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Top 100

I have a little reading challenge I’ve been working on that I thought I’d share.¬† No real goals, except to eventually work my way through this New York Time’s list of best English-language novels from 1923-present.

Some of these I’ve read in high school, but I’m not counting that.¬† I want to re-read them and really appreciate them, unless I’ve read them in the past year or so.¬† I’m also not exclusively reading these novels, but interspersing them with what I’m reading every now and then when the mood strikes.

A – B

  • The Adventures of Augie March (1953), by Saul Bellow
  • All the King’s Men (1946), by Robert Penn Warren
  • American Pastoral (1997), by Philip Roth
  • An American Tragedy (1925), by Theodore Dreiser
  • Animal Farm (1946), by George Orwell
  • Appointment in Samarra (1934), by John O’Hara
  • Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret¬†(1970), by Judy Blume
  • The Assistant¬†(1957), by Bernard Malamud
  • At Swim-Two-Birds (1938), by Flann O’Brien
  • Atonement (2002), by Ian McEwan
  • Beloved (1987), by Toni Morrison
  • The Berlin Stories (1946), by Christopher Isherwood
  • The Big Sleep (1939), by Raymond Chandler
  • The Blind Assassin (2000), by Margaret Atwood
  • Blood Meridian (1986), by Cormac McCarthy
  • Brideshead Revisited (1946), by Evelyn Waugh
  • The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927), by Thornton Wilder

C – D

  • Call It Sleep (1935), by Henry Roth
  • Catch-22 (1961), by Joseph Heller
  • The Catcher in the Rye (1951), by J.D. Salinger
  • A Clockwork Orange (1963), by Anthony Burgess
  • The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967), by William Styron
  • The Corrections¬†(2001), by Jonathan Franzen
  • The Crying of Lot 49 (1966), by Thomas Pynchon
  • A Dance to the Music of Time (1951), by Anthony Powell
  • The Day of the Locust (1939), by Nathanael West
  • Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927), by Willa Cather
  • A Death in the Family (1958), by James Agee
  • The Death of the Heart (1958), by Elizabeth Bowen
  • Deliverance (1970), by James Dickey
  • Dog Soldiers (1974), by Robert Stone

F – G

  • Falconer (1977), by John Cheever
  • The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1969), by John Fowles
  • The Golden Notebook (1962), by Doris Lessing
  • Go Tell it on the Mountain (1953), by James Baldwin
  • Gone With the Wind (1936), by Margaret Mitchell
  • The Grapes of Wrath (1939), by John Steinbeck
  • Gravity’s Rainbow (1973), by Thomas Pynchon
  • The Great Gatsby (1925), by F. Scott Fitzgerald

H – I

  • A Handful of Dust (1934), by Evelyn Waugh
  • The Heart is A Lonely Hunter (1940), by Carson McCullers
  • The Heart of the Matter (1948), by Graham Greene
  • Herzog (1964), by Saul Bellow
  • Housekeeping¬†(1981), by Marilynne Robinson
  • A House for Mr. Biswas (1962), by V.S. Naipaul
  • I, Claudius (1934), by Robert Graves
  • Infinite Jest (1996), by David Foster Wallace
  • Invisible Man (1952), by Ralph Ellison

L – N

  • Light in August (1932), by William Faulkner
  • The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (1950), by C.S. Lewis
  • Lolita (1955), by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Lord of the Flies (1955), by William Golding
  • The Lord of the Rings (1954), by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Loving (1945), by Henry Green
  • Lucky Jim (1954), by Kingsley Amis
  • The Man Who Loved Children (1940), by Christina Stead
  • Midnight’s Children (1981), by Salman Rushdie
  • Money (1984), by Martin Amis
  • The Moviegoer (1961), by Walker Percy
  • Mrs. Dalloway (1925), by Virginia Woolf
  • Naked Lunch (1959), by William Burroughs
  • Native Son (1940), by Richard Wright
  • Neuromancer (1984), by William Gibson
  • Never Let Me Go¬†(2005), by Kazuo¬†Ishiguro
  • 1984 (1948), by George Orwell

