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Best Books of All Time: 100 Great Books to Read Before You Die (2020)

Best Books of All Time
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Best Books of All Time

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Looking for a list of the best books to read of all time? You’re in the right place!

In the book list below, you’ll find the 101 best books to read of all time across all types and genres from my entire, master-library of thousands of good books to read.

Want something more specific? For some best book lists by topic and genre (including lists of the best fiction books and best nonfiction books of all time), head over to the book recommendations page

Outraged? Delighted? Think something’s missing? Your thoughts and suggestions make my day (honestly, I frogging LOVE them 🐸) and they also make this list better for everyone. Please leave a comment with your suggestions, below. I’d genuinely love to hear from you.

One last thing – I’ll be keeping this list up to date as the years go by so if you’d like to hear about that, head over to the free tools section of the site and I’ll send you something to help you read more, learn faster and wake up productive as a bonus for signing up.

For now though, here’s my list of the best books to read of all time…

The 100 Best Books To Read Of All Time

Why these best books and not others? The best books to read of all time below are the top picks from my long list of hundreds of books, ranked by a combination of Goodreads rating, number of Goodreads reviews and first publication date. The aim is to surface what’s most loved, what’s most popular and what’s proven timelessly relevant.

Note: I’ve excluded religious texts from this list. For a breakdown of those, see this list of the best philosophy books of all time.

