100 Stories that Shaped the World

100 Stories that shaped the World

1 Odyssey - Homer

2  Uncle Tom’s cabin Harriet Beecher Stowe

3 Frankenstein Mary Shelley

4 1984 George Orwell

5. Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe, 1958)

6. One Thousand and One Nights (various authors, 8th-18th Centuries)

7. Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes, 1605-1615)

8. Hamlet (William Shakespeare, 1603)

9. One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel García Márquez, 1967)

10. The Iliad (Homer, 8th Century BC)

11. Beloved (Toni Morrison, 1987)

12. The Divine Comedy (Dante Alighieri, 1308-1320)

13. Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare, 1597)

14. The Epic of Gilgamesh (author unknown, circa 22nd-10th Centuries BC)

15. Harry Potter Series (JK Rowling, 1997-2007)

16. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood, 1985)

17. Ulysses (James Joyce, 1922)

18. Animal Farm (George Orwell, 1945)

19. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë, 1847)

20. Madame Bovary (Gustave Flaubert, 1856)

21. Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Luo Guanzhong, 1321-1323)

22. Journey to the West (Wu Cheng'en, circa 1592)

23. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevksy, 1866)

24. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen, 1813)

25. Water Margin (attributed to Shi Nai'an, 1589)

26. War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy, 1865-1867)

27. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee, 1960)

28. Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rhys, 1966)

29. Aesop's Fables (Aesop, circa 620 to 560 BC)

30. Candide (Voltaire, 1759)

31. Medea (Euripides, 431 BC)

32. The Mahabharata (attributed to Vyasa, 4th Century BC)

33. King Lear (William Shakespeare, 1608)

34. The Tale of Genji (Murasaki Shikibu, before 1021)

35. The Sorrows of Young Werther (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1774)

36. The Trial (Franz Kafka, 1925)

37. Remembrance of Things Past (Marcel Proust, 1913-1927)

38. Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë, 1847)

39. Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison, 1952)

40. Moby-Dick (Herman Melville, 1851)

41. Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston, 1937)

42. To the Lighthouse (Virginia Woolf, 1927)

43. The True Story of Ah Q (Lu Xun, 1921-1922)

44. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll, 1865)

45. Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy, 1873-1877)

46. Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad, 1899)

47. Monkey Grip (Helen Garner, 1977)

48. Mrs Dalloway (Virginia Woolf, 1925)

49. Oedipus the King (Sophocles, 429 BC)

50. The Metamorphosis (Franz Kafka, 1915)

51. The Oresteia (Aeschylus, 5th Century BC)

52. Cinderella (unknown author and date)

53. Howl (Allen Ginsberg, 1956)

54. Les Misérables (Victor Hugo, 1862)

55. Middlemarch (George Eliot, 1871-1872)

56. Pedro Páramo (Juan Rulfo, 1955)

57. The Butterfly Lovers (folk story, various versions)

58. The Canterbury Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer, 1387)

59. The Panchatantra (attributed to Vishnu Sharma, circa 300 BC)

60. The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas (Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, 1881)

61. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Muriel Spark, 1961)

62. The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists (Robert Tressell, 1914)

63. Song of Lawino (Okot p'Bitek, 1966)

64. The Golden Notebook (Doris Lessing, 1962)

65. Midnight's Children (Salman Rushdie, 1981)

66. Nervous Conditions (Tsitsi Dangarembga, 1988)

67. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 1943)

68. The Master and Margarita (Mikhail Bulgakov, 1967)

69. The Ramayana (attributed to Valmiki, 11th Century BC)

70. Antigone (Sophocles, c 441 BC)

71. Dracula (Bram Stoker, 1897)

72. The Left Hand of Darkness (Ursula K Le Guin, 1969)

73. A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens, 1843)

74. América (Raúl Otero Reiche, 1980)

75. Before the Law (Franz Kafka, 1915)

76. Children of Gebelawi (Naguib Mahfouz, 1967)

77. Il Canzoniere (Petrarch, 1374)

78. Kebra Nagast (various authors, 1322)

79. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott, 1868-1869)

80. Metamorphoses (Ovid, 8 AD)

81. Omeros (Derek Walcott, 1990)

82. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, 1962)

83. Orlando (Virginia Woolf, 1928)

84. Rainbow Serpent (Aboriginal Australian story cycle, date unknown)

85. Revolutionary Road (Richard Yates, 1961)

86. Robinson Crusoe (Daniel Defoe, 1719)

87. Song of Myself (Walt Whitman, 1855)

88. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain, 1884)

89. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Mark Twain, 1876)

90. The Aleph (Jorge Luis Borges, 1945)

91. The Eloquent Peasant (ancient Egyptian folk story, circa 2000 BC)

92. The Emperor's New Clothes (Hans Christian Andersen, 1837)

93. The Jungle (Upton Sinclair, 1906)

94. The Khamriyyat (Abu Nuwas, late 8th-early 9th Century)

95. The Radetzky March (Joseph Roth, 1932)

96. The Raven (Edgar Allan Poe, 1845)

97. The Satanic Verses (Salman Rushdie, 1988)

98. The Secret History (Donna Tartt, 1992)

99. The Snowy Day (Ezra Jack Keats, 1962)

100. Toba Tek Singh (Saadat Hasan Manto, 1955)


I've read at least 41 of the 100 so far.  I am not sure which Shakespeare plays I have read versus just know about.  Romea and Juliet I definitely read since we had it in school not once but 2 or 3 times.  The others?  I probably read them but I'll reread them to be sure. 

Many of these are ancient texts and were originally written in Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, etc.  Many of you may have read them in your native tongue.  I must get by with reading a translation if I can find the book at all.

If you want to know where this list originated, you can check here - 



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  • I agree that these stories have shaped the world since these have influenced the society. These have been discussed in literature classes which made school days interesting. In the mean time, I find www.pghguttercleaning.com full of interesting topics.

  • All are a great stories and some of them are books I already read and am interested in. Thanks for sharing other stories and I will read the others. click

  • 32/100 books have been read ...  sure in translated version of it ... I wish I could read them in english .. unfortunately I couldn't read even 1 book in english ... 

    Note: "The Epic of Gilgamesh (author unknown, circa 22nd-10th Centuries BC)" ... In fact the writer of it known .. at least , It was compiled by a poet  (Sin Leqe Uninni)  . About it's subject , there is some argues ...It is even said that  "The Iliad (Homer, 8th Century BC)"  was inspired by this epic... It had writen in "Kassit" language ... (dead language ... the origine of Kurdish)

    Thanks for list ... I will try to read some more ....

    • The author of Gilgamesh is unknown because it was written so very long ago in a langauge that is "dead".  The poet you mentioned may have written a translation of it.  Large parts of it are still missing and it is being updated as scholars find more and more of it in ancient writings.    Many of the books were written in langauges other than English originally thus I along with you am reading translations.

  • There were 263 books on the long list.  I created a spreadsheet and added the Nationality - you can view it on Google Docs (if it isn't blocked where you live) at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1flX-EkUfyFfpLTbvpsa587h2ES2NjVxa/v...


  • I read 22 of them, partially a few more.

    I would like to leave a question here, "what sort of world they shape?"

    • Hi Shaheen and Tim,

      According to me, SHAPING THE WORLD BY READING BOOK means... What people read will relatively influence their thoughts. When it happens, ideas will come up and what they are doing is the result of thoughts that are gathered from many aspects. One of them is thoughts from what they read.

      Here is why book can shape the world.

      I've ever read one quote: "You are what you read".

      Thanks for your discussion.

    • They are correctly labeled "stories"  rather than books.  Some are songs (lyrics); others poems; others short stories and in one case an excerpt from a book - Kafta The Trial.  There are 263 on the Long List including 1 from Indonesia that's on my to read list.

    • Thanks for your reply. Then again I would like to say now in this world :

      8 men own as much as half the wealth of this world.

      If you look into the carbon foot-prints of poor nation and rich nation, there is a ocean gap between them. But the poorer the worst suffer of climate change.

      If you go 2000 years back, You might find that natural resouces of this world were open to everybody and they didn't need  passport and VISA to travel.

    • I had the same question.  Some of these I'd consider good or even great novels but world changing?  I think the list was created by asking different people to list their top 5 and then giving points based on the individual ranking so the book they listed 1 gets more points.  But why did person A think their 5 books were world changing?  

      I went through the 5 books each person chose and created a list of all books they "nominated".  There are 263 books in total.  

      If you look at who suggested which book, you can see some bias based on their nationality or job.  Poets listed books of Poetry; Chinese listed books by Chinese authors; at least 1 American had nothing but American authors.

      I think the hope was that by getting a wide range of input, they would come up with a good list.  

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