O – R

  • On the Road (1957), by Jack Kerouac
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest¬†(1962), by Ken Kesey
  • The Painted Bird¬†(1965), by Jerzy¬†Kosinski
  • Pale Fire (1962), by Vladimir Nabokov
  • A Passage to India (1924), by E.M. Forster
  • Play It As It Lays¬†(1970), by Joan Didion
  • Portnoy’s Complaint (1969), by Philip Roth
  • Possession (1990), by A.S. Byatt
  • The Power and the Glory (1939), by Graham Greene
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961), by Muriel Spark
  • Rabbit, Run (1960), by John Updike
  • Ragtime (1975), by E.L. Doctorow
  • The Recognitions¬†(1955), by William Gaddis
  • Red Harvest¬†(1929), by Dashiell Hammett
  • Revolutionary Road (1961), by Richard Yates

S – T

  • The Sheltering Sky (1949), by Paul Bowles
  • Slaughterhouse Five (1969), by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Snow Crash (1992), by Neal Stephenson
  • The Sot-Weed Factor (1960), by John Barth
  • The Sound and the Fury (1929), by William Faulkner
  • The Sportswriter (1986), by Richard Ford
  • The Spy Who Came in From the Cold¬†(1964), by John le Carre
  • The Sun Also Rises (1926), by Ernest Hemingway
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), by Zora Neale Hurston
  • Things Fall Apart (1959), by Chinua Achebe
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), by Harper Lee
  • To the Lighthouse (1927), by Virginia Woolf
  • Tropic of Cancer (1934), by Henry Miller

U – W

  • Ubik (1969), by Philip K. Dick
  • Under the Net (1954), by Iris Murdoch
  • Under the Volcano (1947), by Malcolm Lowry
  • Watchmen (1986), by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
  • White Noise (1985), by Don DeLillo
  • White Teeth¬†(2000), by Zadie Smith
  • Wide Sargasso Sea (1966), by Jean Rhys

Have you read any of these?  Any favorites?

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  1. Chinyaray

    Yes! I have read a few but like you, I would love to re-read them and really appreciate them. I am going to copy this list and start ASAP. Just to pass along a couple books (you may have already read) : The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Snowflower and the Secret Fan, How to Be Good, and Linden Hills.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      I haven’t read ANY of those books! Thanks for the tips! :)

  2. holly troy

    You will love

    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut.

    Happy Reading!!!


    1. Lauren Zietsman

      I have To Kill A Mocking Bird out from the library right now, you mind reader, you!

  3. Kate Henschel

    I just randomly wandered onto your site through a recipe and now onto your book list. I’m reading through the same top 100 (as well as a few others). My favorites on here are Midnight’s Children, Brideshead Revisited, Never Let Me Go, and The Blind Assassin. Absolutely HATED The Crying of Lot 49. Enjoy the rest of the books! :)

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      Thanks–I love to hear from fellow readers!

      1. Samuel

        A bit late in the conversation, but don’t listen to the Pynchon hater! Try Gravity’s Rainbow if you weren’t too thrilled by Lot 49. Also, Imma try that chicken quinoa recipe soon (your stellar photographs enhance the appeal of these dishes tenfold)!

        1. Lauren Zietsman

          never too late! thanks!

  4. Darlene Lewandowski

    Read Things Fall Apart. It’s a wonderful book that will just break your heart at the end. I’ve read it like five times and each time I still find it shocking.

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      I love books that break my heart :)

    2. donna messina

      who is the author of when things fall apart?

  5. Nuts about food

    I’ve read some of these. I thought 1984 was a very interesting read both times, I enjoyed Slaughterhouse five because it was my first time reading Vonnegut and didn’t know quite what to expect. Lolita is quite surprising considering when it was written, The Sun also Rises, The Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, On the Road, Animal farm and To Kill a Mockingbird are true classics. I did not really like White Teeth, never quite got what all the hype was about, but gave Zadie Smith another try and enjoyed her following book better. I read Are you there God, it’s me, Margaret when I was a child. Never knew it made it on this list! I also read Brideshead Revisited when I was a teen ager, it would be interesting to read now, from a different perspective. Same with A Passage to India. And of course The lion, the witch and the wardrobe and Gone with the Wind, that I read over and over again as an older child and young teen ager.

  6. Sara

    Fitzgerald is the love of my life and such a charming writer…therefore…read The Great Gatsby. Then read This Side of Paradise and be sure to watch Midnight in Paris as well and fit in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. You gave me the green monster. This is my gift to you.

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      I love this comment so much :) and I also love the Great Gatsby and will get onto the rest ASAP!

  7. Pete

    Try “Forever” by Pete Hamill a great book.

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      thanks! Need a good book recommendation, since the last few I’ve read have just been so-so.