There are a lot of best books of all-time list and each of them have their own picks of what they consider the best. We decided to take a look at The Guardian’s 100 greatest novels of all time and see how it holds up.
This is a list that I have come back to often. Sometimes it is to find a new book to read and other times to see which books are deemed the best of all time. The Guardian has some interesting picks and I know I am not the only one that hasn’t heard of some of these books. You can see the full list below
The Guardian’s 100 Greatest Novels of All Time
- 1. Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes
- 2. Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
- 3. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
- 4. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
- 5. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
- 6. Clarissa by Samuel Richardson
- 7. Tristram by Shandy Laurence Sterne
- 8. Dangerous Liaisons by Pierre Choderlos De Laclos
- 9. Emma by Jane Austen
- 10. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- 11. Nightmare Abbey by Thomas Love Peacock
- 12. The Black Sheep by Honoré De Balzac
- 13. The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal
- 14. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
- 15. Sybil by Benjamin Disraeli
- 16. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
- 17. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
- 18. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
- 19. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
- 20. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- 21. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
- 22. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
- 23. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
- 24. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
- 25. Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott
- 26. The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope
- 27. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
- 28. Daniel Deronda by George Eliot
- 29. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
- 30. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
- 31. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
- 32. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
- 33. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
- 34. The Picture of Dorian by Gray Oscar Wilde
- 35. The Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith
- 36. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
- 37. The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers
- 38. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
- 39. Nostromo by Joseph Conrad
- 40. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
- 41. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
- 42. The Rainbow by D. H. Lawrence
- 43. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
- 44. The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan
- 45. Ulysses by James Joyce
- 46. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
- 47. A Passage to India by EM Forster
- 48. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- 49. The Trial by Franz Kafka
- 50. Men Without Women by Ernest Hemingway
- 51. Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Celine
- 52. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
- 53. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
- 54. Scoop by Evelyn Waugh
- 55. USA by John Dos Passos
- 56. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
- 57. The Pursuit Of Love by Nancy Mitford
- 58. The Plague by Albert Camus
- 59. Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell
- 60. Malone Dies by Samuel Beckett
- 61. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
- 62. Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor
- 63. Charlotte’s Web by EB White
- 64. The Lord Of The Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
- 65. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
- 66. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
- 67. The Quiet American by Graham Greene
- 68 On the Road by Jack Kerouac
- 69. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
- 70. The Tin Drum by Günter Grass
- 71. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
- 72. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
- 73. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- 74. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
- 75. Herzog by Saul Bellow
- 76. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
- 77. Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont Elizabeth Taylor
- 78. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy John Le Carré
- 79. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
- 80. The Bottle Factory Outing by Beryl Bainbridge
- 81. The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer
- 82. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino
- 83. A Bend in the River by VS Naipaul
- 84. Waiting for the Barbarians by JM Coetzee
- 85. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
- 86. Lanark by Alasdair Gray
- 87. The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
- 88. The BFG by Roald Dahl
- 89. The Periodic Table by Primo Levi
- 90. Money by Martin Amis
- 91. An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro
- 92. Oscar And Lucinda by Peter Carey
- 93. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera
- 94. Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie
- 95. LA Confidential by James Ellroy
- 96. Wise Children by Angela Carter
- 97. Atonement by Ian McEwan
- 98. Northern Lights Philip Pullman
- 99. American Pastoral by Philip Roth
- 100. Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald
What to Make of the List
There are a lot of books on this list that I have not read and cannot say much about. Even the top ten includes many books that are foreign to me. The list includes some classics and then picks lesser-known works by famous authors.
Emma by Jane Austin is nowhere near as popular or well known as Pride and Prejudice and yet it ranks fairly higher. Popularity doesn’t always mean better and yet the one of the author of the article said it was a toss-up between the two.
This list is missing some classics that I thought would be a shoe-in. Dune by Frank Herbert should have made the list but they thought otherwise. No list is going to get it right and that is fine. These lists are made by people and people are biased at the end of the day.
That is all for Guardian’s 100 greatest novels of all-time list. What did you think of this list? What books should have been included? Let us know in the comments below! Until next time, happy reading!
14 thoughts on “The Guardian’s 100 Greatest Novels of All Time”
I honestly don’t like this list!
It is an interesting list to say the least. Very biased I would say and definitely tries to pick lesser known books intentionally as a form of credibility in my opinion.
Do read Bill Fairclough’s fact based spy thriller, Beyond Enkription, the first stand-alone novel of six in The Burlington Files series. One day he may overtake Bond, Smiley and even Jackson Lamb!
Intentionally misspelt, Beyond Enkription is a must read for espionage illuminati. It’s a raw noir matter of fact pacy novel. Len Deighton and Mick Herron could be forgiven for thinking they co-wrote it. Coincidentally, a few critics have nicknamed its protagonist “a posh Harry Palmer.”
