The 100 Best Books of All Time

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The World Library is a list of the 100 best books, as proposed by one hundred writers from fifty-four different countries, compiled and organized in 2002 by the Norwegian Book Club. This list endeavors to reflect world literature, with books from all countries, cultures, and time periods.

Each writer had to select his or her own list of ten books. The books selected by this process and listed here are not ranked or categorized in any way; the organizers have stated that "they are all on an equal footing," with the exception of Don Quixote which was given the distinction "best literary work ever written." The following list organizes the works alphabetically by author.[1]

Fyodor Dostoevsky is the author with the most books on the list, with four. William Shakespeare, Franz Kafka, and Leo Tolstoy each have three books on the list.

Breakdown by language, gender[edit]

Eleven of the books included on the list are written by women, eighty-five are written by men and four have unknown authors. This breakdown is similar to other lists, such as Le Monde's 100 Books of the Century, which was voted for by 17,000 people from the general public and contains twelve books by women.

Twenty-six of the one hundred voting writers had English as their first language,[2] which may be a factor in the list having so many (29) books written in English. Again, this phenomenon was visible in Le Monde's list, with 49 French books.

List of the 100 Best Books of All Time[edit]

Title Author Year Country Language
Things Fall Apart Achebe, ChinuaChinua Achebe 1958 Nigeria English
Fairy tales Andersen, Hans ChristianHans Christian Andersen 1835–37 Denmark Danish
The Divine Comedy Alighieri, DanteDante Alighieri 1308–1321 Italy Italian
Epic of Gilgamesh Unknown 18th – 17th century BCE Sumer and Akkadian Empire Akkadian
Book of Job Unknown 7th – 4th century BCE Achaemenid Empire Hebrew
One Thousand and One Nights Unknown 700–1500 India/Iran/Iraq/Egypt/Tajikistan Arabic
Njál's Saga Unknown 13th century Iceland Old Norse
Pride and Prejudice Austen, JaneJane Austen 1813 United Kingdom English
Le Père Goriot de Balzac, HonoréHonoré de Balzac 1835 France French
Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable, a trilogy Beckett, SamuelSamuel Beckett 1951–53 Republic of Ireland French, English
The Decameron Boccaccio, GiovanniGiovanni Boccaccio 1349–53 Italy Italian
Ficciones Borges, Jorge LuisJorge Luis Borges 1944–86 Argentina Spanish
Wuthering Heights Brontë, EmilyEmily Brontë 1847 United Kingdom English
The Stranger Camus, AlbertAlbert Camus 1942 Algeria, French Empire French
Poems Celan, PaulPaul Celan 1952 Romania, France German
Journey to the End of the Night Céline, Louis-FerdinandLouis-Ferdinand Céline 1932 France French
