Just updated! This list has been on my blog more than ten years. I love to read classic literature, and am intrigued by this list of 101 Great Books Recommended for College Bound Readers – recommended by the College Board.
Even though I’m not college-bound (I am an old lady) I like to read classics, and am still working on this list. These literary works are listed in alphabetical order, by the last name of the author, not by order of preference. Most are novels. There are some plays, and a few books of essays!
On June 23, 2015 I reformatted this entire page, and updated a bit. As I was doing so, I kept thinking – “Who *writes* these lists, anyway?”
There are some great books on this page, but others I’ve read and loved were left out. Maybe I should write my own list of 100 great and/or classic books I can recommend. I’ll work on that.
I updated on Sept. 4, 2016 as I’ve read several classics this year, and it is my plan to continue reading the books on this list.
(I’m checking off the ones I’ve already read, and may someday be lucky enough to read the rest.)
If you have any favorite books that were left off the list, please add them to the comment section at the end of this page.
So far I’ve read 44 out of the 101 books on this list – with 57 more to read.
Updated again on February 24, 2020. I read a few more classics from this list last year. Doubt I’ll ever get all the way through this list, but I’m still going at it. This time I added the commentary underneath each title and a few videos.
December 2022 – another update in progress.
March 2023 – updated again. I’m reading more of these this year.
All my reviews are at Goodreads.
☆ – I own a copy of the book
★ – I own a copy and am currently reading the book
!!! – This is on my current short-term TBR list
✓ – Finished
- ✓ Beowulf – by an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet
- ✓ Things Fall Apart – by Chinua Achebe
- ✓ A Death in the Family – by James Agee
- ✓ Pride and Prejudice – by Jane Austen
- ✓ Go Tell It on the Mountain – by James Baldwin
- ✓ Waiting for Godot – by Samuel Beckett
- The Adventures of Augie March – by Saul Bellow
- ✓ Jane Eyre – by Charlotte Bronte
- ✓ Wuthering Heights – by Emily Brontë
- ✓ The Stranger – by Albert Camus
- Death Comes for the Archbishop – by Willa Cather
- ☆ The Canterbury Tales – by Geoffrey Chaucer
- The Cherry Orchard – by Anton Chekhov
- The Awakening – by Kate Chopin
- !!! Heart of Darkness – by Joseph Conrad
- ☆ The Last of the Mohicans – by James Fenimore Cooper
- ✓ The Red Badge of Courage – by Stephen Crane
- ☆ The Inferno – by Dante
- !!! Don Quixote – by Miguel de Cervantes
- ☆ Robinson Crusoe – by Daniel Defoe
- ✓ A Tale of Two Cities – by Charles Dickens
- ☆ Crime and Punishment – by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- ✓ Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass – by Frederick Douglass
- !!! An American Tragedy – by Theodore Dreiser
- The Three Musketeers – by Alexandre Dumas
- ☆ The Mill on the Floss – by George Eliot
- ✓ Invisible Man – by Ralph Ellison
- Selected Essays – by Ralph Waldo Emerson
- As I Lay Dying – by William Faulkner
- ✓ The Sound and the Fury – by William Faulkner
- Tom Jones – by Henry Fielding
- ✓ The Great Gatsby – by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- ✓ Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
- ☆ The Good Soldier – by Ford Madox Ford
- Faust – by Johann Wolfgang Goethe
- ✓ Lord of the Flies – by William Golding
- ☆ Tess of the d’Urbervilles – by Thomas Hardy
- ✓ The Scarlet Letter – by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- ✓ Catch 22 – by Joseph Heller
- ✓ Farewell to Arms – by Ernest Hemingway
- The Iliad – by Homer
- The Odyssey – by Homer
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame – by Victor Hugo
