By ‘favourite’, I don’t necessarily mean the books I consider to be the best written or of the highest literary merit. Nope, I mean the novels (I’m including novellas) that left a lasting impression on me. Some of the books on this list I have read more than once—I used to reread some books over and over when I was younger, though not so much these days. Too many books, not enough time.
I originally called this list ‘Top 50 Favourite Novels’, but dropped the ‘Top 50’. There are novels I’ve greatly enjoyed that don’t appear on this list because I can’t now quickly recall them—I have read so many books over the years that I’ve probably forgotten loads—or because my mood when I compiled the list was such that a book didn’t make it when on another day it would have. So this is more properly a list of fifty of my favourite novels, but not necessarily the first fifty and not in any particular order.
I’ve read many books by the same author—e.g., Iain Banks (and Iain M. Banks), John Irving, Ursula Le Guin, to name a few—that I’ve enjoyed but that haven’t made the list. That doesn’t mean I don’t like their work. Far from it; merely that other books have stuck in my mind more.
There’s a preponderence of fantasy and horror and science fiction, often of the dark and/or apocalyptic kind. That’s the way my tastes run.
The books marked with an asterisk either form part of a series of which I could easily have included more or all, but I haven’t to save space; or, e.g., Christie’s Roger Ackroyd, I’ve included a book that’s illustrative of an author’s body of work of which I’m fond—I love Christie’s Poirot novels and could have easily included more—but again I want to save space; or I’ve named the series rather than just one book from it. Cheating? Maybe, but you’ll have to forgive me since it means being able to name more books. And more books is always good, right?
There are a few Stephen King novels in the list (and one slipping in under a pseudonym). If pressed to name just one, I’d say he is probably my favourite author so I had to include more than one of the twenty or thirty books of his I’ve enjoyed and reread over the years.
I didn’t consider the books I first remember reading: The Wishing Chair and Faraway Tree books by Enid Blyton, for instance, though I have included her books for slightly older children, such as the Famous Five.
The links1 are all to Amazon UK and are included for anyone who wants to check out the book.
Enough blathering. On with the list.
1. Imajica – Clive Barker
2. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
3. The Road – Cormack McCarthy
4. The Day of the Jackal* – Frederick Forsyth
5. IT – Stephen King
6. The Lord of the Rings* – J.R.R. Tolkien
7. Shadowland – Peter Straub
8. Rape of the Fair Country – Alexander Cordell
9. Men at Arms* – Terry Pratchett
10. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe* – C.S. Lewis
11. Salem’s Lot – Stephen King
12. Dracula – Bram Stoker
13. Run For Your Life – David Line
14. The Fog – James Herbert
15. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
16. Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
17. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress – Robert Heinlein
18. The Valley of Adventure* – Enid Blyton
19. Dark Matter – Michelle Paver
20. Red Dragon – Thomas Harris
21. I Am Legend – Richard Matheson
22. Five on a Treasure Island* – Enid Blyton
23. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain
24. Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut
25. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
26. Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantell
27. Riddley Walker – Russell Holban
28. Life of Pi – Yann Martell
29. The Stand – Stephen King
30. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
31. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
32. Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
33. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd* – Agatha Christie
34. 1984 – George Orwell
35. Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood
36. Something Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury
37. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy* – Douglas Adams
38. Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
39. Watership Down – Richard Adams
40. Legend* – David Gemmell
41. World War Z – Max Brookes
42. The Gone-Away World – Nick Harkaway
43. The Last Days of Jack Sparks – Jason Arnopp
44. The Eyre Affair* – Jasper Fforde
45. The Talisman – Stephen King & Peter Straub
46. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
47. The Long Walk – Richard Bachman
48. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever* – Stephen Donaldson
49. Lord of Light – Roger Zelazny
50. Tom’s Midnight Garden – Philippa Pearce
Let me know how many of them you’ve read. Or if there are any you dislike. It’s okay—we can still be friends.
Coming soon: Favourite Films.
1 they’re affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a small amount of commission from Amazon on any sales resulting from following the links; it doesn’t affect the price you pay to Amazon