Don Quixote Cervantes, Miguel deMiguel de Cervantes 1605 (part 1), 1615 (part 2) Spain Spanish
The Canterbury Tales Chaucer, GeoffreyGeoffrey Chaucer 14th century England English
Stories Chekhov, AntonAnton Chekhov 1886 Russia Russian
Nostromo Conrad, JosephJoseph Conrad 1904 United Kingdom English
Great Expectations Dickens, CharlesCharles Dickens 1861 United Kingdom English
Jacques the Fatalist Diderot, DenisDenis Diderot 1796 France French
Berlin Alexanderplatz Döblin, AlfredAlfred Döblin 1929 Germany German
Crime and Punishment Dostoevsky, FyodorFyodor Dostoevsky 1866 Russia Russian
The Idiot Dostoevsky, FyodorFyodor Dostoevsky 1869 Russia Russian
The Possessed Dostoevsky, FyodorFyodor Dostoevsky 1872 Russia Russian
The Brothers Karamazov Dostoevsky, FyodorFyodor Dostoevsky 1880 Russia Russian
Middlemarch Eliot, GeorgeGeorge Eliot 1871 United Kingdom English
Invisible Man Ellison, RalphRalph Ellison 1952 United States English
Medea Euripides 431 BCE Greece Greek
Absalom, Absalom! Faulkner, WilliamWilliam Faulkner 1936 United States English
The Sound and the Fury Faulkner, WilliamWilliam Faulkner 1929 United States English
Madame Bovary Flaubert, GustaveGustave Flaubert 1857 France French
Sentimental Education Flaubert, GustaveGustave Flaubert 1869 France French
Gypsy Ballads Lorca, Federico GarcíaFederico García Lorca 1928 Spain Spanish
One Hundred Years of Solitude Márquez, Gabriel GarcíaGabriel García Márquez 1967 Colombia Spanish
Love in the Time of Cholera Márquez, Gabriel GarcíaGabriel García Márquez 1985 Colombia Spanish
Faust Goethe, Johann Wolfgang vonJohann Wolfgang von Goethe 1832 Saxe-Weimar German
Dead Souls Gogol, NikolaiNikolai Gogol 1842 Russia Russian
The Tin Drum Grass, GünterGünter Grass 1959 Germany German
The Devil to Pay in the Backlands Guimarães Rosa, JoãoJoão Guimarães Rosa 1956 Brazil Portuguese
Hunger Hamsun, KnutKnut Hamsun 1890 Norway Norwegian
The Old Man and the Sea Hemingway, ErnestErnest Hemingway 1952 United States English
Iliad Homer 760–710 BCE Greece Greek
Odyssey Homer 8th century BCE Greece Greek
A Doll's House Ibsen, HenrikHenrik Ibsen 1879 Norway Norwegian
Ulysses Joyce, JamesJames Joyce 1922 Irish Free State English
Stories Kafka, FranzFranz Kafka 1924 Czechoslovakia German
The Trial Kafka, FranzFranz Kafka 1925 Czechoslovakia German
The Castle Kafka, FranzFranz Kafka 1926 Czechoslovakia German
Shakuntala Kālidāsa 1st century BCE – 4th century CE India Sanskrit
The Sound of the Mountain Kawabata, YasunariYasunari Kawabata 1954 Japan Japanese
Zorba the Greek Kazantzakis, NikosNikos Kazantzakis 1946 Greece Greek
Sons and Lovers Lawrence, D. H.D. H. Lawrence 1913 United Kingdom English
Independent People Laxness, HalldórHalldór Laxness 1934–35 Iceland Icelandic
Poems Leopardi, GiacomoGiacomo Leopardi 1818 Italy Italian
The Golden Notebook Lessing, DorisDoris Lessing 1962 United Kingdom English
Pippi Longstocking Lindgren, AstridAstrid Lindgren 1945 Sweden Swedish
A Madman's Diary Xun, LuLu Xun 1918 China Chinese
Children of Gebelawi Mahfouz, NaguibNaguib Mahfouz 1959 Egypt Arabic
Buddenbrooks Mann, ThomasThomas Mann 1901 Germany German
The Magic Mountain Mann, ThomasThomas Mann 1924 Germany German
Moby-Dick Melville, HermanHerman Melville 1851 United States English
Essays Montaigne, Michel deMichel de Montaigne 1595 France French
History Morante, ElsaElsa Morante 1974 Italy Italian
Beloved Morrison, ToniToni Morrison 1987 United States English
The Tale of Genji Shikibu, MurasakiMurasaki Shikibu 11th century Japan Japanese
The Man Without Qualities Musil, RobertRobert Musil 1930–32 Austria German
Lolita Nabokov, VladimirVladimir Nabokov 1955 Russia/United States English
Nineteen Eighty-Four Orwell, GeorgeGeorge Orwell 1949 United Kingdom English
Metamorphoses Ovid 1st century CE Roman Empire Classical Latin
The Book of Disquiet Pessoa, FernandoFernando Pessoa 1928 Portugal Portuguese
Tales Poe, Edgar AllanEdgar Allan Poe 19th century United States English
In Search of Lost Time Proust, MarcelMarcel Proust 1913–27 France French
Gargantua and Pantagruel Rabelais, FrançoisFrançois Rabelais 1532–34 France French
Pedro Páramo Rulfo, JuanJuan Rulfo 1955 Mexico Spanish
Masnavi Rumi 1258–73 Sultanate of Rum Persian
Midnight's Children Rushdie, SalmanSalman Rushdie 1981 United Kingdom, India English
Bostan Saadi 1257 Persia, Persian Empire Persian
Season of Migration to the North Salih, TayebTayeb Salih 1966 Sudan Arabic
Blindness Saramago, JoséJosé Saramago 1995 Portugal Portuguese
Hamlet Shakespeare, WilliamWilliam Shakespeare 1603 England English
King Lear Shakespeare, WilliamWilliam Shakespeare 1608 England English
Othello Shakespeare, WilliamWilliam Shakespeare 1609 England English
Oedipus the King Sophocles 430 BCE Greece Greek
The Red and the Black Stendhal 1830 France French
Tristram Shandy Sterne, LaurenceLaurence Sterne 1760 England English
Confessions of Zeno Svevo, ItaloItalo Svevo 1923 Italy Italian
Gulliver's Travels Swift, JonathanJonathan Swift 1726 Ireland English
War and Peace Tolstoy, LeoLeo Tolstoy 1865–1869 Russia Russian
Anna Karenina Tolstoy, LeoLeo Tolstoy 1877 Russia Russian
The Death of Ivan Ilyich Tolstoy, LeoLeo Tolstoy 1886 Russia Russian
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Twain, MarkMark Twain 1884 United States English
Ramayana Valmiki 5th century BCE - 4th century BCE India Sanskrit
Aeneid Virgil 29–19 BCE Roman Empire Classical Latin
Mahabharata Vyasa 9th century BCE – 5th century BCE India Sanskrit
Leaves of Grass Whitman, WaltWalt Whitman 1855 United States English
Mrs Dalloway Woolf, VirginiaVirginia Woolf 1925 United Kingdom English
To the Lighthouse Woolf, VirginiaVirginia Woolf 1927 United Kingdom English
Memoirs of Hadrian Yourcenar, MargueriteMarguerite Yourcenar 1951 France/Belgium French

