100 of America’s Favorite Novels
PBS kicks off a year-long initiative to promote reading and in-depth discussion of America’s favorite 100 books. Here are all the novels you’ll want to read—and talk about—in the coming year, and beyond.
1984, by George Orwell
George Orwell’s 1984 is a timeless and prescient classic about a dystopian world where freedom is curtailed by the government. Written in 1948, Orwell’s book offers chilling parallels to our modern world. To learn more about The Great American Read and to vote for your favorite book, go to PBS.org. Orwell’s other tome, Animal Farm, made the list of 18 classic books you can read in a day.
A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole
Ignatius J. Reilly is the comic hero of John Kennedy Toole’s classic tome, A Confederacy of Dunces, written in 1963 and set in New Orleans. Reilly is a slothful modern-day Don Quixote who lives with his mother and embarks on adventures that wrangle together a world of unforgettable characters.
A Game of Thrones (series), by George R. R. Martin
George R. R. Martin’s world-building mastery has cast A Game of Thrones as one of the best-loved fantasies of all time. Hugely inspired by Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series, Martin’s magical and conflict-filled world of Westeros is an unforgettable one for all lovers of fantasy.
A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany is treasured for its protagonist, Owen Meany, whose purpose in life—largely defined by a tragic childhood accident—is a thought-provoking example of what it means to live an examined and meaningful existence.
A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
John Knowle’s A Separate Peace, published in 1959, is considered a young adult masterpiece. Set against the backdrop of World War II at a New England boarding school, Gene and Phineas, an unlikely pair, embark on a friendship that will change lives forever.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith
In A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith’s classic coming-of-age story told at the turn of the 20th century, young Francie Nolan learns to embrace her talents and human nature as she maneuvers her way through a hardscrabble Williamsburg upbringing.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
Mark Twain’s classic tale of life on the Mississippi River follows its scrappy protagonist Tom Sawyer, and a gaggle of supporting characters, among them Huckleberry Finn. Sawyer witnesses a murder, runs away, falls in love, and finds himself in one of the most notable American satires of all time.
The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, published in 1988, is as a cult-classic and international bestseller about a young shepherd’s quest to follow his dreams. The book is an allegorical tale about finding treasure, but its real message lies in finding meaning in one’s destiny. Find out the 30 most quotable books ever written.
Alex Cross mysteries, by James Patterson
James Patterson is one of the highest-grossing writers in the world ever (save for J.K. Rowling!). His Alex Cross series, which began with the blockbuster Along Came a Spider, is only the beginning of forensic psychologist Alex Cross’s epic saga. Addicted to spine-tingling reads? You’ll want to add these 13 best thrillers to your must-read list.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
Rarely has a story become embedded in our cultural imagination with the same veracity that Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has. New generations will delight in everything from the Mad Hatter’s tea party to the Walrus and the Carpenter. Drink me! These are the children’s books every adult should read again.