Great Debut Novels
The best first novel by an author.
101 The Night Circus
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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 250,009 ratings
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102 Whose Body?  (Lord Peter Wi...
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 17,883 ratings
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103 Torn
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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 425 ratings
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104 Verland: The Transformation
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4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 101 ratings
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105 Sister Carrie
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3.67 of 5 stars 3.67 avg rating — 20,133 ratings
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106 Wired
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3.83 of 5 stars 3.83 avg rating — 47 ratings
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107 Apocalyptic Empire: The Hat...
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3.32 of 5 stars 3.32 avg rating — 34 ratings
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108 Adam Bede
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3.73 of 5 stars 3.73 avg rating — 12,514 ratings
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109 Beautiful Creatures (Caster...
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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77 avg rating — 271,527 ratings
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110 Mistress of the Art of Deat...
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 21,067 ratings
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111 Girl Unmoored
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 313 ratings
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111 The Love Affairs of Nathani...
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3.32 of 5 stars 3.32 avg rating — 5,989 ratings
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113 Forever Sunshine
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4.54 of 5 stars 4.54 avg rating — 65 ratings
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113 Safe & Sound: A Novel
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4.28 of 5 stars 4.28 avg rating — 82 ratings
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115 The Next Thing I Knew (Heav...
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3.58 of 5 stars 3.58 avg rating — 119 ratings
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116 The Rootless
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4.34 of 5 stars 4.34 avg rating — 29 ratings
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117 Dying To Forget (The Statio...
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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 888 ratings
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118 I Capture the Castle
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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 40,629 ratings
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119 Unearthly (Unearthly, #1)
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 66,432 ratings
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120 A Great Deliverance (Inspec...
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4.05 of 5 stars 4.05 avg rating — 19,790 ratings
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121 Like Water for Chocolate
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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 221,088 ratings
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122 Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins,...
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4.07 of 5 stars 4.07 avg rating — 61,257 ratings
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123 Wise Blood
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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 12,802 ratings
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124 The Bluest Eye
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 87,447 ratings
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125 The Brief Wondrous Life of ...
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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 118,556 ratings
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125 The Wayward Gifted: Broken ...
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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 66 ratings
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125 Diary of a Freedom Writer: ...
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4.35 of 5 stars 4.35 avg rating — 55 ratings
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125 Sex in the Title: A Comedy ...
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3.64 of 5 stars 3.64 avg rating — 450 ratings
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129 Doppelganger Experiment
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 84 ratings
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130 Shadows of the Realm
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4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 111 ratings
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131 My Year of Meats
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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 6,812 ratings
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132 A Curse Dark as Gold
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3.55 of 5 stars 3.55 avg rating — 7,948 ratings
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133 Soulless (Parasol Protector...
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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 49,429 ratings
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134 Neuromancer (Sprawl #1)
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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 146,101 ratings
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135 The Wasp Factory
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3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 32,968 ratings
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136 Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
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3.75 of 5 stars 3.75 avg rating — 24,949 ratings
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137 The Black Echo (Harry Bosch...
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4.05 of 5 stars 4.05 avg rating — 56,994 ratings
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138 This Side of Paradise
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3.68 of 5 stars 3.68 avg rating — 29,892 ratings
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139 The Chosen
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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 54,049 ratings
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140 Cover Her Face (Adam Dalgli...
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 15,072 ratings
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141 Arana's Visitor (The Vadela...
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 51 ratings
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141 Brigitta of the White Fores...
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4.22 of 5 stars 4.22 avg rating — 55 ratings
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141 Fall of Darkness (The Darkn...
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 142 ratings
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144 The Liquidator
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4.31 of 5 stars 4.31 avg rating — 29 ratings
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145 Perpetual Night
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3.63 of 5 stars 3.63 avg rating — 35 ratings
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146 I Hope You Find Me (Find Me...
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4.05 of 5 stars 4.05 avg rating — 284 ratings
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147 Ghostwritten
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4.08 of 5 stars 4.08 avg rating — 11,546 ratings
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148 The Land of Laughs
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 3,145 ratings
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149 Geek Love
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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 31,404 ratings
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149 City of Bones (The Mortal I...
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 650,937 ratings
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151 Tobacco Road
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3.72 of 5 stars 3.72 avg rating — 7,828 ratings
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152 The Curious Incident of the...
