Goodreads Top 100 Literary Novels of All Time

"The Goodreads Top 100 Literary Novels of All Time List" represents a list of 100 literary novels recommended by the Goodreads Serious Literature Group for voting by all Goodreads Members via Listopia. PLEASE DO NOT ADD BOOKS TO THIS LIST.
List Challenge
The average Goodreads member has read 16 out of 100 books on this list — how many have you read?
1

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4.25 avg rating — 2,584,877 ratings
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2

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4.17 avg rating — 2,606,630 ratings
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3

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3.91 avg rating — 3,296,107 ratings
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4

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4.11 avg rating — 1,445,057 ratings
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5

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4.20 avg rating — 538,420 ratings
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6

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3.84 avg rating — 1,176,215 ratings
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7

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3.81 avg rating — 1,079,878 ratings
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8

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3.89 avg rating — 591,105 ratings
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9

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3.86 avg rating — 1,732,024 ratings
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10

by
4.24 avg rating — 679,585 ratings
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11

by
3.98 avg rating — 1,265,726 ratings
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12

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4.06 avg rating — 662,182 ratings
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13

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4.04 avg rating — 571,775 ratings
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14

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4.32 avg rating — 209,719 ratings
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15

by
3.98 avg rating — 661,999 ratings
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16

by
3.95 avg rating — 658,007 ratings
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17

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4.07 avg rating — 1,018,507 ratings
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18

by
3.83 avg rating — 746,588 ratings
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19

by
3.76 avg rating — 708,963 ratings
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20

by
4.11 avg rating — 235,263 ratings
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21

by
3.49 avg rating — 443,765 ratings
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22

by
3.87 avg rating — 182,245 ratings
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23

by
4.03 avg rating — 48,591 ratings
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24

by
4.37 avg rating — 383,685 ratings
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25

by
3.96 avg rating — 323,715 ratings
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26

by
3.86 avg rating — 147,556 ratings
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27

by
4.12 avg rating — 264,084 ratings
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28

by
3.39 avg rating — 638,330 ratings
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29

by
3.73 avg rating — 99,985 ratings
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30

by
3.76 avg rating — 198,396 ratings
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31

by
4.31 avg rating — 201,731 ratings
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32

by
3.98 avg rating — 183,488 ratings
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33

by
3.77 avg rating — 112,815 ratings
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34

by
3.96 avg rating — 230,444 ratings
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35

by
3.79 avg rating — 219,051 ratings
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36

by
3.86 avg rating — 143,573 ratings
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37

by
3.80 avg rating — 2,435,504 ratings
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38

by
3.98 avg rating — 131,442 ratings
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39

by
3.98 avg rating — 85,224 ratings
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40

by
3.64 avg rating — 253,273 ratings
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41

by
3.90 avg rating — 231,329 ratings
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42

by
3.89 avg rating — 211,055 ratings
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43

by
really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 86,546 ratings
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44

by
4.11 avg rating — 165,177 ratings
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45

by
3.64 avg rating — 158,159 ratings
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46

by
4.27 avg rating — 48,466 ratings
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47

by
4.18 avg rating — 94,928 ratings
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48

by
4.30 avg rating — 66,513 ratings
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49

by
3.78 avg rating — 111,946 ratings
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50

by
3.98 avg rating — 736 ratings
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51

by
3.62 avg rating — 43,614 ratings
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52

by
4.34 avg rating — 9,213 ratings
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53

by
3.96 avg rating — 35,843 ratings
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54

by
3.94 avg rating — 49,363 ratings
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55

by
4.09 avg rating — 52,206 ratings
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56

by
3.78 avg rating — 109,234 ratings
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57

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4.45 avg rating — 42,521 ratings
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58

