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THE 100 BEST BOOKS OF ALL TIME BY THE WORLD LIBRARY

10 Jan

The World Library is a list of the 100 best books, as proposed by one hundred writers from fifty-four different countries, compiled and organized in 2002 by the Norwegian Book Club. This list endeavours to reflect world literature, with books from all countries, cultures, and time periods. Eleven of the books included on the list are written by women, eighty-five are written by men and four have unknown authors.

The following list organizes the works alphabetically by author.

All the books are on equal footing except Don Quixote which was given the distinction “best literary work ever written.”

Each writer had to select his or her own list of ten books.

TITLE AUTHOR YEAR COUNTRY/LANGUAGE
Things Fall Apart Achebe, Chinua 1958 Nigeria/ English
Fairy tales Andersen, Hans Christian 1835–37 Denmark/ Danish
The Divine Comedy Alighieri, Dante 1265–1321 Italy/Italian
Epic of Gilgamesh Unknown 18th – 17th century BCE Sumer and Akkadian Empire/Akkadian
Book of Job Unknown 6th – 4th century BCE Achaemenid Empire/Hebrew
One Thousand and One Nights Unknown 700–1500 India/Iran/Iraq/Egypt/Tajikistan                Persian
Njál’s Saga Unknown 13th century Iceland/Old Norse
Pride and Prejudice Austen, Jane 1813 United Kingdom/English
Le Père Goriot de Balzac, Honoré 1835 France/French
Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable Beckett, Samuel 1951–53 Republic of Ireland/French, English
The Decameron Boccaccio, Giovanni 1349–53 Ravenna/ Italian
Ficciones Borges, Jorge Luis 1944–86 Argentina/Spanish
Wuthering Heights Brontë, Emily 1847 United Kingdom/English
The Stranger Camus, Albert 1942 Algeria, French Empire/                French
Poems Celan, Paul 1952 Romania, France/German
Journey to the End of the Night Céline, Louis-Ferdinand 1932 France/French
Don Quixote Cervantes, Miguel de 1605 (part 1), 1615 (part 2) Spain/Spanish
The Canterbury Tales Chaucer, Geoffrey 14th century England/English
Stories Chekhov, Anton 1886 Russia/Russian
Nostromo Conrad, Joseph 1904 United Kingdom/English
Great Expectations Dickens, Charles 1861 United Kingdom/English
Jacques the Fatalist Diderot, Denis 1796 France/French
Berlin Alexanderplatz Döblin, Alfred 1929 Germany/German
Crime and Punishment Dostoevsky, Fyodor 1866 Russia/ Russian
The Idiot Dostoevsky, Fyodor 1869 Russia/Russian
The Possessed Dostoevsky, Fyodor 1872 Russia/Russian
The Brothers Karamazov Dostoevsky, Fyodor 1880 Russia/Russian
Middlemarch Eliot, George 1871 United Kingdom/English
Invisible Man Ellison, Ralph 1952 United States/English
Medea Euripides 431 BCE Greece/Greek
Absalom, Absalom! Faulkner, William 1936 United States/English
The Sound and the Fury Faulkner, William 1929 United States/English
Madame Bovary Flaubert, Gustave 1857 France/French
Sentimental Education Flaubert, Gustave 1869 France/                French
Gypsy Ballads Lorca, Federico García 1928 Spain/Spanish
One Hundred Years of Solitude Márquez, Gabriel García 1967 Colombia/Spanish
Love in the Time of Cholera Márquez, Gabriel García 1985 Colombia/Spanish
Faust Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1832 Saxe-Weimar/German
Dead Souls Gogol, Nikolai 1842 Russia/Russian
The Tin Drum Grass, Günter 1959 Germany/German
The Devil to Pay in the Backlands Guimarães Rosa, João 1956 Brazil/Portuguese
Hunger Hamsun, Knut 1890 Norway/Norwegian
