101 Best Fiction Books to Read in a Lifetime

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Shivangi Gupta
Shivangi adds great value to the team with her prompt and well-researched insight. Her unprecedented love for literature is reflected well enough in her writings. She takes you on a tour to a world apart with the visual imagery in her content that urges the readers to ponder. To get the brain juices flowing, she makes sure to have a brewing cup of coffee next to her all day.

Ever wonder why all your school life, you read stories in the subject, English? That’s because of the morals you are supposed to learn from those stories. You might not remember the Pandora Box or the Lazy Fox or the sour grapes, but you do remember “you must obey your elder”. That’s the essence of reading and stories. You forget the characters, the plot but you take away the learning. This is a very old saying that books are man’s best friend and they are very true. Reading books is listening to someone else’s experiences and making them a part of your life.

The great author lived their lives in misery and I guess in clubs to see new things and gain experiences. This makes reading more interesting and fun. Great poets like Lord Byron and S.T. Coleridge wrote beautiful poems but under the influence of opium. This makes us wonder as to how and under what circumstances a writer writes. We have curated a list of 101 best fiction books that you must read. 

Under are 101 best fiction books, written from back in the 13th century to the 21st century, you must read.

  • 1984 by George Orwell
1984 by George Orwell

Giving Mr. Orwell some benefit of the doubt, what he predicted for 1984 is certainly happening in 2020. 1984 is a sci-fi dystopian novel with the protagonist lives in a futuristic world where society is in decline and capitalism and totalitarianism have taken overworld and characters are in a state of conflict dealing with an existential crisis. The story revolves around the political state of the world and Winston Smith’s journey of fighting the government.

DISCLAIMER: While reading this book remember, “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU”

  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

If you decide to read 1984, you can’t get away from reading this book. Fahrenheit 451 is also dystopian fiction. Giving the brief idea of this book would be similar to the spoilers of GOT season 8. But unlike the 8th season, this book is not a disappointment, rather it gets more and more appealing after every page. This basic plot of the story is around a society where reading or even keeping books is ban and the punishment to do so is death by burning. You know what is the most intriguing thing about this book, it is the title of the book, Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which a book burns.

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  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
Animal Farm

This book is yet another of Orwell’s dystopian fiction. Animal farm is one of the most quoted books. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more than equal”

  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

A magical story of Santiago finding himself written by Paulo Coelho in just two weeks. He says that he was able to write at this pace because the story was already written in his soul. The Alchemist is the most read book under the self-help literature. So, even if you are not a reader, this book is still out there just for you.

  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hossieni
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hossieni

If redemption and attainment seem to be huge terms to you, then try looking at them from the eyes of 13 years old. Story of Amir and Hassan, two best friends, living in the same house and yet different lifestyles. Khaled has a thing with words that while reading his books you often read the unwritten. Amir’s crave for his father’s love till his last breath is relatable and all the things that he gives up, even his best friend’s life, for just love is what makes this book a must-read.

  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hossieni
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hossieni

If the Kite Runner dealt with the struggle of people finding and losing love then A Thousand Splendid Suns deals with the identity crisis of the women of Afghanistan. Mariam, Laila, and Aziza are the three women characters of the novel and the plot revolves around their terrifying lives. While reading this book you might fall in love with some characters and they might just die. (just a warning)

  • Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone by J.K Rollings
Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone by J.K Rollings

Considering the recent statements, love the book, not the writer. If you are a reader and not read Harry Potter, who are you kidding, calling yourself a reader. Love it or hate it, reading HP is something that you gotta do. Read the whole series but start from the beginning and fall in love with the wizardry world of Hogwarts and never come out of there. And do check your mailbox, you might already have the letter.

  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Processed with VSCO with 5 preset

Just like J.K Rollings, Arundhati Roy has been in the talk for a long. The God of Small Things is a story of a huge Indian family and their small conflicts turning into blunders. Roy deals with the patriarchal society and its unfair norms towards women. If Indian culture fascinates you and you are open to a debate on it, this book is for you.

  •  Fire on The Mountain by Anita Desai

Fire on the mountain is a short story of an old great-grandmother who is sassy enough to leave her conventional life and live in mountains happily before her great-granddaughter decides to live with her. Such an unconventional story and yet in the same society and women aren’t looked up to and considered a liability. This book will break your heart again and again.

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  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

A great story of a man rising from rags to riches, chasing the American Dream in the promising land, making money, partying and falling in love and yet living without it. The Great Gatsby is a to go novel filled with drama and controversies and no love.

