41 Highest-Rated Books on Goodreads
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First founded in 2007, the site has become a go-to resource for book lovers from all over the world, who join together to read, share, and rate their favorite (and not-so-favorite) books.
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. You’ll also want to know these 100 books that everyone should read before they die.
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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Not surprisingly, the seven novels in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series take up the top spots among best-rated books on Goodreads. Fittingly, the first novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’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) from an average of 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. Harry Potter fans of all ages might be intrigued by these hidden messages in the books.
With more than 2.9 million ratings and a solid score of 4.19, the first installment in Veronica Roth’s series is another highly rated YA novel on Goodreads. Told from the point of view of main character Beatrice Prior, the story is set in a dystopian society where everyone is separated by their traits and attributes. Once every year, all 16-year-olds must choose the faction to which they will live the rest of their lives.
The Hate U Give
The recipient of numerous literary honors for young adult fiction, Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and focuses on the dichotomy in the life of 16-year-old protagonist Starr Carter, who lives in a poor neighborhood but attends a wealthy suburban prep school. With a 4.5 rating and more than 505,000 ratings, the novel is one of the highest-ranking books on Goodreads’ YA lists.
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 6.3 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). Like The Hunger Games, these hit movies were books first.
Cassandra Clare’s best-selling 2010 young-adult novel Clockwork Angel is the first volume of her “Infernal Devices” trilogy, which is also part of her larger “Shadowhunter Chronicles” series. The supernatural series is set in 1878, where 16-year-old Tessa, upon arrival in London to find her brother, is kidnapped by two evil sisters. Later, a group of rescuers called the Shadowhunters are 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.
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 which 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.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
With more than 1.43 million ratings and an average score of 4.22, Douglas Adams’ 1979 comedy science fiction story The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is one of the highest-rated humorous tales on Goodreads. The story, which began as a radio show in 1978, tells the story of Arthur Dent, who, along with alien travel writer Ford Prefect, wanders the Universe after the demolition of Earth. Over the past few years, the story has since been spun into a TV series, video game, and feature film.
Calvin & Hobbes
First published in 1987, Bill Waterson’s comic strip about the adventures of the creative, precocious and mischievous 6-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.
East of Eden
It’s been nearly seven decades since it was first published, but John Steinbeck’s 1952 novel East of Eden remains one of the highest-rated books on Goodreads: it’s been rated more than 368,000 times, with an average rating of 4.36. Set in Salinas, California, it tells the story of the tumultuous relationship between two brothers, Adam and Charles Tsask. With its themes of jealousy, betrayal and innocence lost, it’s considered Steinbeck’s masterpiece; Goodreads reviewers call it “vividly painted,” “thoughtful” and “John Steinbeck at his sharpest.”
To Kill a Mockingbird
With more than 4.5 million ratings and an average rating of 4.28, Harper Lee’s 1961 novel To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the highest-rated pieces of classic literature on Goodreads. Widely considered a literary masterpiece, the Pulitzer-prize-winning novel tells the story of eccentric protagonist Jean Louise (“Scout”) Finch and her family living in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama during the Great Depression, and touches on weighty subjects such as social inequality, prejudice, and good versus evil. The novel has also been chosen as “America’s Favorite Novel.”
This classic George Orwell novel that introduced the phrase “Big Brother” into our pop-culture lexicon is another highly rated piece of classic literature on Goodreads. With more than 3.1 million ratings and a score of 4.19, the book is set in a futuristic society in which people are stripped of their individuality and forced to conform to the oppression and control of “The Party.” The groundbreaking novel is also one of the best-selling science fiction books of all time.
The Color Purple
Alice Walker’s classic novel The Color Purple is widely considered to be one of the greatest pieces of literature ever written—and more than 522,000 Goodreads readers agree. With an average rating of 4.22, the novel is lauded as a powerful portrayal of poverty and segregation in the rural Deep South during the early part of the 20th century, later spawning a 1985 movie that won numerous accolades, including a Golden Globe win for lead actress Whoopi Goldberg.
Pride and Prejudice
With more than 3 million ratings and an average score of 4.26, Jane Austen’s enduring 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice remains one of Goodreads’ highest-rated novels. Set in rural England, this witty, humorous tale tells the story of the tumultuous relationship between outspoken Elizabeth and the much more reserved wealthy landowner Fitzwilliam Darcy. The novel has gone on to foster numerous adaptations for film and TV, as well as graphic novel versions.
