Greater Books

In 1886, during a routine college lecture on the "pleasure of reading," the British scientist, politician, and man of letters John Lubbock expressed a desire for a "list of a hundred good books"; in the absence of such, he offered his own selection. Over the next several decades, fellow scholars and writers, complementing or countering Lubbock's suggestions, offered their own lists, generally titled One Hundred Best Books. Lubbock's and several other of these lists were motivated in part by the large number of books available—then still a novel development of modern times. In other cases, extensive series of books and massive anthologies, most famously Charles Eliot's Harvard Classics, were developed in the interest of adult education and "self-culture."

By the 1950's, the literary works included on such lists were called Great Books. They often took the form of class syllabi, their purpose shifting from Lubbock's recreational emphasis to formal education and canonization. The men who crafted Great Books programs, most prominently John Erskine, Mortimer Adler, and Robert Hutchins, promoted the idea that the reading of classics was a task meant for all students, at all levels, even if the works were translated from their original language. At several colleges, the curricula of undergraduate programs came to be based upon the reading of Great Books.

Despite persistent critiques and revisions of what literature is included in such curricula, and the decline of Great Books programs (or perhaps precisely because of such) by the Twenty-First Century, canons, reading plans, and other lists of Classics—of all forms and languages, and from the entirety of recorded history—are more plentiful than ever. Indeed, too plentiful. This site collects the major lists and collates them to form a master list arranged by author and including original titles as well as alternate and translated titles. The user can also view the original lists and eventually will be able to make shorter lists defined by form, date, language, and other search parameters (including the omitting or combining of certain lists). Hopefully, even those who disparage the Great Books movement or the making of book lists generally will find this site useful, enabling them to show what kind of literature has been excluded. In other words, if life gives you Great Books, make Greater Books.

To begin, we list on this page the works that appear on the most lists, the title given being the most common in the English language. Throughout the site, the number in blue next to the title tells you how many lists the work appears in. View the master list, which provides basic information about each work and notes which lists each work appears in; or go to any of the forty distinct lists. But first read a short explanation of the guidelines used to determine the inclusion of these lists, any of which can be quite different in its original purpose from the others, and our frequently-asked questions. I've also provided some pertinent links.

And so, without further ado, the Greater Books, split into three groups based on the (current) number of lists in which they appear:

    A Primary Canon of Sorts
  1. Homer
    The Odyssey_30
  2. Miguel de Cervantes
    Don Quixote_29
  3. Dante
    The Divine Commedy_29
  4. Homer
    The Iliad_26
  5. Jane Austen
    Pride and Prejudice_25
  6. Geoffrey Chaucer
    The Canterbury Tales_25
  7. Jonathan Swift
    Gulliver's Travels_24
  8. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  9. William Shakespeare
  10. Virgil
    The Aeneid_23
  11. Herodotus
  12. John Milton
    Paradise Lost_21
  13. Michel de Montaigne
  14. Sophocles
  15. Sophocles
    Oedipus the King_21
  16. Leo Tolstoy
    War and Peace_21
  17. Augustine of Hippo
  18. Charles Darwin
    The Origin of Species_20
  19. Gustave Flaubert
    Madame Bovary_20
  20. Edward Gibbon
    The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire_20
  21. Herman Melville
  22. Thucydides
    The Peloponnesian War_20
  23. Daniel Defoe
    Robinson Crusoe_19
  24. Fyodor Dostoevsky
    The Brothers Karamozov_19
  25. Niccolò Machiavelli
    The Prince_19
  26. François Rabelais
    Gargantua and Pantagruel_19
  27. Mark Twain
    Huckleberry Finn_19
  28. Fyodor Dostoevsky
    Crime and Punishment_18
  29. George Eliot
    Middlemarch _18
  30. Plato
    The Republic_18
  31. Voltaire
  32. James Boswell
    The Life of Samuel Johnson_17
  33. Henry Fielding
    Tom Jones_17
  34. James Joyce
  35. William Shakespeare
    King Lear_17
  36. Sophocles
    Oedipus at Colonus_17
  37. Walt Whitman
    Leaves of Grass_17
  38. Aeschylus
  39. Marcus Aurelius
  40. René Descartes
    Discourse on the Method_16
  41. Nathaniel Hawthorne
    The Scarlet Letter_16
  42. Lucretius
    The Nature of Things_16
  43. Blaise Pascal
  44. William Shakespeare
    The Tempest_16
  45. Henry David Thoreau
  46. The Bible_16
  47. Euripides
    Medea _15
  48. Victor Hugo
    Les Misérables_15
  49. Plato
    The Apology_15
  50. Marcel Proust
    In Remembrance of Things Past_15
  51. William Makepeace Thackeray
    Vanity Fair_15
  52. The Arabian Nights_15
  53. Emily Brontë
    Wuthering Heights_14
  54. John Bunyan
    The Pilgrim's Progress_14
  55. Lewis Carroll
    Alice's Adventures in Wonderland_14
  56. Charles Dickens
    David Copperfield_14
  57. F Scott Fitzgerald
    The Great Gatsby_14
  58. Sigmund Freud
    The Interpretation of Dreams_14
  59. Gabriel García Márquez
    One Hundred Years of Solitude_14
  60. Plutarch
    Parallel Lives_14
  61. Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    The Social Contract_14
  62. Stendhal
    The Red and the Black_14
  63. Aristotle
    Nicomachean Ethics_13
  64. Charles Dickens
    The Pickwick Papers _13
  65. Thomas Hobbes
  66. John Stuart Mill
    On Liberty_13
  67. Friedrich Nietzsche
    Also Spoke Zarathustra_13
  68. George Orwell
    Nineteen Eighty-Four_13
  69. Plato
  70. William Shakespeare
  71. Adam Smith
    The Wealth of Nations_13
  72. Baruch Spinoza
  73. Leo Tolstoy
    Anna Karenina_13
  74. Vyasa
  75. Francis Bacon
  76. Honoré de Balzac
    Father Goriot_12
  77. Charlotte Brontë
    Jane Eyre_12
  78. Charles Dickens
    Great Expectations_12
  79. William Faulkner
    The Sound and the Fury_12
  80. Henry James
    The Portrait of a Lady_12
  81. Thomas Malory
    Le Morte d'Arthur _12
  82. Plato
  83. Laurence Sterne
    Tristram Shandy_12
  84. Aristophanes
  85. Joseph Conrad
    Heart of Darkness_11
  86. Euripides
    The Bacchae _11
  87. Thomas Hardy
    Tess of the d'Urbervilles_11
  88. Henrik Ibsen
    A Doll's House_11
  89. James Joyce
    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man_11
  90. Franz Kafka
    The Trial_11
  91. Karl Marx
  92. John Milton
  93. Molière
  94. Thomas More
  95. Ovid
  96. Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  97. William Shakespeare
  98. Murasaki Shikibu
    The Tale of Genji_11

