All-TIME 100 Novels

Critics Lev Grossman and Richard Lacayo pick the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923—the beginning of TIME.

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288 comments
sierra__atwood
sierra__atwood

I feel as if TIME should make a list of 100 Best Young Adult Novels of All Time. YA books are the trend right now and some of them are actually rather thought provoking and eye opening. For example, "The Fault in Our Stars" is so much more than a love story and would belong on the list, as well as "The Hunger Games", "Harry Potter", "To Kill a Mockingbird", and "The Outsiders".

AlexBeller
AlexBeller

@sierra__atwood Young adult novels? Are you serious? And what world do you live in where you'd put To Kill a Mockingbird and The Outsiders into the young adult category? All YA novels are exactly the same. "Oh, I'm such a loner/outcast/socially awkward person for XYZ reasons and through adversity I come to find my inner voice/love/both and manage to save something/somebody/some people along the way". Sound familiar?

JavierValdes
JavierValdes

@AlexBeller @sierra__atwood  Alex, you should read over some YA novels that hold literary merit. See: Ender's Game or Lord of the Flies, etc.. that deal with themes that transcend being a socially awkward loner who is searching for self-identity (which is an important theme in itself). Don't be quick to discard the YA genre as useless, I think sierra has a valid point.

JanDonofrio
JanDonofrio

If you were to add number 101 would it be "Johnny Got his Gun" by Dalton Trumbo....read this as a young adult during the Vietnam War era; it will stay with me forever.

JanDonofrio
JanDonofrio

Newly discovered for me...loved this book...it so deserves to be on this list.

Aditech1
Aditech1

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Hiker38
Hiker38

Great list. Many books to add to my "to read" list. Enjoyed the hell out of the Harry Potter series but top 100, you gotta be kidding. No mention of Frederick Forsyth's The Day of the Jackal! The best page turner I ever read and from the beginning you of course know that Charles DeGaulle did not get assassinated.

DavidWade
DavidWade

How can The Road by Cormac McCarthy not be on this list?

JulieBartlettBecker
JulieBartlettBecker

I am a lover of reading.  I haven't read most of the all time greats because I spend my time reading current fiction.  Wally Lamb is by far my favorite writer and with each novel he becomes increasingly better if that is even possible for him.  "She's Come Undone" is a novel that I "push" to my women friends because the fact that it is written by a man makes it all that more wonderful.  I won't discount what you compiled on your list, but I will say that for the reach that your magazine gets, two or three people making the decision is a bit laughable.  You are entitled to your opinion, as the rest of us are.

j_bamford
j_bamford

"Atonement" is McEwan's WORST novel, and everyone who reads him knows this. "Enduring Love" is his best, and both "Amsterdam" and "Saturday" --- though imperfect --- are better than "Atonement". Looking now to see what they've included of Coetzee.

j_bamford
j_bamford

Holy Christ, not a single work by JM Coetzee, the best writer in the English language in the past thirty years. "Waiting for the Barbarians" and "Disgrace" both deserve to be on the list. The former, without question. Glad to see they included "Rabbit, Run," though, which is an oft-overlooked masterpiece.

Surprised by no inclusion of Chabon. His two best are way, way better than the trendy but bloated and empty "Infinite Jest" by Foster Wallace.

j_bamford
j_bamford

They also left out John Gardner's "Grendel," which is a masterpiece. As good as Burgess's "Clockwork Orange" is, it isn't 1/10th of the work "Grendel" is. Shame on them. Oh yes, and "The Color Purple" belongs on the list as well. A brilliant and inspired work.

GruntTechnology
GruntTechnology

Its funny how  Atlas Shrugged is not there but 1984 is. Must be because the leftards can't spin Atlas Shrugged to their own agenda. Time is as its least relevant it has ever been since it has been infiltrated by communists,

Bluebirder4
Bluebirder4

@GruntTechnology 

@GruntTechnology -- ah, maybe because Atlas Shrugged fails on every level of literary goodness--with a preposterous plot, wooden writing, ideology substituted for realistic character development. 


