Culture

The Top Must-Read Books of All Time 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated January 21, 2020 546.5k votes 21.6k voters 720.2k views 331 items

List Rules Must-Read Books everyone should read

Need a good read? Take a look at this list of the best must-read books of all time, suitable for every one of all ages, creeds and color. Featuring the newest YA novels reviewed by popular literary channels on YouTube, these are the novels, autobiographies, and short books that you should consider when you ask yourself, "What book should I read next?" If you somehow made it through school without reading the classic - or you're still in school - be sure to check them out to expand your literary horizons.

An eclectic mix that does not cater solely to the sensibilities of the literati, culturati, illuminati or even paparazzi. With some hidden gems in here, it's a great list to consider when looking for something to read next.  

"Tell me what you read and I'll tell you who you are" is true enough, but I'd know you better if you told me what you reread' - François Mauriac. Give fellow voters the best tips you can on the top books of all time that they must read by voting on your personal favorites and downvoting those you didn't enjoy.

 

list ordered by
1
Nineteen Eighty-Four is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Top Must-Read Books of All Time
George Orwell

First Published: 1949-06-08

Subjects: Brainwashing, Literature, Classics, English Language, English Literature, + more

Genres (Book): Utopian and dystopian fiction, Social science fiction, Political fiction

Original Language: English Language

Nineteen Eighty-Four, sometimes published as 1984, is a dystopian novel by English author George Orwell published in 1949. The novel is set in Airstrip One, a province of the superstate Oceania ...more
2
Animal Farm is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Top Must-Read Books of All Time
George Orwell

First Published: 1945-08-17

Subjects: Monarch, Literary, Literature, Classics, Drama, + more

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Roman à clef, Satire, Children's literature, Fiction

Original Language: English Language

Animal Farm is an allegorical and dystopian novella by George Orwell, first published in England on 17 August 1945. According to Orwell, the book reflects events leading up to the Russian ...more
3
Hamlet is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Top Must-Read Books of All Time
Skojare added William Shakespeare

Genres (Book): Tragedy

Original Language: English Language

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, often shortened to Hamlet, is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare at an uncertain date between 1599 and 1602. Set in the Kingdom of Denmark, the ...more
4
Of Mice and Men is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Top Must-Read Books of All Time
John Steinbeck

First Published: 1937

Subjects: California, Drama

Genres (Book): Novella

Original Language: English Language

Of Mice and Men is a novella written by Nobel Prize–winning author John Steinbeck. Published in 1937, it tells the story of George Milton and Lennie Small, two displaced migrant ranch workers, ...more
5
To Kill a Mockingbird is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Top Must-Read Books of All Time
Harper Lee

First Published: 1960-07-11

Subjects: Monarch, Literary, Literature, Classics, Drama, + more

Genres (Book): Fiction

Original Language: English Language

To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel by Harper Lee published in 1960. It was immediately successful, winning the Pulitzer Prize, and has become a classic of modern American literature. The plot and ...more
6
Romeo and Juliet is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Top Must-Read Books of All Time
but chickens double d added William Shakespeare

First Published: 1597

Subjects: Popular literature, Star-crossed

Genres (Book): Play, Tragedy

Original Language: English Language

Romeo and Juliet is a play by William Shakespeare.
7
The Adventures of Tom Sa... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Top Must-Read Books of All Time
Mark Twain

First Published: 1876

Subjects: Education, Linguistics, 19th century, Mississippi River, Men, + more

Genres (Book): Bildungsroman, Children's literature, Fiction, Reference

Original Language: English Language

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain is an 1876 novel about a young boy growing up along the Mississippi River. The story is set in the fictional town of St. Petersburg, inspired by ...more
8
A Christmas Carol is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Top Must-Read Books of All Time
Charles Dickens

First Published: 1843-12-19

Subjects: Literary, Holiday, Ghost, Redemption, Classics, + more

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Morality play, Ghost story, Fiction, Fairy tale, + more

Original Language: English Language

A Christmas Carol is a novella by Charles Dickens, first published in London by Chapman & Hall on 19 December 1843. The novella met with instant success and critical acclaim. Carol tells the ...more
9
Adventures of Huckleberr... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Top Must-Read Books of All Time
Mark Twain

First Published: 1884-12

Subjects: Popular literature, Education, 19th century, Slavery, Mississippi River, + more

Genres (Book): Humour, Satire, Children's literature, Fiction, Adventure fiction

Original Language: English Language

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a novel by Mark Twain, first published in the United Kingdom in December 1884 and in the United States in February 1885. Commonly named among the Great American ...more
10
Odyssey is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Top Must-Read Books of All Time
Homer

Genres (Book): Epic poetry

Original Language: Ancient Greek

The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern ...more
11
Macbeth is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Top Must-Read Books of All Time
William Shakespeare

Subjects: 11th Century Scotland

Genres (Book): Tragedy

Original Language: English Language

Macbeth is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare, and is considered one of his darkest and most powerful works. Set in Scotland, the play dramatizes the corrosive psychological and political ...more
12
Grimm's Fairy Tales is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Top Must-Read Books of All Time
but chickens double d added Wilhelm Grimm, Jacob Grimm