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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 596,527 ratings
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153 Sharp Objects
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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87 avg rating — 108,712 ratings
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154 The Bad Beginning (A Series...
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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81 avg rating — 187,163 ratings
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155 The Lightning Thief (Percy ...
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4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 733,596 ratings
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156 Comeback Love
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3.6 of 5 stars 3.60 avg rating — 371 ratings
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156 Secrets of the Realm
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4.43 of 5 stars 4.43 avg rating — 143 ratings
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156 The Book of Occult
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 96 ratings
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159 Snake Ropes
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3.61 of 5 stars 3.61 avg rating — 257 ratings
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160 Wind in the Grasses Dancing...
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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 40 ratings
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161 Hannah's Blessing
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3.73 of 5 stars 3.73 avg rating — 656 ratings
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162 ...And the Stars Will Sing
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3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 78 ratings
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163 A Discovery of Witches (All...
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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 146,309 ratings
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164 Fallen (Fallen, #1)
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3.75 of 5 stars 3.75 avg rating — 250,524 ratings
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165 Heart-Shaped Box
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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80 avg rating — 42,940 ratings
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166 The Commitments
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 8,416 ratings
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166 Scorpio Rising (The Scorpio...
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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77 avg rating — 101 ratings
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168 The Cement Garden
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3.56 of 5 stars 3.56 avg rating — 11,552 ratings
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169 Beauty (Folktales #1)
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 44,969 ratings
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170 Red Harvest
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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 11,768 ratings
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171 Half-Blood (Covenant, #1)
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4.19 of 5 stars 4.19 avg rating — 33,423 ratings
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172 The Jump Artist
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3.58 of 5 stars 3.58 avg rating — 139 ratings
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173 Magician (The Riftwar Saga,...
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4.31 of 5 stars 4.31 avg rating — 31,630 ratings
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173 Seers of Light (Light, #1)
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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92 avg rating — 663 ratings
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175 Daughter of the Forest  (Se...
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4.28 of 5 stars 4.28 avg rating — 27,843 ratings
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176 The Monsters Of Templeton
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3.56 of 5 stars 3.56 avg rating — 11,198 ratings
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177 Midnight in the Garden of G...
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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 116,381 ratings
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178 Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs,...
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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 27,317 ratings
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179 If Morning Ever Comes
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3.57 of 5 stars 3.57 avg rating — 1,858 ratings
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180 Swann's Way (In Search of L...
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 18,048 ratings
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181 Love Medicine
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 11,577 ratings
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182 Agnes Grey
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3.59 of 5 stars 3.59 avg rating — 21,449 ratings
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183 Hotel on the Corner of Bitt...
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 138,117 ratings
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184 Vernon God Little
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3.53 of 5 stars 3.53 avg rating — 18,179 ratings
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185 The Sunne in Splendour
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4.39 of 5 stars 4.39 avg rating — 12,152 ratings
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186 Faceless Killers (Kurt Wall...
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3.75 of 5 stars 3.75 avg rating — 28,211 ratings
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187 Sylvianna (Ossolyn, #1)
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3.75 of 5 stars 3.75 avg rating — 20 ratings
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187 Scattershot
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4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 19 ratings
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187 The Ultimate Game (Echo's R...
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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77 avg rating — 69 ratings
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187 Sticks and Stones
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3.46 of 5 stars 3.46 avg rating — 71 ratings
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187 For The Strength of The Hil...
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4.58 of 5 stars 4.58 avg rating — 26 ratings
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187 Dead Underground (Alec Merc...
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4.67 of 5 stars 4.67 avg rating — 27 ratings
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187 New Zigon - The Founder's C...
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4.75 of 5 stars 4.75 avg rating — 4 ratings
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194 The Tale of Halcyon Crane
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3.65 of 5 stars 3.65 avg rating — 2,449 ratings
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195 Home Repair
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3.13 of 5 stars 3.13 avg rating — 515 ratings
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195 Alanna: The First Adventure...
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4.25 of 5 stars 4.25 avg rating — 63,100 ratings
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195 The Marker
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4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 92 ratings
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198 The Train Was on Time
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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81 avg rating — 963 ratings
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199 The Ice House
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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 4,656 ratings
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200 Empty Roads & Broken Bottle...
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4.44 of 5 stars 4.44 avg rating — 36 ratings
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803 books · 1,254 voters · list created August 13th, 2008 by Sarah.
Tags: debut, fiction, first
27 likes · like
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Greyweather
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Comments (showing 1-47 of 47) (47 new)

