting the challenge!

    Top 100 novels

    1. The Art Of Racing In the Rain
    2. Black Beauty
    3. Wuthering Heights
    4. Gulliver's Travels
    5. Pride And Prejudice
    6. Great Expectations
    7. Sons and Lovers
    8. The Last Of The Really Great Wangdoodles
    9. National Velvet
    10. Misty Of Chincoteague
    11. The Black Stallion
    12. Charlotte's Web
    13. The Trumpet Of The Swan
    14. Danny, The Champion Of The World
    15. The Count Of Monte Cristo
    16. Tom Jones
    17. A Boy Called It
    18. Jane Eyre
    19. The Island Of The Blue Dolphins
    20. The Secret Garden
    21. Little Women
    22. The Wizard Of Oz
    23. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
    24. Huckleberry Finn
    25. The Call Of The Wild
    26. The Wind In The Willows
    27. To The Lighthouse
    28. The Great Gatsby
    29. Fahrenheit 451
    30. Catcher In The Rye
    31. The Lord Of The Flies
    32. To Kill A Mockingbird
    33. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
    34. The Canterbury Tales
    35. The Bell Jar
    36. Intensity
    37. Love Story
    38. The Doctors
    39. Of Mice And Men
    40. old Yeller
    41. The Outsiders
    42. Gone With The Wind
    43. Where The Red Fern Grows
    44. The Hound Of The Baskerville
    45. Roll Of Thunder, Hear My Cry
    46. Treasure Island
    47. The Mayor Of Casterbridge
    48. Anne of Green Gables
    49. Heidi
    50. Paradise Lost
    51. The Life Of Pi
    53. Black and Blue
    54. My Sister's Keeper
    55. The Light Between Oceans
    56. The Promise Of Stardust
    57. We Need To Talk About Kevin
    58. Nineteen Minutes
    59. The Pact
    60. Plain Truth
    61. Change Of Heart
    62. Cutout
    63. Carrie
    64. The Historian
    65. Drowning Ruth
    66. The Lovely Bones
    67. The Book Of Ruth
    68. Where The Heart Is
    69. The Phantom Tollbooth
    70. Being There
    71. White Fang
    72. The Incredible Journey
    73. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret
    74. The Hobbit
    75. Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing
    76. Outbreak
    77. Naked Lunch
    78. My Brother Sam Is Dead
    79. Ramona The Brave
    80. The Enchanted Life Of Adam Hope
    81. Secretariat
    82. Seabiscuit
    83. The War Horse
    84. Hemlock Grove
    85. The Clan Of The Cave Bear
    86. The Beans Of Egypt Maine
    87. Secretariat Reborn
    88. A Dog's Purpose
    89. Angels and Demons
    90. The Da Vinci Code
    91. Animal Husbandry
    92. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nihm
    93. Little House In The Big Woods
    94. The Witch of Blackbird Pond
    95. Dicey's Song
    96. Inkheart
    97. My Side Of The Mountain
    98. The Book Of Three
    99. Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone
    100. The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer

  9. Cristen

    Gentlemen, where are you? Your turn! 😉

  10. Anonymous

    I DID IT!!!!!! These are all books I have referenced back too or read more than once because of such compelling text..Gosh I could have done more. lol
    1. Song of Solomon
    2. House of Spirits
    3. In Living Blood
    4. The Good House
    5. Temple of My Familiar
    6. Tale of the Body Thief
    7. Carthage
    8. Grandma Upstairs, Grandma Downstairs
    9. The Accursed
    10. Big Mouth Ugly Girl
    11. The Fat Artist
    12. Because it is Bitter, and Because it is My Heart
    13. The Corn Maiden
    14. Zombies
    15. Daddy Love
    16. Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters
    17. Queen of the Damned
    18. The Wretched of the Earth
    19. Tigers are Better Looking
    20. Good Morning Midnight
    21. House of Spirits
    22. Ripper
    23. Maya’s Notebook
    24. Aphrodite: The Memoir of the Senses
    25. By the Light of My Father’s Smile
    26. The Joys of Motherhood
    27. Kindred
    28. Blackwater
    29. To Kill a Mockingbird
    30. Strega Nona
    31. The Count of Monte Cristo
    32. The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe
    33. The Alchemist
    34. Warriors of Light
    35. The Devil and Miss Prym
    36. Aleph
    37. Giovanni’s Room
    38. My Lives and How I Lost Them
    39. Pedagogy of the Oppressed
    40. River’s End
    41. A Choice of Weapons
    42. Eyes With Winged Thoughts
    43. Inferno (Dante)
    44. The Book of Imaginary Beings
    45. Labyrinths
    46. The Water Cure
    47. You Alone Are Real to Me
    48. Rilke and Andreas Salome: A Love Story in Letters
    49. Duino Elegies
    50. Sonnets to Orpheus
    51. The Book of Hours
    52. Totem and Taboo
    53. Thoughts in Solitude
    54. Entering the Silence
    55. Memories Dreams Reflections
    56. The House of Dies Drear
    57. Her Stories
    58. Beasts
    59. Man Crazy
    60. Blasphemy
    61. The Outsiders
    62. Who Will Run the Frog Hospital
    63. Servant of Bones
    64. Violin
    65. Couples
    66. Home Burial
    67. Their Eyes Were Watching God
    68. The Prophet
    69. The Wandering of Oisin
    70. Zami:A New Spelling of My Name
    71. Sonny’s Blues
    72. A Lesson Before Dying
    73. As I Lay Dying
    74. Miss Jane Pittman
    75. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
    76. Things Fall Apart
    77. The Community of Self
    78. Mary Celeste
    79. Anything We Love Can Be Saved
    80. Of Mice and Men
    81. The Glass Menagerie
    82. Native Son
    83. God is in the Mountain
    84. Good Night Moon
    85. When You Are Old
    86. Captain Underpants
    87. All About Love: New Visions
    88. Isis Papers
    89. The House of the Dead
    90. Portrait in Sepia
    91. The Spook Who Sat By the Door
    92. Catcher In The Rye
    93. Doctor Sleep
    94. Bag of Bones
    95. Hearts In Atlantis
    96. Ramona’s World
    97. Of Time and River
    98. The Accidental Santera
    99. Atonement
    100. Persepolis