  1. Pride and Prejudice (1813), Jane Austen
    279 pages. Rated 4.3 over 2,797,800 reviews on Goodreads.
  2. The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings, #3) (1955), J.R.R. Tolkien
    404 pages. Rated 4.5 over 664,100 reviews on Goodreads.
  3. The Count of Monte Cristo (1844), Alexandre Dumas
    1,276 pages. Rated 4.3 over 714,300 reviews on Goodreads.
  4. The Brothers Karamazov (1879), Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    796 pages. Rated 4.3 over 226,400 reviews on Goodreads.
  5. The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, #2) (1954), J.R.R. Tolkien
    322 pages. Rated 4.5 over 701,500 reviews on Goodreads.
  6. The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales (1812), Jacob Grimm
    880 pages. Rated 4.3 over 140,400 reviews on Goodreads.
  7. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892), Arthur Conan Doyle
    246 pages. Rated 4.3 over 228,500 reviews on Goodreads.
  8. The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1) (1954), J.R.R. Tolkien
    1,216 pages. Rated 4.4 over 2,242,600 reviews on Goodreads.
  9. The Essential Rumi (1273), Rumi
    416 pages. Rated 4.4 over 35,400 reviews on Goodreads.
  10. Gone with the Wind (1936), Margaret Mitchell
    1,037 pages. Rated 4.3 over 1,037,700 reviews on Goodreads.
  11. The Little Prince (1943), Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
    93 pages. Rated 4.3 over 1,232,400 reviews on Goodreads.
  12. East of Eden (1952), John Steinbeck
    601 pages. Rated 4.4 over 407,500 reviews on Goodreads.
  13. Anne of Green Gables (1908), L.M. Montgomery
    320 pages. Rated 4.3 over 679,800 reviews on Goodreads.
  14. The Hobbit, or There and Back Again (1937), J.R.R. Tolkien
    366 pages. Rated 4.3 over 2,835,700 reviews on Goodreads.
  15. The Complete Fairy Tales (1835), Hans Christian Andersen
    803 pages. Rated 4.3 over 118,800 reviews on Goodreads.
  16. Meditations (180), Marcus Aurelius (FREE Summary)
    A deeply humbling and thought-provoking insight into the stoic mindset of one of history’s greatest leaders and thinkers – by Roman emperor, philosopher and example to us all, Marcus Aurelius.
    303 pages. Rated 4.2 over 102,600 reviews on Goodreads.
  17. Night (The Night Trilogy #1) (1958), Elie Wiesel
    115 pages. Rated 4.3 over 951,200 reviews on Goodreads.
  18. Crime and Punishment (1866), Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    671 pages. Rated 4.2 over 580,300 reviews on Goodreads.
  19. Shakespeare’s Sonnets (1609), William Shakespeare
    488 pages. Rated 4.3 over 79,300 reviews on Goodreads.
  20. And Then There Were None (1939), Agatha Christie
    264 pages. Rated 4.3 over 730,900 reviews on Goodreads.
  21. Mere Christianity (1952), C.S. Lewis (Summary)
    191 pages. Rated 4.3 over 276,100 reviews on Goodreads.
  22. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894), Arthur Conan Doyle
    378 pages. Rated 4.3 over 77,700 reviews on Goodreads.
  23. The Godfather (1964), Mario Puzo
    448 pages. Rated 4.4 over 311,000 reviews on Goodreads.
  24. To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), Harper Lee
    324 pages. Rated 4.3 over 4,240,100 reviews on Goodreads.
  25. Les Misérables (1862), Victor Hugo
    1,463 pages. Rated 4.2 over 638,600 reviews on Goodreads.
  26. Rebecca (1938), Daphne du Maurier
    449 pages. Rated 4.2 over 417,800 reviews on Goodreads.
  27. The Prophet (1923), Kahlil Gibran
    127 pages. Rated 4.2 over 219,400 reviews on Goodreads.
  28. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia, #1) (1950), C.S. Lewis
    206 pages. Rated 4.2 over 2,085,000 reviews on Goodreads.
  29. Persuasion (1817), Jane Austen
    249 pages. Rated 4.1 over 495,800 reviews on Goodreads.
  30. How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936), Dale Carnegie (FREE Summary)
    The classic guide to greatly improving effectiveness and efficiency by mastering the ability to work with and through the people around you – by self-improvement guru, Dale Carnegie.
    288 pages. Rated 4.2 over 580,200 reviews on Goodreads.
  31. The Richest Man in Babylon (1926), George S. Clason (FREE Summary)
    THE classic parable on how to acquire money, how to not lose money and how to make money multiply – by serial entrepreneur and author, George S. Clason.
    194 pages. Rated 4.3 over 104,500 reviews on Goodreads.
  32. Ficciones (1944), Jorge Luis Borges
    174 pages. Rated 4.5 over 45,800 reviews on Goodreads.
  33. The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), Oscar Wilde
    76 pages. Rated 4.2 over 290,100 reviews on Goodreads.
  34. Endurance (1959), Alfred Lansing
    Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage
    282 pages. Rated 4.4 over 80,600 reviews on Goodreads.
  35. The Screwtape Letters (1942), C.S. Lewis
    223 pages. Rated 4.2 over 313,700 reviews on Goodreads.
  36. The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965), Malcolm X (Summary)
    466 pages. Rated 4.3 over 194,500 reviews on Goodreads.
  37. The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1905), Arthur Conan Doyle
    455 pages. Rated 4.3 over 49,500 reviews on Goodreads.
  38. Letters from a Stoic (-49), Seneca (Summary)
    A powerful and practical collection of 124 letters on how to become a more devoted stoic in every aspect of life, by stoic philosopher and tutor to emperor Nero, Seneca the Younger.
    256 pages. Rated 4.3 over 18,200 reviews on Goodreads.
  39. As a Man Thinketh (1902), James Allen (Summary)
    80 pages. Rated 4.3 over 53,100 reviews on Goodreads.
  40. The Great Divorce (1945), C.S. Lewis
    146 pages. Rated 4.3 over 101,700 reviews on Goodreads.
  41. A Study in Scarlet (1887), Arthur Conan Doyle
    123 pages. Rated 4.2 over 299,900 reviews on Goodreads.
  42. Jane Eyre (1847), Charlotte Brontë
    507 pages. Rated 4.1 over 1,538,900 reviews on Goodreads.
  43. Roots (1976), Alex Haley
    The Saga of an American Family
    729 pages. Rated 4.4 over 140,200 reviews on Goodreads.
  44. The Master and Margarita (1967), Mikhail Bulgakov
    335 pages. Rated 4.3 over 222,100 reviews on Goodreads.
  45. The Flowers of Evil (1857), Charles Baudelaire
    464 pages. Rated 4.3 over 45,400 reviews on Goodreads.
  46. 1984 (1949), George Orwell
    237 pages. Rated 4.2 over 3,055,100 reviews on Goodreads.
  47. Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov (1903), Anton Chekhov
    467 pages. Rated 4.4 over 29,000 reviews on Goodreads.
  48. Shōgun (Asian Saga, #1) (1975), James Clavell
    1,152 pages. Rated 4.4 over 140,000 reviews on Goodreads.