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message 1: by Izzy (new)

Izzy Add to this list: The Help by Kathryn Stockett


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads The form to add books to the list is at the right-hand side of the page. Anyone can do so.


Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) Deleted (with enormous regret) "The Princess Bride." Not only was William Goldman already an Academy Award-decorated screenwriter by the time of this book's publication; he'd already published several novels and other works of fiction by this time as well. ("The Temple of Gold" - 1957; "Your Turn to Curtsy, My Turn to Bow" - 1958; "Soldier in the Rain" - 1960; "Boys and Girls Together" - 1964; "No Way to Treat a Lady" - 1964; "The Thing of It Is..." - 1967; and "Father's Day" - 1971).


Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) Also: should "Jane Eyre" really be on this list? It, too, is a wonderful and tremendously important book, but it was written after (albeit published before) "The Professor," and also after "The Green Dwarf" (1833) and after the collection of poetry which the Bronte sisters (a/k/a Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell) had published in 1846.


Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) Next question: What about Sylvia Plath's "Bell Jar"? It's her first (and only) novel, yes, but she'd published at least one collection of poetry before ("The Colossus," 1960).


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Should Torrents of Spring be on here? I was under the impression that Sun Also Rises was Hemingway's first novel.


Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) You're probably right -- I wasn't sure which one was published first (they're both from 1926), so I listed them both ... ;)


message 8: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Feb 28, 2010 01:20PM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Hm. Good question. The blurb on Sun Also Rises says "first big novel," not first novel. So I dunno.


Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Torr...):

"The Torrents of Spring is a novella written by Ernest Hemingway published in 1926. Hemingway's first novel, it was written as a parody of Sherwood Anderson. Subtitled "A Romantic Novel in Honor of the Passing of a Great Race" Hemingway used the work as a spoof of the world of writers.

The Torrents of Spring was Hemingway's first novel, though The Sun Also Rises was his first successful novel. Hemingway wrote The Torrents of Spring as means to cause his publisher, Horace Liveright of Boni & Liveright, to refuse publication.

(...)

According to the contract Boni and Liveright were to publish Hemingway's next three books, one of which was to be a novel, with the proviso that if a newly submitted work were to be rejected the contract would be terminated. Written in ten days, The Torrents of Spring was a satirical treatment of pretentious writers. Hemingway submitted the manuscript early in December 1925, and it was rejected by the end of the month. In January Max Perkins at Scribner's agreed to publish The Torrents of Spring in addition to Hemingway's future work."

And http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sun_... :

"In July 1925 Hemingway went to the San Fermin fiesta in Pamplona. It was his third visit to the fiesta and became the inspiration for The Sun Also Rises. (...) Hemingway realized the fiesta of 1925 was the stuff of a novel. He decided to use a first person narrator and began to write as soon as the fiesta ended. By September, about six weeks after beginning the novel, he was done with the first draft.

(...)

After he was finished with the first draft, in order to maintain perspective, he started work on a new manuscript. In the fall of 1925 Hemingway wrote the satiric novel The Torrents of Spring which his publisher immediately rejected. Within a month Charles Scribner's Sons agreed to publish both The Torrents of Spring and The Sun Also Rises."

So ... which one do we leave on the list -- "Torrents of Spring," or "Sun Also Rises," or both? I don't care one way or the other!


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I'd say leave them both on, as he seems to have written one first, but the second was published first? Weird case.


message 11: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Themis-Athena wrote: "Next question: What about Sylvia Plath's "Bell Jar"? It's her first (and only) novel, yes, but she'd published at least one collection of poetry before ("The Colossus," 1960)."

I think we should leave it on since poetry is such a different genre.

As to Jane Eyre, I'll leave that up to the experts.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Yeah, I agree on the poetry being a very different genre.

I'd say if we allow both Sun Also Rises/Torrents of Spring, we should allow both Jane Eyre/The Professor, under the same rule (or so it sounds to me).


message 13: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn FOOTNOTE: Heinlein's first-written novel, For Us the Living, was a lightly disguised lecture not published in his lifetime.


message 14: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn FOOTNOTE: The Stone Blaster, Henning Mankell's first novel, not available in English.


Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) Susanna wrote: "Yeah, I agree on the poetry being a very different genre.

I'd say if we allow both Sun Also Rises/Torrents of Spring, we should allow both Jane Eyre/The Professor, under the same rule (or so it sounds to me)."


Fair comment on all of the above!


Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) Thom wrote: "FOOTNOTE: The Stone Blaster, Henning Mankell's first novel, not available in English."

But Goodreads has it in Swedish: Bergsprängaren (if that's the book you're looking for -- according to the English Wikipedia page for Mankell -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henning_... -- this is allegedly a play). The first book that Wiki is oddly listing as both a novel and a play is Vettvillingen (1977 -- translated as "The Maniac").


message 17: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn Themis-Athena wrote: "Thom wrote: "FOOTNOTE: The Stone Blaster, Henning Mankell's first novel, not available in English."

But Goodreads has it in Swedish: Bergsprängaren (if that's the book you're looking ..."


You mean....Wikipedia has inaccurate information ? Hard to believe isn't it.


message 19: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn Canary wrote: "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle was such a strange book. I am not sure about it being a great debut.
Alice"


Agreed, not a great book IMO, but maybe a great DEBUT, coming out with trumpets blaring, etc. Similarly, I'm for overlooking juveninalia and half-baked failures resurrected after the author made a serious debut.


