Novels

The Greatest American Novels  

Ranker Books
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List 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.
list ordered by
1
To Kill a Mockingbird is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest American Novels
Harper Lee
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

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#2 of 1,302 The Best Novels Ever Writtenlisted on The Best Selling Books of All Time Quill Award Winning Books

2
The Grapes of Wrath is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest American Novels
John Steinbeck
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

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#10 of 1,302 The Best Novels Ever Written #11 of 170 Books You'll Never Finish Reading #14 of 317 The Top Must-Read Books of All Time

3
The Adventures of Tom Sa... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest American Novels
Arthur Williams added Mark Twain
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

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#25 of 1,302 The Best Novels Ever Written #4 of 172 35+ Books Everybody Lies About Having Read #78 of 302 The Greatest Children's Books That Were Made Into Movies

4
Adventures of Huckleberr... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest American Novels
Mark Twain
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

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#9 of 1,302 The Best Novels Ever Written #16 of 111 Famous Novels With The Catchiest First Lines #83 of 302 The Greatest Children's Books That Were Made Into Movies

5
The Great Gatsby is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest American Novels
F. Scott Fitzgerald
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

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#4 of 1,302 The Best Novels Ever Written #6 of 172 35+ Books Everybody Lies About Having Read #13 of 111 Famous Novels With The Catchiest First Lines

6
Fahrenheit 451 is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest American Novels
bjr24 added Ray Bradbury
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

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#23 of 1,302 The Best Novels Ever Written #18 of 172 35+ Books Everybody Lies About Having Read #3 of 111 Famous Novels With The Catchiest First Lines

7
Of Mice and Men is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest American Novels
John Steinbeck
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

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#8 of 1,302 The Best Novels Ever Written #7 of 172 35+ Books Everybody Lies About Having Readlisted on Books with Titles Taken from Literature

8
The Catcher in the Rye ... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest American Novels
J. D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye is a 1951 novel by J. D. Salinger. A controversial novel originally published for adults, it has since become popular with adolescent readers for its themes of teenage ...more

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#15 of 1,302 The Best Novels Ever Written #11 of 172 35+ Books Everybody Lies About Having Readlisted on The Best Selling Books of All Time

9
For Whom the Bell Tolls ... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest American Novels
Arthur Williams added Ernest Hemingway
For Whom the Bell Tolls is a novel by Ernest Hemingway published in 1940. It tells the story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to a republican guerrilla ...more

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#51 of 1,302 The Best Novels Ever Written #46 of 134 The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Writtenlisted on Books with Titles Taken from Literature

10
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest American Novels
JeremyEbbink added Herman Melville
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

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#6 of 1,302 The Best Novels Ever Written #30 of 172 35+ Books Everybody Lies About Having Read #2 of 170 Books You'll Never Finish Reading

11
The Call of the Wild is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest American Novels
Arthur Williams added Jack London
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

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#28 of 1,302 The Best Novels Ever Written #68 of 302 The Greatest Children's Books That Were Made Into Movies #77 of 317 The Top Must-Read Books of All Time

12
Slaughterhouse-Five is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest American Novels
Kurt Vonnegut
Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death is a satirical novel by Kurt Vonnegut about World War II experiences and journeys through time of a soldier named Billy ...more

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#18 of 1,302 The Best Novels Ever Written #8 of 111 Famous Novels With The Catchiest First Lines #17 of 186 The Greatest Science Fiction Novels of All Time

13
Catch-22 is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest American Novels
Joseph Heller
Catch-22 is a satirical novel by the American author Joseph Heller. He began writing it in 1953; the novel was first published in 1961. It is frequently cited as one of the greatest literary ...more

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#22 of 1,302 The Best Novels Ever Writtenfeaturing Everything In The 'Catch-22' Book That The TV Adaptation Leaves Outlisted on The Best Selling Books of All Time

14
The Old Man and the Sea ... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest American Novels
Ernest Hemingway
The Old Man and the Sea is a novel written by the American author Ernest Hemingway in 1951 in Cuba, and published in 1952. It was the last major work of fiction to be produced by Hemingway and ...more

