50 Must Read Novels

classiclit1 I have seen a few other bloggers creating their own Best Lists of books – and I decided I would do the same. The list below are books I have read which I think are MUST READS. Many of these have been reviewed on Caribousmom – you can find all books reviewed (alphabetically by author) here. I decided to pare the list down to 50 books of fiction (in no particular order). Have you read any of these? What would make your top 50 must read novels?

  1. War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy
  2. The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett
  3. The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak
  4. Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  5. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
  6. The Stand, by Stephen King
  7. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
  8. The Hotel New Hampshire, by John Irving
  9. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
  10. Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry
  11. Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner
  12. The Borrowers, by Mary Norton
  13. Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell
  14. The Cellist of Sarajevo, by Steven Galloway
  15. The Country of Pointed Firs, by Sarah Orne Jewett
  16. Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
  17. Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton
  18. The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy
  19. The Lone Pilgrim, by Laurie Colwin
  20. The Road Home, by Rose Tremain
  21. Out Stealing Horses, by Per Petterson
  22. The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
  23. The Robber Bride, by Margaret Atwood
  24. The Secret River, by Kate Grenville
  25. Snowflower and The Secret Fan, by Lisa See
  26. So Big, by Edna Ferber
  27. The Talisman, by Stephen King and Peter Straub
  28. Talk Before Sleep, by Elizabeth Berg
  29. Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe
  30. A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Housseini
  31. Back When We Were Grownups, by Anne Tyler
  32. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
  33. The Colour, by Rose Tremain
  34. Crime and Punishment, by F.M. Doestevsky
  35. Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters
  36. Guernica, by Dave Boling
  37. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  38. The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros
  39. The Outlander, by Gil Adamson
  40. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
  41. The Shipping News, by Annie Proulx
  42. The World According to Garp, by John Irving
  43. Suite Francaise, by Irene Nemirovsky
  44. …And Ladies of the Club, by Helen Hooven Santmyer
  45. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
  46. People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks
  47. How Green Was My Valley, by Richard Llewellyn
  48. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
  49. Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
  50. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
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    • Lezlie on January 29, 2009 at 11:52

    Great list! I’ve read quite a few of them, and have others on the ol’ TBR.

    How is pup doing?

  1. I really must read ‘Lonesome Dove” I don’t like westerns – but many people have mentioned this as a favourite.

    I am awarding you with a “My blog is Fabulous Award”


    Enjoy 🙂

    • Laura on January 29, 2009 at 12:48

    So I think I’ll create a similar post on my blog. It will be quite simple: a link to this post with the tag line, “What she said.”

    * cracking myself up *

  2. I think 50% of my list would be the same as yours – the other 50% I haven’t read yet!

    • Kathy on January 29, 2009 at 16:35

    I’ve read 11 of them.

    • Vasilly on January 29, 2009 at 17:12

    I’ve only read five of the books on your list, but I have eleven of them on my bookshelves!

  3. #2-TBR list
    #3-loved it
    #4,#5 TBR list
    #6. The Stand-back when King was great! I devoured his early stuff!
    #14-TBR list
    #17- Great story
    #18,20,30-TBR list
    #22-FANTASTIC book-yes I’m screaming
    #25- a fave of mine
    #28- I love Berg.
    #32- enjoyed it
    #37-loved beyond words
    #40-TBR list
    #41-Adore her writing
    #45-Excellent story teller and an first-rate fantasy book!!
    #48-will be reading in Feb.
    #49- Jamie is MINE…do you hear? All mine!!
    #50-Can it get any better than this one?

    Can you tell that I loved your list?

    • Ali on January 29, 2009 at 18:50

    I think I’d have a hard time choosing 50, because there are so many worthy ones i haven’t read yet!

    • JoAnn on January 30, 2009 at 03:46

    Great list, I’ve read 23 of them. Hmm, two by Rose Tremain. I’ll have to try some thing by her. Any recommendations on which to read first?