- ✓ Their Eyes Were Watching God – by Zora Neale Hurston
- ☆ Brave New World – by Aldous Huxley
- A Doll’s House – by Henrik Ibsen
- The Portrait of a Lady – by Henry James
- ✓ The Turn of the Screw – by Henry James
- A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – by James Joyce
- ✓ The Metamorphosis – by Franz Kafka
- The Woman Warrior – by Maxine Hong Kingston
- ✓ To Kill a Mockingbird – by Harper Lee
- ☆ Babbitt – by Sinclair Lewis
- ✓ The Call of the Wild – by Jack London
- ☆ The Magic Mountain – by Thomas Mann
- ✓ One Hundred Years of Solitude – by Gabriel García Marquez
- ☆ Bartleby the Scrivener – by Herman Melville
- ☆ Moby Dick – by Herman Melville
- ✓ The Crucible – by Arthur Miller
- ✓ Beloved – by Toni Morrison
- A Good Man is Hard to Find – by Flannery O’Connor
- Long Day’s Journey into Night – by Eugene O’Neill
- ✓ Animal Farm – by George Orwell
- Doctor Zhivago – by Boris Pasternak
- ✓ The Bell Jar – by Sylvia Plath
- ✓ Selected Tales – by Edgar Allan Poe
- Swann’s Way – by Marcel Proust
- The Crying of Lot 49 – by Thomas Pynchon
- ✓ All Quiet on the Western Front – by Erich Maria Remarque
- Cyrano de Bergerac – by Edmond Rostand
- ☆ Call It Sleep – by Henry Roth
- ✓ The Catcher in the Rye – by J.D. Salinger
- ✓ A Midsummer Night’s Dream – by William Shakespeare
- ✓ Hamlet – by William Shakespeare
- Macbeth – by William Shakespeare
- Romeo and Juliet – by William Shakespeare
- ✓ Pygmalion – by George Bernard Shah
- ☆ Frankenstein – by Mary Shelley
- Ceremony – by Leslie Marmon
- One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich – by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
- ✓ Antigone – by Sophocles
- ✓ Oedipus Rex – by Sophocles
- ✓ The Grapes of Wrath – by John Steinbeck
- ☆ Treasure Island – by Robert Louis Stevenson
- ☆ Uncle Tom’s Cabin – by Harriet Beecher Stowe
- ✓ Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift
- ☆ Vanity Fair – by William Thackery
- Walden – by Henry David Thoreau
- War and Peace – by Leo Tolstoy
- Fathers and Sons – by Ivan Turgenev
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – by Mark Twain
- ✓ Candide – by Voltaire
- ✓ Slaughterhouse Five – by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
- ✓ The Color Purple – by Alice Walker
- Collected Stories – by Eudora Welty
- ☆ The House of Mirth – by Edith Wharton
- ☆ Leaves of Grass – by Walt Whitman
- ☆ The Picture of Dorian Gray – by Oscar Wilde
- ✓ The Glass Menagerie – by Tennessee Williams
- To the Lighthouse – by Virginia Woolf
- Native Son – by Richard Wright
– You can save yourself the trouble of trying to read archaic English translations…. by listening to the entire book, on these two videos. My review.
– I enjoyed reading this short but action-packed fiction about life in an African village as things begin to change due to the unstoppable intrusion of outside civilization. My review.
– It does sound morose, but this is an excellent novel. My review.
– I waited to read this during my sixties. Why? This wonderful book should be required reading for every teenager. A great primer on human nature. I failed to review this at Goodreads, so should probably read it again, then do so.
– I may have read this when I was a teenager. I read two of his books, but I can’t remember the titles! I will have to read it (again?) . . . LATER – I read this book in 2022. Very impressive writing, but a sad story, semi-autobiographical. My review.
– I had to read this twice in high school… it was pure torture. I recommend you watch the movie instead – you get all the verbiage of this play and it is a lot more entertaining than reading the play on paper. (Your mileage may vary.) Another book I have yet to review at Goodreads.
– 608 pages! “A difficult and challenging read.” – Amazon reviewer
– Another amazing novel that I waited too many years to read. My review.