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4.27 avg rating — 3,943,347 ratings
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59

by
3.95 avg rating — 75,634 ratings
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60

by
4.14 avg rating — 30,131 ratings
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61

by
4.17 avg rating — 36,300 ratings
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62

by
3.99 avg rating — 55,967 ratings
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63

by
3.69 avg rating — 56,956 ratings
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64

by
4.30 avg rating — 1,754 ratings
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65

by
3.74 avg rating — 29,946 ratings
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66

by
3.74 avg rating — 17,963 ratings
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67

by
4.20 avg rating — 12,457 ratings
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68

by
3.85 avg rating — 70,370 ratings
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69

by
3.93 avg rating — 51,506 ratings
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70

by
3.94 avg rating — 29,939 ratings
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71

by
3.85 avg rating — 15,582 ratings
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72

by
3.90 avg rating — 26,879 ratings
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73

by
4.26 avg rating — 1,535 ratings
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74

by
4.16 avg rating — 10,700 ratings
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75

by
3.96 avg rating — 17,724 ratings
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76

by
4.16 avg rating — 7,816 ratings
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77

by
3.97 avg rating — 594,986 ratings
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78

by
3.82 avg rating — 16,922 ratings
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79

by
4.16 avg rating — 17,408 ratings
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80

by
3.80 avg rating — 19,815 ratings
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81

by
3.78 avg rating — 21,848 ratings
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82

by
3.79 avg rating — 20,276 ratings
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83

by
4.08 avg rating — 6,512 ratings
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84

by
3.80 avg rating — 19,646 ratings
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85

by
3.71 avg rating — 18,057 ratings
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86

by
3.71 avg rating — 9,238 ratings
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87

by
3.67 avg rating — 10,999 ratings
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88

by
3.48 avg rating — 8,584 ratings
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89

by
4.20 avg rating — 4,257 ratings
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90

by
3.72 avg rating — 3,297 ratings
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91

by
4.43 avg rating — 6,599 ratings
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92

by
4.06 avg rating — 8,507 ratings
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93

by
3.86 avg rating — 7,652 ratings
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94

by
4.28 avg rating — 2,504 ratings
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95

by
really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 2,303 ratings
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96

by
4.19 avg rating — 1,001 ratings
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97

by
really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 551,235 ratings
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98

by
3.98 avg rating — 77,614 ratings
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99

by
3.89 avg rating — 1,219 ratings
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100

by
4.29 avg rating — 399 ratings
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Get Results & Compare With Friends »




David 858 books
1985 friends
Dr. Zyllihapping 696 books
451 friends
the gift 4941 books
357 friends
Janet 69 books
2 friends
Autumn 2062 books
141 friends
Gary 648 books
148 friends
Becky 1058 books
22 friends
Ben 1078 books
74 friends

More voters…


Comments Showing 1-50 of 157 (157 new)


message 1: by Ben (new)

Ben How was this list created? (i.e. how was it determined which books would be on list and which wouldn't)?


message 2: by David (new)

David Lentz Our group accepted recommendations from Goodreaders and then debated the most worthy ones. Feel free to review the thread from the outset. It was essentially a collaborative effort among our group of Goodreaders of literary novels over a few weeks.


Dr. Zyllihapping I-Don't-Have-A-Last-Name Uh, David.........somebody is adding books to the list!


message 4: by David (new)

David Lentz Dear Tayyab,
Thanks. I have restored us back to the original list from the group.


message 5: by David (new)

David Lentz Dear Goodreads,

"P+P" plus "Jane Eyre" at the top of our all-time list of literary novels? Really?
Can't we do better than this?


message 6: by David (new)

David Lentz "She makes me detest all her people, without reserve. Is that her intention? It is not believable. Then is it her purpose to make the reader detest her people up to the middle of the book and like them in the rest of the chapters? That could be. That would be high art. It would be worth while, too. Some day I will examine the other end of her books and see." - "Jane Austen," published in 2009 in "Who Is Mark Twain?"


