Modern Library's 100 Best Novels

List the 100 greatest English language novels of the 20th Century, according to Modern Library.
Quiz by malgybalgy
Last updated: August 19, 2016
First submittedAugust 2, 2012
Times taken9,004
Average score20.0%
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James Joyce
F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby
James Joyce
A Portrait of the Artist
as a Young Man
Vladimir Nabokov
Aldous Huxley
Brave New World
William Faulkner
The Sound and the Fury
Joseph Heller
Arthur Koestler
Darkness at Noon
D. H. Lawrence
Sons and Lovers
John Steinbeck
The Grapes of Wrath
Malcolm Lowry
Under the Volcano
Samuel Butler
The Way of all Flesh
George Orwell
Nineteen Eighty-Four
Robert Graves
I, Claudius
Virginia Woolf
To the Lighthouse
Theodore Dreiser
An American Tragedy
Carson McCullers
The Heart
is a Lonely Hunter
Kurt Vonnegut
Ralph Ellison
Invisible Man
Richard Wright
Native Son
Saul Bellow
Henderson the Rain King
John O'Hara
Appointment In Samarra
John Dos Passos
U.S.A. Trilogy
Sherwood Anderson
Winesburg, Ohio
E. M. Forster
A Passage to India
Henry James
The Wings of the Dove
Henry James
The Ambassadors
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Tender is the Night
James T. Farrell
Studs Lonigan
Ford Madox Ford
The Good Soldier
George Orwell
Animal Farm
Henry James
The Golden Bowl
Theodore Dreiser
Sister Carrie
Evelyn Waugh
A Handful of Dust
William Faulkner
As I Lay Dying
Robert Penn Warren
All The King's Men
Thornton Wilder
The Bridge
of San Luis Rey
E. M. Forster
Howards End
James Baldwin
Go Tell It on the Mountain
Graham Greene
The Heart of the Matter
William Golding
Lord of the Flies
James Dickey
Anthony Powell
A Question of Upbringing
Aldous Huxley
Point Counter Point
Ernest Hemingway
The Sun Also Rises
Joseph Conrad
The Secret Agent
Joseph Conrad
D. H. Lawrence
The Rainbow
D. H. Lawrence
Women in Love
Henry Miller
Tropic of Cancer
Norman Mailer
The Naked and the Dead
Philip Roth
Portnoy's Complaint
Vladimir Nabokov
Pale Fire
William Faulkner
Light in August
Jack Kerouac
On the Road
Dashiell Hammett
The Maltese Falcon
Ford Madox Ford
Parade's End
Edith Wharton
The Age of Innocence
Max Beerbohm
Zuleika Dobson
Walker Percy
The Moviegoer
Willa Cather
Death Comes
for the Archbishop
James Jones
From Here to Eternity
John Cheever
The Wapshot Chronicle
J. D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye
Anthony Burgess
A Clockwork Orange
W. Somerset Maugham
Of Human Bondage
Joseph Conrad
Heart of Darkness
Sinclair Lewis
Main Street
Edith Wharton
The House of Mirth
Lawrence Durrell
The Alexandria Quartet
Richard Hughes
A High Wind In Jamaica
V. S. Naipaul
A House For Mr. Biswas
Nathanael West
The Day of the Locust
Ernest Hemingway
A Farewell to Arms
Evelyn Waugh
Muriel Spark
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
James Joyce
Finnegans Wake
Rudyard Kipling
E. M. Forster
A Room with a View
Evelyn Waugh
Brideshead Revisited
Saul Bellow
The Adventures of
Augie March
Wallace Stegner
Angle of Repose
V. S. Naipaul
A Bend in the River
Elizabeth Bowen
The Death of the Heart
Joseph Conrad
Lord Jim
E. L. Doctorow
Arnold Bennett
The Old Wives' Tale
Jack London
The Call of the Wild
Henry Green
Salman Rushdie
Midnight's Children
Erskine Caldwell
Tobacco Road
William Kennedy
John Fowles
The Magus
Jean Rhys
Wide Sargasso Sea
Iris Murdoch
Under the Net
William Styron
Sophie's Choice
Paul Bowles
The Sheltering Sky
James M. Cain
The Postman Always
Rings Twice
J. P. Donleavy
The Ginger Man
Booth Tarkington
The Magnificent Ambersons
Level 74
Jul 18, 2013
Good quiz. Much harder thinking of the novels as opposed to the authors. Only got 25 right - another 20 I should have got and loads I've never heard of.
Level 68
Jul 18, 2013
Great quiz, thanks!
Level 76
Jul 18, 2013
No Cukoo's Nest or Farenheit 451? Very surprising.
Level 68
Jul 18, 2013
Seriously? No Harper Lee and one of the greatest books ever, "To Kill a Mockingbird"? I would take that any day over ANY Ernest Hemingway.
Level 73
Nov 22, 2021
To Kill A Mockingbird isn't really that impressive.
Level 77
Jul 18, 2013
I quite don't understand this: Nabokov is Russian, but all the other authors are native English speakers - so is this list only about authors writing in English or don't they regard any other author worthy to appear on the list?
Level 45
Oct 9, 2013
Joseph Conrad (one of my favorite authors) was Polish and although he wrote beautifully in English it was not his first language. Four of his books are listed here - for good reason!
Level 72
Mar 7, 2021
It's a list of novels that were originally written in English, as opposed to books written in other languages and then later translated to English (like, say, One Hundred Years of Solitude, which was originally written in Spanish.) Nabokov may have been Russian, but he wrote Lolita and Pale Fire in English.
Level 73
Nov 22, 2021
Wow, in my opinion Conrad sucks so much and is impossibly boring (aside from being horribly racist).
Level 20
May 24, 2014
Just 1...
Level 67
Oct 25, 2014
Modern Library has terrible taste in novels.
Level ∞
Aug 19, 2016
I think it's the fate of every top 100 list to be hated. In this case, I think it's somewhat deserved, but I doubt any list would escape criticism.
Level 67
Dec 29, 2016
True, but this list is horribly biased against modern works. The vast majority are 50+ years old. Is it any wonder a lot of people come out of school thinking that they don't like reading when we tell them these are the best books?
Level 81
Jul 30, 2018
^ It is however extremely hard to pick out true classics until the dust has settled.
Level 75
Sep 23, 2020
I'd say that the Harry Potter series, all jokes aside is one of the most important book series in the world, especially in regards to modern literature. It's not exactly some literary masterpiece, but it gets people in that younger age group to start reading and actually enjoy the immersion a book can grant create.
Level 91
Apr 17, 2021
In that same vein, one could easily make a case for The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit being on here (The Hobbit especially), as well as The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Those books in addition to Harry Potter have had a much more profound impact on the majority of these books.
Level 79
Jul 12, 2021
If the key criterion is encouraging children to read, may I present to you The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Level 76
Apr 29, 2015
Where in the world is To Kill a Mockingbird?
Level 87
Dec 28, 2021
Level 81
Nov 20, 2015
I find it very limited in the choice of authors. For example: James Joyce, Joseph Conrad, Henry James, V.S. Naipaul -- 4 authors = 12 of the novels. One less of each and they could've included a wider spread. And probably even better books too.
Level 33
Sep 25, 2016
Powell's *A Question of Upbringing*? A good novel, but not the best in the series (I'd say *At Lady Molly's*); more objectively, the other multi-volume novels are in the list as such: *the Alexandria Quartet*, *the USA trilogy*, so why not *A Dance to the Music of Time*? Wasted lots of time on my smartphone retyping.

