As part of my bookseller training I was given this list of books as books that are essential reads to get a good all-round knowledge of fiction, this was accompanied by a selection of other books to flesh out that knowledge.

I’ve also added some of my own favourites and some newer books that have come out since this was initially written. If you think there are any missing why not let me know?

The page is organised by author’s last name:

INDEX: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

  • Chinua Achebe – Things Fall Apart
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Half of a Yellow Sun
  • Cecelia Ahern – P.S., I Love You
  • Louise M. Alcott – Little Women
  • Isabel Allende – House of Spirits
  • Margaret Allingham – Crime at Black Dudley
  • Eric Ambler – The Mask of Dimitrios
  • Kingsley Amis – Lucky Jim
  • Martin Amis – Money: A Suicide Note
  • Kate Atkinson – A God in Ruins
  • Margaret Atwood – The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Jane Austen – Pride & Prejudice
  • Paul Auster – The New York Trilogy

  • James Baldwin – Go Tell it on the Mountain
  • J.G. Ballard – Crash
  • John Banville – The Sea
  • Julian Barnes – Sense of an Ending
  • Sebastian Barry – The Secret Scripture
  • Saul Bellow – Adventures of Augie March
  • Saul Bellow – Herzog
  • Louis de Bernieres – Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
  • Maeve Binchy – A Week in Winter
  • Roberto Bolano – The Savage Detectives
  • Elizabeth Bowen – The Heat of the Day
  • William Boyd – Any Human Heart
  • Ray Bradbury – Fahrenheit 451
  • Charlotte Brontë – Jane Eyre
  • Emily Brontë – Wuthering Heights
  • Anita Brookner – Hotel du Lac
  • John Buchan – The Thirty-Nine Steps
  • Mikhail Bulgakov – Master and Margarita
  • Anthony Burgess – A Clockwork Orange
  • William Burroughs – Naked Lunch
  • A.S. Byatt – Possession

  • Italo Calvino – If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller
  • Albert Camus – The Outsider
  • Peter Carey – The True History of the Kelly Gang
  • John Le Carre – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  • Angela Carter – The Magic Toyshop
  • Angela Carter – Nights at the Circus
  • Raymond Carver – What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
  • Miguel de Cervantes – Don Quixote
  • Raymond Chandler – The Big Sleep
  • Tracy Chevalier – Girl with the Pearl Earring
  • Lee Child – The Killing Floor
  • Agatha Christie – And Then There Were None
  • J.M. Coatzee – Disgrace
  • Jonathan Coe – What a Carve Up!
  • Wilkie Collins – The Woman in White
  • Joseph Conrad – Heart of Darkness
  • Joseph Conrad – The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale
  • Bernard Cornwell – Sharpe’s Tiger

  • Lionel Davidson – Kolymsky Heights
  • Daniel Defoe – Robinson Crusoe
  • Philip K. Dick – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep
  • Charles Dickens – Great Expectations
  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky – The Idiot
  • Arthur Conan Doyle – The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
  • Alexandre Dumas – The Three Musketeers

  • George Eliot – Middlemarch
  • Bret Easton Ellis – American Psycho
  • James Ellroy – The Black Dahlia
  • Jeffrey Eugenides – The Virgin Suicides

  • William Faulkner – As I Lay Dying
  • William Faulkner – The Sound and the Fury
  • Sebastian Faulks – Birdsong
  • Elena Ferrante – My Brilliant Friend
  • Henry Fielding – Tom Jones
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald – This Side of Paradise
  • Penelope Fitzgerald – The Blue Flower
  • Richard Flanagan – The Narrow Road to the Deep North
  • Gustave Flaubert – Madame Bovary
  • Ian Fleming – Casino Royale
  • Gillian Flynn – Gone Girl
  • Ken Follett- Pillars of the Earth
  • Ford Madox Ford – The Good Soldier
  • E.M. Forster – A Passage to India
  • John Fowles – The French Lieutenant’s Woman
  • John Fowles – The Magus
  • Jonathan Franzen – Freedom

  • Diana Gabaldon – Outlander
  • Elizabeth Gaskell – North and South
  • Michele Giuttari – A Florentine Death
  • Nikolai Gogol – Dead Souls
  • William Golding – Lord of the Flies
  • Graham Greene – The End of the Affair
  • Graham Greene – Our Man in Havana
  • Graham Greene – The Quiet American

  • Thomas Hardy – Tess of the D’Ubervilles
  • Robert Harris – Fatherland
  • Thomas Harris – The Silence of the Lambs
  • Kent Haruf – Plainsong
  • Joseph Heller – Catch 22
  • Ernest Hemingway – The Old Man and the Sea
  • Herman Hesse – Steppenwolf
  • Patricia Highsmith – The Price of Salt
  • Patricia Highsmith – Strangers on a Train
  • Patricia Highsmith – The Talented Mr Ripley
  • S.E. Hinton – The Outsiders
  • Alan Hollinghurst – The Stranger’s Child
  • Khaled Hosseini – The Kite Runner
  • Elizabeth Jane Howard – The Cazalet Chronicles
  • Victor Hugo – Les Miserables
  • Aldous Huxley – Brave New World