The Handmaid’s Tale
Now an award-winning series on Hulu, Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale has more than 1.4 million ratings on Goodreads, with an average score of 4.11. The story tells the story of the strong-willed protagonist Offred, who has been enslaved to become a handmaid to a commander in the Republic of Gilead, a fundamentalist, totalitarian society in what was once the free United States of America.
Science fiction and fantasy
The Fellowship of the Ring
The first book in J.R.R. Tolkien’s sweeping Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of the highest-rated books on Goodreads, boasting a 4.35 rating from approximately 2 million ratings. The novel, which takes place in the fictional Middle-earth, tells the story of Bilbo Baggins, his fellow hobbits, and a magic ring. It tackles customary themes like good versus evil and friendship and forgiveness, but with a decidedly fantastical touch. And if you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, you’ll want to check out these hidden messages in the trilogy.
The Return of the King
The third installment in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is also highly ranked among Goodreads members. With more than 680,000 ratings, the book has a rating of 4.53. This book focuses on the end of the Third Age of Middle-earth and the beginning of the age of the dominion of Men.
Now a major motion picture starring Matt Damon, Andy Weir’s 2011 science-fiction novel The Martian has a 4.4 rating on Goodreads, with more than 629,000 ratings. Set in the year 2035, it 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.
A Game of Thrones (Song of Ice and Fire #1)
George RR Martin’s 1996 novel A Game of Thrones was a blockbuster series on HBO—and it’s also one of the highest-rated books on Goodreads. With an average rating of 4.45 from more than 2 million ratings, the epic fantasy novel, which is the first volume in Martin’s 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.
The Name of the Wind
With nearly 550,000 ratings and a 4.55-star average, Patrick Rothfuss’s 2007 fantasy novel The Name of the Wind receives heaps of praise on Goodreads, with reviewers calling it everything from “captivating” and “compelling” to “lovely” and “perfect.” The first book in the Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy, it tells the story of a young man who grows up to become the world’s most powerful wizard.
The Way of Kings
The first book in Brandon Sanderson’s 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.”
This book by author Kristin Hannah won the 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards for Historical Fiction—an award reinforced by more than 700,400 ratings and a 4.57 score on the site. Set in a village in France, it’s a heart-wrenching tale of the separation of Vianne Mauriac and her husband, Antoine, as he leaves for the Front during World War II. Meanwhile, her younger sister, Isabelle, joins the Resistance.
The Book Thief
With a 4.36 rating from approximately 1.4 million ratings, Markus Zusak’s 2006 bestselling historical novel remains one of the highest-rated books on Goodreads. Set in Germany from 1939 to 1943, the novel tells the story of Liesel, who uses storytelling and the power of the written word to help her and her family escape the horrors of the Nazi regime. With such a passionate fan base, it’s no wonder that the book is on Reader’s Digest‘s list of books that will definitely make you cry.
Boasting a 4.46 rating from close to 2.1 million ratings, Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 novel remains one of the highest-rated novels on Goodreads. Set in Mississippi in the 1960s, 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 Abilene and Minny, two Black maids who work for White families. 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. It’s no wonder that the book is one of the bestselling books of the decade.
A Thousand Splendid Suns
Khaled Hosseini’s wildly successful follow-up to The Kite Runner has an average rating of 4.3 from more than 1 million ratings. Published in 2007, the book tells the 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 rating from more than 1 million reviews, the book tells the story of a blind French girl and a German, scientifically gifted orphan boy whose lives are unexpectedly intertwined during World War II. Goodreads reviewers heap effusive praise on the book, calling it “hauntingly beautiful,” “deeply moving” and “enthralling.”
Winnie the Pooh
Oh, bother. Nearly 100 years after its initial publication, A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh remains one of the most beloved novels amongst Goodreads’ readers: it has a 4.3-star rating from more than 271,000 ratings. This original story—the first in a four-book series—introduces readers to the adventures of Pooh Bear, Christopher Robin, and friends. These Winnie the Pooh quotes will pull at your heartstrings.
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 908,000 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 selflessness, many Goodreads members declare the book as one they’ve returned to again and again, even as adults.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
It’s no surprise that Dr. Seuss’s classic 1957 picture book is ranked highly by Goodreads members—it’s one of the most beloved holiday stories of all time. With a 4.36 average and more than 313,000 ratings, many Goodreads reviewers say that the story is their favorite Dr. Seuss story of all time, calling it everything from “perfect” and “memorable” to “positively brilliant.” Learn more about the creative genius behind the Whos in Whoville with these facts about Dr. Seuss.