  11. JOHN T. SHEA

    A big 'Bravo!' to Nathan and all who rose to the challenge!

  12. Anonymous

    I am totally enjoying everyone's list of books read!!!!That one was creative with the book covers!!!! Gosh, I guess Nathan will be the only male of the species too list? Come on Guys!!!!!

  13. Backfence

    Here are mine. Good thing I keep a reading list of what I've read! It made it a lot easier.

    100 Best Novels:
    1. The Book Thief
    2. The Winds of War
    3. War and Remembrance
    4. The Goldfinch
    5. The Caine Mutiny
    6. Outlander
    7. Voyager
    8. Tuesdays with Morrie
    9. Follow the River
    10. Undaunted Courage
    11. Backstairs at the Whitehouse
    12. The Indian in the Cupboard
    13. Johnny Tremain
    14. Cold Sassy Tree
    15. Ordinary Heroes
    16. The Secret Garden
    17. Confederates in the Attic
    18. The Secret History
    19. A Wrinkle in Time
    20. Alice in Wonderland
    21. Through the Looking Glass
    22. The Last Lecture
    23. My Side of the Mountain
    24. Gone Girl
    25. Always Watching
    26. Missing You
    27. My Name Is Malala
    28. Beach Music
    29. South of Broad
    30. Timeline
    31. The Gift of Fear
    32. Mayday
    33. Night Fall
    34. The March
    35. Room
    36. Ragtime
    37. Into the Wilderness
    38. Kaffir Boy
    39. The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass
    40. The Frontiersman
    41. Rebecca
    42. The Odessa File
    43. 11/22/63
    44. Team of Rivals
    45. Christy
    46. The Accidental Tourist
    47. Saint Nobody
    48. The Immigrants
    49. Jackdaws
    50. Fall of Giants
    51. World Without End
    52. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
    53. The Exile
    54. Exile
    55. Night Over Water
    56. The Art of Racing in the Rain
    57. Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl
    58. Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
    59. The Ransom of Red Chief
    60. Ordinary People
    61. Black and Blue
    62. Angela’s Ashes
    63. Dr. Zhivago
    64. The Shell Seeker
    65. Black Like Me
    66. The Rainmaker
    67. The Client
    68. Water for Elephants
    69. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
    70. Snow Falling on Cedars
    71. The Evening News
    72. Roots
    73. The Scarlett Letter
    74. The Crucible
    75. The Thornbirds
    76. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
    77. Small Great Things
    78. The Notebook
    79. A Prayer for Owen Meany
    80. Unbroken
    81. All Creatures Great and Small
    82. North and South Trilogy
    83. Caribbean
    84. Chesapeake
    85. Mudbound
    86. Flowers or Algernon
    87. Missoula
    88. The Hour I First Believed
    89. I Know This Much Is True
    90. To Kill a Mockingbird
    91. Where the Heart Is
    92. Not Without My Daughter
    93. Reading Lolita in Tehran
    94. Gone with the Wind
    95. The Time Traveler’s Wife
    96. A Man Called Ove
    97. The Gift of Fear
    98. Inheriting the Trade
    99. Heartburn
    100. On the Border of Time (Shameless Plug – I know the author well)

  14. Kourtney Heintz

    I'm thinking this challenge will be my next blog post. Definitely loved The LIttle Prince. That will be on my list too. 99 more to go!

  15. Becky

    Your list is so different than I think mine would be. I'm going to post one on my blog, after I work on it for a few days. Thanks for the fun idea. 🙂


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Hi, I’m Nathan. I’m the author of How to Write a Novel and the Jacob Wonderbar series, which was published by Penguin. I used to be a literary agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. and I’m dedicated to helping authors chase their dreams. Let me help you with your book!

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