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Thirty-four voters is not a huge sample size.


message 8: by David (new)

David Lentz Thank you, Susanna. This is a great list with an odd ranking.


message 9: by Dr. Zyllihapping (last edited Oct 12, 2011 08:37AM) (new)

Dr. Zyllihapping I-Don't-Have-A-Last-Name Odd it certainly is, for "1984" is #2. I love that book, (I'm reading it nowadays, and I even voted for it) but #2 is too high. I would have expected Ulysses or Metamorphosis to do better.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads 1984, like the rest of the top five, is pretty frequently assigned in school, I think (I know I read all of them there), so a lot of people have actually read them. Frequency bias.


message 11: by Dr. Zyllihapping (new)

Dr. Zyllihapping I-Don't-Have-A-Last-Name Susanna wrote: "1984, like the rest of the top five, is pretty frequently assigned in school, I think (I know I read all of them there), so a lot of people have actually read them. Frequency bias."

Okay. I have no problem with Huck Finn in the top 5, though. Now THAT was a great book, totally. And, as I said before, Ulysses, Metamorphosis and Don Quixote should be higher.


message 12: by Johanna (new)

Johanna What a great list! Makes me realise how many classics I still need to read though... a bit depressing :)


message 13: by Colin (new)

Colin Bruce Anthes Fantastic list! I feel reluctant to vote though. I'm ashamed to admit I haven't read any Dostoyevsky yet, and I've only read James Joyce's short stories. Keep the list posted, and I'll come back when I feel better qualified!


message 14: by Dr. Zyllihapping (new)

Dr. Zyllihapping I-Don't-Have-A-Last-Name Colin wrote: "Fantastic list! I feel reluctant to vote though. I'm ashamed to admit I haven't read any Dostoyevsky yet, and I've only read James Joyce's short stories. Keep the list posted, and I'll come back wh..."

Yes, it's a pretty good list. I contributed too. I feel proud of myself, sorta. And yes, I plan to read Dostoevsky too! I have Notes from Underground in my collection, read a bit, loved it.........so I guess he's a great author. And I've read some of Finnegans Wake online. It was awesome :)


message 15: by Dr. Zyllihapping (new)

Dr. Zyllihapping I-Don't-Have-A-Last-Name Wait, who added Breakfast of Champions and Atlas Shrugged now? Seriously, first Catcher in the Rye, then this..........next To Kill a Mockingbird will be popping up out of nowhere.


message 17: by Dr. Zyllihapping (new)

Dr. Zyllihapping I-Don't-Have-A-Last-Name Personally, I love Catcher, but David didn't allow it in the list, along with TKAM.


message 18: by David (new)

David Lentz Catcher and TKAM are YA novels, which Tayyab has added to his top 100 list of books for younger readers. If we were to turn our existing list of literary novels upside down, it seems to me, then we would have a better ranking of true literary novels. I am deeply disappointed that Goodreaders appear to have so mis-ranked this particular list. We must be reading too many books about vampires, Harry Potter and romance. Come on, people, can't we dig deeper?


message 19: by Colin (new)

Colin Bruce Anthes Ah yes that makes sense. While Mockingbird is a very deserving novel, putting it in a separate catagory means more great books on great lists. I've added books from here to my "to read" list because of that, which is about the best contribution Goodreads can make.


message 20: by David (new)

David Lentz Dear Colin,
In case you haven't heard this enough lately, you're a good man. Thank you for your valued input on this list.
Cordially,
David


message 21: by Dr. Zyllihapping (new)

Dr. Zyllihapping I-Don't-Have-A-Last-Name David wrote: "Catcher and TKAM are YA novels, which Tayyab has added to his top 100 list of books for younger readers. If we were to turn our existing list of literary novels upside down, it seems to me, then we..."

It seems about right to me, but.........*gasp* Why are "Finnegans Wake", "Tristram Shandy" and "War and Peace" THAT low?


message 22: by Dr. Zyllihapping (new)

Dr. Zyllihapping I-Don't-Have-A-Last-Name Colin wrote: "Ah yes that makes sense. While Mockingbird is a very deserving novel, putting it in a separate catagory means more great books on great lists. I've added books from here to my "to read" list becaus..."

