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 in the largest number of lists, the title given being the commonest 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 that 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, followed by the non-monographical works that appear in the most lists:
    A Primary Canon of Sorts
  1. Homer
    The Odyssey_31
  2. Miguel de Cervantes
    Don Quixote_30
  3. Dante
    The Divine Commedy_30
  4. Homer
    The Iliad_27
  5. Jane Austen
    Pride and Prejudice_26
  6. Geoffrey Chaucer
    The Canterbury Tales_25
  7. Jonathan Swift
    Gulliver's Travels_25
  8. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  9. William Shakespeare
  10. Virgil
    The Aeneid_24
  11. Gustave Flaubert
    Madame Bovary_22
  12. Herodotus
  13. John Milton
    Paradise Lost_22
  14. Michel de Montaigne
  15. Sophocles
  16. Sophocles
    Oedipus the King_22
  17. Augustine of Hippo
  18. Niccolò Machiavelli
    The Prince_21
  19. Herman Melville
  20. Leo Tolstoy
    War and Peace_21
  21. Charles Darwin
    The Origin of Species_20
  22. Daniel Defoe
    Robinson Crusoe_20
  23. Fyodor Dostoevsky
    The Brothers Karamozov_20
  24. Edward Gibbon
    The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire_20
  25. Thucydides
    The Peloponnesian War_20
  26. Mark Twain
    Huckleberry Finn_20
  27. Fyodor Dostoevsky
    Crime and Punishment_19
  28. George Eliot
    Middlemarch _19
  29. Plato
    The Republic_19
  30. William Shakespeare
    King Lear_19
  31. Voltaire
  32. François Rabelais
    Gargantua and Pantagruel_19
  33. James Boswell
    The Life of Samuel Johnson_18
  34. Henry Fielding
    Tom Jones_18
  35. James Joyce
  36. William Shakespeare
    The Tempest_18
  37. Sophocles
    Oedipus at Colonus_18
  38. Walt Whitman
    Leaves of Grass_18
  39. Aeschylus
  40. Nathaniel Hawthorne
    The Scarlet Letter_17
  41. Lucretius
    On the Nature of Things_17
  42. Blaise Pascal
  43. Henry David Thoreau
  44. The Bible_17
  45. Marcus Aurelius
  46. René Descartes
    Discourse on the Method_16
  47. Victor Hugo
    Les Misérables_16
  48. Plato
    The Apology_16
  49. Plutarch
    Parallel Lives_16
  50. The Arabian Nights_16
  51. Aristotle
    Nicomachean Ethics_15
  52. Emily Brontë
    Wuthering Heights_15
  53. John Bunyan
    The Pilgrim's Progress_15
  54. Lewis Carroll
    Alice's Adventures in Wonderland_15
  55. Charles Dickens
    David Copperfield_15
  56. Euripides
    Medea _15
  57. F Scott Fitzgerald
    The Great Gatsby_15
  58. Marcel Proust
    In Remembrance of Things Past_15
  59. Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    The Social Contract_15
  60. William Shakespeare
  61. Stendhal
    The Red and the Black_15
  62. William Makepeace Thackeray
    Vanity Fair_15
  63. Charles Dickens
    The Pickwick Papers _14
  64. Sigmund Freud
    The Interpretation of Dreams_14
  65. Gabriel García Márquez
    One Hundred Years of Solitude_14
  66. John Stuart Mill
    On Liberty_14
  67. Friedrich Nietzsche
    Thus Spake Zarathustra_14
  68. George Orwell
    Nineteen Eighty-Four_14
  69. Plato
  70. Baruch Spinoza
  71. Charlotte Brontë
    Jane Eyre_13
  72. Charles Dickens
    Great Expectations_13
  73. William Faulkner
    The Sound and the Fury_13