First Published: 1812

Subjects: Fairy tales

Genres (Book): Fairy tale

Original Language: German Language

Children's and Household Tales is a collection of German fairy tales first published in 1812 by the Grimm brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm. The collection is commonly known in English as Grimm's ...more
13
Frankenstein is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Top Must-Read Books of All Time
Mary Shelley

First Published: 1818-01-01

Subjects: Science, Love

Genres (Book): Romance novel, Speculative fiction, Suspense, Horror Film, Romanticism, + more

Original Language: English Language

Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, is a novel written by English author Mary Shelley about the young student of science Victor Frankenstein, who creates a grotesque but sentient creature ...more
14
Fahrenheit 451 is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Top Must-Read Books of All Time
Ray Bradbury

First Published: 1953

Subjects: Bibliophilia, American science fiction, Literature, Book burning, Classics, + more

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Utopian and dystopian fiction, Children's literature, Dystopia, Fiction, + more

Original Language: English Language

Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury published in 1953. It is regarded as one of his best works. The novel presents a future American society where books are outlawed and ...more
15
The tell-tale heart and ... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Top Must-Read Books of All Time
16
Pride and Prejudice is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Top Must-Read Books of All Time
Jane Austen

First Published: 1813-01-28

Subjects: Popular literature, Literary, Education, 19th century, English Language, + more

Genres (Book): Romance novel, Satire, Novel of manners, Fiction, Novel

Original Language: English Language

Pride and Prejudice is a novel of manners by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story follows the main character, Elizabeth Bennet, as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, ...more
17
The Adventures of Sherlo... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Top Must-Read Books of All Time
Arthur Conan Doyle

First Published: 1892

Subjects: England

Genres (Book): Short story, Detective fiction

Original Language: English Language

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of twelve stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle, featuring his famous detective, and illustrated by Sidney Paget.
18
The Great Gatsby is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Top Must-Read Books of All Time
F. Scott Fitzgerald

First Published: 1925-04-10

Subjects: Music, Literary, Education, Revenge, Jazz Age, + more

Genres (Book): Fiction, Novel

Original Language: English Language

The Great Gatsby is a 1925 novel written by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald that follows a cast of characters living in the fictional town of West Egg on prosperous Long Island in the summer ...more
19
The Lion, the Witch and ... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Top Must-Read Books of All Time
C. S. Lewis

First Published: 1950

Subjects: Evacuations of civilians in Britain during World War II

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Fantasy

Original Language: English Language

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a high fantasy novel for children by C. S. Lewis, published by Geoffrey Bles in 1950. It was the first published of seven novels in The Chronicles of ...more
20
The Call of the Wild is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Top Must-Read Books of All Time
but chickens double d added Jack London

First Published: 1903

Subjects: Nature, Animal welfare, Animal, Dog

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Historical fiction, Fiction, Adventure film, + more

Original Language: English Language

The Call of the Wild is a novel by Jack London published in 1903. The story is set in the Yukon during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush—a period in which strong sled dogs were in high demand. The ...more
21
The Lord of the Rings is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Top Must-Read Books of All Time
J. R. R. Tolkien

First Published: 1954-07-29

Subjects: Literary, Epic film, Literature, Classics, Drama, + more

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Chivalric romance, Fiction, Adventure fiction, Fantasy, + more

Original Language: English Language

The Lord of the Rings is an epic high-fantasy novel written by English author J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's 1937 fantasy novel The Hobbit, but eventually developed ...more
22
The Scarlet Letter is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Top Must-Read Books of All Time
Nathaniel Hawthorne

First Published: 1850

Subjects: Monarch, Popular literature, Literary, Revenge, New England, + more

Genres (Book): Romance novel, Children's literature, Romanticism, Fiction, Novel, + more

Original Language: English Language

The Scarlet Letter is an 1850 romantic work of fiction in a historical setting, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and is considered to be his magnum opus. Set in 17th-century Puritan Boston, ...more
23
Alice in Wonderland is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Top Must-Read Books of All Time
Lewis Carroll, William Glennon

First Published: 1865

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland) is an 1865 novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It tells of a ...more
24
Lord of the Flies is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Top Must-Read Books of All Time
William Golding

First Published: 1954

Subjects: Monarch, Ethics, Literature, Young adult, Classics, + more

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Allegory, Fiction, Young adult literature, Novel

Original Language: English Language

Lord of the Flies is a 1954 dystopian novel by Nobel Prize-winning English author William Golding about a group of British boys stuck on an uninhabited island who try to govern themselves with ...more
25
The Grapes of Wrath is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Top Must-Read Books of All Time
John Steinbeck

First Published: 1939

Subjects: California, Great Depression in the United States, Dust Bowl, Oklahoma

Genres (Book): Novel

Original Language: English Language

The Grapes of Wrath is an American realist novel written by John Steinbeck and published in 1939. The book won the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and it was cited ...more