Best Novels of All Time – Chronological

I collected 24 lists of “Best Novels of All Time” from the Internet and books and combined them into one meta-list.  Some of the lists included only novels written in English or novels written in the 20th Century, so I reached out to include the novels on other lists of great books, with an eye to including pre- and post-20th Century novels and novels written in languages other than English.  The original lists use somewhat differing definitions of ‘novel’ and purists may find books on the list that don’t meet one or more of those definitions. I apologize for any inconvenience. In the meta-list below, I have included every novel on three or more of the original source lists, organized chronologically.  To see a shorter list that includes every novel on four or more of the lists, organized by rank (i.e., with the novels on the most lists at the top), click here.

The Tale of Genji (Japan, before 1021). By Murasaki Shikibu (on 5 lists)

Calligraphy from a 12th Century illustrated scroll of The Tale of Genji.

One Thousand and One Nights (The Arabian Nights) (Arabia/Persia/India, c. 800-1500; first European pub. 1704-1717). By Anonymous (on 3 lists)
Gargantua and Pantagruel (France, 1532-1564). By François Rabelais (on 3 lists)
Don Quixote (Spain, Pt. 1: 1605; Pt. 2: 1615). By Miguel de Cervantes (on 13 lists)
The Pilgrim’s Progress (England, 1678). By John Bunyan (on 3 lists)

Robinson Crusoe (GB, 1719). By Daniel Defoe (on 8 lists)

Title and facing pages from first edition of Robinson Crusoe.

Moll Flanders (GB, 1722). By Daniel DeFoe
Gulliver’s Travels (Ireland, 1726). By Jonathan Swift (on 9 lists)
Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady (GB, 1748). By Samuel Richardson (on 5 lists)
The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling (GB, 1749). By Henry Fielding (on 10 lists)
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (Ireland/GB, 1759). By Laurence Sterne (on 10 lists)
Candide (France, 1759). By Voltaire (on 7 lists)
The Vicar of Wakefield (Ireland/GB, 1766). By Oliver Goldsmith (on 3 lists)
The Sorrows of Young Werther (Germany, 1774, revised, 1787). By Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (on 3 lists)

Pride and Prejudice (UK, 1813). By Jane Austen (on 11 lists)

The title page of the first edition of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Emma (UK, 1816). By Jane Austen (on 7 lists)
Persuasion (UK, 1817) By Jane Austen (on 3 lists)
Frankenstein (UK, 1818). By Mary Shelley (on 9 lists)
Nightmare Abbey (UK, 1818). By Thomas Love Peacock  (on 3 lists)
The Last of the Mohicans (US, 1826). By James Fenimore Cooper (on 3 lists)
The Red and the Black (France, 1830). By Stendhal (on 9 lists)
Le Pére Goriot (France, 1835). By Honoré de Balzac (on 5 lists)
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (US, 1838). By Edgar Allan Poe (on 4 lists)
The Charterhouse of Parma (France, 1839). By Stendhal (on 3 lists)
Dead Souls (Russia, 1842). By Nikolai Gogol (on 6 lists)
Lost Illusions (France, 1837-1843). By Honoré de Balzac (on 3 lists)
The Three Musketeers (France, 1844). By Alexandre Dumas (on 6 lists)
The Count of Monte Cristo (France, 1844). By Alexandre Dumas (on 5 lists)
Cousin Bette (France, 1846). By Honoré de Balzac (on 3 lists)
Jane Eyre (UK, 1847). By Charlotte Brontë (on 12 lists)
Wuthering Heights (UK, 1847). By Emily Brontë (on 12 lists)
Vanity Fair (UK, 1848). By William Makepeace Thackeray (on 7 lists)

The Scarlet Letter (US, 1850). By Nathaniel Hawthorne  (on 9 lists)

The title page of the first edition of The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