List of authors surveyed[edit]

Name Country
Aitmatov, ChinghizChinghiz Aitmatov Kyrgyzstan
Altan, AhmetAhmet Altan Turkey
Appelfeld, AharonAharon Appelfeld Israel
Auster, PaulPaul Auster United States
Azúa, Félix deFélix de Azúa Spain
Barnes, JulianJulian Barnes United Kingdom
Behbahani, SiminSimin Behbahani Iran
Bly, RobertRobert Bly United States
Brink, AndréAndré Brink South Africa
Brøgger, SuzanneSuzanne Brøgger Denmark
Byatt, A. S.A. S. Byatt United Kingdom
Carey, PeterPeter Carey Australia
Cerda, MarthaMartha Cerda Mexico
Chang, JungJung Chang China/United Kingdom
Condé, MaryseMaryse Condé France
Couto, MiaMia Couto Mozambique
Crace, JimJim Crace United Kingdom
Danticat, EdwidgeEdwidge Danticat Haiti
Dao, BeiBei Dao China
Djebar, AssiaAssia Djebar Algeria
Dowlatabadi, MahmoudMahmoud Dowlatabadi Iran
Echenoz, JeanJean Echenoz France
Ekman, KerstinKerstin Ekman Sweden
Englander, NathanNathan Englander United States
Enzensberger, Hans MagnusHans Magnus Enzensberger Germany
Estévez, EmilioEmilio Estévez Cuba
Farah, NuruddinNuruddin Farah Somalia
Fløgstad, KjartanKjartan Fløgstad Norway
Fosse, JonJon Fosse Norway
Frame, JanetJanet Frame New Zealand
French, MarilynMarilyn French United States
Fuentes, CarlosCarlos Fuentes Mexico
Ghazzawi, IzzatIzzat Ghazzawi Palestine
Ghosh, AmitavAmitav Ghosh India
Gimferrer, PerePere Gimferrer Spain
Gordimer, NadineNadine Gordimer South Africa
Grossman, DavidDavid Grossman Israel
Guðmundsson, Einar MárEinar Már Guðmundsson Iceland
Heaney, SeamusSeamus Heaney Ireland
Hein, ChristophChristoph Hein Germany
Hemon, AleksandarAleksandar Hemon Bosnia-Herzegovina
Hoffman, AliceAlice Hoffman United States
Hove, ChenjeraiChenjerai Hove Zimbabwe
Ibrahim, SonallahSonallah Ibrahim Egypt
Irving, JohnJohn Irving United States
Jersild, P. C.P. C. Jersild Sweden
Kemal, YasarYasar Kemal Turkey
Kjærstad, JanJan Kjærstad Norway
Kundera, MilanMilan Kundera Czech Republic/France
Lander, LeenaLeena Lander Finland
le Carré, JohnJohn le Carré United Kingdom
Lenz, SiegfriedSiegfried Lenz Germany
Lessing, DorisDoris Lessing United Kingdom
Lindgren, AstridAstrid Lindgren Sweden
Luik, ViiviViivi Luik Estonia
Maalouf, AminAmin Maalouf Lebanon/France
Magris, ClaudioClaudio Magris Italy
Mailer, NormanNorman Mailer United States
Martínez, Tomás EloyTomás Eloy Martínez Argentina
McCourt, FrankFrank McCourt Ireland/United States
Mehta, GitaGita Mehta India
Miranda, AnaAna Miranda Brazil
Mistry, RohintonRohinton Mistry India/Canada
Munif, Abdel RahmanAbdel Rahman Munif Saudi-Arabia
Müller, HertaHerta Müller Romania
Naipaul, V. S.V. S. Naipaul Trinidad/United Kingdom
Nooteboom, CeesCees Nooteboom Netherlands
Okri, BenBen Okri Nigeria/United Kingdom
Pamuk, OrhanOrhan Pamuk Turkey
Paretsky, SaraSara Paretsky United States
Phillips, Jayne AnneJayne Anne Phillips United States
Rasputin, ValentinValentin Rasputin Russia
Ribeiro, João UbaldoJoão Ubaldo Ribeiro Brazil
Robbe-Grillet, AlainAlain Robbe-Grillet France
Rushdie, SalmanSalman Rushdie India/United Kingdom
Saadawi, Nawal ElNawal El Saadawi Egypt
al-Shaykh, HananHanan al-Shaykh Lebanon
Sirees, NihadNihad Sirees Syria
Sonnevi, GöranGöran Sonnevi Sweden
Sontag, SusanSusan Sontag United States
Soyinka, WoleWole Soyinka Nigeria
Späth, GeroldGerold Späth Switzerland
Swift, GrahamGraham Swift United Kingdom
Tabucchi, AntonioAntonio Tabucchi Italy
al-Tikerly, FouadFouad al-Tikerly Iraq
Thomas, D. M.D. M. Thomas United Kingdom
Thorpe, AdamAdam Thorpe United Kingdom
Thorup, KirstenKirsten Thorup Denmark
Tkachenko, AleksandrAleksandr Tkachenko Russia
Toer, Pramoedya AnantaPramoedya Ananta Toer Indonesia
Tokarczuk, OlgaOlga Tokarczuk Poland
Tournier, MichelMichel Tournier France
Toussaint, Jean-PhilippeJean-Philippe Toussaint Belgium
Uzun, MehmedMehmed Uzun Turkey
Valkeapää, Nils-AslakNils-Aslak Valkeapää Sápmi
Vassilikos, VassilisVassilis Vassilikos Greece
Vera, YvonneYvonne Vera Zimbabwe
Weldon, FayFay Weldon United Kingdom
Wolf, ChristaChrista Wolf Germany
Yehoshua, A. B.A. B. Yehoshua Israel
Zariâb, SpôjmaïSpôjmaï Zariâb Afghanistan

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Les 100 meilleurs livres de tous les temps". Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  2. ^ See table in article. 22 come from Ireland, UK, US, and Trinidad and Tabago; 4 come from India but are all from the minority of Indians with English as their primary language.

External links[edit]