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. Revered by old and new readers alike, numerous Goodreads members consider writer Alan Moore to be the greatest graphic novelist of all time.
The Complete Maus
With more than 138,000 ratings and an average 4.55 rating, this book combines two of Art Spiegelman’s popular graphic novels, including Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale and Maus II. Through the use of powerful anthropomorphic imagery, the book focuses on the story of Vladek Spiegelman and his wife, who are living in Hitler’s Europe during World War II.
With a 4.23 average score and more than 1.1 million ratings, Stephen King’s third novel, The Shining, is one of the most highly rated horror novels on Goodreads. First published in 1977, the book tells the story of the Torrance family and their time spent during the off-season at the creepy, supernaturally inhabited Overlook Hotel. It has been published in more than 400 editions, spawned numerous adaptions for film, television, and even opera.
While numerous best-selling Stephen King books are highly rated by Goodreads members, his 1978 epic novel The Stand ranks near 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 5-star reviews, many fans consider The Stand to be amongst the best apocalyptic novels ever written. Did you know that Stephen King wrote some of the scariest novels of all time?
Bram Stoker’s Dracula is perhaps the most well-known vampire story of all time—a status that is fully supported by Goodreads fans. With a solid 4.0 and more than 940,800 ratings, this 1897 Gothic horror story tells the story of Dracula’s travels from Transylvania to London, where he hopes to find new blood, and the team of vampire hunters hoping to put an end to his reign of terror.
Michelle Obama’s 2018 memoir skyrocketed to “best book” status among Goodreads fans, where it holds a 4.5 rating with more than 567,000 ratings. In this autobiography, the former First Lady tells of her childhood and upbringing in the South Side of Chicago, her relationship and marriage to Barack Obama, and gives readers an inside look at her time in the White House. And if you’re looking for more inspiration, you’ll find it in these Michelle Obama quotes.
With an average 4.11 score and more than 541,000 ratings, Frank McCourt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir Angela’s Ashes is a fan favorite among Goodreads readers. McCourt, who was born in Brooklyn during the Great Depression but raised in Ireland, delights readers with this humorous, compassionate look at McCourt’s upbringing in an Irish Catholic home. These are more of the best autobiographies to add to your list.
Outliers: The Story of Success
What does it take to achieve great success? What separates the best and the brightest in the world from “everyday” people? This is a question that author Malcom Gladwell explores in his 2008 book Outliers: The Story of Success. With more than 557,000 ratings and a 4.16 average score, fans of this book call it everything from “the most valuable book I’ve ever read” to a reviewer who states that the book “drastically shifted the way I understand and view the world.”
Another highly ranked memoir on Goodreads, Elie Wiesel’s haunting, somber Night has an average 4.34 rating with more than 971,500 ratings. Published in 1996, the memoir details the horrific suffering Wiesel’s endured while he was imprisoned in several concentration camps during the Holocaust, including Auschwitz and later Buchenwald.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
With more than 409,900 ratings and an average 4.24 rating, Maya Angelou’s autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings garners heaps of praise from the Goodreads community. Nominated for a National Book Award, this 1969 autobiography—the first of seven additional autobiographies—details Angelou’s life as a black girl living in the American South during the racially turbulent 1930s and 40s. These are more of the best Maya Angelou quotes.
Action and adventure
First published in 1990, Michael Crichton’s thrilling Jurassic Park has gone on to not only produce sequels, but also a massive film franchise, video games, theme park rides, and more. It’s no wonder, then, that the novel is adored by more than 804,000 Goodreads fans, who give it an average rating of 4.04. The story details the disastrous results following the opening of a theme park, complete with real-live cloned dinosaurs.
And Then There Were None
Widely considered the best-selling author of all time, Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None is one of the author’s highest-rated books—and with 66 crime novels to her name, that is no easy feat. The mystery, which features an average 4.25 rating with more than 824,800 ratings, tells the story of eight strangers who have been invited to a small island off of the coast of England. As the strange trip continues, guests are dying off one by one—and a frantic search ensues to find the killer.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium #1)
With more than 2.6 million ratings and a 4.14 score, Stieg Larsson’s 2005 juggernaut The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has earned one of the highest-rated thrillers on Goodreads. The novel, which won numerous awards and produced a 2011 film of the same name, tells the story of the brilliant computer hacker Lisbeth Salander and earnest journalist Mikael Blomkvist as they try to uncover a web full of deceit and corruption. Next, read on for 20 true crime books you won’t be able to put down.