The Old Man and the Sea Hemingway, Ernest 1952 United States/English
Iliad Homer 760–710 BC Greece/Greek
Odyssey Homer 8th century BCE Greece/Greek
A Doll’s House Ibsen, Henrik 1879 Norway/Norwegian
Ulysses Joyce, James 1922 Irish Free State/English
Stories Kafka, Franz 1924 Austria/German
The Trial Kafka, Franz 1925 Austria/German
The Castle Kafka, Franz 1926 Austria/German
Shakuntala Kālidāsa 1st century BCE – 4th century CE India/Sanskrit
The Sound of the Mountain Kawabata, Yasunari 1954 Japan/Japanese
Zorba the Greek Kazantzakis, Nikos 1946 Greece/Greek
Sons and Lovers Lawrence, D. H. 1913 United Kingdom/English
Independent People Laxness, Halldór 1934–35 Iceland/Icelandic
Poems Leopardi, Giacomo 1818 Italy/Italian
The Golden Notebook Lessing, Doris 1962 United Kingdom/English
Pippi Longstocking Lindgren, Astrid 1945 Sweden/Swedish
A Madman’s Diary Xun, Lu 1918 China/Chinese
Children of Gebelawi Mahfouz, Naguib 1959 Egypt/Arabic
Buddenbrooks Mann, Thomas 1901 Germany/German
The Magic Mountain Mann, Thomas 1924 Germany/German
Moby-Dick Melville, Herman 1851 United States/English
Essays Montaigne, Michel de 1595 France/French
History Morante, Elsa 1974 Italy/Italian
Beloved Morrison, Toni 1987 United States/English
The Tale of Genji Murasaki Shikibu 11th century Japan/Japanese
The Man Without Qualities Musil, Robert 1930–32 Austria/German
Lolita Nabokov, Vladimir 1955 Russia, United States/English
Nineteen Eighty-Four Orwell, George 1949 United Kingdom/English
Metamorphoses Ovid 1st century CE Roman Empire/Classical Latin
The Book of Disquiet Pessoa, Fernando 1928 Portugal/Portuguese
Tales Poe, Edgar Allan 19th century United States/English
In Search of Lost Time Proust, Marcel 1913–27 France/French
The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel Rabelais, François 1532–34 France/French
Pedro Páramo Rulfo, Juan 1955 Mexico/Spanish
Masnavi Rumi 1258–73 Persia, Persian Empire/Persian
Midnight’s Children Rushdie, Salman 1981 United Kingdom, India/English
Bostan Saadi 1257 Persia, Persian Empire/Persian
Season of Migration to the North Salih, Tayeb 1966 Sudan/Arabic
Blindness Saramago, José 1995 Portugal/Portuguese
Hamlet Shakespeare, William 1603 England/English
King Lear Shakespeare, William 1608 England/English
Othello Shakespeare, William 1609 England/English
Oedipus the King Sophocles 430 BCE Greece/Greek
The Red and the Black Stendhal 1830 France/French
Tristram Shandy Sterne, Laurence 1760 England/English
Confessions of Zeno Svevo, Italo 1923 Italy/Italian
Gulliver’s Travels Swift, Jonathan 1726 Ireland/English
War and Peace Tolstoy, Leo 1865–1869 Russia/Russian
Anna Karenina Tolstoy, Leo 1877 Russia/Russian
The Death of Ivan Ilyich Tolstoy, Leo 1886 Russia/Russian
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Twain, Mark 1884 United States/English
Ramayana Valmiki 5th century BCE – 4th century BCE India/Sanskrit
Aeneid Virgil 29–19 BCE Roman Empire/Classical Latin
Mahabharata Vyasa 9th century BCE – 5th century BCE India/Sanskrit
Leaves of Grass Whitman, Walt 1855 United States/English
Mrs Dalloway Woolf, Virginia 1925 United Kingdom/English
To the Lighthouse Woolf, Virginia 1927 United Kingdom/English
Memoirs of Hadrian Yourcenar, Marguerite 1951 France/French
       

Which of these have you read? You are invited to drop a little comment about any one you find memorable. Cheers.

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