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6.7k voters

The Greatest American Novels

Updated February 19, 2021 75.2k votes 6.7k voters 166.4k views156 items

List RulesTop 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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    To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel by Harper Lee published in 1960. It was immediately...  more

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  • 2
    Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a novel by Mark Twain, first published in the United Kingdom...  more

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  • 3
    1,501
    564

    The Grapes of Wrath

    John Steinbeck
    The Grapes of Wrath is an American realist novel written by John Steinbeck and published in...  more

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    #2 of 62 The Best Pulitzer Prize Winning Novels#12 of 37 Books You Didn't Really Need To Read In Middle School

  • 4
    1,401
    452

    Of Mice and Men

    John Steinbeck
    Of Mice and Men is a novella written by Nobel Prize–winning author John Steinbeck. Published...  more

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    #2 of 40 Classic Books You Never Need To Read Again#7 of 32 The Best Audiobook Versions of Classic Novels

  • 5
    1,940
    793

    The Great Gatsby

    F. Scott Fitzgerald
    The Great Gatsby is a 1925 novel written by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald that follows a...  more

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  • 6
    1,181
    532
    Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is a novel by Herman Melville considered an outstanding work of...  more

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  • 7
    840
    291

    East of Eden

    John Steinbeck
    East of Eden is a novel by Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck, published in September 1952....  more
  • 8
    892
    396

    Slaughterhouse-Five

    Kurt Vonnegut
    Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death is a satirical novel...  more

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    #24 of 179 The Greatest Science Fiction Novels of All Time#3 of 57 The Best Postmodern Novels

  • 9
    The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain is an 1876 novel about a young boy growing up along...  more

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  • 10
    672
    283

    A Farewell to Arms

    Ernest Hemingway
    A Farewell to Arms is a novel written by Ernest Hemingway set during the Italian campaign of...  more

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  • 11
    963
    444

    The Old Man and the Sea

    Ernest Hemingway
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  • 12
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a novel written by Ken Kesey. Set in an Oregon psychiatric...  more

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  • 13
    520
    215

    White Fang

    Jack London
    White Fang is a novel by American author Jack London — and the name of the book's eponymous...  more

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  • 14
    1,092
    517

    Fahrenheit 451

    Ray Bradbury
    Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury published in 1953. It is regarded as one...  more

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    #2 of 72 The Greatest Dystopian Novels#8 of 18 If You've Read Any Of These Young Adult Novels/Series, You're Probably Ready For The Apocalypse

  • 15
    806
    367

    Little Women

    Louisa May Alcott
    Little Women is a novel by American author Louisa May Alcott, which was originally published...  more

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  • 16
    843
    359

    Catch-22

    Joseph Heller
    Catch-22 is a satirical novel by the American author Joseph Heller. He began writing it in...  more

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  • 17
    696
    333

    For Whom the Bell Tolls

    Ernest Hemingway
    For Whom the Bell Tolls is a novel by Ernest Hemingway published in 1940. It tells the story...  more
  • 18
    1,245
    694
    The Catcher in the Rye is a 1951 novel by J. D. Salinger. A controversial novel originally...  more

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  • 19
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    257

    Invisible Man

    Ralph Ellison
    Invisible Man is a novel by Ralph Ellison, published by Random House in 1952. It addresses...  more
  • 20
    488
    239

    The Color Purple

    Alice Walker
    The Color Purple is a 1982 epistolary novel by American author Alice Walker which won the 1983...  more

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  • 21
    676
    306

    The Sun Also Rises

    Ernest Hemingway
    Hemingway´s book abot the San Fermin Festival...  more

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    #2 of 34 The Best Novels About Paris#7 of 100 The Best Books With Sun in the Title

  • 22
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    404
    The Call of the Wild is a novel by Jack London published in 1903. The story is set in the...  more

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  • 23
    570
    315

    The Sound and the Fury

    William Faulkner
    The Sound and the Fury is a novel written by the American author William Faulkner. It employs...  more

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  • 24
    464
    227

    The Last of the Mohicans

    James Fenimore Cooper
    The Last of the Mohicans: A Narrative of 1757 is a historical novel by James Fenimore Cooper....  more
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    495
    258

    Uncle Tom's Cabin

    Harriet Beecher Stowe
    Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly, is an anti-slavery novel by American author...  more

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    #124 of 331 The Top Must-Read Books of All Time#404 of 1,235 The Best Novels Ever Written