  99. Of Secondary Canonicity
  100. Henry Adams
    The Education of Henry Adams_10
  101. Aeschylus
    Prometheus Bound_10
  102. Aristophanes
    The Clouds_10
  103. Aristophanes
    The Birds_10
  104. Aristotle
  105. Giovanni Boccaccio
    The Decameron_10
  106. Albert Camus
    The Stranger_10
  107. Confucius
  108. Euripides
    Hippolytos _10
  109. Nikolai Gogol
    Dead Souls_10
  110. David Hume
    An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding_10
  111. Immanuel Kant
    Critique of Pure Reason_10
  112. Lăozĭ
    Tao te Ching_10
  113. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
    The Communist Manifesto_10
  114. Molière
    The Misanthrope_10
  115. Plato
  116. William Shakespeare
    The First Part of Henry IV_10
  117. William Shakespeare
    Antony and Cleopatra_10
  118. Ivan Turgenev
    Fathers and Children_10
  119. Valmiki
  120. Virginia Woolf
    To the Lighthouse_10
  121. The Quran_10
  122. Beowulf_10
  123. Thomas Aquinas
    Summa Theologiae_9
  124. Aristophanes
    The Frogs_9
  125. Jane Austen
  126. Samuel Beckett
    Waiting for Godot_9
  127. Edmund Burke
    Reflections on the Revolution in France_9
  128. Ralph Ellison
    Invisible Man_9
  129. Desiderius Erasmus
    In Praise of Folly_9
  130. Henrik Ibsen
    Hedda Gabler_9
  131. Henry James
    The Ambassadors_9
  132. Franz Kafka
    The Metamorphosis_9
  133. John Locke
    An Essay Concerning Human Understanding_9
  134. Thomas Mann
    The Magic Mountain_9
  135. Vladimir Nabokov
  136. Jean Racine
  137. William Shakespeare
    Romeo and Juliet_9
  138. William Shakespeare
    A Midsummer's Night Dream_9
  139. William Shakespeare
    The Second Part of Henry IV_9
  140. Alexis de Tocqueville
    Democracy in America_9
  141. Émile Zola
  142. The Epic of Gilgamesh_9
  143. Aristotle
  144. Francis Bacon
    Novum Organum_8
  145. Anton Chekhov
    Uncle Vanya_8
  146. Fyodor Dostoevsky
  147. Fyodor Dostoevsky
  148. Epictetus
  149. Horace
  150. D H Lawrence
    Sons and Lovers_8
  151. Christopher Marlowe
    Doctor Faustus _8
  152. Herman Melville
    Billy Budd_8
  153. Molière
    The Miser_8
  154. Isaac Newton
    Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy_8
  155. Friedrich Nietzsche
    Beyond Good and Evil_8
  156. William Shakespeare
    As You Like It_8
  157. William Shakespeare
    The Merchant of Venice_8
  158. Edmund Spenser
    The Faerie Queene_8
  159. John Steinbeck
    The Grapes of Wrath_8
  160. Stendhal
    The Charterhouse of Parma_8
  161. Tacitus
  162. Virginia Woolf
    Mrs. Dalloway_8
  163. William Wordsworth
    The Prelude_8
  164. The Song of Roland_8
  165. Chinua Achebe
    Things Fall Apart_7
  166. Augustine of Hippo
    The City of God_7
  167. Honoré de Balzac
    Eugénie Grandet_7
  168. Honoré de Balzac
    Cousin Bette_7
  169. Lord Byron
    Don Juan_7
  170. Cáo Xuěqín
    Dream of the Red Chamber_7
  171. Charles Dickens
    Oliver Twist _7
  172. Charles Dickens
    Hard Times_7
  173. Denis Diderot
    Rameau's Nephew_7
  174. George Eliot
    Adam Bede _7
  175. Euripides
    The Trojan Woman _7
  176. William Faulkner
    As I Lay Dying _7
  177. Ferdowsi
  178. Gustave Flaubert
    Sentimental Education_7
  179. Sigmund Freud
    Civilization and Its Discontents_7
  180. Aldous Huxley
    Brave New World_7
  181. Henry James
    The Turn of the Screw_7
  182. William James
  183. James Joyce
  184. Franz Kafka
    The Castle_7
  185. Omar Khayyám
    The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam_7
  186. Molière
    Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme_7
  187. Montesquieu
    The Spirit of Laws_7
  188. William Shakespeare
    Richard III_7
  189. William Shakespeare
    Much Ado About Nothing_7
  190. William Shakespeare
    Twelfth Night; or, What You Will_7
  191. William Shakespeare
    Measure for Measure_7
  192. William Shakespeare
  193. Mary Shelley

