20 Highest-Rated Books on Goodreads
With more than 80 million members who’ve rated more than 2.3 billion—yes, billion—books, Goodreads has become the go-to source for reading recommendations. No matter what the genre or topic, if you’re looking for suggestions on what book to pick up next, you might want to consider these highly rated fan favorites.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Not surprisingly, the seven novels in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series take up the top spots among the best-rated books on Goodreads.com. Fittingly, the first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which introduces us to Harry, his Muggle relatives, and his beginnings at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, is the highest-rated book on the site: It has earned a 4.46-star rating (out of 5), the average of its 5.5 million (yes, million) ratings. Additional novels in the series have ratings of 4.35 and up, with an average of 2 million reviews.
The Hunger Games
Consistently ranked neck-and-neck with the Harry Potter novels, Suzanne Collins’ 2008 young adult novel—the first in the dystopian Hunger Games trilogy—has more than 5.5 million ratings on Goodreads, with an average rating of 4.3. The book introduces us to hero Katniss Everdeen, who leads a rebellion against the rulers of the post-apocalyptic country of Panem, where children are selected annually to participate in a televised, fight-to-the death battle called the Hunger Games. Fans of the book call it everything from “breathless” to “brutal” (in a good way, of course). Find out more young adult novels grown-ups secretly love.
The Book Thief
Set in Germany from 1939 to 1943, The Book Thief tells the story of Liesel, who uses storytelling and the power of the written word to help her family escape the horrors of the Nazi regime. With a 4.36 average from approximately 1.4 million ratings, Markus Zusak’s 2006 bestselling historical novel remains one of the highest-rated books on Goodreads.
Boasting a 4.46 average from around 1.8 million ratings, Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 novel remains one of the highest-rated novels on Goodreads. Set in 1960s Mississippi, it tells the story from three distinct points of view: Skeeter, a well-to-do young white woman who just returned from college, wanting to be a writer; as well as Aibileen and Minny, two African-American maids who work for white families. Together, the maids work together to share their disquieting personal stories with Skeeter about the mistreatment of black maids at the hands of their white bosses. Here are 12 books you need to read before you watch the movies.
The Fellowship of the Ring
The first book in J.R.R. Tolkien’s sweeping Lord of the Rings trilogy boasts a 4.35 rating from approximately 2 million ratings on Goodreads. The novel, which takes place in the fictional Middle-earth, tells the story of Bilbo Baggins, his fellow hobbits, and a magic ring. Fans appreciate the epic’s customary themes of good versus evil, friendship, and forgiveness, but with a decidedly fantastical touch. Have you read these books everyone lies about reading?
Set in the year 2035, The Martian tells the story of an American astronaut, Mark Watney, who, after a dust storm, loses all communication with NASA and becomes stranded—alone—on Mars. Presumed dead, Mark must do everything he can to survive, and the will-he-or-won’t-he tension leads many reviewers to praise the story’s “captivating” and “compelling” plot. Now a major motion picture starring Matt Damon, Andy Weir’s 2011 science-fiction novel has a 4.4 rating on Goodreads, with more than 629,000 ratings.
A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1)
George R.R. Martin’s 1996 novel A Game of Thrones may be a blockbuster series on HBO, but it’s also one of the highest-rated books on Goodreads. With an average rating of 4.46 from 1.63 million ratings, the epic fantasy novel, which is the first volume in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, introduces the characters and families who will go to extreme lengths to achieve and maintain supremacy over the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. GoT fans will definitely want to check out these other sci-fi epics to read.
The Name of the Wind
The first book in the Kingkiller Chronicles trilogy, The Name of the Wind tells the story of a young man who grows up to become the world’s most powerful wizard. With nearly 550,000 ratings and a 4.55-star average, Patrick Rothfuss’ 2007 fantasy novel receives heaps of praise on Goodreads, with reviewers calling it everything from “captivating” and “compelling” to “lovely” and “perfect.”
The Way of Kings
The first book in Brandon Sanderson’s The Stormlight Archive series, The Way of Kings is also one of the most praised books on Goodreads. With a 4.65 average from more than 210,000 ratings, the fantasy novel tells the story of a magical world following a disaster known as the Desolation, which threatens human survival. Fans praise the book with passionate reviews, calling it a fantasy reader’s “dream book,” Sanderson’s “magnum opus,” and a “masterpiece in epic fantasy.”
Oh, bother. Nearly 100 years after its initial publication, A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh remains of one of the most beloved novels amongst Goodreads’ readers: It has a 4.3-star rating from more than 231,000 ratings. This original story—the first in a four-book series—introduces readers to the adventures of Pooh Bear, Christopher Robin, and friends. Here are some more of the best children’s books of all time.