  74. Thomas Hobbes
  75. Thomas Malory
    Le Morte d'Arthur _13
  76. Plato
  77. William Shakespeare
  78. Adam Smith
    The Wealth of Nations_13
  79. Laurence Sterne
    Tristram Shandy_13
  80. Leo Tolstoy
    Anna Karenina_13
  81. Vyasa
  82. Aristophanes
  83. Aristotle
  84. Francis Bacon
  85. Honoré de Balzac
    Father Goriot_12
  86. Joseph Conrad
    Heart of Darkness_12
  87. Euripides
    The Bacchae _12
  88. Thomas Hardy
    Tess of the d'Urbervilles_12
  89. Henrik Ibsen
    A Doll's House_12
  90. Henry James
    The Portrait of a Lady_12
  91. James Joyce
    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man_12
  92. Franz Kafka
    The Metamorphosis_12
  93. Franz Kafka
    The Trial_12
  94. John Milton
  95. Molière
  96. Thomas More
  97. Ovid
  98. William Shakespeare
    Antony and Cleopatra_12
  99. William Shakespeare
    The First Part of Henry IV_12
  100. Aeschylus
    Prometheus Bound_11
  101. Aristophanes
    The Birds_11
  102. Giovanni Boccaccio
    The Decameron_11
  103. Albert Camus
    The Stranger_11
  104. Confucius
  105. Euripides
    Hippolytos _11
  106. Nikolai Gogol
    Dead Souls_11
  107. Immanuel Kant
    Critique of Pure Reason_11
  108. Lăozĭ
    Tao te Ching_11
  109. Karl Marx
  110. Molière
    The Misanthrope_11
  111. Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  112. William Shakespeare
    Romeo and Juliet_11
  113. William Shakespeare
    A Midsummer's Night Dream_11
  114. William Shakespeare
    The Second Part of Henry IV_11
  115. William Shakespeare
    As You Like It_11
  116. Murasaki Shikibu
    The Tale of Genji_11
  117. Virginia Woolf
    To the Lighthouse_11
  118. Ivan Turgenev
    Fathers and Children_11
  119. Beowulf_11

  120. Of Secondary Canonicity
  121. Henry Adams
    The Education of Henry Adams_10
  122. Thomas Aquinas
    Summa Theologiae_10
  123. Aristophanes
    The Clouds_10
  124. Jane Austen
  125. Samuel Beckett
    Waiting for Godot_10
  126. Ralph Ellison
    Invisible Man_10
  127. Desiderius Erasmus
    In Praise of Folly_10
  128. David Hume
    An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding_10
  129. Henrik Ibsen
    Hedda Gabler_10
  130. Henry James
    The Ambassadors_10
  131. Thomas Mann
    The Magic Mountain_10
  132. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
    The Communist Manifesto_10
  133. Vladimir Nabokov
  134. Plato
  135. Jean Racine
  136. William Shakespeare
    The Merchant of Venice_10
  137. John Steinbeck
    The Grapes of Wrath_10
  138. Alexis de Tocqueville
    Democracy in America_10
  139. Valmiki
  140. The Epic of Gilgamesh_10
  141. The Quran_10
  142. Aristophanes
    The Frogs_9
  143. Aristotle
  144. Edmund Burke
    Reflections on the Revolution in France_9
  145. Anton Chekhov
    Uncle Vanya_9
  146. Fyodor Dostoevsky
  147. Fyodor Dostoevsky
  148. D H Lawrence
    Sons and Lovers_9
  149. John Locke
    An Essay Concerning Human Understanding_9
  150. Christopher Marlowe
    Doctor Faustus _9
  151. Herman Melville
    Billy Budd_9
  152. William Shakespeare
    Richard III_9
  153. William Shakespeare
    Much Ado About Nothing_9
  154. William Shakespeare
    Twelfth Night; or, What You Will_9
  155. William Shakespeare
    Measure for Measure_9
  156. Edmund Spenser
