Best Novels

This is a list of the best novels that I have read, sorted into four “tiers”. My opinions of these books are based on how well written they are, how powerful and poignant their messages are, and, to a slightly lesser extent, how entertaining they are.

Bear in mind that this is my own personal list, and will also incorporate aspects of how strongly the books affected me at the time I read them. Rereadings of some of these books may change my mind about them in the future!

Feel free to share your opinions about what you’ve read, what you’d recommend, and what you think I should read that might find its way onto this list.

Tier 1 – Practically Perfect in Every Way: The 5 Greatest Novels I’ve Ever Read

  1. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
  2. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
  3. Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift
  4. All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Tier 2 – Incredible Masterpieces

  • The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
  • The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  • Lord of the Flies – William Golding
  • The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
    • The Fellowship of the Ring
    • The Two Towers
    • The Return of the King
  • Moby Dick – Herman Melville
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
  • Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
  • The Power of One – Bryce Courtenay
  • The Winter of Our Discontent – John Steinbeck

Tier 3 – Especially Excellent

  • A Scanner Darkly – Philip K. Dick
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
  • The Book of the Dun Cow – Walter Wangerin
  • The Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis:
    • The Magician’s Nephew
    • The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
    • The Horse and His Boy
    • Prince Caspian
    • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
    • The Silver Chair
    • The Last Battle
  • The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas and Auguste Maquet
  • Dandelion Wine – Ray Bradbury
  • Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
  • Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame – Victor Hugo
  • The Last Samurai – Helen DeWitt
  • Life of Pi – Yann Martel
  • Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
  • Perelandra – CS Lewis
  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • The Secret Agent – Joseph Conrad
  • War of the Worlds – HG Wells
  • Watership Down – Richard Adams
  • The Years of Rice and Salt – Kim Stanley Robinson
  • The Once and Future King – TH White

Tier 4 – Highly Recommended

  • A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
  • A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle
  • Animal Farm – George Orwell
  • The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz – Mordecai Richler
  • Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
  • The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick
  • Dracula – Bram Stoker
  • Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
  • The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
  • The Hunt for Red October – Tom Clancy
  • I Am Legend – Richard Matheson
  • I, Robot – Isaac Asimov
  • The Invisible Man – HG Wells
  • The Mars Trilogy – Kim Stanley Robinson:
    • Red Mars
    • Green Mars
    • Blue Mars
  • The Myserious Island – Jules Verne
  • The Odyssey – Homer
  • Pastwatch: Redemption – Orson Scott Card
  • Paul – Walter Wangerin
  • Planet of the Apes – Pierre Boulle
  • Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe
  • Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Steppenwolf – Hermann Hesse
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas and Auguste Maquet
  • The Time Machine – HG Wells
  • Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson

Last modified in October 2017.

15 thoughts on “Best Novels”

  1. I think I have, but I don't remember specifically. I find most of Dick's writing pretty surreal and hard to get a handle on, so it's hard to say afterwards how good it was.

  2. Any chance you've read the Wheel of Time series? It's my personal favorite high fantasy series, and if you're a fan of the Lord of the Rings, the Wheel of Time series is right up your alley.

  3. I haven't read them, actually, though I've heard of them before. I have a lot on my to-read list, but I wouldn't mind giving them a try at some point.

  4. You should read Madame Bovary Tim… I think you’d enjoy it.

    I need to finish Lewis’s sci-fi trilogy…

  5. East of Eden should be number one. It probably isn’t because you haven’t taken on the significant commitment it represents. But if you can be married, you can take on Steinbeck’s seminal work.

  6. I agree with Les Miserables being the best. If you haven’t already, you might want to give “Robinson Crusoe,” “The Mysterious Island,” and “Anna Karenina” a try as well.

    1. Thanks, Mike! Two of the three were already on my internal “list” of things to read. I’ll add “The Mysterious Island” to that, and hopefully get to it at some point. :)

        1. For what it’s worth, I’ve now read Robinson Crusoe and have both The Mysterious Island and Anna Karenina on my shelves awaiting their turns. :)

  7. Here’s a trio that might make it on your list (they’re all in my top ten):

    A Prayer For Owen Meaney – John Irving
    The Dispossessed – Ursula K. Le Guin
    Barney’s Version – Mordecai Richler


  8. I find it interesting that you put Perelandra on your “Especially Excelent” tier, but no mention of Out of the Silent Planet. In my opinion, the first book is the hallmark of the trilogy. Perelandra is also very good, but not as strong in the presentation of its ideas, and That Hideous Strength is… awkward. It’s a good book, but so different from the other two that it’s hard to compare them.

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