And thought *Wings of A dove* for the James :-(

Level 62
Oct 5, 2022
You're right, and in fact, A Dance to the Music of time is the novel cited on the source list!
Level 80
Nov 22, 2016
Hmmm, 15/100 and 3 points.
Level 54
Jul 24, 2017
Er, Lord of the Rings? Fahrenheit-451? To Kill a Mockingbird? This list is quite unrepresentative of some of the best books ever, let alone of the twentieth century.
Level 67
Sep 26, 2017
Yeah, this list is atrocious.
Level 80
Jan 26, 2018
Lord of the rings? Behave, this is a serious list. Can't comment on its quality, having only read 5 or 6 of the featured books though.
Level 76
Sep 11, 2018
Yer - LOTR sucks
Level 91
Apr 27, 2020
The Lord of the Rings is not only one of the most iconic series of books ever but also one of the best. It's far greater than half the books on this least easily.
Level 91
Apr 17, 2021
I'd love to hear your case as to why 'A Question of Upbringing' has had a more profound impact on world literature than 'The Lord of the Rings.'
Level 71
Mar 31, 2021
As far as I can tell there are five women on this list and one person of color. Ridiculous to have more Joseph Conrad books than books by non-white men.
Level 85
Sep 5, 2021
Level 73
Nov 22, 2021
Yeah, Conrad sucks imo and there are plenty of talented nonwhite writers who weren't included, I agree with you here.
Level 87
Dec 28, 2021
Write a better book.
Level 83
Sep 21, 2022
Of James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, V.S.Naipaul, Salman Rushdie, and Richard Wright, which one do you consider the "one person of color"?
Level 73
Nov 22, 2021
You need 69 for 5 points and I only got 66, and I'm so disappointed in myself for missing half a dozen that I definitely should have gotten - especially Maugham, Roth, James Dickey, and all of the Henry James books.