My 150 Favorite Books

This is a list of 150 of my favorite books.  To see a longer list of all the books I rated 5/5 stars, go here.  The books are listed in chronological order by the date they were written, or the date of publication, whichever is earlier.  In the case of multiple works (trilogies, etc.), I use the date of the last book in the series.

  1. The Odyssey, by Homer (Ancient Greece, 8th Century BCE)
  2. The Oresteia Trilogy: Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, The Eumenides, by Aeschylus (Ancient Greece, 458 BCE)
  3. The Oedipus Trilogy: Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, by Sophocles (Ancient Greece, 450-441 BCE)
  4. Great Dialogues of Plato, by Plato (Ancient Greece, c. 399-367 BCE)
  5. The Histories, by Herodotus (Ancient Greece, 441 BCE)
  6. The Bhagavad-Gita, by Unknown Author (Ancient India, c. 400-300 BCE)
  7. Parallel Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, by Plutarch (Ancient Rome, c 100-125 CE)
  8. The Pillow Book, by Sei Shōnagon (Japan, 1002)
  9. The Tale of Genji, by Murasaki Shikibu (Japan, c. 1021)
  10. The Divine Comedy, by Dante Alighieri (Italy, 1308-1321)
  11. The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer (England, 1380-1400)
  12. Gargantua & Pantagruel, by François Rabelais (France, 1532-1534)
  13. The Complete Essays, by Michel de Montaigne (France, 1580-1595)
  14. Henry IV, Part 1, by William Shakespeare (England, 1597)
  15. Hamlet, by William Shakespeare (England, 1603)
  16. King Lear, by William Shakespeare (England, 1605)
  17. Macbeth, by William Shakespeare (England, 1606)
  18. Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes (Spain, 1605, 1615)
  19. Tartuffe, by Molière (France, 1669)
  20. Two Treatises of Government, by John Locke (England, 1689)
  21. Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift (England/Ireland, 1726)
  22. A Treatise of Human Nature, by David Hume (GB: Scotland, 1740)
  23. The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, by Henry Fielding (GB, 1749)
  24. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, by Laurence Sterne (GB, 1760)
  25. Dream of the Red Chamber (The Story of the Stone), by Cao Xueqin and Gao E (China, 1763-1764)
  26. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (UK, 1813)
  27. Emma, by Jane Austen (UK, 1815)
  28. The Red and the Black, by Stendhal (France, 1830)
  29. The Voyage of the Beagle, by Charles Darwin (UK, 1839)
  30. The Overcoat and Other Stories, by Nikolai Gogol (Russia, 1842)
  31. The Complete Tales and Poems, by Edgar Allen Poe (US, 1843)
  32. Cousin Bette, by Honoré de Balzac (France, 1846)
  33. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte (UK, 1847)
  34. Moby Dick, by Herman Melville (US, 1851)
  35. Tales and Sketches, by Nathaniel Hawthorne (US, 1837-1852)
  36. Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman (US, 1855)
  37. On the Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin (UK, 1859)
  38. Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens (UK, 1861)
  39. Fathers and Sons, by Ivan Turgenev (Russia, 1862)
  40. Crime & Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky (Russia, 1866)
  41. Middlemarch, by George Eliot (UK, 1871)
  42. Life on the Mississippi, by Mark Twain (US, 1883)
  43. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain (US, 1884)
  44. Beyond Good and Evil, by Frederick Nietzsche (Germany, 1886)
  45. The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde (Ireland/UK, 1895)
  46. Jude the Obscure, by Thomas Hardy (UK, 1895)
  47. Lord Jim, by Joseph Conrad (Poland/UK, 1899)
  48. The Wings of the Dove, by Henry James (US/UK, 1902)
  49. The Golden Bowl, by Henry James (US/UK, 1904)
  50. Nostromo, by Joseph Conrad (Poland/UK, 1904)
  51. The House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton (US, 1905)
  52. Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence (UK, 1913)
  53. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, by Ludwig Wittgenstein (Germany/UK, 1918)
  54. Ulysses, by James Joyce (Ireland/France, 1922)
  55. The Magic Mountain, by Thomas Mann (Germany, 1924)
  56. The Trial, by Franz Kafka (Czechoslovakia, 1925)
  57. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald (US, 1925)
  58. Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf (UK, 1925)
  59. The Castle, by Franz Kafka (Czechoslovakia, 1926)
  60. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway (US, 1926)
  61. Seven Pillars of Wisdom, by T.E. Lawrence (UK, 1926)
  62. Death Comes for the Archbishop, by Willa Cather (US, 1927)
  63. To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf (UK, 1927)
  64. Orlando, by Virginia Woolf (UK, 1928)
  65. The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner (US, 1929)
  66. Selected Poems, by T.S. Eliot (US/UK, 1934)
  67. A Handful of Dust, by Evelyn Waugh (UK, 1934)
  68. The Book of Disquiet, by Fernando Pessoa (Portugal, 1935)
  69. U.S.A., by John Dos Passos (US, 1930-1936)
  70. Absalom, Absalom, by William Faulkner (US, 1936)
  71. Nausea, by Jean-Paul Sartre (France, 1938)
  72. At Swim-Two-Birds, by Flann O’Brien (Ireland, 1939)
  73. Magister Ludi (The Glass Bead Game), by Herman Hesse (Germany/Switzerland, 1943)
  74. Under the Volcano, by Malcolm Lowry (UK, 1947)
  75. Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton (South Africa, 1948)
  76. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger (US, 1951)
  77. Memoirs of Hadrian, by Marguerite Yourcenar (France, 1951)
  78. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison (US, 1952)
  79. The Trilogy: Molloy, Molone Dies, The Unnameable, by Samuel Beckett (Ireland/France, 1951-1953)