David Copperfield (UK, 1850). By Charles Dickens (on 9 lists)
Oblomov (Russia, 1850). By Ivan Goncharov (on 3 lists) 
Moby-Dick (US, 1851). By Herman Melville (on 13 lists)
Bleak House (UK, 1853). By Charles Dickens  (on 5 lists)
Madame Bovary (France, 1856). By Gustave Flaubert (on 13 lists)
A Tale of Two Cities (UK, 1859). By Charles Dickens (on 6 lists)
Great Expectations (UK, 1861). By Charles Dickens (on 7 lists)
Silas Marner (UK, 1861). By George Eliot  (on 3 lists)
Les Misérables (France, 1862). By Victor Hugo (on 8 lists)
Fathers and Sons (Russia, 1862). By Ivan Turgenev  (on 4 lists)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (UK, 1865). By Lewis Carroll (on 7 lists)
Crime and Punishment (Russia, 1866). By Fyodor Dostoyevsky (on 12 lists)
War and Peace (Russia, 1867 (serial); 1869 (book)). By Leo Tolstoy (on 10 lists)
The Moonstone (UK, 1868). By Wilkie Collins (on 3 lists)
Little Women (US, 1869). By Louisa May Alcott (on 5 lists)
The Idiot (Russia, 1869). By Fyodor Dostoevsky (on 4 lists)
Sentimental Education (France, 1869). By Gustave Flaubert (on 3 lists)
Middlemarch (UK, 1872). By George Eliot (on 11 lists)
The Possessed (The Devils) (Demons) (Russia, 1872). By Fyodor Dostoevsky (on 4 lists)
Daniel Deronda (UK, 1876). By George Eliot (on 3 lists)
Anna Karenina (Russia, 1877). By Leo Tolstoy (on 14 lists)
The Return of the Native (UK, 1878). By Thomas Hardy (on 3 lists)
The Brothers Karamazov (Russia, 1880). By Fyodor Dostoevsky (on 11 lists)
The Portrait of a Lady (US, 1881). By Henry James (on 9 lists)
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (US, 1884). By Mark Twain (on 14 lists)
Germinal (France, 1885) By Émile Zola (on 4 lists)
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (UK, 1886). By Robert Louis Stevenson (on 5 lists)
The Death of Ivan Ilych (novella) (Russia, 1886). By Leo Tolstoy (on 3 lists)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (Ireland, 1891). By Oscar Wilde (on 5 lists)
Tess of the d’Urbervilles (UK, 1892). By Thomas Hardy (on 8 lists)
Jude the Obscure (UK, 1895). By Thomas Hardy (on 4 lists)
The Red Badge of Courage (US, 1895). By Stephen Crane (on 3 lists) 
Dracula (Ireland, 1897). By Bram Stoker (on 5 lists)
The Turn of the Screw (novella) (US, 1898). By Henry James (on 3 lists)
Heart of Darkness (novella) (UK, 1899 (serial; 1902 (book)). By Joseph Conrad (on 6 lists)
The Awakening (US, 1899). By Kate Chopin (on 5 lists)

Lord Jim (UK, 1900). By Joseph Conrad (on 3 lists)

A hardcover first edition of Lord Jim.

Sister Carrie (US, 1900). By Theodore Dreiser (on 3 lists)
Kim (UK, 1901). By Rudyard Kipling (on 4 lists)
Buddenbrooks (Germany, 1901). By Thomas Mann (on 3 lists)
The Hound of the Baskervilles (UK, 1902) By Arthur Conan Doyle (on 3 lists)
The Wings of the Dove (US/UK, 1902). By Henry James (on 3 lists)
The Call of the Wild (US, 1903). By Jack London (on 7 lists)
The Ambassadors (US/UK, 1903). By Henry James (on 4 lists)
The Golden Bowl (US, 1904). By Henry James (on 5 lists)
Nostromo (UK, 1904). By Joseph Conrad (on 5 lists)
The House of Mirth (US, 1905). By Edith Wharton (on 5 lists)
The Jungle (US, 1906). By Upton Sinclair (on 3 lists)
The Wind in the Willows (UK, 1908). By Kenneth Grahame  (on 4 lists)
Howards End (UK, 1910) By E.M. Forster (on 5 lists)
Sons and Lovers (UK, 1913). By D.H. Lawrence (on 4 lists)
The Trial (Austria-Hungary/Czechoslovakia, 1915; Pub. 1925). By Franz Kafka (on 11 lists)
The Good Soldier (UK, 1915). By Ford Madox Ford (on 5 lists)
The Rainbow (US, 1915). By D.H. Lawrence (on 3 lists)
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Ireland, 1916). By James Joyce (on 7 lists)
My Ántonia (US, 1918). By Willa Cather (on 7 lists)
Winesburg, Ohio (US, 1919). By Sherwood Anderson (on 3 lists)
The Age of Innocence (US, 1920). By Edith Wharton (on 8 lists)
Main Street (US, 1920). By Sinclair Lewis (on 3 lists)
Women In Love (UK, 1920). By D.H. Lawrence (on 3 lists)
Ulysses (Ireland, 1922). By James Joyce (on 13 lists)
Babbitt (US, 1922) By Sinclair Lewis (on 3 lists)
The Good Soldier Švejk (Czechoslovakia, 1921-1923) by Jaroslav Hašek (on 3 lists)
Zeno’s Conscience (Confessions of Zeno) (Italy, 1923). By Italo Svevo (on 3 lists)
A Passage To India (UK, 1924). By E.M. Forster (on 10 lists)
The Magic Mountain (Germany, 1924). By Thomas Mann (on 8 lists)
The Castle (Czechoslovakia, 1924, pub. 1926). By Franz Kafka (on 3 lists)

The Great Gatsby (US, 1925). By F. Scott Fitzgerald (on 17 lists)

The cover art for the first edition of The Great Gatsby.