– Oh my – I always thought Heathcliff was a handsome, romantic guy because I’d seen parts of a few movies – and now, having read the book, I can only hope I never meet anyone like him. This book was nothing like I’d expected from movies, though I really don’t think I ever saw one all the way through. My review.
– A short, interesting novel about a man who can’t seem to connect well – with anyone. My review.
– I want to read this; I’ve never attempted it.
– My sister had to read this in Old English during high school. I was not so blessed, and to this date, have never read it. I have a Kindle copy in Old English – but it seems a bit intimidating. I don’t know how my sister ever got through it.
– Okay, I have no idea what this is about. Haven’t read it.
– I do have an idea what this is about – though I haven’t taken time for it yet.
– This is on my current short-term TBR list.
– I’ve seen the movie! The book… maybe I’ll read it one of these years.
– A short classic from the point of view of a young and inexperienced Civil War soldier. Great novel. You will feel like you’re in the battle feeling all the fears the young man is dealing with. This cover says a lot. An unforgettable image. Sad! I still need to review this.
– I need to read this. I bought a copy of The Divine Comedy intending to read The Inferno in 2020, and while it was on order, my home burned to ashes in a forest fire. A friend on Booktube kindly suggested I wait for a while. I tried again a year later, and stalled. I want to try to finish it now.
– I got three hundred pages into this tome once, and gave up. One of these days, hopefully, I’ll return to it. (It is on my current short-term TBR list.)
– I need to read this book!!
– This is the first book I read after graduating from high school. It appeared on my bed in the Haight Ashbury at a time when I was quitting smoking. I was so entertained by this great novel, I didn’t give much thought to any desire for tobacco. I have not reviewed it.
– I tried to read this a few years ago, but it fell by the wayside. I gave it another try in 2020 and my home burned to the ground in a forest fire. Because I was already in shock and trauma, the novel gave me nightmares about murder so I had to can it again. Should I try a third time?
– I read this in 2021 and think it is a memoir that should be read by all American high school students. We all need to know about this! I failed to review is so am going to read it again, God willing.
– About a social climber with a lower class girlfriend holding him back. 896 pages, but you can get a Kindle copy from Amazon for only 45 cents! This is on my current short-term TBR list.
– This is about a young gentleman and his three friends from the King’s Musketeers.
– Tried to read this once and the first chapter was difficult for me. I have a copy and want to try again.
– What a fantastic book. I read this in 2021 and was amazed at how it kept my attention from start to finish. It is about a young black man growing up in the south and eventually moving north. Really a great novel. My review.
– This would be interesting to read. I wonder what he thought about.
– This is about a family traveling across Mississippi to bury their wife/mother.
– This is the craziest stream-of-consciousness novel I’ve ever had the misfortune of reading via audiobook. I’m pretty sure I would never have gotten through it were it not for the taped version. Later I saw the old movie, and it made more sense out of what I’d read. It is possible I would have understood it better with a printed version to read. My review.
– I have no idea…
– I did read this – it is a short novel… and many think it is a masterpiece. I wasn’t all that impressed, but okay… I watched a recent movie later, and that was wonderfully done. No review.
– A young wife in France is dissatisfied with her marriage to a devoted doctor. She proceeds to make a mess of her life.
– Would like to read it, and have a copy.
– Maybe would like to read it…
– I had to read this in junior high school. I’ve thought about doing a reread. No review.
– Would like to read it.
– Not my favorite novel ever, but others like it more than I did. My review.
– I read this many years ago when I was in high school, when the book was first published. No review.
– I had to read this novel so I could find out what kinds of arms the MC was saying goodbye to. No review.
– Should read, but haven’t yet.
– Should read, but haven’t yet.
– Should read, but haven’t yet.
– Very interesting book told from the point of view of a black woman in Florida. Loved the Ebonics dialogue! No review.
