My 100 Best Novels. With a Few Memoirs. Plus Other Things.

Okay, Nathan Bransford said this was hard, and I believe him. But it was also fun. It has made me very clear that there are some books I want to go back and reread and some books I should be putting on my never-read-and-whyever-not? list.

Nathan had his caveats, and I’m going to have mine. They are:

  1. The books will be ones I’ve actually read, all the way through. There are probably many books out there that I have never picked up that would totally qualify.
  2. Some of these books I literally haven’t read in decades and are on the list because of the impact they had on me when I did read them. If I reread them today, they might not make the list. Others are recent reads that are foremost in my memory–in 10 years, they might not be here. Some are books that I know I won’t choose to read again, because they were brilliantly written, but I don’t want to repeat the experience of being in the world they portray.
  3. As I look at the list developing, I realize that it is a very white, heterosexual list. I am working on this, trying to read more widely and more diversely. But these are still books I fell in love with or was at least blown away by, so–for now–they make up my “best.”
  4. They are in alphabetical order, obviously, not order of favoritude.
  5. I’m not going to argue about this list. I welcome all comments and discussion, but I won’t be defending anything I’ve put here. That’s why it’s my list. You should definitely make your own and, if you want, leave a link in the comments!
  6. Because some of my favorite books are memoirs, I’ve included some of those. And I cheated a couple of other times, to get in some other books that are short stories or, in one case, long essays. Because these books are The Best.

Here we go.

NOVELS

  1. 84 Charing Cross Road
  2. All Creatures Great and Small
  3. Anne of Green Gables
  4. The Ark
  5. Artemis Fowl
  6. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice
  7. Between, Georgia
  8. The BFG
  9. Bitterblue
  10. Ms. Bixby’s Last Day
  11. Breakup
  12. The Brothers Karamazov
  13. Bluecrowne
  14. The Bluest Eye
  15. Busman’s Holiday
  16. Caddie Woodlawn
  17. Captains Courageous
  18. Charlotte’s Web
  19. Cheaper by the Dozen
  20. Cloud and Wallfish
  21. The Color of Water
  22. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
  23. The Flame Trees of Thika
  24. Flygirl
  25. Frindle
  26. A Good Man is Hard to Find
  27. Great Expectations
  28. Half Magic
  29. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  30. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  31. High Hearts
  32. The Haunting of Hill House
  33. The Hobbit
  34. Holes
  35. A House with Four Rooms
  36. I’ll Give You the Sun
  37. Inkheart
  38. Island of the Aunts
  39. Jo’s Boys *
  40. The Jungle
  41. The Left-Handed Fate
  42. Life of Pi
  43. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
  44. Lionboy
  45. Little Men *
  46. Living with Jackie Chan
  47. The Long Winter
  48. The Magician’s Elephant
  49. Matilda
  50. The Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
  51. The Metamorphosis **
  52. The Mouse and the Motorcycle
  53. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
  54. My Antonia
  55. My Father’s Dragon
  56. My Most Excellent Year
  57. Not a Genuine Black Man
  58. Okay for Now
  59. The Only Ones
  60. The Boy Most Likely To
  61. Persuasion
  62. The Penderwicks
  63. The Penderwicks in Spring
  64. Perverse and Foolish
  65. The Phantom Tollbooth
  66. The Picture of Dorian Gray
  67. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle
  68. Pippi Longstocking
  69. Pride and Prejudice
  70. The Princess Bride
  71. And Quiet Flows the Don
  72. Reflecting the Sky
  73. A Ring of Endless Light
  74. A Room of One’s Own 
  75. The Scarlet Pimpernel
  76. The Secret Garden
  77. The Shepherd’s Crown **
  78. Speak
  79. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
  80. Tea with the Black Dragon
  81. The True Meaning of Smekday
  82. The Tunnel of Hugsy Goode
  83. The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax
  84. Travels with Charley
  85. Villette
  86. War and Peace
  87. The Water is Wide
  88. The Watsons Go to Birmingham
  89. We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea
  90. The Wee Free Men **
  91. When We Rise
  92. Wintergirls
  93. Winnie the Pooh
  94. Travels with Charley
  95. The Water is Wide
  96. The Wolf Wilder
  97. The World According to Garp
  98. A Wrinkle in Time
  99. Wuthering Heights
  100. Zooman Sam

* Little Men and Jo’s Boys reach “best” status when you read them both, in order.
*** Make sure you read all the Tiffany Aching books after The Wee Free Men BEFORE you read The Shepherd’s Crown (the last in the series).

 

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