Mrs. Dalloway (UK, 1925). By Virginia Woolf (on 11 lists)
An American Tragedy (US, 1925). By Theodore Dreiser (on 9 lists)
The Sun Also Rises (US, 1926). By Ernest Hemingway (on 9 lists)
In Search of Lost Time (France, 1913-1927). By Marcel Proust (on 12 lists)
To the Lighthouse (UK, 1927). By Virginia Woolf (on 9 lists)
Death Comes for the Archbishop (US, 1927). By Willa Cather (on 6 lists)
The Bridge of San Luis Rey (US, 1927). By Thornton Wilder (on 3 lists)
The Sound and the Fury (US, 1929). By William Faulkner (on 12 lists)
The Maltese Falcon (US, 1929). By Dashiell Hammett (on 6 lists)
A Farewell To Arms (US, 1929). By Ernest Hemingway (on 5 lists)
All Quiet on the Western Front (Germany, 1929). By Erich Maria Remarque (on 3 lists)
Brave New World (UK, 1932). By Aldous Huxley (on 6 lists)
As I Lay Dying (US, 1932). By William Faulkner (on 6 lists)
Light in August (US, 1932). By William Faulkner (on 5 lists)
Journey to the End of the Night (France, 1932). By Louis-Ferdinand Céline (on 3 lists)
Cold Comfort Farm (UK, 1932). By Stella Gibbons (on 3 lists)
Tropic of Cancer (France, 1934; US, 1961). By Henry Miller (on 6 lists)
Appointment in Samarra (US, 1934). By John O’Hara (on 4 lists)
I, Claudius (UK, 1934). By Robert Graves (on 4 lists)
Tender Is the Night (US, 1934). By F. Scott Fitzgerald (on 3 lists)
A Handful of Dust (UK, 1934). By Evelyn Waugh (on 3 lists)
Call It Sleep (US, 1934). By Henry Roth (on 3 lists)
Independent People (Iceland, 1934-1935). By Halldór Laxness (on 3 lists)
U.S.A. (trilogy) (US, 1930-1936). By John Dos Passos (on 6 lists)
Gone with the Wind (US, 1936). By Margaret Mitchell (on 6 lists)
Absalom, Absalom! (US, 1936). By William Faulkner  (on 5 lists)
Their Eyes Were Watching God (US, 1937). By Zora Neale Hurston (on 7 lists)
Of Mice and Men (US, 1937). By John Steinbeck (on 5 lists)
Scoop (UK, 1938). By Evelyn Waugh (on 4 lists)
The Death of the Heart (UK, 1938). By Elizabeth Bowen (on 3 lists)
Rebecca (UK, 1938). By Daphne du Maurier (on 3 lists)
The Grapes of Wrath (US, 1939). By John Steinbeck (on 12 lists)
The Big Sleep (US, 1939). By Raymond Chandler (on 7 lists)
The Day of the Locust (US, 1939). By Nathanael West (on 4 lists)
Finnegans Wake (Ireland, 1939). By James Joyce (on 4 lists)
At Swim-Two-Birds (Ireland, 1939). By Flann O’Brien (on 3 lists)
Native Son (US, 1940). By Richard Wright (on 8 lists)
For Whom The Bell Tolls (US, 1940). By Ernest Hemingway  (on 6 lists)
The Master and Margarita (USSR, 1940, pub. 1967). By Mikhail Bulgakov (on 6 lists)
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (US, 1940). By Carson McCullers (on 5 lists)
The Power and the Glory (UK, 1940). By Graham Greene (on 3 lists)
The Man Who Loved Children (Australia, 1940). By Christina Stead (on 3 lists)
Darkness at Noon (UK, 1940). By Arthur Koestler (on 3 lists)
The Stranger (France, 1942). By Albert Camus (on 9 lists)
The Man Without Qualities (Germany, 1942). By Robert Musil (on 3 lists)
The Little Prince (France, 1943). By Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (on 4 lists)
The Fountainhead (US, 1943). By Ayn Rand (on 3 lists)
The Glass Bead Game (Magister Ludi) (Germany/Switzerland, 1943). By Herman Hesse (on 3 lists)
Brideshead Revisited (UK, 1945). By Evelyn Waugh (on 7 lists)
Animal Farm (UK, 1945). By George Orwell (on 4 lists)
The Death of Virgil (Austria, 1945). By Hermann Broch (on 3 lists)
All The King’s Men (US, 1946). By Robert Penn Warren (on 7 lists)
Zorba The Greek (Greece, 1946). By Nikos Kazantzakis (on 3 lists)
Under the Volcano (UK, 1947). By Malcolm Lowry (on 5 lists)
The Plague (France, 1947). By Albert Camus (on 3 lists)
The Naked and the Dead (US, 1948). By Norman Mailer (on 3 lists)
The Heart of the Matter (US, 1948). By Graham Greene (on 3 lists)
Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) (UK, 1949). By George Orwell (on 12 lists)
The Sheltering Sky (US, 1949). By Paul Bowles (on 3 lists)

The Catcher in the Rye (US, 1951). By J.D. Salinger (on 14 lists)

The cover art for the first edition of The Catcher in the Rye.

