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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262 comments
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.

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,

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????

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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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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.

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.

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!

OzgeBasak92
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.)

asexualdynamics
asexualdynamics

I am of the opinion that Narnia and The Lord of the Rings should leave. This is, however, just my opinion. Coetzee's Disgrace deserves a place.

dumbitch
dumbitch

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

phillipaj
phillipaj

I'm surprised to see so many people saying Harry Potter belongs on this list...that is laughable to me. Harry Potter is decent enough for 13 year olds to get into reading, but as far as calling it a classic piece of literature that will be read for hundreds of years? Doubtful. Harry Potter is not some deep, profound literature...you can take everything at face value in HP. It's popular sure, but so is Twilight. And DON'T tell me that belongs on here.

FrankBurns1
FrankBurns1

What about "Buylard Bill's Day Off? ?

AdityaSubramaniam
AdityaSubramaniam

I'm not as upset with the absence of Harry Potter (although, it should find a place here, just for its social & literary impact over the past decade or so) as much as some of the others, but I do believe Disgrace by JM Coetzee should find a spot here.

uspandey
uspandey

The list is missing 'For Whom the Bell Tolls', 'A Farewell to Arms', 'Gilead' by Marilynne Robinson and 'The Sense of an Ending' byJulian Barnes.

ThomasF
ThomasF

I have abused my meager intellect on this type of list before.So, I took a different approach.Going in, if I had read more than five percent of the books on the list, I would rank myself as a pathetic sot.Well the bad news is that I have read 12 or twelve percent.That makes me either a sot or pathetic but hopefully not both.


I believe Time-Life has offered The Reading Program more than once.Well, I got in one iteration and was introduced to number of books that would have never made it my way without the program.So, half way through perusing the Time’s All-Time 100 Novels, I thought it would be interesting to compare the books in the Reading Program vs. the list of 100.Wait, many of the books in the Reading Program were published prior to 1923 or were first written in another language.The exercise would be pointless.


Truthfully, I have not read all the books put into the reading program.Some I dumped after a few chapters due to the yawn factor.If asked, would I purchase the program again – the answer would be a vigorous yes.The value of the books that I have read is too great to feel bad about the books I have yet and may never read in the program.However, none of the books in the 100 list got me going to the bookstore for a copy.


There were a few authors I have read, for example Philip Roth and Saul Bellow.The choice of titles did not sync with what I have read of their work.With my twelve percent hit rate on the list my ranking them as excellent authors probably does not mean much.


Now I am at the end of the list and pondering the importance of including two of Steinbeck’s books and only one of Hemmingway’s.I can understand not including “The Old Man and The Sea” since this is a mere sketch of a book when compared to a full blown novel.However, the old man, in my mind better captures the essential Hemmingway than any of his books.I am lost.What can be done with this list?Can I pass it to a young adult?If they read say fourteen of the books.Does that make them a better person or more well read?


I actually chuckled when I saw Raymond Chandler on the list.I think I have read nearly every book he published and had fun reading every one.So, how could Chandler be included in the list and Walter Mosley was left off?Neither author made the Reading Program in my time.I did go back and count spines, 37 in total.Two jumped off the shelf.“Reveille in Washington” by Margaret Leach.In hind sight I would reread Reveille three times vs. reading Bruce Catton’s Civil War three volumes.One of my all-time favorites “Voice at the Back Door” by Elizabeth Spencer would not make the list, it was 7 years premature.


I scanned the comments following the list and noticed multiple references to Harry Potter.I am puzzled. Hopefully I will write this correctly.In that I respect the judgment of younger generations, but may not appreciate it.Harry Potter has not really spoken to me.However, I would have given up multiple titles from the same author for more contemporary titles.Maybe, one of these 88 titles would have caught my eye vs. the ones on the list that didn’t.


H. L Mencken was if anything the critic’s critic.To paraphrase him, an idea no matter how preposterous will come to be fact if propounded long enough.In this age of the internet, our greatest asset, younger generations, are at risk of being pummeled in ad finum.Even though Mencken met the criteria of the list, written in English and published after 1923, luckily he did not make the cut.We can only hope that the sheer volume of data on the net will give the Time’s All-Time 100 Novels a proper burial.

AaronWilkins
AaronWilkins

J.m Coetzee's Disgrace should be on this, Anne Michaels' Fugitive Pieces- criminal that it isn't here. Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus and Passion of New Eve.... much better than Wide Sargasso Sea, Narnia books etc

warnovelist3
warnovelist3

What?  All Quiet on the Western Front is not on this list?  Time does not know a great book when they read it!  This book by Remarque should be at least in the top 50 for greatest war story ever told, but instead they have war stories of less caliber, like Atonement.  Did you know Remarque's book, All Quiet on the Western Front, is actually the most gripping of works written almost in its entirety in first person present?

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.

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. 

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. 


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.

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. 

gator421
gator421

@dumbitch  nonsense!  Harry Potter belongs on the list of Greatest Children's Literature.

gator421
gator421

@petrifiedadjunct  agreed! 

gator421
gator421

@uspandey  Just about anything by Papa could make the list.  At least one did, but I like the two you mentioned better than Sun...

AaronWilkins
AaronWilkins

@warnovelist3 Atonement is actually one of the most cleverly structured novels ever written. So it should be here. The book is a riddle of identity, a contemplation upon the reliability of memory and authorial intent. It is so good that I am struggling to find words to expand on the argument that it is a 'playful text'.

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.