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

Maybe he will do better next time. I did read it all and that says something. So many books I start and then put down like Strange Brew which I just have out from the library.

Agreed, not a great book IMO, but maybe a great DEBUT, coming out with trump..."


message 21: by ★ Jess (new)

★ Jess ARTEMIS FOWL is not a debut. Eoin Colfer had written many more books before that


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Removed:

Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer.

Thanks for mentioning it, Booklover.


message 23: by Anne (new)

Anne Why are two Jane Austen books on this list? They can't both be debut novels.


Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) True. "Emma" (1815) was Austen's fourth novel, not her first. "Sense and Sensibility" (1811) was her first book to be published (though not the first thing she ever wrote).

Therefore, removed "Emma."


message 25: by Anne (new)

Anne Wow, you moved quickly on that. Much happier now that Austen has only one debut novel just like all other writers.


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

The Ballad of Young Tam Lin (fantasy romance).
https://www.createspace.com/3661637 (or as a Kindle). Couldn't put it down (in fact, just reread it.) Humor, romance, fantasy, jeopardy, all in a package of great writing.


message 27: by Sarah (new)

Sarah I don't think the Hunger Games was Suzanne Collins' first book.


Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) Sarah Pi wrote: "I don't think the Hunger Games was Suzanne Collins' first book."

Yes -- I think it's predated by several, if not all of her Underland Chronicles books ...


message 29: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Do I as the creator of the list have the power to remove books from the list, or does it have to be a librarian?


Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) Should work for the list creator as well.

(If you click on the link that takes you to the "edit" page (at the end of the list description), you should see another link on that page that says "remove particular books." Clicking on that link will take you to another version of the list with the option to remove individual books.)

If it doesn't work for you, let me know and I'll be happy to help out.


message 31: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Thanks! I'll try that.


message 32: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Hmm...it lets me edit the list info but not the contents of the list.


message 34: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Thanks!


Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) You're welcome. I also took the liberty of removing Meyer's "The Host," btw, which most certainly is not a debut, either ...


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Yeah, it requires a librarian, not just the list-creator, unfortunately.


Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) Susanna wrote: "Yeah, it requires a librarian, not just the list-creator, unfortunately."

Seems a bit unfair, doesn't it? If not the list creator, then who should have control over the list's contents?


message 38: by Sarah (new)

Sarah The edit page said "If you have reached this page you have been granted temporary librarian status" or something like that, and then offered me the opportunity to edit the title and explanation of the list, but nothing more. Junior librarian :)


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I'll confess that one of my major motivations for becoming a librarian was so that I could remove "wha?" books from lists I had started. (Thomas Hardy did not write about Tudor England, people!)


message 40: by Sarah (new)

Sarah I like how Twilight and Hunger Games and Harry Potter mysteriously appear on nearly every single list, regardless of the topic.


message 41: by [deleted user] (new)

Self-replicating literary meme?


Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) Karl wrote: "Self-replicating literary meme?"

So it would appear ...

Susanna wrote: "I'll confess that one of my major motivations for becoming a librarian was so that I could remove "wha?" books from lists I had started. (Thomas Hardy did not write about Tudor England, people!)"

Yes, true, I do recall that that was actually one of my motivations as well ... after having had to rely on the generosity of librarians (chiefly among them, yourself) for doing all my cleanup work for me! Still, one would expect GR to allow everyone to keep tabs on their OWN lists at least, wouldn't one? Even if they choose not to become librarians and help out in other areas, too ...


message 43: by Ben (last edited Sep 08, 2012 11:13AM) (new)

Ben The list description is confusing: "Great Debut Novels: the best first book by an author." Which one is it? First novel or first book? Take the example of James Joyce. His first book was the short story collection Dubliners, but his first novel was A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

I assume we're going with "first novel," as that's the way everyone else is voting. I'm just anal about imprecise language.


message 44: by Melinda Jane (new)

Melinda Jane Harrison Some of these books are not debut books, so I would not vote on them one way or another.


message 45: by Caroline (new)

Caroline The Thirteenth Tale is listed twice--once on the first page, and once on one of the later pages, I think page 7 or 8.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I combined duplicates; that should have gotten it.


message 47: by Xenophon (new)

Xenophon Hendrix My opinion: the list should go with first published novel no matter how many other novels or different types of non-novel writing the author did beforehand. For one, sometimes authors have to write many novels before they break into print. Once they become successful, the publishers clean out their trunks. Two, different writing requires different skill sets. Novels aren't plays, short stories, or textbooks. Each one is its own learning curve.


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