  194. Becoming Canonical?
  195. Apuleius
    The Golden Ass_6
  196. Francis Bacon
    The Advancement of Learning_6
  197. Francis Bacon
    Nova Atlantis_6
  198. George Berkeley
    A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge_6
  199. William Blake
    Songs of Innocence and Experience_6
  200. Albert Camus
    The Plague_6
  201. Lewis Carroll
    Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There_6
  202. Benvenuto Cellini
  203. Wú Chéng-ēn
  204. Anton Chekhov
    Three Sisters_6
  205. Cicero
    On Old Age_6
  206. Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    Biographia Literaria_6
  207. Nicolas Copernicus
    On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres_6
  208. René Descartes
    Meditations on First Philosophy_6
  209. Charles Dickens
    Bleak House_6
  210. T S Eliot
    Four Quartets _6
  211. Euclid
  212. Euripides
  213. Euripides
  214. E M Forster
    A Passage to India_6
  215. Galileo
    Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems_6
  216. Thomas Hardy
    The Return of the Native_6
  217. Joseph Heller
  218. Ernest Hemingway
    For Whom the Bell Tolls_6
  219. Ernest Hemingway
    The Old Man and the Sea_6
  220. Zora Neale Hurston
    Their Eyes Were Watching God_6
  221. Henrik Ibsen
    The Wild Duck_6
  222. Henry James
    The Golden Bowl_6
  223. William James
    The Varieties of Religious Experience _6
  224. Kalidasa
    The Recognition of Sakuntala_6
  225. Lucian
    True History_6
  226. Thomas Robert Malthus
    An Essay on the Principle of Population_6
  227. Christopher Marlowe
    Tamburlaine the Great _6
  228. John Stuart Mill
  229. Molière
    Don Juan_6
  230. Molière
    The School for Wives_6
  231. George Orwell
    Animal Farm_6
  232. Thomas Paine
    The Rights of Man_6
  233. Plato
  234. Alexander Pope
    The Rape of the Lock_6
  235. Alexander Pushkin
    Eugene Onegin_6
  236. Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    Discourse on Inequality_6
  237. J D Salinger
    Catcher in the Rye_6
  238. William Shakespeare
    Richard II_6
  239. William Shakespeare
    The Taming of the Shrew_6
  240. William Shakespeare
    Julius Caesar_6
  241. William Shakespeare
    Henry V_6
  242. William Shakespeare
  243. William Shakespeare
    The Winter's Tale_6
  244. George Bernard Shaw
    Man and Superman_6
  245. George Bernard Shaw
    Saint Joan_6
  246. Robert Louis Stevenson
    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde_6
  247. Voltaire
  248. Mary Wollstonecraft
    A Vindication of the Rights of Woman_6
  249. Richard Wright
    Native Son_6
  250. Nibelungenlied_6
  251. Pierre Abélard
    Historia Calamitatum_5
  252. Henry Adams
    Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres_5
  253. Antigone
  254. Antigone
  255. Jane Austen
  256. Simone Beauvoir
    The Second Sex_5
  257. William Blake
    The Marriage of Heaven and Hell_5
  258. Jorge Luis Borges
  259. Thomas Browne
    Religio Medici_5
  260. Pedro Calderón de la Barca
    Life Is a Dream_5
  261. John Calvin
    Institutes of the Christian Religion_5
  262. Rachel Carson
    Silent Spring_5
  263. Willa Cather
    My Ántonia_5
  264. Anton Chekhov
    The Seagull_5
  265. Cicero
    On Friendship_5
