The Best 100 Novels Challenge

When I first read about the 100 Best Novels Challenge on Nathan Bransford’s blog, I thought this would be a fun challenge.  It was definitely fun at first, but then I reached 50 books and it got hard. Really hard. I’ve read tons of novels, but I got stuck on what makes a book a best novel.

For me, it was something that stuck with me years later, something that left an indelible mark on me, something I’ve reached for and reread, something I can still tell you something about now. Some of these inspired my own work. Some of these made me a better writer. Some had characters that resonated with me. Others had unique plots of world building. Some of these are just reads that I truly loved.

Then came the ranking. I did the best I could. But it’s hard to compare a YA vampire to a classic mystery and decide which is better. Especially since I adore the paranormal. Decisions, decisions.

Here is my list of the 100 best novels:

  1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  2. Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (I read the French version)
  3. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll
  4. Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
  5. Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente
  6. The Witch of Black Bird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
  7. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  8. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  9. Ocean Sea by Alessandro Baricco
  10. The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde
  11. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  12. The Ocean at the End of The Lane by Neil Gaiman
  13. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  14. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  15. The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom
  16. House of Spirits by Isabelle Allende
  17. 1984 by George Orwell
  18. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  19. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
  20. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
  21. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  22. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  23. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  24. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  25. No-No Boy by John Okada
  26. 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  27. Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead
  28. Animal Farm George Orwell
  29. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
  30. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
  31. The Shadow Behind the Stars by Rebecca Hahn
  32. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
  33. Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
  34. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
  35. Ms. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  36. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  37. Ensnared by A.G. Howard
  38. The Velveteen Rabbit Margery Williams
  39. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.L. Milne
  40. The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig
  41. The Probable Future by Alice Hoffman
  42. Bones of Fairie by Janni Lee Simner
  43. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
  44. The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
  45. The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry
  46. Wait For Me An Na
  47. The Secret Life of Bees Sue Monk Kidd
  48. The Murderer’s Daughters by Randy Sue Meyers
  49. An Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine Harris
  50. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
  51. Invincible by Dawn Metcalf
  52. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  53. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
  54. The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King
  55. L’etranger by Albert Camus
  56. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  57. The Hound of the Baskerville by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  58. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  59. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
  60. To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee
  61. Franny and Zoey by J.D. Salinger
  62. Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
  63. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
  64. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  65. South of the Border West of the Sun by Haruki Marukami
  66. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
  67. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  68. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
  69. City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
  70. If Onions Could Spring Leeks Paige Shelton
  71. Double Up by Gretchen Archer
  72. Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay
  73. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
  74. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  75. Death’s Dream Kingdom by Jessica Penot
  76. Deadline by Chris Crutcher
  77. The Future of Us by Jay Asher
  78. Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm
  79. Nightshade Andrea Cremer
  80. Blood Promise by Richelle Mead
  81. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
  82. The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  83. The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer by Jennifer Lynch
  84. Unhinged by A.G. Howard
  85. The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd
  86. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  87. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  88. Mischief Amanda Quick
  89. Witch Hill by Marion Zimmer Bradley
  90. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
  91. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  92. Caught by Harlen Coben
  93. Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
  94. Storm Winds by Iris Johansen
  95. Fatal Fixer Upper by Jennie Bentley
  96. Heist Society Ally Carter
  97. Millicent Min Girl Genius by Lisa Yee
  98. Sun Blind by Gwen Hansen
  99. The Darkwater Liar’s Account by K. Lyn Wurth
  100. Slumber Party by Christopher Pike

After spending hours on this, I’m hesitant to tag anyone with this mighty task. So if anyone wants to participate, comment below with a link to your list and I’ll link to your post here in my post. And if you just want to share your top ten or chat about the books on my list, comment below.

 

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14 Responses to The Best 100 Novels Challenge

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    I’m not only impressed you made this list but that you included links for them all as well. Wow! Great list. I probably won’t put one together, but it’s definitely got me thinking.

    • Kourtney says:

      The list took me about 6 hours. The links were another hour. I went through my Goodreads reviews, but they only go back to 2010. They I studied my own bookshelves. But I don’t have any books from my childhood. Finally, I resorted to googling best books lists and culled a couple dozen from there. I was tempted to tag you, but I decided I like you too much for that. 😉 I rediscovered so many books I loved too!

  2. A really interesting list Kourtney, with some of my own favourites on it, like To Kill a Mockingbird. I’m not sure I’d know where to start to pick a list of 100, that’s a feat in itself!

    • Kourtney says:

      It’s really, really hard. Coming up with 100 novels was tough, but ranking them–Eek! But I’ve been rediscovering my love of reading this year, so it was the perfect time for a post like this!

  3. Wow, it’s impressive that you were able to put together this list. I’d have a hard time, though you have a few of my childhood faves on here, like “The Witch of Blackbird Pond,” “The Secret Garden,” and “A Wrinkle in Time.” Thanks for a fun list.

    • Kourtney says:

      It was one of the hardest posts I ever put together. I accidentally had a few memoirs on it too. But I discovered my mistake and fixed it. Those books linger with me even now. I loved Mercy in The Witch of Blackbird Pond and the garden was so cool in The Secret Garden. If I close my eyes I can imagine the transformation again. I’ll never forget it. Glad you liked it.

  4. Wow! This is quite a list, Kourtney Thanks so much for compiling it for us.

    • Kourtney says:

      I really should have listened to Nathan about how tough this challenge was. But I ended up rediscovering some great reads. 😉 Glad you liked it!

  5. Mayumi-H says:

    So cool to see that you took up this challenge, Kourtney! I’m sure the ranking was tough. Personally, my tastes have a tendency to change radically over time, so what might have been #1 to 25-year-old me definitely wasn’t #1 to 35-year-old me! It’s comforting, in a way, to see so many familiar classics on your list. I guess what they say about universal truths in some books still holds merit. 🙂

    • Kourtney says:

      Thanks, Mayumi. It was truly awful and I’m sure many will disagree with my choices later in the list. 😉 That’s another tough component. I haven’t reread my favorite children’s books. But they lingered with me so long–they got ranked higher for it. The classics are pretty cool in their appearing across many readers’ lists. Totally agree there. And I think some books have a universal appeal. Now to write one of those! 🙂

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