Photo: via Reddit

Literature 300+ Great Books of the Western World  

Walter Graves
9.2k votes 411 voters 42.8k views

List Rules Books written by authors from the Western Hemisphere

Compiled by Encyclopedia Britannica, this is a list of the great books of the western world. It is our western canon gathered into a single package of 60 volumes. Initially compiled in the 50's, the Great Books of the Western World was updated in the 90's with a second edition. While the first three volumes of the compendium feature a dissertation on liberal education, Volume 4 and beyond contain various books that we have listed here. Both fiction and non-fiction have been included, as well as all genres. Encyclopedia Britannica did a fantastic job putting together this list of Great Books of the Western World. If you're looking for a great, timeless book, then this is the place to start.

Be sure to check out Ranker's other lists like the Best Opening Lines in Fiction.
list ordered by

1
112 35
Odyssey is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Homer

2
91 26
Iliad is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Homer - Volume: 4

3
98 37
Macbeth is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
William Shakespeare - Volume: 27

4
92 36
The Divine Comedy is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Dante Alighieri - Volume: 21

5
86 33
Don Quixote is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Miguel de Cervantes

6
85 33
War and Peace is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Leo Tolstoy - Volume: 51

7
84 33
The Brothers Karamazov is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - Volume: 52

8
80 36
The Canterbury Tales is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Geoffrey Chaucer - Volume: 22

9
104 55
Animal Farm is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
George Orwell - Volume: 60

10
62 28
The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince ... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World

11
70 35
King Lear is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
William Shakespeare - Volume: 27

12
80 45
Romeo and Juliet is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
William Shakespeare - Volume: 26

13
44 18
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Mark Twain - Volume: 48

14
101 63
The Great Gatsby is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
F. Scott Fitzgerald - Volume: 60

15
66 36
Paradise Lost is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
John Milton - Volume: 32

16
72 42
Heart of Darkness is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Joseph Conrad - Volume: 59

17
39 16
The Republic is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Plato - Volume: 7

18
44 20
Apology is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Plato - Volume: 7

19
71 42
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Herman Melville

20
37 15
The Aeneid Lt is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Virgil

21
50 28
The Taming of the Shrew is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
William Shakespeare - Volume: 26

22
54 32
The Metamorphosis is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Franz Kafka - Volume: 60

23
51 30
Gulliver's Travels is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Jonathan Swift - Volume: 36

24
53 32
A Midsummer Night's Dream is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
William Shakespeare

25
49 30
The Merchant of Venice is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
William Shakespeare - Volume: 26

26
47 29
Julius Caesar is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
William Shakespeare - Volume: 26

27
41 24
The Tempest is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
William Shakespeare - Volume: 27

28
34 18
Metaphysics is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Aristotle - Volume: 8

29
27 12
Electra is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Sophocles - Volume: 5

30
44 27
Faust is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - Volume: 47

31
38 22
Twelfth Night, or What You Wil... is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
William Shakespeare

32
47 30
Emma is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Jane Austen - Volume: 46

33
29 15
The History of the Peloponnesi... is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Thucydides - Volume: 6

34
27 14
Ajax is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Sophocles - Volume: 5

35
32 19
Much Ado About Nothing is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
William Shakespeare - Volume: 26

36
24 12
Nicomachean Ethics is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Aristotle - Volume: 9

37
29 17
Medea is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Euripides - Volume: 5

38
42 30
Henry V is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
William Shakespeare

39
43 31
A Portrait of the Artist as a ... is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
James Joyce - Volume: 59

40
26 16
Laws is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Plato - Volume: 7

41
22 13
The Trojan Women is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Euripides - Volume: 5

42
23 14
Orestes is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Euripides - Volume: 5

43
49 39
Waiting for Godot is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Samuel Beckett - Volume: 60

44
32 23
On Liberty is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
John Stuart Mill - Volume: 43

45
33 24
As You Like It is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
William Shakespeare - Volume: 26

46
33 24
Uncle Vanya is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Anton Chekhov - Volume: 59

47
19 11
Philoctetes is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Sophocles - Volume: 5

48
22 14
Hecuba is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Euripides - Volume: 5

49
22 14
Othello is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
William Shakespeare - Volume: 27

50
23 15
Cyclops is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list 300+ Great Books of the Western World
Euripides - Volume: 5