  4. There are some great books on this list! The Book Thief is one of my all-time favorite reads as well along with To Kill A Mockingbird.

    • Rebecca on January 30, 2009 at 10:04

    I have given you an award, Wendy. Come by to pick it up!

  5. That’s a great list 🙂 I’ve read quite a few of them. The Poisionwood Bible was one of my favorites. Nice page!

    • Lexi on January 31, 2009 at 14:29

    If I’ve counted correctly, I’ve read eight of these. Still a ways to go, I see. But several of them are on my immediate TBR list, so that’s good.

  6. I’ve read 12, and have several more on my to-be-read stacks or lists.

    I want to do this, too, but I have trouble with novels that contain explicit material – like Outlander. I love that book – but can’t recommend it to some of my friends because of that, so how can I say it’s a “must read?”

    Then I also have the other end of the spectrum – Christian fiction that is excellent, but what if a blog reader or friend is an atheist and would be put-off by the content?

    I guess I have to just not worry about that and make the list personal to me. I’m sure there are other readers out there whose tastes vary as widely as my own.

    • Monica on January 31, 2009 at 21:02

    I’ve read a number, and many more are in my LOOOONG TBR list. It’s neat to see what others consider “must reads”.

    • lenore on February 1, 2009 at 00:50

    The Book Thief, The Handmaid’s Tale, Rebecca, Cloud Atlas The Road and Fingersmith would be in my top 50 as well.

    • Wendy on February 1, 2009 at 09:29

    Lezlie: Hope you’ll enjoy the ones on your TBR

    Sally: I am not a big Western fan – but Lonesome Dove is wonderful. Thank you for the award!

    Laura: *smiling* I guess they would be quite similar 🙂

    Jackie: I’m not surprised – we seem to have similar tastes in books.

    Kathy: So when are you going to read the other 39? *smiling*

    Vasilly: Hope you’ll like the ones waiting on your shelves!

    • Wendy on February 1, 2009 at 09:35

    Staci: Your comment made me smile! Glad you agree with this list!

    Ali: I had a hard time narrowing down the list…and I am sure if I wrote this again in 2 years, there would be even more I’d want to add.

    JoAnn: Tremain’s latest book is definitely wonderful (The Road Home)…but either of the two I listed are fabulous. I can also recommend Music and Silence by her.

    Samantha: I loved both those books as well.

    Rebecca: THANK YOU!

    ChicGeek: Thanks! The Poisonwood Bible is one of those books that really sticks with you, doesn’t it?

    Lexi: Hope you’ll read most of these eventually – they are such great books.

    Carrie: *nods* I know there are books I’ve listed that certain readers won’t like…but I viewed this as my personal recommendation list. There is no way you can satisfy everyone’s preferences.

    Monica: I like reading other people’s lists as well.

    Lenore: All of those are so awesome. Glad we agree!

    • Rebecca on February 1, 2009 at 21:12

    Okay, I have only read 4 books on your list! The Poisonwood Bible, Things Fall Apart, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and To Kill a Mockingbird. But I do own a few more, and then even a few more are on my 2009 TBR pile. Does this make it better? lol

    • Wendy on February 3, 2009 at 17:37

    Rebecca: Well the four you’ve read are amazing books!

    • anton on November 4, 2009 at 16:37

    You’re right about War and Peace being no.1 …but I don’t think I can trust a list with Handmaid’s Tale on it: that was the second worst book I ever had the misfortune to read.

    • Wendy on November 6, 2009 at 08:32

    Anton: Well, I wouldn’t expect everyone to agree with every book on my list *smiles* But I am a huge Atwood fan and love just about everything she writes…sorry that book didn’t work for you 🙂

    • Ximena on December 6, 2009 at 11:27

    Interesting list, though I’m surprised that “Brave New World” is not up there.

    • Wendy on December 6, 2009 at 16:43

    Ximena: well, I could only pick 50…so I’m sure I missed some peoples’ favorites!

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