It is a true story about a maverick accountant, Bill Fairclough (MI6 codename JJ) aka Edward Burlington in Porter Williams International (in real life Coopers & Lybrand now PwC). In the 1970s in London he infiltrated organised crime gangs, unwittingly working for MI6. After some frenetic attempts on his life he was relocated to the Bahamas where, “eyes wide open” he was recruited by the CIA and headed for shark infested waters off Haiti.
If you’re an espionage cognoscente you’ll love this monumental book. In real life Bill Fairclough was recruited by MI6’s unorthodox Colonel Alan Brooke Pemberton CVO MBE and thereafter they worked together on and off into the 1990s. You can find out more about Pemberton’s People (who even included Winston Churchill’s bodyguard) in an article dated 31 October 2022 on The Burlington Files website.
This epic is so real it made us wonder why bother reading espionage fiction when facts are so much more exhilarating. Whether you’re a le Carré connoisseur, a Deighton disciple, a Fleming fanatic, a Herron hireling or a Macintyre marauder, odds on once you are immersed in it you’ll read this titanic production twice. For more detailed reviews visit the Reviews page on TheBurlingtonFiles website or see other independent reviews on your local Amazon website and check out Bill Fairclough’s background on the web.
Impossible for such a list to skip Les Miserables
It is miserable too!
Regurgitation of lists compiled anywhere & everywhere. Monotonous.
Did not like the list at all. “To kill a mockingbird”…should be #1.
No monotony in The Burlington Files starring Pemberton’s People! Best start with a brief news article dated 31 October 2022 in TheBurlingtonFiles website.
To date it is a one off but “Beyond Enkription” by Bill Fairclough is worthy of any spy’s top 100. It’s the first stand-alone fact-based espionage novel of six autobiographical tomes in The Burlington Files series. As the first book in the series, it provides a gripping introduction to the world of British intelligence and espionage. It is an intense electrifying spy thriller that had me perched on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. The twists and turns in the interwoven plots kept me guessing beyond the epilogue. The characters were wholesome, well-developed and intriguing. The author’s attention to detail added extra layers of authenticity to the narrative.
In real life Bill Fairclough aka Edward Burlington (MI6 codename JJ) was one of Pemberton’s People in MI6; for more about that see a brief News Article dated 31 October 2022 published in TheBurlingtonFiles website. The series follows the real life of Bill Fairclough (and his family) who worked not only for British Intelligence, but also the CIA et al for several decades. The first tome is set in 1974 in London, Nassau and Port au Prince: see TheBurlingtonFiles website for a synopsis.
Fairclough is not a professional but his writing style is engaging and fast-paced, making it difficult to put the book down as he effortlessly glides from cerebral issues to action-packed scenes which are never that far apart. Beyond Enkription is the stuff memorable spy films are made of. It’s raw, realistic, punchy, pacy and provocative. While the book does not feature John le Carré’s “delicate diction, sophisticated syntax and placid plots” it remains a riveting and delightful read.
This thriller is like nothing we have ever come across before. Indeed, we wonder what The Burlington Files would have been like if David Cornwell (aka John le Carré) had collaborated with Bill Fairclough whom critics have likened to “a posh Harry Palmer”. They did consider collaborating but did not proceed as explained in the aforementioned News Article. Nonetheless, critics have lauded Beyond Enkription as being ”up there with My Silent War by Kim Philby and No Other Choice by George Blake”.
Overall, Beyond Enkription is a brilliantly refreshing book and a must read, especially for espionage cognoscenti. I cannot wait to see what is in store for us in the future. In the meantime, before reading Beyond Enkription do visit TheBurlingtonFiles website. It is like a living espionage museum and breathtaking in its own right.
I’ve read 39 of these – and some are amongst my favourite novels (war & Peace, 100 years Solitude, Jane Eyre, Song of Solomon, Lolita, Atonement) but others while classics I found turgid & boring (moby dick, catch 22 and on the road, 3 men in a boat) … it feels like a very ‘male list’ – and doesn’t seem to include anything written in last 20 years. Personally I would replace these with ‘ A thousand splendid suns, Oranges are not the only fruit, Milkman, Americanah and Sombrero Fallout.
If you are into espionage et al, do read and where possible view on screen these best in class espionage thrillers:
Fiction – Len Deighton – Funeral in Berlin – shame they chose The Ipcress File for a remake rather than this.
Non-fiction – Bill Fairclough – Beyond Enkription in The Burlington Files series – a raw noir sui generis novel but read this MI6 intriguing news first – https://theburlingtonfiles.org/news_2022.10.31.php.
Fiction – Mick Herron – Slow Horses in The Slough House series – an anti-Bond masterpiece laced with sardonic humour
Non-fiction – Ben Macintyre – The Spy and The Traitor + A Spy Among Friends – must reads for all espionage cognoscenti