Calvin and Hobbes
First published in 1987, Bill Watterson’s comic book about the adventures of the creative, precocious, and mischievous six-year-old Calvin and his stuffed tiger sidekick Hobbes remains as beloved as ever. This original Calvin and Hobbes collection, which was a favorite Sunday-morning comic for a decade, has a 4.6-star average from more than 130,000 ratings and is frequently lauded as “the best comic of all time” by Goodreads members.
A Thousand Splendid Suns
Khaled Hosseini’s wildly successful second book, after he made a name for himself with The Kite Runner, has an average rating of 4.35 from more than 964,000 ratings. Published in 2007, the book tells a tale of violence and unrest in Afghanistan over the course of 30 years from the points of view of two female characters. Reviewers rave about the book on Goodreads, calling it an “extraordinary and contemporary” book full of “intense beauty and strength.”
All the Light We Cannot See
This 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Anthony Doerr is one of the most beloved books on Goodreads. With a 4.3 average from more than 720,000 ratings, the book tells the story of a blind French girl and a scientifically gifted German orphan boy who find their way to each other during World War II. Goodreads reviewers heap effusive praise on the book, calling it “hauntingly beautiful,” “deeply moving,” and “enthralling.” It’s also one of America’s 100 favorite novels—find out the other top reads.
Cassandra Clare’s bestselling 2010 young adult novel Clockwork Angel is the first volume of her Infernal Devices trilogy, which is also part of her larger Shadowhunters series. The supernatural series is set in 1878, where 16-year-old Tessa, upon arriving in London to find her brother, is kidnapped by two evil sisters. Later, a group of rescuers called the Shadowhunters is tasked with saving her. Fans swoon over the historical romance, which averages 4.3 stars from more than 574,000 ratings—one reader even claimed she “shivered with excitement” while reading it.
Called “one of the most influential graphic novels of all time” on Goodreads, this comic book, which was originally published in 1987, is still captivating readers. With a 4.3 rating from more than 441,000 ratings, the DC Comics book tells the dark story of a group of superheroes who aren’t as “super” as we think—in fact, they have flaws just like us. Watchmen is revered by old and new readers alike, and numerous Goodreads members consider its writer Alan Moore to be the greatest graphic novelist of all time. Here are more graphic novels every grown-up should read.
The Giving Tree
Shel Silverstein’s 1964 children’s picture book The Giving Tree remains one of the most cherished books of all time, and its Goodreads rating reflects that. With a 4.37 average from nearly 800,000 ratings, the book tells the story of a female apple tree and a little boy, who throughout the book grows up into an elderly man. While the book can be divisive because of its themes of selfishness and unrequited selflessness, many Goodreads members declare the book as one they’ve returned to again and again, even as adults.
While numerous bestselling Stephen King books are highly rated by Goodreads members, his 1978 epic novel The Stand ranks at the top, with an average of 4.3 stars from more than 525,000 ratings. The post-apocalyptic novel tracks a group of survivors after the U.S. military accidentally releases a highly contagious strain of influenza, causing a pandemic. With multiple five-star reviews, The Stand is considered by many fans to be amongst the best apocalyptic novels ever written. Looking for more scary stories? These 20 books will scare the pants off of you.
East of Eden
Set in Salinas, California, East of Eden tells the story of the tumultuous relationship between two brothers, Adam and Charles Trask. With its themes of jealousy, betrayal, and innocence lost, it’s considered John Steinbeck’s masterpiece; nearly 70 years since it was first published, the 1952 novel remains one of the highest-rated books on Goodreads. It’s been rated more than 368,000 times, with an average of 4.36. Goodreads reviewers call it “vividly painted,” “thoughtful,” and “John Steinbeck at his sharpest.”
This 2012 young adult novel by R.J. Palacio tells the story of August Pullman, a 12-year-old boy who was born with severe facial birth defects, causing strangers to gasp with shock at his appearance. The novel follows Auggie as he enters public school for the first time and chronicles his journey as he attempts to overcome the shame he’s been burdened with his entire life. One of the most adored books on Goodreads, it enjoys a 4.45-star average from more than 543,000 ratings.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
It’s no surprise that Dr. Seuss’ classic 1957 picture book is ranked highly by Goodreads members. It boasts a 4.36 average from more than 282,000 ratings, and many Goodreads reviewers say that the holiday story is their favorite Dr. Seuss work of all time, calling it everything from “perfect” and “memorable” to “positively brilliant.” Next, find out the 50 books you should read before turning 50.
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