The Greatest American Novels

Over 7.8K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Greatest American Novels
Voting Rules
Top fiction books written by American authors

List of some of the best American novels from classic writers, like Nathaniel Hawthorne, to more modern names, like Stephen King, with room for the list to grow. There is an option to add your favorite American novels to the list if yours is not already on there.

The list asks the question, "What is the best American novel?" with novels from William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, Philip Roth and Nathaniel Hawthorne, plus many more that have written great American novels since then. More modern American novels are included, such as The Road by Cormac McCarthy and The Stand by Stephen King, which may be more familiar.

American novels can represent the spirit of the age in the United States during the time it was written or the time it was set in. The American novel is written by those who are knowledgeable about the state, culture and even the perspective of those during that time.

Some of these best American novels may have also been on the reading curriculum in school, like Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien or To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Be sure to vote not just on your favorite authors, but on your favorite novel of all time, as some authors may be listed twice for other novels that are considered the best.
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Ranked by
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
    2,541 votes
    • First Published: 1884-12
    • Subjects: Popular literature, Education, 19th century, Slavery, Mississippi River
    • 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
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
    3,310 votes
    • First Published: 1960-07-11
    • Subjects: Monarch, Literary, Literature, Classics, Drama
    • 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
  • The Grapes of Wrath
    John Steinbeck
    2,291 votes
    • 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 prominently ...more
  • Of Mice and Men
    John Steinbeck
    2,054 votes
    • 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, who ...more
  • The Great Gatsby
    F. Scott Fitzgerald
    2,946 votes
    • First Published: 1925-04-10
    • Subjects: Music, Literary, Education, Revenge, Jazz Age
    • 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 of ...more
  • Moby-Dick; or, The Whale
    1,910 votes
    • First Published: 1851-10-18
    • Subjects: Whaling, Popular literature, Literary, Education, Literature
    • Genres (Book): Fiction, Sea story, Adventure fiction
    • Original Language: English Language
    Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is a novel by Herman Melville considered an outstanding work of Romanticism and the American Renaissance. Ishmael narrates the monomaniacal quest of Ahab, captain of the ...more