  • Conn Iggulden – The Gates of Rome
  • Christopher Isherwood – A Single Man
  • Kazuo Ishiguro – The Remains of the Day

  • Shirley Jackson – We Have Always Lived in the Castle
  • Henry James – The Portrait of a Lady
  • PD James – Cover Her Face
  • James Joyce – A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
  • James Joyce – Ulysses

  • Franz Kafka – The Metamorphosis
  • Franz Kafka – The Trial
  • William Kennedy – Ironweed
  • Jack Kerouac – On the Road
  • Philip Kerr – March Violets

  • Stieg Larsson – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • D.H. Lawrence – Sons and Lovers
  • D.H. Lawrence – Women in Love
  • Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Donna Leon – Death at la Fenice
  • Doris Lessing – The Golden Notebook
  • Doris Lessing – The Grass is Singing
  • Andrea Levy – Small Island

  • Paula McCain – The Paris Wife
  • Ian McEwan – Atonement
  • John McGahern – Amongst Women
  • Henning Mankell – Faceless Killers
  • Thomas Mann – Death in Venice
  • Katherine Mansfield – The Garden Party and Other Stories
  • Hilary Mantell – Bring Up the Bodies
  • Hilary Mantel – Wolf Hall
  • Ben Marcus – The Flame Alphabet
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez – One Hundred Years of Solitude
  • Somerset Maugham – Of Human Bondage
  • Daphne du Maurier – Rebecca
  • Simon Mawer – The Glass Room
  • Henry Melville – Moby Dick
  • Philip Meyer – American Rust
  • Henry Miller – Tropic of Capricorn
  • Magnus Mills – The Restraint of Beasts
  • David Mitchell – Ghostwritten
  • Toni Morrison – Beloved
  • Toni Morrison – The Bluest Eye
  • Kate Morton – The House at Riverton
  • Kate Moss – Labyrinth
  • Jojo Moyes – Me Before You
  • Haruki Murakami – Norwegian Wood
  • Haruki Murakami – The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
  • Iris Murdoch – The Sea, The Sea
  • Iris Murdoch – Under the Net

  • Vladimir Nabokov – Lolita
  • V.S. Naipul – A House for Mr Biswas
  • V.S. Naipaul – In a Free State
  • David Nichols – One Day

  • Louise O’Neill – Only Ever Yours
  • Kenzaburo Oe – The Silent Cry
  • Michael Ondaatje – The English Patient
  • George Orwell – Nineteen Eighty-Four

  • Chuck Palahniuk – Fight Club
  • Orhan Pamuk – My Name is Red
  • Sylvia Plath – The Bell Jar
  • Alexander Pushkin – Eugene Onegin
  • Thomas Pynchon – The Crying of Lot 49

  • Ayn Rand – Anthem
  • Ian Rankin – Black and Blue
  • Jean Rhys – Wide Sargasso Sea
  • Anthony Riches – Wounds of Honour
  • Lucinda Riley – The Light Behind the Window
  • Philip Roth – American Pastoral
  • Philip Roth – Ghost Writer
  • Philip Roth – The Human Stain
  • Philip Roth – Portnoy
  • Philip Roth – Radetzky March
  • Arundhati Roy – God of Small Things
  • Salman Rushdie – Midnight’s Children

  • J.D. Salinger – Catcher in the Rye
  • James Salter – Light Years
  • James Salter – Solo Faces
  • C.J. Sansom – Dissolution
  • Dorothy L. Sayers – Whose Body?
  • Simon Scarrow – Under the Eagle
  • W.G. Sebald – Austerlitz
  • Vikram Seth – A Suitable Boy
  • Mary Shelley – Frankenstein
  • Elizabeth Smart – By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept
  • Zadie Smith – White Teeth
  • Natsume Soseki – Kokoro
  • Muriel Spark – Driver’s Seat
  • Muriel Spark – The Prime of Miss Jean Brody
  • William Stegner – Crossing to Safety
  • John Steinbeck – Grapes of Wrath
  • Laurence Sterne – Tristram Shandy
  • Robert Louis Stevenson – Treasure Island
  • Bram Stoker – Dracula
  • Graham Swift – Last Orders
  • jonathan Swift – Gulliver’s Travels

  • Donna Tartt – The Secret History
  • Elizabeth Taylor – Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont
  • Josephine Tey – A Daughter in Time
  • Hunter S. Thompson – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  • Colm Toibin – Brooklyn
  • Leo Tolstoy – Anna Karenina
  • John Kennedy Toole – A Confederacy of Dunces
  • Anthony Trollope – The Warden
  • Anthony Trollope – The Way We Live Now
  • Mark Twain – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • Anne Tyler – Breathing Lessons

  • John Updike – Rabbit Redux

  • David Foster Wallace – Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
  • Robert Walser – Jakob von Gunten
  • Evelyn Waugh – Brideshead Revisited
  • Oscar Wilde – The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • John Williams – Stoner
  • P.G. Wodehouse – Joy in the Morning
  • Virginia Woolf – To the Lighthouse

  • Richard Yates – Revolutionary Road

  • Yevgeny Zamyatin – We
  • Stefan Zweig – Chess Story

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