Memoirs of Hadrian (France, 1951). By Marguerite Yourcenar (on 3 lists)
Invisible Man (US, 1952). By Ralph Ellison (on 11 lists)
The Old Man and the Sea (US, 1952). By Ernest Hemingway (on 7 lists)
Charlotte’s Web (US, 1952). By E.B. White (on 4 lists)
East of Eden (US, 1952). By John Steinbeck (on 3 lists)
Go Tell It on the Mountain (US, 1953). By James Baldwin (on 6 lists)
The Adventures of Augie March (US, 1953). By Saul Bellow (on 6 lists)
Three Novels: Malloy, Malone Dies, The Unnameable (France/Ireland, 1951-1953). By Samuel Beckett (on 3 lists)
Fahrenheit 451 (US, 1953). By Ray Bradbury (on 3 lists)
Lord of the Flies (UK, 1954). By William Golding (on 6 lists)
Lucky Jim (UK, 1954). By Kingsley Amis (on 4 lists)
Under the Net (UK, 1954). By Iris Murdoch (on 3 lists)
Lolita (US, 1955). By Vladimir Nabokov (on 15 lists)
The Lord of the Rings (trilogy) (UK, 1954-1955). By J.R.R. Tolkein (on 5 lists)
Pedro Páramo (Mexico, 1955). By Juan Rulfo (on 3 lists)
The Chronicles of Narnia (7-novel series) (UK, 1950-1956). By C.S. Lewis (on 4 lists)
On the Road (US, 1957). By Jack Kerouac (on 10 lists)
Atlas Shrugged (US, 1957). By Ayn Rand (on 4 lists)
The Cairo Trilogy (Egypt, 1956-1957). By Naguib Mahfouz (on 3 lists)
Doctor Zhivago (USSR, 1957). By Boris Pasternak (on 3 lists)
Things Fall Apart (Nigeria, 1958). By Chinua Achebe (on 10 lists)
The Leopard (Italy, 1958). By Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (on 6 lists)
The Tin Drum (Germany, 1959). By Günter Grass (on 6 lists)
Naked Lunch (US, 1959). By William S. Burroughs (on 3 lists)
To Kill A Mockingbird (US, 1960). By Harper Lee (on 14 lists)
Rabbit, Run (US, 1960). By John Updike (on 7 lists)
The Alexandria Quartet (UK, 1957-1960). By Lawrence Durell (on 3 lists)
The Sot-Weed Factor (US, 1960). By John Barth (on 3 lists)
Catch-22 (US, 1961). By Joseph Heller (on 12 lists)
A House for Mr. Biswas (Trinidad & Tobago/UK, 1961). By V.S. Naipaul (on 6 lists)
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (UK, 1961). By Muriel Spark (on 6 lists)
The Moviegoer (US, 1961). By Walker Percy (on 3 lists)
Revolutionary Road (US, 1961). By Richard Yates (on 3 lists)
The Golden Notebook (UK, 1962). By Doris Lessing (on 7 lists)
Pale Fire (US, 1962). By Vladimir Nabokov (on 6 lists)
A Clockwork Orange (UK, 1962). By Anthony Burgess (on 4 lists)
One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (US, 1962). By Ken Kesey (on 4 lists)
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (USSR, 1962). By Aleksandr Solzhenistyn (on 3 lists)
The Death of Artemio Cruz (Mexico, 1962). By Carlos Fuentes (on 3 lists) 
Herzog (US, 1964). By Saul Bellow (on 4 lists)
A Personal Matter (Japan, 1964). By Kenzaburo Oe (on 3 lists)
Wide Sargasso Sea (Dominica/UK, 1966). By Jean Rhys (on 4 lists)
In Cold Blood (US, 1966). By Truman Capote (on 3 lists)
The Bell Jar (US, 1966). By Sylvia Plath (on 3 lists)
Cancer Ward (USSR, 1966). By Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (on 3 lists)
One Hundred Years of Solitude (Colombia, 1967). By Gabriel García Márquez (on 18 lists)
Slaughterhouse-Five (US, 1969). By Kurt Vonnegut (on 7 lists)
Portnoy’s Complaint (US, 1969). By Philip Roth (on 4 lists)
The French Lieutenant’s Woman (UK, 1969). By John Fowles (on 3 lists)
Rabbit Redux (US, 1971). By John Updike (on 4 lists)
Invisible Cities (Italy, 1972). By Italo Calvino (on 3 lists) 
Gravity’s Rainbow (US, 1973). By Thomas Pynchon (on 5 lists)

A Dance to the Music of Time (12-novel cycle) (UK, 1951-1975). By Anthony Powell (on 4 lists)

The cover art for Hearing Secret Harmonies (1975), the twelfth and final novel in the series A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell.