  266. Joseph Conrad
  267. Pierre Corneille
    Le Cid_5
  268. Pierre Corneille
  269. Stephen Crane
    The Red Badge of Courage_5
  270. Charles Darwin
    The Voyage of the Beagle_5
  271. Daniel Defoe
    A Journal of the Plague Year_5
  272. Charles Dickens
    Little Dorrit_5
  273. Charles Dickens
    A Tale of Two Cities_5
  274. Charles Dickens
    Our Mutual Friend_5
  275. Charles Dickens
    A Christmas Carol_5
  276. Arthur Conan Doyle
    A Study in Scarlet_5
  277. George Eliot
    Silas Marner _5
  278. Ralph Waldo Emerson
    The American Scholar_5
  279. Euripides
    Ion _5
  280. James George Frazer
    The Golden Bough_5
  281. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    Poetry and Truth_5
  282. William Golding
    Lord of the Flies_5
  283. Oliver Goldsmith
    The Vicar of Wakefield_5
  284. Thomas Hardy
    The Mayor of Casterbridge_5
  285. Thomas Hardy
    Jude the Obscure_5
  286. Nathaniel Hawthorne
    The House of Seven Gables_5
  287. George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
    The Philosophy of Right_5
  288. Ernest Hemingway
    The Sun Also Rises_5
  289. Hesiod
    Works and Days_5
  290. Horace
  291. Horace
  292. Victor Hugo
    The Hunchback of Notre Dame_5
  293. Henrik Ibsen
    Peer Gynt_5
  294. William James
    The Principles of Psychology_5
  295. Samuel Johnson
    A Dictionary of the English Language_5
  296. Samuel Johnson
    Lives of the English Poets_5
  297. Ben Jonson
  298. Ben Jonson
    The Alchemist_5
  299. Rudyard Kipling
  300. Thomas S Kuhn
    The Structure of Scientific Revolutions_5
  301. Choderlos de Laclos
    The Dangerous Liaisons_5
  302. Livy
    History of Rome_5
  303. Martin Luther
    To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation_5
  304. Thomas Mann
    Death in Venice_5
  305. Christopher Marlowe
    The Jew of Malta _5
  306. Mencius
  307. John Stuart Mill
  308. John Milton
  309. John Milton
    Paradise Regained; Samson Agonistes_5
  310. Molière
    The Imaginary Invalid_5
  311. Toni Morrison
  312. Vladimir Nabokov
    Pale Fire_5
  313. Friedrich Nietzsche
    The Genealogy of Morals_5
  314. Eugene O'Neill
    Long Day's Journey Into Night_5
  315. Blaise Pascal
    The Provincial Letters_5
  316. Plato
  317. Plotinus
  318. Ezra Pound
  319. Alexander Pushkin
    The Captain's Daughter_5
  320. Jean Racine
  321. Rainer Maria Rilke
    Duino Elegies_5
  322. Salman Rushdie
    Midnight's Children_5
  323. Jean-Paul Sartre
  324. Jean-Paul Sartre
    Being and Nothingness_5
  325. William Shakespeare
    The Two Gentlemen of Verona_5
  326. William Shakespeare
    Troilus and Cressida_5
  327. William Shakespeare
    All's Well That Ends Well_5
  328. William Shakespeare
    Timon of Athens_5
  329. Shī Nài'ān
    The Water Margin_5
  330. Bram Stoker
  331. Tacitus
  332. William Makepeace Thackeray
    Henry Esmond_5
  333. J R R Tolkien
    The Lord of the Rings_5
  334. Mark Twain
    The Adventures of Tom Sawyer_5
  335. Giorgio Vasari
    Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects_5
  336. Giambattista Vico
    The New Science_5
  337. Voltaire
    Letters Concerning the English Nation_5
  338. Edith Wharton
    The Age of Innocence_5
  339. Émile Zola
  340. Njáls Saga_5