THE ONE HUNDRED GREATEST NOVELS OF ALL TIME

by Fingal Libraries
by Fingal Libraries on February 16, 2015 in Libraries

Which are the best books ever written? This is a question which has for a long time exercised minds and generated discussion (sometimes heated) from academics to book critics to librarians to members of book clubs to all those countless people who derive such pleasure from reading. We all love lists . . . well let’s stir […]

Which are the best books ever written? This is a question which has for a long time exercised minds and generated discussion (sometimes heated) from academics to book critics to librarians to members of book clubs to all those countless people who derive such pleasure from reading.

We all love lists . . . well let’s stir the waters with an ambitious one highlighting the 100 best novels. Be warned: this ranking is based on cranky and subjective standards. (But aren’t they all?)

Malahide Library has taken thirteen lists of the 100 Best Novels and compiled all of this information into one list. These lists themselves were generated from different perspectives. Time Magazine’s list was compiled by their resident literary critics. The Observer/Guardian list was compiled in a similar fashion. Modern Library’s list was arrived at from a poll of prominent thinkers. The Irish Examiner and BBC Top 100 was compiled from votes sent in by readers and viewers respectively. One of the lists even canvassed the opinions of librarians across the world.

The methodology was straightforward – no complicated algorithms here. First position on a list scored 100 points down to 1 point for a 100th place.

Some of the lists favoured more contemporary works while others leaned more in the direction of more “classical” novels. In the end, out of 560 novels nominated across all the lists, a group of about 40 scored consistently well.

So, which novel finished in 1st position? …………

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ”The Great Gatsby”

Out of all the novels nominated, it was the only one to appear on every list and scored highly on all. If for no other reason than this, it deserves the title, “Best Novel Ever Written”.

Of course, many will disagree with the selection and argue with conviction the validity of another novel’s claims. Perhaps, it is best summed up by Richard Lacayo of Time Magazine, “Lists like this one have two purposes. One is to instruct. The other of course is to enrage. How could (insert title here) not make the list? My hope is that the list sparks discussions, sends people back to books they read with pleasure years ago as well as to books they may not have heard of.”

The lists and many of the titles on the Top 100 will be on display in Malahide Library. Thanks to all those who compiled the various lists and to all our “sister” libraries in helping to put the collection together. Let the arguments begin!

By Declan O’Neill

TOP 100 BOOKS

No.

Book

Author

1

The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald

2

Nineteen Eighty-Four

George Orwell

3

Catch-22

Joseph Heller

4

Ulysses

James Joyce

5

The Grapes of Wrath

John Steinbeck

6

Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte

7

To Kill A Mockingbird

Harper Lee

8

Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen

9

Wuthering Heights

Emily Bronte

10

One Hundred Years of Solitude

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

11

The Catcher in the Rye

J.D. Salinger

12

The Lord of the Rings

J.R.R. Tolkien

13

Lolita

Vladimir Nabokov

14

Anna Karenina

Leo Tolstoy

15

Gone With The Wind

Margaret Mitchell

16

Moby Dick

Herman Melville

17

Animal Farm

George Orwell

18

Lord of the Flies

William Golding

19

On The Road

Jack Kerouac

20

The Sound and The Fury

William Faulkner

 

No.

Book

Author

21

Little Women

Louisa May Alcott

22

Middlemarch

George Eliot

23

Don Quixote

Miguel De Cervantes

24

David Copperfield

Charles Dickens

25

War And Peace

Leo Tolstoy

26

Heart of Darkness

Joseph Conrad

27

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Mark Twain

28

To the Lighthouse

Virginia Woolf

29

A Passage to India

E. M. Forster

30

Tess of the D’Urbervilles

Thomas Hardy

31

Great Expectations

Charles Dickens

32

Slaughterhouse-Five

Kurt Vonnegut

33

Beloved

Toni Morrison

34

Emma

Jane Austen

35

Crime and Punishment

Fyodor Dostoevsky

36

The Hobbit

J.R.R. Tolkien

37

Invisible Man

Ralph ellison

38

Madame Bovary

Gustave Flaubert

39

Brave New World

Aldous Huxley

40

The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexander Dumas

 

No.

Book

Author

41

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll

42

Mrs. Dalloway

Virginia Woolf

43

Rebecca

Daphne du Maurier

44

The Sun Also Rises

Ernest Hemingway

45

Of Mice And Men

John Steinbeck

46

The Trial

Franz Kafka

47

Frankenstein

Mary Shelley

48

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Douglas Adams

49

The Brothers Karamazov

Fyodor Dostoevsky

50

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

C. S. Lewis

51

The Wind in the Willows

Kenneth Grahame

52

Les Miserables

Victor Hugo

53

The Portrait of a Lady

Henry James

54

In Search of Lost Time

Marcel Proust

55

A Prayer for Owen Meany

John Irving

56

Midnight’s Children

Salman Rushdie

57

Tom Jones

Henry Fielding

58

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

J.K. Rowling

59

A Clockwork Orange

Anthony Burgess

60

Gulliver’s Travels

Jonathan Swift

 

No.

Book

Author

61

Tristram Shandy

Laurence Sterne

62

As I Lay Dying

William Faulkner

63

Atonement

Ian McEwan

64

The Scarlet Letter

Nathaniel Hawthorne

65

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

James Joyce

66

A Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens

67

The Colour Purple

Alice Walker

68

Brideshead Revisited

Evelyn Waugh

69

The Old Man and The Sea

Ernest Hemingway

70

The Stand

Stephen King

71

Winnie The Pooh

  1. A. Milne

72

Dune

Frank Herbert

73

Vanity Fair

William Makepeace Thackeray

74

Possession

  1. S. Byatt

75

Things Fall Apart

Chinua Achebe

76

Absalom, Absalom!

William Faulkner

77

The Big Sleep

Raymond Chandler

78

The Pillars of the Earth

Ken Follett

79

Watership Down

Richard Adams

80

Native Son

Richard Wright

 

No.

Book

Author

81

Robinson Crusoe

Daniel Defoe

82

Lucky Jim

Kingsley Amis

83

I, Claudius

Robert Graves

84

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

Ken Kesey

85

Remembrance of Things Past

Marcel Proust

86

The Ambassadors

Henry James

87

The Stranger

Albert Camus

88

The Handmaid’s Tale

Margaret Atwood

89

For Whom The Bell Tolls

Ernest Hemingway

90

Pale Fire

Vladimir Nabokov

91

East of Eden

John Steinbeck

92

Sons and Lovers

D.H. Lawrence

93

His Dark Materials

Philip Pullman

94

Hamlet

William Shakespeare

95

The Iliad

Homer

96

The Secret Garden

Frances Hodgson Burnett

97

Clarissa

Samuel Richardson

98

Charlotte’s Web

E. B. White

99

The Odyssey

Homer

100

Birdsong

Sebastian Faulks