Ragtime (US, 1975). By E.L. Doctorow (on 4 lists)
J R (US, 1975). By William Gaddis (on 3 lists)
Song of Solomon (US, 1977). By Toni Morrison (on 5 lists)
The World According to Garp (US, 1978). By John Irving (on 4 lists)
Life: A User’s Manual (France, 1978). By Georges Perec (on 3 lists)
The Stand (US, 1978). By Stephen King (on 3 lists)
A Bend in the River (Trinidad and Tobago/UK, 1979). By V.S. Naipaul (on 5 lists)
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller (Italy, 1979). By Italo Calvino (on 4 lists)
Sophie’s Choice (US, 1979). By William Styron (on 4 lists)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (UK, 1979). By Douglas Adams (on 4 lists)
The Name of the Rose (Italy, 1980). By Umberto Eco (on 4 lists)
A Confederacy of Dunces (US, 1980). By John Kennedy Toole (on 3 lists)
Waiting for the Barbarians (South Africa, 1980). By J. M. Coetzee (on 3 lists)
Midnight’s Children (UK, 1981). By Salman Rushdie (on 9 lists)
Housekeeping (US, 1981). By Marilynne Robinson (on 4 lists)
Rabbit Is Rich (US, 1981). By John Updike (on 3 lists)
The Color Purple (US, 1982). By Alice Walker (on 5 lists)
The House of the Spirits (Chile, 1982). By Isabel Allende (on 3 lists)
Schindler’s List (Schindler’s Ark) (Australia, 1982). By Thomas Keneally (on 3 lists)
Money: A Suicide Note (UK, 1984). By Martin Amis (on 4 lists)
Neuromancer (US/Canada, 1984). By William Gibson (on 4 lists)
The Lover (France, 1984). By Marguerite Duras (on 3 lists)
The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Czechoslovakia, 1984). By Milan Kundera (on 3 lists)
Love in the Time of Cholera (Colombia, 1985). By Gabriel Garcia Marquez (on 5 lists)
The Handmaid’s Tale (Canada, 1985). By Margaret Atwood (on 4 lists)
Blood Meridian (US, 1985). By Cormac McCarthy (on 4 lists)
White Noise (US, 1985). By Don DeLillo (on 3 lists)
Lonesome Dove (US, 1985). By Larry McMurtry (on 3 lists)
The New York Trilogy (US, 1985-1986). By Paul Auster (on 3 lists)
Beloved (US, 1987). By Toni Morrison (on 10 lists)
The Satanic Verses (UK, 1988). By Salman Rushdie (on 3 lists)
The Joy Luck Club (US, 1989). By Amy Tan  (on 3 lists)
Rabbit at Rest (US, 1990). By John Updike (on 3 lists)
The Things They Carried (linked stories) (US, 1990). By Tim O’Brien (on 3 lists)
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (Japan, 1995). By Haruki Murakami (on 3 lists)
Blindness (Portugal, 1995). By José Saramago (on 3 lists)
Infinite Jest (US, 1996). By David Foster Wallace (on 4 lists)
American Pastoral (US, 1997). By Philip Roth (on 5 lists)
Underworld (US, 1997). By Don DeLillo (on 3 lists)
The Savage Detectives (Chile, 1998). By Roberto Bolaño (on 5 lists)
My Name Is Red (Turkey, 1998). By Orhan Pamuk (on 3 lists)
Disgrace (South Africa, 1999). By J.M. Coetzee (on 6 lists)

White Teeth (UK, 2000). By Zadie Smith (on 4 lists)

The cover art for the first edition of White Teeth.

The Corrections (US, 2001). By Jonathan Franzen (on 4 lists)
Austerlitz (Germany, 2001). By W.G. Sebald (on 4 lists)
Atonement (UK, 2001). By Ian McEwan (on 6 lists)
Middlesex (US, 2002). By Jeffrey Eugenides (on 3 lists)
The Road (US, 2006). By Cormac McCarthy (on 3 lists)