    The Faerie Queene_9
  157. Stendhal
    The Charterhouse of Parma_9
  158. Tacitus
  159. Virginia Woolf
    Mrs. Dalloway_9
  160. William Wordsworth
    The Prelude_9
  161. Émile Zola
  162. Francis Bacon
    Novum Organum_8
  163. William Blake
    Songs of Innocence and Experience_8
  164. Lord Byron
    Don Juan_8
  165. Lewis Carroll
    Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There_8
  166. Charles Dickens
    Oliver Twist _8
  167. T S Eliot
    Four Quartets _8
  168. Epictetus
  169. William Faulkner
    As I Lay Dying _8
  170. Gustave Flaubert
    Sentimental Education_8
  171. Horace
  172. Aldous Huxley
    Brave New World_8
  173. Henry James
    The Turn of the Screw_8
  174. William James
  175. James Joyce
  176. Franz Kafka
    The Castle_8
  177. Omar Khayyám
    The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam_8
  178. Molière
    The Miser_8
  179. Isaac Newton
    Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy_8
  180. Friedrich Nietzsche
    Beyond Good and Evil_8
  181. William Shakespeare
    The Taming of the Shrew_8
  182. William Shakespeare
    Richard II_8
  183. William Shakespeare
    Julius Caesar_8
  184. William Shakespeare
    Henry V_8
  185. William Shakespeare
    The Winter's Tale_8
  186. William Shakespeare
  187. Mary Shelley
  188. The Song of Roland_8
  189. Chinua Achebe
    Things Fall Apart_7
  190. Augustine of Hippo
    The City of God_7
  191. Honoré de Balzac
    Eugénie Grandet_7
  192. Honoré de Balzac
    Cousin Bette_7
  193. Pedro Calderón de la Barca
    Life Is a Dream_7
  194. George Berkeley
    The Principles of Human Knowledge_7
  195. Albert Camus
    The Plague_7
  196. Geoffrey Chaucer
    Troilus and Criseyde_7
  197. Anton Chekhov
    Three Sisters_7
  198. Cáo Xuěqín
    Dream of the Red Chamber_7
  199. Daniel Defoe
    Moll Flanders_7
  200. Charles Dickens
    Bleak House_7
  201. Charles Dickens
    Hard Times_7
  202. Denis Diderot
    Rameau's Nephew_7
  203. George Eliot
    Adam Bede _7
  204. T S Eliot
    Ash Wednesday_7
  205. Euripides
    The Trojan Woman _7
  206. Euripides
  207. Ferdowsi
  208. E M Forster
    A Passage to India_7
  209. Sigmund Freud
    Civilization and Its Discontents_7
  210. Thomas Hardy
    The Return of the Native_7
  211. Joseph Heller
  212. Ernest Hemingway
    For Whom the Bell Tolls_7
  213. Ernest Hemingway
    The Old Man and the Sea_7
  214. Ben Jonson
  215. Thomas Mann
    Death in Venice_7
  216. Christopher Marlowe
    Tamburlaine the Great _7
  217. John Stuart Mill
  218. Molière
    Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme_7
  219. Montesquieu
    The Spirit of Laws_7
  220. George Orwell
    Animal Farm_7
  221. Thomas Paine
    The Rights of Man_7
  222. Alexander Pope
    The Rape of the Lock_7
  223. Alexander Pushkin
    Eugene Onegin_7
  224. J D Salinger
    Catcher in the Rye_7
  225. William Shakespeare
  226. William Shakespeare
    All's Well That Ends Well_7
  227. George Bernard Shaw
    Man and Superman_7
  228. George Bernard Shaw
    Saint Joan_7
  229. Robert Louis Stevenson
    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde_7
  230. Mary Wollstonecraft
    A Vindication of the Rights of Woman_7
  231. Richard Wright
    Native Son_7