I was thinking the same, that Catcher and Mockingbird were more suited to a "Greatest Children's Books" list than a "Greatest Literary Novels" list. Oh, anyway, that reminds me, I really must be getting on with my list......


message 23: by Dr. Zyllihapping (new)

Dr. Zyllihapping I-Don't-Have-A-Last-Name Actually, David, looking over this list, I realized that while it does include "V." and "Mason & Dixon" by Thomas Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow" which is, I've heard, his most famous novel, is not included..........is this a case of "Well, nobody nominated it" or "Well, it didn't deserve a place on the list, therefore it was taken off"?


message 24: by David (new)

David Lentz I have read three of the Pynchon novels that you mention and all are great. Pynchon is worthy of a Nobel Prize for Literature for the body of his work. Pynchon is well represented on our list. I prefer "Mason & Dixon" of the three. This list isn't about what is "popular" because then it would be full of best-sellers. The intent of this list is to encourage people to get beyond popular works into truly great literary novels which have survived the test of time. Goodreaders seem obsessed by popular works with zero literary merit. Hence, this list.


message 25: by Dr. Zyllihapping (new)

Dr. Zyllihapping I-Don't-Have-A-Last-Name David wrote: "I have read three of the Pynchon novels that you mention and all are great. Pynchon is worthy of a Nobel Prize for Literature for the body of his work. Pynchon is well represented on our list. I pr..."

But this list is half filled with "popular" works. And I know it isn't about "popular", i also meant that it was the most critically acclaimed of the three.


message 26: by David (new)

David Lentz I understand your perfectly valid point. The most important aspect is that because of this list more Goodreaders will pick-up and read masterpieces. Thank you for your help in building this list, Tayyab.


message 27: by Manny (new)

Manny Hm... why Slaughterhouse-Five and not Cat's Cradle? I am far from being the only person who thinks it's a much better book.


message 28: by David (new)

David Lentz I would also like to add that the reason so many of the most popular books rank on top of this list is that many Goodreaders are younger and haven't yet gotten around to many of the more challenging masterpieces. I refer to "War and Peace," "Ulysses," "Don Quixote" and the novels of Proust, for example. Yet these young Goodreaders absolutely are on the right track and will be genuinely rewarded intellectually when they are ready take on the greatest novels.


message 29: by Dr. Zyllihapping (new)

Dr. Zyllihapping I-Don't-Have-A-Last-Name Manny wrote: "Hm... why Slaughterhouse-Five and not Cat's Cradle? I am far from being the only person who thinks it's a much better book."

Well, now that's the exact opposite of the Thomas Pynchon case. "Slaughterhouse-Five" is generally more popular.


message 30: by Dr. Zyllihapping (new)

Dr. Zyllihapping I-Don't-Have-A-Last-Name David wrote: "I would also like to add that the reason so many of the most popular books rank on top of this list is that many Goodreaders are younger and haven't yet gotten around to many of the more challengin..."

I agree on your point about "War and Peace", etc. I always thought that they should be MUCH higher...


message 31: by Dr. Zyllihapping (new)

Dr. Zyllihapping I-Don't-Have-A-Last-Name David wrote: "I understand your perfectly valid point. The most important aspect is that because of this list more Goodreaders will pick-up and read masterpieces. Thank you for your help in building this list, T..."

You're welcome. Anyway, I was thinking, could we update this list next year or something?


message 32: by David (new)

David Lentz Dear Manny,
I'm comfortable with "Slaughterhouse Five" because of its epic scope during the bombing of Dresden in WWII. Vonnegut was a scout for the front lines and was actually captured and so his experience in the wake of this tragedy seems to emanate luminously from the book through the eyes of Billy Pilgrim, possibly one of the the greatest names ever for a character in a novel. My favorite Vonnegut book is actually the lesser read "Bluebeard," which is hilarious in many places and very highly recommended.


message 33: by Dr. Zyllihapping (new)

Dr. Zyllihapping I-Don't-Have-A-Last-Name David wrote: "Dear Manny,
I'm comfortable with "Slaughterhouse Five" because of its epic scope during the bombing of Dresden in WWII. Vonnegut was a scout for the front lines and was actually captured and so his..."


