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So many authors - so little time! Welcome to The Telegraph (UK) selection of ‘100 Novels Everyone Should Read’. We hope you enjoy their witty and pithy plot summaries. Do you agree with their selection?


The novels are listed over three pages in descending order. Enjoy! PAGE 2

 100 novels everyone should read

The Telegraph (UK) selection of the essential fiction library


  • ©      62. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift—Swift’s scribulous satire on travellers’ tall tales (the Lilliputian Court is really George I’s).
  • ©      61. My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk—A painter is murdered in Istanbul in 1591. Unusually, we hear from the corpse.
  • ©      60. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez—Myth and reality melt magically together in this Colombian family saga.
  • ©      59. London Fields by Martin Amis—A failed novelist steals a woman’s trashed diaries which reveal she’s plotting her own murder.
  • ©      58. The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño—Gang of South American poets travel the world, sleep around, challenge critics to duels.
  • ©      57. The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse—Intellectuals withdraw from life to play a game of musical and mathematical rules.
  • ©      56. The Tin Drum by Günter Grass—Madhouse memories of the Second World War. Key text of European magic realism.
  • ©      55. Austerlitz by WG Sebald—Paragraph-less novel in which a Czech-born historian traces his own history back to the Holocaust.
  • ©      54. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov—Scholar’s sexual obsession with a prepubescent ‘nymphet’ is complicated by her mother’s passion for him.
  • ©      53. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood—After nuclear war has rendered most sterile, fertile women are enslaved for breeding.
  • ©      52. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger—Expelled from a ‘phony’ prep school, adolescent anti-hero goes through a difficult phase.
  • ©      51. Underworld by Don DeLillo—From baseball to nuclear waste, all late-20th-century American life is here.
  • ©      50. Beloved by Toni Morrison—Brutal, haunting, jazz-inflected journey down the darkest narrative rivers of American slavery.
  • ©      49. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck—‘Okies’ set out from the Depression dustbowl seeking decent wages and dignity.
  • ©      48. Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin—Explores the role of the Christian Church in Harlem’s African-American community.
  • ©      47. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera—A doctor’s infidelities distress his wife. But if life means nothing, it can’t matter.
  • ©      46. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark—A meddling teacher is betrayed by a favourite pupil who becomes a nun.
  • ©      45. The Voyeur by Alain Robbe-Grillet—Did the watch salesman kill the girl on the beach? If so, who heard?
  • ©      44. Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre—A historian becomes increasingly sickened by his existence, but decides to muddle on.
  • ©      43. The Rabbit books by John Updike—A former high school basketball star is unsatisfied by marriage, fatherhood and sales jobs.
  • ©      42. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain—A boy and a runaway slave set sail on the Mississippi, away from Antebellum ‘sivilisation’.
  • ©      41. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle—A drug addict chases a ghostly dog across the midnight moors.
  • ©      40. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton—Lily Bart craves luxury too much to marry for love. Scandal and sleeping pills ensue.
  • ©      39. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe—A Nigerian yam farmer’s local leadership is shaken by accidental death and a missionary’s arrival.
  • ©      38. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald—A mysterious millionaire’s love for a woman with ‘a voice full of money’ gets him in trouble.
  • ©      37 The Warden by Anthony Trollope—‘Of all novelists in any country, Trollope best understands the role of money,’ said W H Auden.
  • ©      36. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo—An ex-convict struggles to become a force for good, but it ends badly.
  • ©      35. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis—An uncommitted history lecturer clashes with his pompous boss, gets drunk and gets the girl.

Counting down! 100 TOP READS P.3




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