  232. Becoming Canonical?
  233. Apuleius
    The Golden Ass_6
  234. Francis Bacon
    The Advancement of Learning_6
  235. Francis Bacon
    Nova Atlantis_6
  236. Simone Beauvoir
    The Second Sex_6
  237. Jorge Luis Borges
  238. Willa Cather
    My Ántonia_6
  239. Benvenuto Cellini
  240. Wú Chéng-ēn
  241. Anton Chekhov
    The Seagull_6
  242. Cicero
    On Old Age_6
  243. Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    Biographia Literaria_6
  244. Joseph Conrad
    Lord Jim_6
  245. Nicolas Copernicus
    On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres_6
  246. Pierre Corneille
    Le Cid_6
  247. Stephen Crane
    The Red Badge of Courage_6
  248. René Descartes
    Meditations on First Philosophy_6
  249. Charles Dickens
    A Christmas Carol_6
  250. Charles Dickens
    A Tale of Two Cities_6
  251. Charles Baudelaire
    The Flowers of Evil_6
  252. George Eliot
    Silas Marner _6
  253. Euclid
  254. Euripides
  255. William Faulkner
    Absalom, Absalom!_6
  256. Jean de la Fontaine
  257. Galileo
    Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems_6
  258. William Golding
    Lord of the Flies_6
  259. Oliver Goldsmith
    The Vicar of Wakefield_6
  260. Thomas Hardy
    The Mayor of Casterbridge_6
  261. Thomas Hardy
    Jude the Obscure_6
  262. Nathaniel Hawthorne
    The House of Seven Gables_6
  263. Ernest Hemingway
    The Sun Also Rises_6
  264. Victor Hugo
    The Hunchback of Notre Dame_6
  265. Zora Neale Hurston
    Their Eyes Were Watching God_6
  266. Henrik Ibsen
    Peer Gynt_6
  267. Henrik Ibsen
    The Wild Duck_6
  268. Henry James
    The Golden Bowl_6
  269. William James
    The Varieties of Religious Experience _6
  270. Samuel Johnson
    The Lives of the English Poets_6
  271. Ben Jonson
    The Alchemist_6
  272. Kalidasa
    The Recognition of Sakuntala_6
  273. Rudyard Kipling
  274. Choderlos de Laclos
    The Dangerous Liaisons_6
  275. Lucian
    True History_6
  276. Thomas Robert Malthus
    An Essay on the Principle of Population_6
  277. John Milton
    Paradise Regained; Samson Agonistes_6
  278. Molière
    Don Juan_6
  279. Molière
    The School for Wives_6
  280. Toni Morrison
  281. Vladimir Nabokov
    Pale Fire_6
  282. Eugene O'Neill
    Long Day's Journey Into Night_6
  283. Plato
  284. Ezra Pound
  285. Jean Racine
  286. Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    Discourse on Inequality_6
  287. Jean-Paul Sartre
  288. William Shakespeare
    The Two Gentlemen of Verona_6
  289. William Shakespeare
    The Comedy of Errors_6
  290. William Shakespeare
    Troilus and Cressida_6
  291. William Shakespeare
    Timon of Athens_6
  292. George Bernard Shaw
  293. Bram Stoker
  294. Tacitus
  295. J R R Tolkien
    The Lord of the Rings_6
  296. Mark Twain
    The Adventures of Tom Sawyer_6
  297. Voltaire
  298. Edith Wharton
    The Age of Innocence_6
  299. Nibelungenlied_6
  300. Pierre Abélard
    Historia Calamitatum_5
  301. Henry Adams
    Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres_5
  302. Louisa M Alcott
    Little Women_5
  303. Sherwood Anderson
    Winesburg, Ohio_5
  304. Antigone
  305. Antigone
  306. Jane Austen
  307. William Blake
    The Marriage of Heaven and Hell_5
  308. William Blake
    Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion_5
  309. Thomas Browne
    Religio Medici_5
  310. Mikhail Bulgakov
    The Master and Margarita_5
  311. Lord Byron
    Childe Harold's Pilgrimage_5
  312. John Calvin
    Institutes of the Christian Religion_5
  313. Rachel Carson
    Silent Spring_5
  314. Anton Chekhov
    The Cherry Orchard_5
  315. Kate Chopin
    The Awakening_5
  316. Cicero
    On Friendship_5
  317. Joseph Conrad
  318. Pierre Corneille
  319. Dante
    The New Life_5
  320. Daniel Defoe
    A Journal of the Plague Year_5
  321. Charles Dickens
    Nicholas Nickleby _5
  322. Charles Dickens
    Little Dorrit_5
  323. Charles Dickens
    Our Mutual Friend_5
  324. Fyodor Dostoevsky
    Notes From Underground_5
  325. Arthur Conan Doyle
    A Study in Scarlet_5
  326. Ralph Waldo Emerson
    The American Scholar_5
  327. Euripides
    Ion _5
  328. Henry Fielding
    Joseph Andrews_5
  329. F Scott Fitzgerald
