If you’re looking to do something fun, start by reading all the great books you may have missed out. We’ve complied a list of the best novels of all time!
A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.
— William Styron
There are doors in our minds which can be opened by reading books. They allow us to travel distant lands and live an exciting life without even leaving the comfort of our homes.
When we read a book, we step into a different world and sometimes see the world through a fresh perspective. Whether it’s a tiny village in the eastern fields or magical lands of Narnia, we can go anywhere.
Books and classic novels to read teach us so much about love, heartbreak, friendship and the human spirit. From top romance novels to best mystery novels, here are 25 picks of the best novels of all time for you to read.
The Best Novels Of All Time To Read
1. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Kite Runner is a narrative of an unexpected and difficult friendship between Amir, the son of a wealthy merchant, and Hassan, the son of his father’s servant, set against the shifting political environment of Afghanistan from the 1970s to the era following 9/11.
Hosseini shows us a world of everyday people who live, die, eat, worship, dream, and love in a manner that post-9/11 media coverage never could. It’s a tale about the decades-long shadows cast by family secrets, the undying love of friendship, and the transformational power of forgiveness.
2. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
The story of Annemarie Yohansen, a Danish girl growing up in World War II Copenhagen with her best friend Ellen, who happens to be Jewish, is told in this Newbery Award-winning novel. When Annemarie hears of the Nazis’ atrocities against Jews, she and her family would go to any length to protect Ellen and her parents, as well as countless other Jews.
Lowry’s work serves as a striking reminder that cultural and religious differences do not separate sincere friends, and that love shines even brighter against prejudice.
3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Jane Austen’s most celebrated novel is more than a satire on the marriage market and the intrigues of polite society in 19th century England.
Pride and Prejudice is one of the most lasting works of English literature. The story is popular among readers because Austen frankly describes the human character in all of its beauty and flaws.
It is also about overcoming class distinctions, learning to laugh at life even when it’s completely unfair, and understanding that loving someone sometimes means accepting them for who they are.
4. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Hinton wrote this book when she was 16 years old because she was frustrated with flowery romance novels. She wanted a story depicting the brutal truths of being an adolescent in America in the mid-twentieth century, but none existed, so she wrote one herself.
The story follows a group of rugged, teen boys on the streets of an Oklahoma town as they struggle to survive and keep together in the face of violence, peer pressure, , and shattered families.
Growing up is never easy, and sorrow, loss, friendship, and love are universal experiences that both establish and dissipate socioeconomic barriers.
5. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Little Women, a well-written novel with distant and memorable characters, invites us into the comfortable and warm home of a 19th-century American family. Each character has certain traits that are unique, whether it’s Jo’s ambition, Meg’s temper, Amy’s playfulness, or Beth’s shyness.
This is a coming-of-age story that is about four sisters and their life story from girlhood to womanhood amidst Civil War America. They learn about the harsh realities of poverty, death, and falling in love. This is one of the most heartwarming classic novels to read.
6. A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood
This story depicts the life of George Falconer, a middle-aged English professor who has recently lost his companion, Jim. As George fights his despair and wonders what the meaning of life is, he gradually discovers the gift of being alive, with all its hardships and successes, through a meal with his student.
Isherwood reminds us that every minute matters through a picture of a single day in a man’s life. His words will grab hold of you and urge you to face your fears.
7. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
This is a children’s classic about Wilber the pig and his host of friends in the barnyard. From Charlotte, the spider to Templeton the rat flings each one can talk. It leaves room for imagination to make us wonder what life would be like.
White’s novel is a lesson for children and a reminder for adults about the cycle of life, and the importance of nature’s beauty. This novel also challenges us to ask ourselves how we’d treat animals if they could tell us their joys and their fears, would people treat them more humanely?
8. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
This is a must-read novel set in the late-20th century in Germany, which boldly confronts the German national guilt over the war crimes of the Holocaust by the Nazis. It depicts an unusual relationship between a 15-year-old boy named Michael Berg and Hannah Schmitt, a 36-year-old tram operator who was also a former prison guard from Auschwitz.