  80. Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett (Ireland/France, 1953)
  81. A Woman in Berlin, by Anonymous (Marta Hillers) (Germany, 1954)
  82. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding (UK, 1954)
  83. Lucky Jim, by Kingsley Amis (UK, 1954)
  84. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkein (UK, 1956)
  85. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov (USSR/US, 1955)
  86. A Death in the Family, by James Agee (US, 1957)
  87. The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (USSR, 1958)
  88. The Tin Drum, by Günter Grass (Germany, 1959)
  89. The Alexandria Quartet, by Lawrence Durrell (UK, 1957-1960)
  90. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William L. Shirer (US, 1960)
  91. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller (US, 1961)
  92. Labyrinths, by Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina, 1962)
  93. V., by Thomas Pynchon (US, 1963)
  94. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut (US, 1963)
  95. Giles Goat Boy, by John Barth (US, 1966)
  96. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Márquez (Colombia, 1967)
  97. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, by Tom Wolfe (US, 1967)
  98. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut (US, 1969)
  99. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, by Hunter Thompson (US, 1971)
  100. A Theory of Justice, by John Rawls (US, 1971)
  101. Complete Poems 1904-1962, by E.E. Cummings (US, 1972)
  102. Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino (Italy, 1972)
  103. Gravity’s Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon (US, 1973)
  104. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert Pirsig (US, 1974)
  105. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard (US, 1974)
  106. The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins (UK, 1976)
  107. The Stories of John Cheever, by John Cheever (US, 1978)
  108. The Snow Leopard, by Peter Matthiessen (US, 1978)
  109. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, by Italo Calvino (Italy, 1979)
  110. So Long, See You Tomorrow, by William Maxwell (US, 1980)
  111. The Collected Stories, by Eudora Welty (US, 1980)
  112. A People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn (US, 1980)
  113. Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie (India/UK, 1981)
  114. Sam Shepard: Seven Plays, by Sam Shepard (US, 1984)
  115. White Noise, by Don DeLillo (US, 1985)
  116. A Short History of the Movies, by Gerald Mast (US, 1986)
  117. World’s End, by T.C. Boyle (US, 1987)
  118. Beloved, by Toni Morrison (US, 1987)
  119. And the Band Played On, by Randy Shilts (US, 1987)
  120. The New York Trilogy, by Paul Auster (US, 1987)
  121. Oscar and Lucinda, by Peter Carey (Australia, 1988)
  122. Where I’m Calling From, by Raymond Carver (US, 1988)
  123. Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-1963, by Taylor Branch (US, 1988)
  124. Billy Bathgate, by E.L. Doctorow (US, 1989)
  125. A Thousand Acres, by Jane Smiley (US, 1991)
  126. Operation Shylock: A Confession, by Philip Roth (US, 1993)
  127. Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace (US, 1996)
  128. The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy (India, 1997)
  129. American Pastoral, by Philip Roth (US, 1997)
  130. We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, by Philip Gourevitch (US, 1998)
  131. Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth, by Richard Fortey (UK, 1998)
  132. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, by Dave Eggers (US, 2000)
  133. Austerlitz, by W.G. Sebald (Germany, 2001)
  134. Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides (US, 2002)
  135. The Inheritance of Loss, by Kiran Desai (India, 2005)
  136. Europe Central, by William T. Vollmann (US, 2005)
  137. The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan (US, 2006)
  138. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy (US, 2006)
  139. What Is the What, by Dave Eggers (US, 2006)
  140. The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million, by Daniel Mendelsohn (US, 2006)
  141. Cleopatra: A Life, by Stacy Schiff (US, 2010)
  142. The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson (US, 2010)
  143. Lennon: The Man, the Myth, the Music, by Tim Riley (US, 2010)
  144. There but for the, by Ali Smith (UK: Scotland, 2011)
  145. Catherine the Great, by Robert K. Massie (US, 2011)
  146. Tenth of December, by George Saunders (US, 2013)
  147. Lawrence in Arabia, by Scott Anderson (US, 2013)
  148. The Neapolitan Novels, by Elena Ferrante (Italy, 2011-2014)
  149. Citizen: An American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine (US, 2014)
  150. Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, by David W. Blight (US, 2018)

5 thoughts on “My 150 Favorite Books

  1. Darrick

    Hello, long-time fan of the lists you make, I enjoy making lists myself and I’ve been working on a top 100 favorite works of literature. I noticed we have a large majority of similarities between your list and mine and I noticed something that made me wonder. Have you read any novels by Jules Verne? He has so many spectacular stories. Once again, love the lists, keep it up.

    1. beckchris

      Darrick: Thanks for the feedback. I’d love to see your list! Love Jules Verne: I’ve read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and From the Earth to the Moon, although I must admit it was many years ago.

      John B.

  2. Pingback: Personal Preferences: A Break from Meta-Lists | Make Lists, Not War

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