  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The most famous novel of all time is Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen shows the mannerism and courtship of two opposing characters, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. While reading this book, please don’t forget to drool over Mr. Darcy time and again

  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

This book is a raw account of the diary of a 13 year old Anne Frank who went into hiding with her family in Amsterdam during Hitler’s rule. Hiding away in the attic from the concentration camps for Jewish. This book will not change your life but it will change you.

  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Four amazing sisters of the March family with their childhood innocence live through the hardship of being poor. Read this book and see how they turn from girls to women and then women of substance.

  • Hard Times by Charles Dickens

If capitalism interests you, then this book is for you. Hard Times brings forward the unseen side of the industrial revolution, capitalism and utilitarianism in English. Read and see if you feel the same as Mr. Dickens about totalitarianism.

  • Through the Looking Mirror by Lewis Carroll

Tell me that not even once have you heard about Alice and wanted to live in her world. Through the Looking Mirror is about all the nursery rhymes coming to life and alive. If you want to live your childhood again, just pick this book.

  • Moby Dick or The Whale by Herman Melville

“Call me Ishmael”, the most dramatic beginning of any book. Moby Dick is considered one of the greatest American novels of all times. The story is about a man trying to kill who has harmed him before. This book is a satire on man who is trying to kill nature.

  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Story of Pip, growing into a gentleman by learning all the means and manners of the Victorian Age and growing through it. Losing yourself by trying to grow in a land of man and customs is the main theme of the book.

  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

“I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.” Ralph Ellison talks about man of color and their struggles to live around white people. Invisibility is in the minds not the eyes.

  • Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

The children born in the first hour of the independence had to bear the burden of the country. Salman Rushdie has very aptly taken important movements from the history of India and turned it into fictional story.

  • A Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh

This is the kind of book that needs no explanation or hyping. Khushwant Singh’s presentation of the train to Pakistan, taken from a historical event during the partition of the country, is extraordinary and horrifying.

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  • The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Joseph Conrad, in his book give the idea of the condition of the native people living in Congo, Africa during the colonialization. The book also talks about the exploitation done the Englishmen.

  • Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Notes from Underground by Fyodor are the thoughts from inside of his mind. Dostoevsky talks about pain and suffering in his life and how he deals with it. He accepts his all flaws and believes in himself even though he is not a man of action.

  •   A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

Story of Stephan Dedalus, considered to be James Joyce’s alter-ego, goes to a journey of self- growth and leads to opening up some less- valued side of his life. Stephen accepts the aesthetic life by the end of the story.

  • A Farewell to Arms by Earnest Hemingway

Stories of love during the war have a different fanbase and A Farewell to Arms is at the top of the list. The affection and love of Henry and Catherine are the backbone of the story and also the reason for many heartbreaks.

  • The Fault in our Stars by John Green

Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace, the protagonist of the novel, are patients of cancer and still find the courage in their hearts to love each other. But life has its own unknown reasons for ruining things, when great.

  • Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

If you are a fan of larger than life stories and thick books, this book is waiting for you. Opposing to the looks of the book, the story is mocking and the characters of funny. Alonso read books all night and imitates them in the morning, thinking of himself as a knight and pretends to go on a war.

  • The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

Who doesn’t love a little mystery and trill in life or in books? Sherlock Holmes needs no introduction. This book is filled with the greatest cases of Mr. Holmes, and is a must read.

  • The Ice Candy Man by Bapsi Sidwa

Ice Candy man is a partition novel that describes the political tension and religious intolerance during the times of partition between India and Pakistan.

  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

This book talks about the poor farmers from Oklahoma, who were moved out of their house for work and livelihood. This book is set during the time of the Great Depression.

  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Selling the soul for beauty and youth sounds like Frankenstein all over again. Question yourself while reading whether youth and beauty were important for Dorian or the soul.

  •  The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

What’s in the name? said Shakespeare once and Mr. Wilde took it seriously. All the male characters in the novel are keen to become earnest but just by name. This book is a comedy and easy to read

  • Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathon Swift

We all have read this book in our school, but now pick this book up with all the background knowledge of whig and tory and the political tension between the two. This book is filled with many different flavors and aspects of life.

  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel

I don’t know, how many times this needs to be said that books are better than the movie. It is obvious that you have already watched the movie but the book has its own fun and excitement.

  • Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

If you are a classics fan and read them often, there is no going back from Chaucer. The Canterbury Tales show the man and manners of the Medieval period and the 14th century. The corrupted churchmen and the people of the society together plan to go to the pilgrim and tell stories.

  • Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

A love story with betrayal and suffering. Bathsheba and Gabriel love each other, show affection throughout the novel but when it comes to the proposal, Bathsheba rejects the proposal because independence is important to her more than the love of her life.

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  • Tess of the D’Urberville by Thomas Hardy

story of a woman’s chastity and respect, Tess plays the role of a pure woman, even though she was raped and tortured. Does society let a woman who has been through all this, live peacefully and still call her a pure woman?

  • Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

An amazing thriller filled with terrifying mysteries. A train stops at a snow-covered track in the night and the next morning twelve people are dead. Agatha’s thrillers are larger than life and beyond reality.

  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

This is a story of a Bengali couple and their who live in Cambridge with their son, Gogol. This novel is filled with identity crisis and issues regarding the name. Gogol, although lived in Cambridge all his life his name was Indian. He struggles in adjusting to this name and finding a single identity in this dual culture.

  • The Shadow Lines by Amitav Ghosh

This novel is set during the times of some great historical events like the Swadeshi movement, World War 2, Partition of India. The book is in two parts: Going Away and Coming Home. The protagonist is a boy who lives in Calcutta, studied in Delhi with little experience of living in London.

  • The Night Train at Deoli by Riskin Bond

Ruskin Bond is the true lover of the mountains and his stories are proof of it. The Night Train at Deoli is a short story that depicts the love of the narrator he felt for a beggar girl, he saw at the Deoli station.

  • The Blue Umbrella by Ruskin Bond

One of the best novels by Ruskin Bond is the Blue Umbrella. This is the story of a girl who has a blue umbrella and wishes to be great things in her life along with her brother. 

  • Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

Waiting for Godot is a play that deals with an existential crisis. Samuel Beckett shows the hopelessness of humans in the modern world where they are willing to do many things but still cannot do that and have no reason for the same.

  • The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

This book is highly read nowadays, not because this book is going to open the door of love, but this book tells about love in the purest form possible. With many references to Rumi, Elif give a philosophical angle to this book which makes it way different from YA fiction of the contemporary world.

  • The Fall of the House of the Usher by Edgar Allen Poe

The father of horror stories can never go out of trends and family dramas are always a caller. The usher family is going through a bad phase, financially as well as mentally. With the death of a family member, something horrifying and unnatural takes charge.

  • Middlemarch by George Eliot

This is a historical novel, though unfinished but still worthy of a read and your time. George has dealt with themes like idealism, the status of women, women’s respect and attack on society.

  • Kanthapura by Raja Rao

This book deals with the Gandhian movement and their struggles. The novel concentrates on just one town and their different views and opinions of the Gandhian Movement during independence.

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  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • All the light we cannot see by Anthony Doer
  • Alice’s Adventures in the wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • The Paying Guest by Sarah Waters
  • 51. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • 52. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • 53. In Custody by Anita Desai
  • 54. My Life by Kamala Das
  • 55. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper lee
  • 56. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • 57. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • 58. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • 59. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • 60. A tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • 61. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • 62. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  • 63. Frankenstein by Mary Shelly
  • 64. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • 65. The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
  • 66. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath 
  • 67. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • 68. The Karamazov Brothers by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • 69. Catch 22 by Joseph Hiller
  • 70. Charlette’s web by E.B. White
  • 71. The Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  • 72. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • 73. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • 74. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • 75. Atonement by Ian McEwan
  • 76. the Giver by Lois Lowry
  • 77. City of Thieves by David Benioff
  • 78. Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee
  • 79. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • 80.  A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
  • 81. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • 82.  The Girl with the Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  • 83. Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski
  • 84. The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
  • 85. Kindred by Octavia Butler
  • 86. The Hundred Years Old Man by Jonas Jonasson
  • 87. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  • 88. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • 89. Maus by Art Spiegelman
  • 90. Ulysses by James Joyce
  • 91. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  • 92. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
  • 93. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • 94. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  • 95. The Old Man and the sea by Earnest Hemingway
  • 96. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  • 97. The Sun Also Rises by Earnest Hemingway
  • 98. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  • 99. Man of the People by Chinua Achebe
  • 100. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  • 101. The Trail by Franz Kafka
  • 101 Best Fiction Books to Read in Lifetime

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