As Michael teaches Hannah to read books, Hannah teaches Michael to read about the human character, and he comes to learn about the nuances between good and evil and living with the consequences of one’s choices. The Reader is a story about personal as well as national guilt, the consequences of keeping secrets, and about the power of redemption.
9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Bronte’s novel narrates the story of the struggles of a young girl who is try to make her name in this harsh world. She endures life as a poor orphan under deplorable conditions with her aunt. She lives in Lowood school to the and encounters dark secrets as a governess at Thornfield Hal, the home of Mr. Rochester an enigmatic and alluring man.
Jane is strong-willed and resilient and longs for the rights that were denied by Victorian England to women. She stands as a timeless example for women and young girls around the world that with determination anything is possible.
10. The End of the Affair by Graham Green
The End of the Affair by Graham Green is a timeless novel set in the turmoil of World War II, tells the story about a life-altering adulterous relationship between Maurice Bendrix and Sarah Miles.
It also talks about the personal battles in the subject of love, hate, guilt, and redemption. Maurice and Sarah remind us that sometimes the things we do for love can trigger a pull of events that determine our lives and future. This passionate and perilous journey about love teaches us a lesson that will last forever. Read to find out what it is!
11. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This is one of the most classic novels to read. Told from the point of view of Scout Finch, a 6-year-old, the story depicts the crisis in her hometown in Alabama when Thom Robinson, an African American is accused of raping a young white woman.
Scout’s father, Atticus Finch, is a lawyer who is appointed to represent Robinson. This novel is brutally honest and critically analyzes social issues of race, class, and sex at the sometimes the ironic injustice of the American legal system.
12. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Are you a Potterhead? If not take a look at this book. Harry Potter has enchanted both children and adults. The story revolves around a downtrodden, emotionally neglected orphan who discovers that he’s a wizard and must go to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
This ticks all the big boxes on must-read lists as it deals with friendship, the triumph of good over evil, magical beings, dark secrets and a reminder that sometimes the fiercest battles are the ones we fight within ourselves.
13. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Secret Garden is a timeless classic about the beauty of nature, the power of love, and a hint of magic. It is a children’s favorite pick and the story about tiny Mary Lennox, who goes to live in the English manor house of her reclusive uncle when her parents die of Cholera.
You’ll laugh and cry with Mary as she learns to love, trust, and reach outside herself to nurture the world around her as the Yorkshire sunshine softens her hard little heart and she befriends the animal charmer Dicken, her ill cousin Colin, and a myriad of lovely creatures.
14. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
It’s a must read novel about the human imagination, magic and adventure. It is set against the backdrop of World War II in England. The land of Narnia represents as a timeless hope for a better and brighter future.
The story is about siblings Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy who slip into the magical land of Narnia, and befriend animals that talk. They battle the White Witch and discover the value of family and being brave.
15. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
When Anne Shirley, an 11-year-old orphan, moves in with her middle-aged brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, she discovers that there was a misunderstanding and that they had intended to adopt a boy.
While this disaster throws Anne into a world where she fears rejection and being unloved, you’ll be rewarded in the end as her imagination and kind heart wins over everyone in her path. This is a touching story that serves as a painful reminder that things may not always go our way, but they may be the best thing that may happen to us.
16. The Girl Who Fell From The Sky by Heidi Duro
This is a must-read story about Rachel, she is the daughter of a Danish mother and a black father. Rachel is the lone survivor of a nine-story apartment building fall that kills her mother and younger brother. She is taken in by her black grandmother in a white-dominated area of Portland.
Rachel has the struggle of discovering what it means to be biracial in a black-and-white world because of her dark complexion and blue eyes (a white girl’s eyes in a black girl’s face). Duro has written a great work that examines America’s cultural construction of race and forces us to confront our own prejudices.
17. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
Bridget Jones, one of the most prevalent pop culture icons has been a symbol of womanhood all over the world. The novel is about her clumsy, self-deprecating life, dating, and dieting debacles, as she struggles with body image. Jones’ desire for financial independence and finding love resonates with readers all across the world.
This humorous and heartwarming novel offers a comical yet critical commentary on what it means to be a woman in today’s world and reminds women about standing up for themselves and loving themselves just as they are
18. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a well-known abolitionist tale that is a political and moralistic critique of American slavery. Stowe intertwines the tales of numerous slaves, including Eliza, who would go to any length to save her son from being sold to the meek.
The protagonist is Uncle Tom, a humble guy who carries his load calmly and quietly, serving his masters with steadfast honesty. He is a man who views freedom as a mental as well as physical state. This is a story about the human spirit’s perseverance and the moral need to fight for what is right.
19. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Plath’s life is the inspiration for The Bell Jar, a frighteningly realistic novel. It follows the story of Esther Greenwood, a smart young woman who gets a summer job at a major New York magazine and learns that, rather than enjoying the glittering and glamorous New York lifestyle, she finds it rather terrifying and unsettling.
The Bell Jar is a realistic insight into the human psyche and shines light on the reality of mental illness, inspired by Plath’s own struggle with depression.
20. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
This is a classic Victorian children’s Fiction, about a eccentric tale which involves magic and mystery. The story is about Alice, who finds herself in an imaginary world after chasing a white rabbit that she sees while sitting quietly on the riverbank.
This novel will invite you take a dig into the rabbit hole and enter into a world of magical creatures, mushrooms that cause Alice to grow or shrink. This is not only a children’s delight but also interesting for adults who love too explore things that don’t make sense yet are intriguing.
21. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
This novel is about a titular character, Dorian Gray, who is the subject of a portrait by painter Basil Hallward. He enamors the beauty of Dorian in the painting. Dorian wishes to sell his soul for beauty and youth, knowing that it may fade away. Dorian’s wish is granted and he grows beautiful day by day but on the other hand his painting mysteriously becomes monstrous.
Wilde’s novel challenges us acknowledge the darker side of human nature and o look within ourselves. How we struggle between good and evil each day and what choices we make of it.
22. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie presents us a mystery that blurs the lines between legal and moral justice, with her customary flair for intrigue. The opulent Orient Express is stalled in a snowdrift in the dead of night in one of Christie’s most riveting mysteries.
The next morning, a cranky, unlikable American passenger is found stabbed twelve times with his door shut. Only the other passengers may have been the killer, with an outside job being extremely unlikely due to the snowstorm. As Detective Hercule Poirot investigates, a complicated story emerges around the dead man, with each passenger revealing a link to him.
23. The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry
Translated from French to English, The Little Prince is the tale of a little boy who falls on Earth from an Asteroid who is visiting several other asteroids in order to understand mankind. In his voyage he meets a series of strange and amusing characters, like a king who has no subjects, a drunkard who drinks to forget his miseries and the shame being a drunkard, and an untamed fox.
The Little Prince is an allegory about man and his foolishness or tendencies toward self-destruction through violence. But that’s not it, this is also a heartwarming tale of the power of friendship and trust
24. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Fault in Our Stars is a gripping and moving story about Hazel, a cancer-stricken teen, and the other teens in her cancer support group. Readers come to appreciate the fragility of life through these young voices whose lives are both burning with intensity and flickering on the verge of dying as they share their fears and joys together.
Green evokes the agony of terminal sickness with sensitivity and remarkable realism, reminding us that love, friendship, and faith transcend all, including death itself.
25. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a classic novel about magic and adventure. It tells us the story about a little girl Dorothy Gale and her dog Toto who are caught up in a cyclone and carried away from their farm in Kansas to the magical land of Oz. They meet a few characters like the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, and the Tin Man.
They take a journey together to the Emerald City in a quest for home and to meet the celebrated Wizard. This heart-warming novel talks about friendship, bravery, and never forgetting that home is where your heart is.
So which among these classic novels is your favorite? Share your answer in the comments below!