You just made me want to read Vonnegut even more.


message 34: by David (new)

David Lentz Good man, Tayyab.


message 35: by Dr. Zyllihapping (new)

Dr. Zyllihapping I-Don't-Have-A-Last-Name Anyway, David, have you ever reviewed either Catcher, Lord of the Flies or Mockingbird? I noticed that you review many of the books that you mention in discussions and all.


message 36: by David (new)

David Lentz I leave these great YA novels to you to review, Tayyab, as I read them so many years ago.


message 37: by Dr. Zyllihapping (last edited Oct 19, 2011 07:29AM) (new)

Dr. Zyllihapping I-Don't-Have-A-Last-Name David wrote: "I leave these great YA novels to you to review, Tayyab, as I read them so many years ago."

Well, actually, like Huck Finn, they were adult novels originally.


message 38: by Dr. Zyllihapping (new)

Dr. Zyllihapping I-Don't-Have-A-Last-Name It is sorta ironic to see "PLEASE DO NOT ADD BOOKS TO THIS LIST." right beside "Anyone can add books to this list."


message 39: by Dr. Zyllihapping (new)

Dr. Zyllihapping I-Don't-Have-A-Last-Name "1984" is #1 now! *gets worried*


message 40: by David (new)

David Lentz God, the ranking of this list is pitiful.


message 41: by Ben (new)

Ben David wrote: "God, the ranking of this list is pitiful."

Well David, it's like Homer Simpson said "When will people learn... democracy doesn't work!"


message 42: by David (new)

David Lentz Now I'm sorry I spent so much time building this damn list.


message 43: by David (new)

David Lentz How do I delete it?


message 44: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Nov 01, 2011 02:36PM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads No idea, David. Might take a SuperLibrarian, as I don't see that option on the edit page for this list.

ETA: You might also be happier with this being a "challenge" list, which people don't vote on directly. Which also freezes it from having new books added to it.


message 45: by Ben (new)

Ben Susanna wrote: "No idea, David. Might take a SuperLibrarian, as I don't see that option on the edit page for this list.

ETA: You might also be happier with this being a "challenge" list, which people don't vote ..."


Yeah, I think you can only delete a list you created if no one else voted on it yet. After that, it belongs to the people!


message 46: by Shadab (new)

Shadab Ghani Dunno.. I'd say Atlas Shrugged deserves to be in this list, so do Catcher in the Rye and Lord of the Rings


Mohammed Abdi Osman David wrote: "How do I delete it?"

Why delete ? Are you surprised Jane Austen novel who is a popular classic, overrated novel is so high on the list? Other than that the top 15-20 books looks like impressive literary strong novels.

What do you got against 1984? Its not literary strong at all in your opinion ?


message 48: by Byron 'Giggsy' (new)

Byron  'Giggsy' Paul I'm fine with 1984 as number 1


message 49: by David (new)

David Lentz "1984" belongs on the Top 100 Literary Novels List but surely not ranked ahead of "Ulysses", "War and Peace","In Search of Lost Time", "Finnegan's Wake", "Don Quixote", "Brothers K.", "Augie March", "Alexandria Quartet", "Life and Fate", "Moby Dick", "Lost Illusions", "Moby Dick", "Huckleberry Finn", "Anna Karenina"...


message 50: by Byron 'Giggsy' (new)

Byron  'Giggsy' Paul 1984 belongs number 1 when you ask readers, like this poll does. If you want a list created only by literary scholars, then you'll find Ulysses sitting at number 1


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