The Greatest American Novels

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.
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  • Of Mice and Men
    1
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    John Steinbeck
    • First Published: 1937
    • Subjects: California, Drama
    • Genres (Book): Novella
    • Original Language: English Language
    • 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
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
    3
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    • First Published: 1960-07-11
    • Subjects: Monarch, Literary, Literature, Classics, Drama
    • Genres (Book): Fiction
    • Original Language: English Language
  • The Grapes of Wrath
    4
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    John Steinbeck
    • First Published: 1939
    • Subjects: California, Great Depression in the United States, Dust Bowl, Oklahoma
    • Genres (Book): Novel
    • Original Language: English Language
  • The Great Gatsby
    5
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    F. Scott Fitzgerald
    • First Published: 1925-04-10
    • Subjects: Music, Literary, Education, Revenge, Jazz Age
    • Genres (Book): Fiction, Novel
    • Original Language: English Language
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
    6
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    • First Published: 1876
    • Subjects: Education, Linguistics, 19th century, Mississippi River, Men
    • Genres (Book): Bildungsroman, Children's literature, Fiction, Reference
    • Original Language: English Language
  • Moby-Dick; or, The Whale
    7
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    • First Published: 1851-10-18
    • Subjects: Whaling, Popular literature, Literary, Education, Literature
    • Genres (Book): Fiction, Sea story, Adventure fiction
    • Original Language: English Language
  • East of Eden
    8
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    John Steinbeck
    • First Published: 1952-09
    • Subjects: California, Prostitution
    • Genres (Book): Novel
    • Original Language: English Language
  • Fahrenheit 451
    9
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    Ray Bradbury
    • First Published: 1953
    • Subjects: Bibliophilia, American science fiction, Literature, Book burning, Classics
    • Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Utopian and dystopian fiction, Children's literature, Dystopia, Fiction
    • Original Language: English Language
    • Subjects: Medical, Literary, Literature, Classics, English Language
    • Genres (Book): Drama, Children's literature, Fiction, Novel
    • Original Language: English Language
  • The Old Man and the Sea
    11
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    Ernest Hemingway
    • First Published: 1952
    • Subjects: Ocean, Fishing, Friendship, Cuba
    • Genres (Book): Children's literature, Fiction, Novella, Sea story
    • Original Language: English Language
  • The Catcher in the Rye
    12
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    • First Published: 1951-07-16
    • Subjects: Popular literature, Teenage rebellion, Literature, Human sexuality, Psychological identity
    • Genres (Book): First-person narrative, Sports, Bildungsroman, Fiction, Novel
    • Original Language: English Language
  • Catch-22
    13
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    Joseph Heller
    • First Published: 1961-11-11
    • Subjects: Drama, World War II
    • Genres (Book): War novel, Black comedy, Satire, Historical fiction, Absurdist fiction
    • Original Language: American English, English Language
  • The Scarlet Letter
    14
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    Nathaniel Hawthorne
    • First Published: 1850
    • Subjects: Monarch, Popular literature, Literary, Revenge, New England
    • Genres (Book): Romance novel, Children's literature, Romanticism, Fiction, Novel
    • Original Language: English Language
  • The Call of the Wild
    15
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    • First Published: 1903
    • Subjects: Nature, Animal welfare, Animal, Dog
    • Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Historical fiction, Fiction, Adventure film
    • Original Language: English Language
  • A Farewell to Arms
    16
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    Ernest Hemingway
    • First Published: 1929
    • Subjects: Literary, World War I, Literature, Classics, Italy
    • Genres (Book): Fiction, Novel
    • Original Language: English Language
  • Slaughterhouse-Five
    17
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    Kurt Vonnegut
    • First Published: 1969
    • Subjects: Literary, American science fiction, Classics, Prisoner of war, World War II
    • Genres (Book): Philosophy, Speculative fiction, War novel, Black comedy, Fiction
    • Original Language: English Language
  • Little Women
    18
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    Louisa May Alcott
    • First Published: 1868
    • Subjects: Literary, Adolescence, New England, Women, 19th century
    • Genres (Book): Coming of age, Fiction, Novel
    • Original Language: English Language
  • The Sun Also Rises
    19
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    Ernest Hemingway
    • First Published: 1926-10-22
    • Subjects: Literary, Education, Literature, France, Classics
    • Genres (Book): Roman à clef, Children's literature, Fiction, Novel
    • Original Language: English Language
  • Where the Red Fern Grows
    20
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    • First Published: 1961
    • Subjects: Literature, Linguistics, Adolescence, Classics, Adventure
    • Genres (Book): Children's literature, Fiction
    • Original Language: English Language
  • Gone with the Wind
    21
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    Margaret Mitchell
    • First Published: 1936-06-30
    • Subjects: Women, Plantations in the American South, United States of America, American Civil War, History
    • Genres (Book): Historical fiction, Fiction, Novel
    • Original Language: English Language
  • White Fang
    22
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    Jack London
    • First Published: 1906-05
    • Subjects: Literary, Education, Alaska, Adult, Libraries
    • Genres (Book): Children's literature, Fiction, Adventure fiction
    • Original Language: English Language
  • Lonesome Dove
    23
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    Larry McMurtry
    • First Published: 1985
    • Genres (Book): Fiction, Novel
    • Original Language: English Language

    It's weird that this is going at 185, maybe not as perfect as To Kill A Mockingbird but its surely one of the greatest American novels.

  • For Whom the Bell Tolls
    24
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    Ernest Hemingway
    • First Published: 1940-10-21
    • Subjects: Literature, Classics, Spanish Civil War, Military, Erotica
    • Genres (Book): War novel, Fiction
    • Original Language: English Language
  • Invisible Man
    25
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    Ralph Ellison
    • First Published: 1952
    • Subjects: Literary, Literature, Classics, United States of America, Places
    • Genres (Book): Bildungsroman, Children's literature, Fiction, Novel, Social commentary
    • Original Language: English Language