Creative Writing Fiction 13 min2023-08-15 00:00

80 Best Fiction Books of All Time

best fiction books

Reading books is one of the most enjoyable hobbies available to us today, especially if you pick up one of the best fiction books ever written. If you’re looking for a book recommendation for any of the best fiction books, this list is for you.

The title of “best fiction book” is certainly subjective, as everyone has their own taste for reading. Critics award some books for their excellence, while others become bestsellers because of large sales numbers.

In this article, we’ll give you our list of the 80 best fiction books in several genre categories.

The 10 Best Fiction Books to Read

The first books in our list are a mix of classic and contemporary literature that are critically acclaimed or incredibly popular with readers.

1. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Thomas Cromwell proves he is an ambitious man by becoming the chief advisor to King Henry VII.

2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Millionaire Jay Gatsby longs to be with the woman he loves, even though she’s married to someone else.

3. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

Patrick Bateman appears to have the perfect life, but under the surface lurks a psychopath with a lesson for all of us.

4. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

In a dystopian society where Big Brother watches everyone, Winston Smith attempts to rebel against the Party in the name of liberty and truth.

5. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

A father and son walk through a post-apocalyptic America trying to survive.

6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Scout Finch narrates the story of how her father defended a black man in a case where he was falsely accused of raping a white girl. 

7. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Ishmael, a sailor, joins the crew of a whaling ship and sets sail under the direction of a captain who is obsessed with killing the famous whale, Moby Dick.

8. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

Chief Bromden narrates the story about how a new patient at the Oregon State mental hospital challenges the powers which aim to keep the patients imprisoned.

9. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Stationed in the Mediterranean Sea toward the end of World War II, Yossarian sees no escape from the enemy or from the army he’s a part of.

10. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

The Colombian town of Macondo, founded by Jose Arcadio Buendia, is the place of many strange and magical events that affect several generations of the Buendia family.

best fiction books to read

10 Popular Fiction Books in the Romance Genre

Whether you want to read a timeless story about love or a beautifully written account of how romance can restore faith in yourself, the romance genre has it all. Here’s our list of the top ten romance books.

11. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

Noah Calhoun and Allie Hamilton meet again after seven years of separation, but she’s engaged to someone else.

12. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The arrogance of Mr. Darcy initially shocked and repulsed Elizabeth Bennet, but she learns first impressions aren’t always correct in this timeless classic.

13. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

In her thirties, Bridget Jones feels pressure to secure a long-term relationship while also maintaining a career and keeping her family together.

14. Normal People by Sally Rooney

Connell and Marianne aim to prove that mismatched friendships can grow into something more, but the journey tests them more than they expected. 

15. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

When Celie meets Shrug Avery, she finds inspiration to escape her life of hardship and reunite with those she’s lost along the way.

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16. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Faced with Henry’s condition that causes him to time travel arbitrarily through his timeline, is it possible for the love of Clare and Henry to remain strong?

17. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Lily’s relationship with Ryle becomes dangerous when a man she once loved comes back into her life.

18. The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

The Duke of Hastings, Simon Basset, begins a fake relationship with Daphne Bridgerton so he can avoid the ambitious mamas of the Ton and Daphne will appear more attractive to potential suitors. 

19. Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

Elio falls in love with a visiting student, but Oliver is reluctant to admit he has similar feelings for him.

20. Love Story by Erich Segal

Oliver and Jenny come from different social backgrounds, but they don’t let that stop their love for each other as they try to work through everything life throws at them.

popular fiction romance books

10 Must-Read Fiction Books in the Crime Genre

Crime is one of the most popular genres of novels today, so it was really difficult to pin down ten of the best fiction books in the crime genre.

21. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Ten strangers arrive on Soldier Island, and they’re accused of horrific crimes. When one of them dies, they aim to locate the murderer amongst their party.

22. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

Robert Langdon has to decipher a coded message left by a homicide victim, which sends him on a journey to solve a puzzle that’s centuries old.  

23. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Kya, known as the “Marsh Girl,” becomes the prime suspect after her lover, Chase Andrews, turns up dead.

24. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

When Nick’s wife, Amy, goes missing, he aims to solve the mystery while also being a suspect and discovering his wife’s dark secrets.

25. Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

Clarice Starling enlists the help of forensic psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter, despite his conviction as a cannibal, as she hunts down the serial killer called “Buffalo Bill.”

26. Killing Floor by Lee Child

The cops arrest Jack Reacher as a prime suspect in a murder investigation. He is proven innocent as more murders turn up.

27. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Journalist Mikael Blomkvist and computer hacker Lisbeth Salander join forces to investigate the disappearance of Harriet Vanger.

28. Cover Her Face by P.D. James

DCI Adam Dalgliesh investigates the violent murder of Sally Jupp, a newly engaged parlor maid. 

29. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Rachel is a young woman who takes the same train every morning, watching the lives of the people in the houses she passes. Until one day, when she sees something shocking and everything changes as she is dragged into their lives.

30. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Sue Trinder and Maud Lilly, two orphans, have a complicated narrative created by people they’ve had faith in since they were young.

crime fiction books list

10 Fiction Books to Read in the Fantasy Genre

We love escaping to a fantasy world when we sit down to read a good novel, so here’s our ten best fiction books in the fantasy genre.

31. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

A hobbit named Bilbo Baggins embarks on an adventure with dwarves and a wizard, as they intend to unseat a dragon from its control over the dwarven stronghold. 

32. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Feyre is a mortal who finds herself the prisoner of Tamlin for the crimes of killing a faerie.

33. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

When he was young and naive, Ged accidentally released a shadow-beast into the world of Earthsea. Now Ged is older and wiser, only he can rid the world of the evil creature.

34. Mort by Terry Pratchett

Death recruits Mortimer to become his apprentice, much to the disapproval of Death’s daughter, Ysabell. 

35. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

When Lyra receives a truth-telling device called an alethiometer, she sets out to solve the mystery of how a group of child abductors keeps stealing children.

36. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

A magical circus of dreams appears one day. It opens at night and closes by dawn.

37. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

The great houses clash, as they each play a part in the game of who will take the Iron Throne and rule the kingdom as a horrible winter looms on the horizon.

38. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

Fitz, a bastard son of the crown prince, must train to become an assassin so he can save the kingdom.

39. Stardust by Neil Gaiman

When Tristan promises to retrieve a fallen star for his love, Victoria, he finds himself in a dangerous, magical world beyond the ancient wall at the edge of town.

40. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

A crew of six outcasts attempt a deadly heist that will test how well they can work as a team.

fiction fantasy books to read

10 Good Fiction Books to Read in the Science-Fiction Genre

Science-fiction books are perfect for book lovers wanting to escape to a new planet, a dystopian world, or an alternate reality where everything is different and interesting. Here’s our ten best books from the science-fiction genre.

41. Dune by Frank Herbert

Paul sets out to avenge his father and take back control of the planet Arrakis, where the most precious resource in the universe is located.

42. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K. Dick

Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter who dreams of owning a live animal. One day, he’s given an assignment that should pay him enough to achieve his dream. 

43. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

One day, Arthur Dent’s house is demolished, his best friend admits he’s an alien, and then Earth is destroyed to clear a path for a hyperspace express route. That’s just the start of Arthur’s journey.

44. The Martian by Andy Weir

Mark is stranded in a habitat on Mars and has to overcome the dangers of the planet if he’s going to survive.

45. The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells

When Martians invade Earth, destroying everything in their way, the narrator shows us the strength of humanity’s will to survive. 

46. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

In a dystopian world, where books are forbidden, Guy Montag is a fireman tasked with burning books.

47. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Wade Watts escapes into a virtual world where everyone is hunting for a lottery ticket, which will give them control of the reality they would all prefer to live in.

48. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

In Gilead, everyone is given a purpose. Offred’s purpose is to breed.

49. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

Pierre Aronnax and his crew search for a sea monster until they are caught by Captain Nemo and board the Nautilus submarine.

50. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender Wiggin must survive brutal training to become humanity’s savior from an alien threat.

sci-fi books to read

10 Top Fiction Books in the Horror Genre

There are so many bone-chilling horror novels that will keep you up at night in fear of what’s within their pages. Here are the ones we’ve picked as the ten best horror fiction books.

51. The Shining by Stephen King

Jack Torrance and his family move into the Overlook Hotel as he becomes the caretaker, and supernatural events suggest the hotel has a mind of its own.

52. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Young scientist, Victor Frankenstein, aims to create a humanoid creature using his secret method for reanimating non-living matter.

53. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Four people decide to stay at Hill House to find out once and for all if it is haunted.

54. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

Father Damien Karras is asked to perform an exorcism on a child who is believed to be possessed by a demon.

55. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Arthur Kipps visits a small town to attend a funeral and finds himself haunted by a mysterious woman in black.

56. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

A new pandemic quickly escalates to become a horrific fight for survival against the horde.

57. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

When Catalina reaches out to Noemi with suspicions that her husband is trying to kill her, Noemi investigates.

58. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

Vic McQueen has a special ability that comes in handy as she tracks down a serial killer known as the Wraith.

59. Dracula by Bram Stoker

Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania to help a nobleman purchase a house near London. He finds there’s more to Count Dracula than he initially thought.

60. Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Oskar and Eli begin an unlikely friendship. One is a 12-year-old boy, and the other is a 200-year-old vampire.

top fiction horror books

10 Best Children’s Fiction Books to Read

Reading is one of the best ways to develop your mind and learn about the world. Here are ten of the best fiction books for children, which are perfect for developing a love for reading.

61. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Lucy works with her siblings and a lion in her quest to free Narnia from the clutches of the White Witch.

62. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Charlie wins a ticket to visit Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory.

63. Skellig by David Almond

A 10-year-old boy finds a creature living in the garage of his new house. He helps by bringing food so he can learn more about the strange person.

64. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Charlotte is a spider who creates amazing webs with words in them to spare the life of a pig she becomes friends with.

65. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

Peter Rabbit gets into trouble as he dares to go into Mr. McGregor’s vegetable garden.

66. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

A starving caterpillar goes on an adventure to eat as much as he can.

67. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

After being sent to his room, Max finds himself transported to an island where monsters called Wild Things live.

68. Curious George by Hans Augusto Rey and Margret Rey

The Man with the Yellow Hat adopts an orphaned monkey named George.

69. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss

The narrator tells a beautiful story about all the places you, the protagonist, will go.

70. Wonder by R.J. Palacio

August Pullman has Treacher-Collins syndrome and tells of how people react to seeing his disfigured face as he starts school life.

best children's fiction books

The 10 Best Young Adult Fiction Books

Young adult fiction has become one of the biggest categories of books in today’s publishing world, so there’s a massive selection to choose from. Here are our choices for the ten best novels in the young adult category.

71. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Hazel hates going to her Cancer Support Group until the day when Augustus attends.

72. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Katniss Everdeen volunteers as tribute for her district in the Hunger Games competition, held every year, where 24 children must fight to the death until there’s only one victor.

73. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

In 1939 Germany, Liesel discovers a love for books and steals them from Nazi book-burnings.

74. Divergent by Veronica Roth

In a world split into five factions, sixteen-year-olds must pick a side and then complete an intense initiation that pushes them to their limits.

75. Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Even though noughts are the enemies of crosses, Callum and Sephy develop a loving relationship from either side of the divide.

76. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Charlie is an introverted teen who shares his thoughts and emotions as he grows and develops from an adolescent to an adult.

77. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Clary Fray is thrust into a world full of Shadowhunters and demons in New York when she witnesses a murder in a club appropriately named Pandemonium.

78. Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz

Alex Rider becomes a teenage spy for MI6.

79. Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

Georgia Nicolson shares details of all the challenges she faces as a teenage girl trying to catch the attention of the boy she has a crush on.

80. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor meets Park on her first day at a new school and their relationship develops thanks to their shared love for comic books and mixtapes.

best YA fiction books

How We Selected the Top Fiction Books

It’s difficult picking just 80 titles out of the millions of published books in the world.

According to a Google study conducted in 2010, there were about 130 million published books. Since then, millions more writers have published novels, but it’s hard to track the figures, as there’s no one definitive way to do it.

The books we chose for our list were those that received awards for their excellence, those with a high number of sales, and those that readers have deemed to be some of the top books in each area we sorted them into.

If the books you think are the best do not appear on our list, it doesn’t mean they aren’t the best. Our list is small and certainly not objective, so it’s likely that there are many more amazing books we could have included. However, that list would probably go on forever.

We hope our list of the best fiction books has given you some titles to add to your to-be-read list.

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