– I don’t know if I ever read this or not. I have an audiobook copy and couldn’t get into it because it was upsetting me.
– I have no idea what this is about.
– Don’t know much about this either.
– Fascinating, especially when you realize that the weird disjointed conversations are all part of the plot. I gave this a five star review at Goodreads.
– Terrible… tried to read it and didn’t like the writing style at all.
– I have a copy… remember reading it long ago but would like to read it again. No review.
– I don’t know anything about this novel.
– I’ve read this twice, and liked it both times. My review.
– This is definitely on my TBR. George Babbit is a troubled middle aged businessman trying desperately to fit in with the upper class.
– I loved reading this book by Jack London. The wild reaches out to all of us, drawing us in.
– A sanatorium in the Swiss Alps that represents Europe. Hmmm.
– I bought it. I read it. I didn’t love it. Your mileage may vary. Some people say this is the best novel ever written. I roll my eyes at that thought.
– Really? I’m surprised this is on the list. I’d like to read it. This 53-page novella is a psychological mystery.
– I tried to read this. Really tried. Got about 2/3 through it and just couldn’t take any more descriptions of whale slaughter. I’ll try again, just to finish it. I won’t start again from the beginning.
– I remember studying this play when I was in high school. I think we acted it out in a theater group, way back in the good old days. It is about the Salem witch trials.
– I read this in February 2020. Great novel. It makes you think.
– Short stories. The title story might be exactly what I need to read about since I’m still looking.
– An autobiographical play.
– I read this in ninth grade. I read it again a few years ago. It is a short novel that exposes the problems with socialism.
– Loved the movie, but haven’t read the book.
– Sad, sad, sad. I read it. An autobiographical novel.
– I’ve read many of his stories. My mother gave me a book full of them when I was a teenager.
– I have no idea what this is about but it is on my reading list for this year.
– A satire of modern America. Sounds interesting, and only 160 pages.
– I read this in 2022. Too violent for me, but some people actually like this book. It is well-written but… TMI.
– Did I read this or just part of it? I need to reread, for sure. Only 144 pages.
– A dangerously imaginative child comes of age in NYC.
– I read this when I was a teenager and remember enjoying it.
– I read this when in high school. Can’t remember enjoying that experience, but later saw it performed at Santa Cruz State University and enjoyed the performance.
– I read this when I was a teenager, and even memorized the “to be or not to be” soliloquy. Of course, forgot that many years ago.
– There are holes in my education. I’m trying to remedy that by reading the books on this list.
– Don’t recall ever reading this. Saw the movie.
– I was in this play when I was a teenager.
– Haven’t read it yet. No excuse.
– Native American literature.
WWII novel – a Russian prisoner.
– I read this play while in high school.
– Also read this play while in high school.
– I read this novel while in high school.
– Haven’t read it… though did try at one time.
– No, haven’t read it.
– Read it and lived to regret it. Weird!!!!!
– Haven’t read it.
– Oh no . . . haven’t gotten through this one.
– 1152 pages!
– A Russian generation gap novel.
– Tried to read this once… felt the language of racism was off-putting. I should try again to get past that.
– Read this a few years ago and very much enjoyed it.
– Read this and multiple other Vonnegut novels when I was a teenager in the 1960’s.
– I borrowed my mother’s copy many, many years ago.
– Wanted to read this last year but didn’t get around to it.
– A NYC socialite is alone, nearly 30, and having trouble finding the right man.
– I started reading it and stalled because of extreme tedium. I’d like to finish one of these years.
– Tried to read this but didn’t like the vibe. I’ll probably pick it up again someday.
– I was a performer in this play, or at least, a scene from it, when I was a teenager.
– The story of the Ramsay family while vacationing in the Isle of Skye. I seriously dread reading anything by this author. If I do, it will only be because it is on this list.
– 1930’s Chicago – a young black man killed a white woman. Here’s the aftermath. A crime story. Nothing cheerful.
Still reading . . .