    Tender Is the Night_5
  330. James George Frazer
    The Golden Bough_5
  331. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    Poetry and Truth_5
  332. Günter Grass
    The Tin Drum_5
  333. Knut Hamsun
  334. Thomas Hardy
    Far From the Madding Crowd_5
  335. William Harvey
    On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals_5
  336. George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
    The Philosophy of Right_5
  337. Ernest Hemingway
    A Farewell to Arms_5
  338. Hesiod
    Works and Days_5
  339. Horace
  340. Horace
  341. Henrik Ibsen
    An Enemy of the People_5
  342. William James
    The Principles of Psychology_5
  343. Samuel Johnson
    A Dictionary of the English Language_5
  344. Samuel Johnson
  345. Ben Jonson
    Bartholomew Fayre_5
  346. James Joyce
    Finnegans Wake_5
  347. Jack Kerouac
    On the Road_5
  348. Thomas S Kuhn
    The Structure of Scientific Revolutions_5
  349. D H Lawrence
    Women in Love_5
  350. Sinclair Lewis
  351. Livy
    History of Rome_5
  352. Martin Luther
    To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation_5
  353. André Malraux
    Man's Fate_5
  354. Christopher Marlowe
    The Jew of Malta _5
  355. Mencius
  356. John Stuart Mill
  357. Arthur Miller
    Death of a Salesman_5
  358. John Milton
  359. Molière
    The Imaginary Invalid_5
  360. Friedrich Nietzsche
    The Genealogy of Morals_5
  361. Blaise Pascal
    The Provincial Letters_5
  362. Boris Pasternak
    Doctor Zhivago_5
  363. Petronius
  364. Sylvia Plath
    The Bell Jar_5
  365. Plato
  366. Plotinus
  367. Alexander Pope
    Essay on Man_5
  368. Alexander Pushkin
    The Captain's Daughter_5
  369. Erich Maria Remarque
    All Quiet on the Western Front_5
  370. Samuel Richardson
  371. Rainer Maria Rilke
    Duino Elegies_5
  372. Salman Rushdie
    Midnight's Children_5
  373. Jean-Paul Sartre
    Being and Nothingness_5
  374. William Shakespeare
    The Merry Wives of Windsor_5
  375. William Shakespeare
    Love's Labour Lost_5
  376. William Shakespeare
  377. Shī Nài'ān
    The Water Margin_5
  378. Upton Sinclair
    The Jungle_5
  379. Laurence Sterne
    A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy_5
  380. August Strindberg
    Miss Julie_5
  381. Jonathan Swift
    A Modest Proposal_5
  382. William Makepeace Thackeray
    Henry Esmond_5
  383. Leo Tolstoy
    The Death of Ivan Ilyich_5
  384. Giorgio Vasari
    The Lives of the Artists_5
  385. Jules Verne
    Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea_5
  386. Giambattista Vico
    The New Science_5
  387. Voltaire
    Letters Concerning the English Nation_5
  388. Virginia Woolf
    The Waves_5
  389. Edith Wharton
    Ethan Frome_5
  390. Oscar Wilde
    The Importance of Being Earnest_5
  391. William Butler Yeats
    The Tower_5
  392. William Butler Yeats
    Words for Music Perhaps and Other Poems_5
  393. Zhuāngzī
  394. Émile Zola
  395. Njáls Saga_5
  396. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight_5

The poems, stories, and essays not originally, and generally not ever, published as monographs (and most collections of such works); excerpts of monographical works; books consisting of distinct works by two or more authors; and broad or unspecified selections of texts that appear in the largest number of our 40 lists:

  1. Plato
  2. T S Eliot
    'The Waste Land'_9
  3. Alexander Hamilton; John Jay; James Madison
    The Federalist Papers_9
  4. Ralph Waldo Emerson
  5. Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    'The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere'_7
  6. Hans Christian Andersen
  7. Robert Burns
  8. Anton Chekhov
  9. Denis Diderot et al.
  10. John Locke
    Second Treatise_6
  11. John Milton
  12. Edgar Allan Poe
  13. Henry Dead Thoreau
    'Civil Disobedience'_6
  14. The Book of Job_6
  15. Vyasa
    Bhagavad Gita_6
  16. Aesop
  17. Emily Dickinson
  18. Arthur Conan Doyle
    The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes_5
  19. Euripides
  20. John Keats
  21. Molière
  22. Sappho
  23. Percy Bysshe Shelley
  24. William Wordsworth
  25. William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    Lyrical Ballads_5