American Modern Library Top 100 Novels

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American Modern Library Top 100 Novels

Reading is one of the most enriching activities one can do in their free time. It strengthens vocabulary, gives insight into different perspectives, and teaches empathy. However, with so many books out there, it’s hard to know where to start, especially when looking for the classics. That’s where the American Modern Library Top 100 Novels list comes in.

This list is a collection of the best novels in the English language published in the 20th century, as ranked by Modern Library, a publishing company that was established in 1917. The list was first published in 1998, with an introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winning author A.S. Byatt. Since it has been a while since it was last updated, it is referred to as the “Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century”.

The novels in the list are arranged in chronological order, starting with Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” published in 1902, and ending with Toni Morrison’s “Beloved,” published in 1987. It’s worth noting that only two authors, William Faulkner and Henry James, have more than one work on the list.

One of the most interesting aspects of the list is the variety of genres represented. The novels range from science fiction to historical fiction, from crime to romance, showcasing the diversity of the literature of the past century. Some notable entries include F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye,” and George Orwell’s “1984.”

While it’s important to acknowledge that this list has its limitations, it is still an exceptional place to start for those looking to find some of the greatest works of 20th-century literature. Many of the books on this list are still read today, discussed in classrooms and book clubs, and beloved by generations of readers.

In conclusion, the American Modern Library Top 100 Novels is an important piece of literary history, showcasing some of the best works of English language literature published in the last century. Whether you’re a seasoned reader or just starting, this list is a fantastic resource to find a work of literature that is sure to enrich your life.


  • Modern Library. (n.d.). The Modern Library: 100 Best Novels. Modern Library. Retrieved August 25, 2021, from
  • “Best of the Century.” Internet Archive Wayback Machine. Archived from the original on January 3, 2003. Retrieved August 25, 2021.
  • Byatt, A. S. (1998). Introduction. In The Modern Library: 100 Best Novels. Modern Library.

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