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#33 of 1,302 The Best Novels Ever Written #31 of 172 35+ Books Everybody Lies About Having Readlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

15
Little Women is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest American Novels
Louisa May Alcott
Little Women is a novel by American author Louisa May Alcott, which was originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869. Alcott wrote the books rapidly over several months at the request of ...more

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#30 of 1,302 The Best Novels Ever Writtenfeaturing How Louisa May Alcott's Real Life Inspired 'Little Women'listed on Children's Books: Teachers' Top 100 Books For Children

16
The Outsiders is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest American Novels
but chickens double d added S. E. Hinton
The Outsiders is a coming-of-age novel by S. E. Hinton, first published in 1967 by Viking Press. Hinton was 15 when she started writing the novel, but did most of the work when she was 16 and a ...more

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#60 of 1,302 The Best Novels Ever Written #9 of 134 The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Writtenlisted on The Best Selling Books of All Time

17
East of Eden is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest American Novels
Arthur Williams added John Steinbeck
East of Eden is a novel by Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck, published in September 1952. Often described as Steinbeck's most ambitious novel, East of Eden brings to life the intricate details ...more

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#56 of 1,302 The Best Novels Ever Written #70 of 172 35+ Books Everybody Lies About Having Readlisted on Books with Titles Taken from Literature

18
A Farewell to Arms is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest American Novels
Ernest Hemingway
A Farewell to Arms is a novel written by Ernest Hemingway set during the Italian campaign of World War I. The book, published in 1929, is a first-person account of American Frederic Henry, ...more

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#73 of 1,302 The Best Novels Ever Written #71 of 111 Famous Novels With The Catchiest First Lines #121 of 317 The Top Must-Read Books of All Time

19
The Scarlet Letter is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest American Novels
Nathaniel Hawthorne
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

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#53 of 1,302 The Best Novels Ever Written #8 of 172 35+ Books Everybody Lies About Having Read #15 of 170 Books You'll Never Finish Reading

20
The Sun Also Rises is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest American Novels
Arthur Williams added Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway´s book abot the San Fermin Festival

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#64 of 1,302 The Best Novels Ever Written #28 of 170 Books You'll Never Finish Readinglisted on Books with Titles Taken from Literature

21
Where the Red Fern Grows... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest American Novels
Joleen Soule added Wilson Rawls
Where the Red Fern Grows is a 1961 children's novel by Wilson Rawls about a boy who buys and trains two Redbone Coonhound hunting dogs.

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#98 of 1,302 The Best Novels Ever Written #144 of 302 The Greatest Children's Books That Were Made Into Movieslisted on Children's Books: Teachers' Top 100 Books For Children

22
The Red Badge of Courage... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest American Novels
Stephen Crane
The Red Badge of Courage is a war novel by American author Stephen Crane. Taking place during the American Civil War, the story is about a young private of the Union Army, Henry Fleming, who ...more

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#133 of 1,302 The Best Novels Ever Written #35 of 172 35+ Books Everybody Lies About Having Read #14 of 170 Books You'll Never Finish Reading

23
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest American Novels
Betty Smith
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a 1943 novel written by Betty Smith. The story focuses on an impoverished but aspirational third-generation Irish-American adolescent girl and her family in ...more

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#106 of 1,302 The Best Novels Ever Written #43 of 70 Required Reading That You Actually Ended Up Loving #172 of 837 Books That Changed Your Life

24
Gone with the Wind is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest American Novels
Margaret Mitchell
Gone with the Wind is a novel written by Margaret Mitchell, first published in 1936. The story is set in Clayton County, Georgia, and Atlanta during the American Civil War and Reconstruction ...more

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#71 of 1,302 The Best Novels Ever Writtenlisted on The Best Selling Books of All Time Books with Titles Taken from Literature

25
The Jungle is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest American Novels
Upton Sinclair, Jr.
The Jungle is a 1906 novel written by the American journalist and novelist Upton Sinclair. Sinclair wrote the novel to portray the harsh conditions and exploited lives of immigrants in the ...more

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#139 of 1,302 The Best Novels Ever Written #54 of 170 Books You'll Never Finish Reading #130 of 189 The Scariest Horror Books of All Time