AlexandraYork
AlexandraYork

@GruntTechnology Not everything you see has some "agenda" thats out to get the poor ol Republicans. Its just a list of books, calm down. 

AbhishekLal
AbhishekLal

This is a great list. But i feel J.R.R Tolkien's The Hobbit should've been in there. I see it as a wonderful book and i hope the people who read this would agree with me

CharlieMaxwell
CharlieMaxwell

Really no "Brave New World" by our boy Aldous Huxley... for real????

nsan89
nsan89

@CharlieMaxwell My though exactly! Though, I might me biased because it's my favorite book. 

Also, I might not have read a lot of the books on this list, but there's no way it's not one of the 100 best novels. It's not the tidiest writing ever, as Huxley admitted himself, but overall it's just plain brilliant. 

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thepreachersgoldmine1

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NeilSadler
NeilSadler

What? No P G Wodehouse?? Heresy!

DấuMưa
DấuMưa

They didn't put Harry Potter on the list because it was written by a WOMAN. Down with the patriarchy!

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jeremyroupert
jeremyroupert

@DấuMưa you are insane why would Harry Potter be included in the Top 100? At least read a dozen books on those list and compare it to your Rowling.

gator421
gator421

At least one book by Ayn Rand belongs.  Harry Potter most definitely does not. Also thank you for NOT including Finnigan's Wake - worse than Ulysses. The next person that tells me about the greatness of Joyce is getting punched in the nose.


It's a hard undertaking picking the best books.  There are about 30 I haven't read on your list.  I might not agree with many of them but I will give them all a shot.  As soon as I post this comment I'm heading to the used book stores.  My reading list is already quite long.  Thanks for extending it well beyond my life expectancy.

gator421
gator421

I know you said no "Ulysses" comments, I just want to thank you for NOT PUTTING IT ON THE LIST!  Maybe the worst book of all time!

Zoë
Zoë

I feel that Pride and Prejudice and Life of Pi should be included on this list.

rolamante
rolamante

@Zoë Pride and Prejudice...pretty sure Jane Austen was at least a hundred years dead by 1923.

creekhousecache1
creekhousecache1

This is the problem with lists of the best, worst, mostest, or leastest. It's just someone's opinion. Not yours not mine just someone elses.

rosiepowell2000
rosiepowell2000

"GONE WITH THE WIND" could be viewed as an entertaining book for the masses.  But I would never view it as great.  I'm not simply complaining about the racism and sexism it supports, but I found its narrative structure somewhat weak.  The story starts out as a historical drama with an undertone of melodrama.  In the second half, the historical aspects of the story is tossed out of the window and story becomes mired into a marital melodrama.

TunaBlue
TunaBlue

@rosiepowell2000 I believe you have accurately described what the work was supposed to represent. Why complain about the racism and sexism? You are viewing the work through presentism, and missing the essence of the works intent, however base you might believe it to be.

creekhousecache1
creekhousecache1

I think the list is for good to read books not "Books for Snobs". I don't always want to read a book and then have to reread it just to make sure it get it. I don't need 'deep' books all the time. Sometimes I just want to be entertained and escape for awhile. So why isn't Jack Vance on this list. Talk about entertaining, what a hoot!

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OzgeBasak92

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SeanLedden
SeanLedden

Gone With The Wind??? The Grand Old South??? So it's quintessentially American - like "Mein Kampf" is quintessentially German?  (For the record, I tried reading this some 25 years ago. The appalling condescension it displayed towards its black characters proved too much for me, and I stopped somewhere around page 60. One "adorable" example I remember is how Negroes, children and animals see through Mr. O'Hara's bluster, and understand he's really a softie.)

BreCharlesBraatO'Scealai
BreCharlesBraatO'Scealai

@SeanLedden 

Then you'll hate Portnoy's complaint for it's main character's racist hatred of other religions and ethnic groups and women.  You'll also hate The heart is a lonely hunter for it's racist views of evil white characters and good black characters.  The same is true of Song of Solomon and The color purple but those are poorly written books.

Perhaps you should avoid books that are sure not to offend (or excite) you.