  49. The Idiot (1869), Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    667 pages. Rated 4.2 over 120,900 reviews on Goodreads.
  50. Second Foundation (Foundation, #3) (1953), Isaac Asimov
    256 pages. Rated 4.3 over 139,900 reviews on Goodreads.
  51. Dune (Dune Chronicles, #1) (1965), Frank Herbert
    604 pages. Rated 4.2 over 728,700 reviews on Goodreads.
  52. Letters to a Young Poet (1929), Rainer Maria Rilke
    80 pages. Rated 4.3 over 45,300 reviews on Goodreads.
  53. Where the Wild Things Are (1963), Maurice Sendak
    37 pages. Rated 4.2 over 774,900 reviews on Goodreads.
  54. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (1890), Emily Dickinson
    716 pages. Rated 4.2 over 68,500 reviews on Goodreads.
  55. The Secret Garden (1911), Frances Hodgson Burnett
    331 pages. Rated 4.1 over 839,600 reviews on Goodreads.
  56. I, Robot (Robot, #0.1) (1950), Isaac Asimov
    224 pages. Rated 4.2 over 270,300 reviews on Goodreads.
  57. Demons (1872), Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    733 pages. Rated 4.3 over 35,100 reviews on Goodreads.
  58. Charlotte’s Web (1952), E.B. White
    184 pages. Rated 4.2 over 1,337,500 reviews on Goodreads.
  59. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), Maya Angelou
    289 pages. Rated 4.2 over 396,200 reviews on Goodreads.
  60. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962), Ken Kesey
    325 pages. Rated 4.2 over 604,300 reviews on Goodreads.
  61. The Diary of a Young Girl (1947), Anne Frank
    283 pages. Rated 4.2 over 2,671,000 reviews on Goodreads.
  62. Think and Grow Rich (1937), Napoleon Hill (FREE Summary)
    A best-selling book of all time and a cornerstone guide to the Law of Attraction and the role of the subconscious in transforming your life – by a titan of the self-help genre, Napoleon Hill.
    233 pages. Rated 4.2 over 187,900 reviews on Goodreads.
  63. Foundation and Empire (Foundation, #2) (1952), Isaac Asimov
    256 pages. Rated 4.2 over 151,000 reviews on Goodreads.
  64. Stoner (1965), John Williams
    278 pages. Rated 4.3 over 89,700 reviews on Goodreads.
  65. I, Claudius (Claudius, #1) (1934), Robert Graves
    468 pages. Rated 4.3 over 50,900 reviews on Goodreads.
  66. Watchmen (1987), Alan Moore
    416 pages. Rated 4.4 over 472,500 reviews on Goodreads.
  67. Lonesome Dove (1985), Larry McMurtry
    945 pages. Rated 4.5 over 139,300 reviews on Goodreads.
  68. The Complete Maus (1986), Art Spiegelman
    296 pages. Rated 4.6 over 131,500 reviews on Goodreads.
  69. Ender’s Game (Ender’s Saga, #1) (1985), Orson Scott Card
    324 pages. Rated 4.3 over 1,109,700 reviews on Goodreads.
  70. Foundation (Foundation, #1) (1951), Isaac Asimov
    244 pages. Rated 4.2 over 399,100 reviews on Goodreads.
  71. Sense and Sensibility (1811), Jane Austen
    409 pages. Rated 4.1 over 912,700 reviews on Goodreads.
  72. His Last Bow (Sherlock Holmes, #8) (1917), Arthur Conan Doyle
    256 pages. Rated 4.3 over 34,600 reviews on Goodreads.
  73. Apology (-380), Plato
    127 pages. Rated 4.2 over 31,900 reviews on Goodreads.
  74. The Phantom Tollbooth (1961), Norton Juster
    256 pages. Rated 4.2 over 226,000 reviews on Goodreads.
  75. On the Shortness of Life (-49), Seneca (Summary)
    106 pages. Rated 4.2 over 17,300 reviews on Goodreads.
  76. Cosmos (1980), Carl Sagan (Summary)
    384 pages. Rated 4.4 over 107,700 reviews on Goodreads.
  77. War and Peace (1867), Leo Tolstoy
    1,392 pages. Rated 4.1 over 248,600 reviews on Goodreads.
  78. The Intelligent Investor (1949), Benjamin Graham (Summary)
    623 pages. Rated 4.2 over 75,100 reviews on Goodreads.
  79. Much Ado About Nothing (1598), William Shakespeare
    246 pages. Rated 4.1 over 206,400 reviews on Goodreads.
  80. The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales (1839), Edgar Allan Poe
    400 pages. Rated 4.2 over 66,100 reviews on Goodreads.
  81. Little Women (1868), Louisa May Alcott
    449 pages. Rated 4.1 over 1,583,500 reviews on Goodreads.
  82. Love You Forever (1986), Robert Munsch
    32 pages. Rated 4.4 over 192,500 reviews on Goodreads.
  83. The Choice (1959), Edith Eger
    Embrace the Possible
    289 pages. Rated 4.6 over 24,900 reviews on Goodreads.
  84. The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), Oscar Wilde
    367 pages. Rated 4.1 over 893,500 reviews on Goodreads.
  85. The Elements of Style (1918), William Strunk Jr. (FREE Summary)
    A short, prescriptive classic filled with good advice on writing great (American) English while omitting needless words – by professor and author William Strunk Jr.
    105 pages. Rated 4.2 over 69,000 reviews on Goodreads.
  86. Notes from Underground (1864), Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    136 pages. Rated 4.2 over 70,500 reviews on Goodreads.
  87. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker’s Guide, #1) (1979), Douglas Adams
    193 pages. Rated 4.2 over 1,402,600 reviews on Goodreads.
  88. The Stand (1990), Stephen King
    1,153 pages. Rated 4.3 over 579,800 reviews on Goodreads.
  89. The Complete Poems (1820), John Keats
    416 pages. Rated 4.3 over 20,700 reviews on Goodreads.
  90. A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) (1996), George R.R. Martin
    835 pages. Rated 4.5 over 1,966,500 reviews on Goodreads.
  91. The Pillars of the Earth (Kingsbridge, #1) (1989), Ken Follett
    973 pages. Rated 4.3 over 616,000 reviews on Goodreads.
  92. The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902), Arthur Conan Doyle
    256 pages. Rated 4.1 over 230,800 reviews on Goodreads.
  93. Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings (1962), Jorge Luis Borges
    Selected Stories and Other Writings
    256 pages. Rated 4.5 over 26,700 reviews on Goodreads.
  94. The Thorn Birds (1977), Colleen McCullough
    692 pages. Rated 4.2 over 302,200 reviews on Goodreads.
  95. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! (1990), Dr. Seuss
    44 pages. Rated 4.4 over 310,200 reviews on Goodreads.
  96. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter, #1) (1997), J.K. Rowling
    322 pages. Rated 4.5 over 6,867,000 reviews on Goodreads.
  97. The Art of Living (125), Epictetus
    The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness and Effectiveness
    128 pages. Rated 4.2 over 13,800 reviews on Goodreads.
  98. The Killer Angels (The Civil War Trilogy, #2) (1974), Michael Shaara
    345 pages. Rated 4.3 over 72,900 reviews on Goodreads.
  99. Aesop’s Fables (-560), Aesop
    306 pages. Rated 4.1 over 111,300 reviews on Goodreads.
  100. The Divine Comedy (1320), Dante Alighieri
    798 pages. Rated 4.1 over 108,100 reviews on Goodreads.

Enjoyed this list of the best books to read of all time? You might also like…

II. Best Books Of All Time

These are the overall best books to read (by type).

III. Best Nonfiction Books (A-Z)

These are the best nonfiction books to read (by topic).

IV. Best Fiction Books (A-Z)

These are the best fiction books to read (by genre).

Or, you can read all my book recommendations.
Arthur Worsley
Arthur Worsley
Arthur is a thinker and writer who helps people who want more from their lives learn to be more productive, find more balance and live life more meaningfully. Want to know more? Take this 2-minute quiz to discover your Productivity Quotient (PQ) and learn how to get BIG things done. Take the Quiz →

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    • Arthur says:

      Hi Saad, I haven’t read it yet (I’ve only read 25 of the books on the latest version of the list so still have some reading to go!) but it’s high up on my list.

      Haven’t got to to Tolstoy’s A Confession either yet! It’s sitting at #491 in today’s version of the database. May take me a few years to get there 🤗

      P.s., Just to be clear, these rankings do not represent my own opinion of the greatest books ever published. I’ve collected (and am always adding to) a library of over 3,000 book recommendations from all sorts of historical and contemporary lists (and reader suggestions). I then use an algorithm I created that combines Goodreads data and original publication dates to triage the selection by popular vote. It’s a top list by the people, of the people, for the people!

  1. Claudia McBride says:

    I can’t believe Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” didn’t make this list. I thought this book would be dry and boring but it was one of the most exciting books I’ve ever read. I’m surprised more people haven’t loved it.

    • Arthur says:

      Hey Claudia! Thanks for stopping by!

      Check out #64 (as of today’s list). It’s an awesome book!

      • Claudia McBride says:

        Glad to see “War and Peace” made this list. As you say, an awesome book. If you ever want to start a revolution be sure to read Robert A. Heinlein’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” for directions on how to go about setting it up. This one makes my top 100 book list.

        • Arthur says:

          Mmm. This looks excellent! Will add it to my long list and based on its scores and publication date it might actually make the next version of the short list! Thanks, Claudia!

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