The Top Ten Best Books of all Time

The best books of all time have been highly rated by critics and readers. They have managed to display dynamics and events in society in exemplary ways. The books reveal the truth and describe scenes and chapters that readers can relate to. They can also be described as timeless as they accurately portray the society and project into the future. They include:

Hamlet by William Shakespeare- Best Books

Hamlet by William Shakespeare is believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601 (Shakespeare et. al., 1948). Set in Denmark, the play recounts how Hamlet, Prince of Denmark sets out to get revenge on Claudius, his uncle. Claudius took the throne by murdering the King, who is Prince Hamlet’s father. He then married Prince Hamlet’s mother, Queen Getrude. The story is filled with Prince Hamlet’s mission for revenge while the criminal King reigns secure (Feud 1900, 264-66).The play explore themes of revenge, moral corruption, treachery and incest. It outlines the course of real and feigned lunacy. The book has appeared in accredited lists of the best books of all times including Harvard’s Book Store and Bravo Magazine, amongst other famous lists.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald- Best Books

Written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby is an intricate tale of America following World War I. As such, it is among the twentieth-century’s great literature classics. The novel is one of the author’s highest achievements, and it chronicles the Jazz Age. The story features Jay Gatsby and his love for Daisy Buchanan, who the story describes as very beautiful, and their extravagant merry-makings on Long Island. The story is set when the world was recovering from the effects of the war and the American society was regaining its economic stability and enjoying prosperity. The New York Times marked this Jazz age ‘as an era where Gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession.’

Anna Karenina by Graf Leo Tolstoy- Best Books

Anna Karenina is the story of a doomed love affair. The rebellious and luxurious Anna refuses to bear the brunt of a loveless passionless marriage by having an affair with officer Count Vronsky, (Mandelker, 1993). The novel; an outcome of the author’s shocking and robust style of writing, is set in the nineteenth century Russia and its chronicles its seven major characters in the dynamics of rural and urban life as well as dissimilarities on love and family happiness. Due to difficulties in publishing the novel at the time, the book was published in sections from 1873 to 1877 in the The Russian Messenger periodical (

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez- Best Books

Gabriel García Márquez is a Colombian born screen writer, novelist and short-story writer and an outstanding author of the 20th Century with the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature and the Neustadt International Prize for Literature awarded in 1972. One Hundred Years of Solitude is one of his best rated Novels of all times written in 1967. It is a story of the Buendía, a multi-generational family, whose headman José Arcadio Buendía discovers the town of Macondo, which means Cavanillesia platanifolia, the native name given to a tree found in the symbolic area of Colombia. The story revolves around the life of this family in their newly discovered town (Márquez & Newman 2001).

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien- Best Books

The book portrays the enormous metaphorical, as well as literal loads, that American soldiers struggled with during the 23rd Infantry division. The “things” represented physical and emotional loads of grief, fear, guilt, longing and love. Tim O’ Brien, the narrator and protagonist of the novel reflects how soldiers deal with guilt and confusion of the inhumanity they witness at war. The Things They Carried was initially published by Houghton Mifflin in 1990 and is a distortion of fact and fiction with a collection of stories of soldiers involved in the Vietnam War. The book covers a landmark in American history by giving a glimpse of the situation as well as America’s involvement in the war at that time.

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy- Best Books

This is a story written from the perception of five Russian aristocratic families. It chronicles the unfolding of events that lead to the Napoleonic invasion of Russia as well as the effect of his era the Tsarist society( Tolstoy & Tolstoi, 2015). War and Peace was published in 1869 and presents one of Leo Tolstoy’s most accredited literary work of all times according to Encyclopedia Britannica. The book has also been listed in over 32 famous books lists as the best book of all times’ and was rated 2nd on The Novel 100: A Ranking of the Greatest Novels of All Time.

In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust- Best Books

In Search of Lost Time was first published in French as À la recherche du temps perdu from 1913 to 1927. It narrates the story of the author’s life as he searches for the truth. In Search of Lost Time is an outstanding French novel of the 20th century published in seven parts. The story represents three major characters and their influence on the main characters quest for truth. Proust manipulated and changed everything to reveal the truth (Proust, 2016).

To the Light House by Virginia Wolf- Best Books

The story is set in the pre-World War I and features Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay and their eight children in Hebrides summer home on the Isle of Skye’ in Scotland between 1910 and 1920 (Wolf 1992).The novel was first published in 1927 and presents and exemplary example of multiple focalization techniques in literature, where the author displays thoughts and actions rather than speeches. The book has been listed as number 15 by 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century by the Modern Library in 1998, as well as the one hundred best English-language novels from 1923 by TIME magazine in 2005.

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville- Best Books

Moby Dick is the story of a notorious white whale that bit off Ahab’s leg, a captain of the whaler known as Pequod. The story narrates the captain’s revenge to kill Moby-dick for taking his leg. Melville is the main protagonist in the book; Melville goes by Ishmael in the book. This book that chronicles his life and experiences at sea. The story ends by the sinking of the whaler by Moby Dick (Melville, 1959). The novel was published in 1851 and gained recognition by critics and readers alike after the author’s death in 1851. It was revised many times after that and has since been rated the best book of all times.

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes- Best Books

This novel is written by Miguel de Cervantes and was published in 1605 and 1615 as two parts. The story features Don Quixote a middle man from La Mancha, Central Spain who becomes obsessed and then goes crazy over tales he read about chivalry and knights. The name, Don Quixote, he gives to himself because he believes he is one of the knights he read about. He goes about behaving like a knight by riding with his squire in search for adventure. It turns to tragedy when he gets badly hurt by windmills he believes are giants sent to attack and later dies (de Cervantes, 1908).


1. de Cervantes Saavedra, M. (1908). Don Quixote. J. Fitzmaurice-Kelly (Ed.). Insel-Verlag.

2. Fitzgerald, F. S. (1991). The Great Gatsby (1925). na.



5. Mandelker, A. (1993). Framing Anna Karenina: Tolstoy, the woman question, and the Victorian novel. Ohio State University Press.

6. Márquez, G. G., & Newman, D. (2001). One hundred years of solitude (p. 36). Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind Tertiary Resource Service..

7. Melville, H. (1959). Moby Dick: Or, The Whale. Dell.

8. O’brien, T. (2009). The things they carried. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

9. Proust, M. (2016). In Search of Lost Time [volumes 1 to 7](Centaur Classics)[The 100 greatest novels of all time-# 13]. Marcel Proust.

10. Shakespeare, W., Olivier, L., & Simmons, J. (1948). Hamlet. University Press.

11. Tolstoy, L., & Bayley, J. (1978). The Portable Tolstoy (Vol. 1978). Viking Pr.

12. Tolstoy, L., & Tolstoi, L. N. (2015). War and peace. Random House.

13. Woolf, V. (1992). To the lighthouse. In Collected Novels of Virginia Woolf (pp. 177-334). Palgrave Macmillan UK.

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