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Choose wisely.
GREAT EXPECTATIONS

The 100 novels Americans love the most, based on a survey of thousands

By Thu-Huong Ha

In 2018, Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury and James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty have captured US readers with juicy insights into the Trump White House. But what books bring Americans deep, blithe pleasure?

Starting in May, PBS will run a series called The Great American Read, in which journalist Meredith Vieira traverses the country to interview people about their favorite novels. PBS will also run a nationwide survey starting May 22, in which Americans can vote as many times as they’d like for their favorite title among a list of 100.

To make the top 100 list, polling company YouGov asked a representative sample of 7,366 Americans to answer the question, “What is your most-loved novel?” The surveys returned a list of 700 individual titles, which editors culled, limiting it to novels, one title per author, and books published in the US in English.

Based on our count, about half of the books in the top 100 list are considered classics or are books you might see on an American high school curriculum. More than 80 authors on the list are white, and just under 70 are men. Around 60 of the authors are American.

About a quarter are books written for kids or teens, and three-quarters have been made into a movie or TV show. Five titles are Christian fiction, and five could be considered dystopian novels. Around 15 are sci-fi or fantasy, and two titles could be considered romances.

Here’s the full list of 100, in alphabetical order going by book title:

  • 1984, by George Orwell
  • A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole
  • A Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
  • A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
  • The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
  • Alex Cross Mysteries (series), by James Patterson
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
  • Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • And then There Were None, by Agatha Christie
  • Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • Another Country, by James Baldwin
  • Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand
  • Beloved, by Toni Morrison
  • Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
  • The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Díaz
  • The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
  • Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
  • The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D.Salinger
  • Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White
  • The Chronicles of Narnia (series), by C.S. Lewis
  • The Clan of the Cave Bear, by Jean M. Auel
  • The Coldest Winter Ever, by Sister Souljah
  • The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
  • The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
  • Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
  • The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown
  • Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes
  • Doña Barbara, by Rómulo Gallegos
  • Dune, by Frank Herbert
  • Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
  • Flowers in the Attic, by V. C. Andrews
  • Foundation, by Isaac Asimov
  • Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
  • Ghost, by Jason Reynolds
  • Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson
  • The Giver, by Lois Lowry
  • The Godfather, by Mario Puzo
  • Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
  • Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
  • The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
  • Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
  • The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift
  • The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
  • Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
  • Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen
  • Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
  • The Help, by Kathryn Stockett
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
  • The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
  • The Hunt for Red October, by Tom Clancy
  • The Intuitionist, by Colson Whitehead
  • Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
  • Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë
  • The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan
  • Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton
  • Left Behind, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
  • The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • Little Women, by Louise May Alcott
  • Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry
  • Looking for Alaska, by John Green
  • The Lord of the Rings (series), by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
  • The Martian, by Andy Weir
  • Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden
  • Mind Invaders, by Dave Hunt
  • Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
  • The Notebook, by Nicholas Sparks
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez
  • Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
  • The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
  • The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan
  • The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett
  • Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
  • Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
  • Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
  • The Shack, by William P. Young
  • Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse
  • The Sirens of Titan, by Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Stand, by Stephen King
  • The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
  • Swan Song, by Robert R. McCammon
  • Tales of the City, by Armistead Maupin
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
  • Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe
  • This Present Darkness, by Frank E. Peretti
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  • Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
  • War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy
  • Watchers, by Dean Koontz
  • The Wheel of Time (series), by Robert Jordan
  • Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls
  • White Teeth, by Zadie Smith
  • Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë