500 Best Books (Classic) Tentative List

This is a tentative list of “The best Classic books” for my book
“500 best books written in English. 

One of the definitions of “Classics”is “The books which survived the test of time”, but that time itself is hard to define. Therefore, as a matter of convenience, I choose the books which were published before 1960.

Again, this tentative list is made for Japanese audience. I have lists for fiction books, nonfiction
,and children’s books separately.

This list is
not completed and I would like your input.

The following are the criteria I used for the tentative list.  

1)   Relatively easy to read.

2)   Enjoyable, fun, or satisfying.

3)   Still in print and available in Japan.


クラシックの定義としては「Survive the test of time」が重要な条件ですが、この「time」が何年かを決めるのが悩ましいところです。通常は、第二次世界大戦後の作品がContemporary literature(現代文学)と見なされていますので、便宜上、現代文学ではないものを「クラシック文学」とすることにしました。









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絵本/幼児、小学校低学年対象の本(Picture Books and books for young children)


The Night Before Christmas

The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902)

The Wind in the Willows (1908)

The Velveteen Rabbit (1922)

Winnie-the-Pooh  (1926)

The Little Engine That Could (1930) by Plat & Munck

Curious George (1941)

Runaway Bunny (1942) by Margaret Wise

(Children’s books)


A Christmas Carol* (1843)

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865)

Little Women* (1868)

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer * (1876)

Black Beauty (1877)

The Happy Prince **(1892)

The Jungle Books* (1894)

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)

Five Children and It (1902), The Railway Children (1906) by

Peter Pan (1904)

Anne of Green Gables** (1908)

A Little Princess**(1888) & The Secret Garden** (1911)

Daddy-Long-Legs (1912)

The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle (1922)

Swallows and Amazons (1930)

Mary Poppins (1934)

The Hobbit**  (1937)

The Black Stallion (1941)

The Chronicles of Narnia** (1948)

Charlotte’s Web (1952)


Old Yeller (1956)

My Side of the Mountain (1959)

Where the Red Fern Grows (1961)

The Phantom Tollbooth (1961)

A Wrinkle in Time (1962)

D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths (1962)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964)

The Last Unicorn(1968)

Little House Books (1971) by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Dark Is Rising (1973)


大人向け(For adult readers)




Hamlet (1601)

 & Macbeth, Romeo
and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream*, King Lear, and others by William





Robinson Crusoe (1719)

Gulliver’s Travels (1726)

The Monk (1796)




Pride and Prejudice **(1813)

 & Masfield Park**,
Sense and Sensibility*, Emma, and others by Jane Austen

Frankenstein* *(1818)

The Last of the Mohicans(1826)

David Copperfield , Little Dorrit, A
Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations (1860) by Charles Dickens

Jane Eyre* *(1847)

Wuthering Heights (1847)

Vanity Fair (1848)

(1849) by Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Scarlet Letter (1850)

Moby Dick (1851)

Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852)

Walden (1854)

North and South (1855)

Leaves of Grass* (1855) poems

Middlemarch (1871)

The Way We Live Now (1875)

Treasure Island (1883)

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886)

A Study in Scarlet** (1887), &  other Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James(1881)

The Picture of Dorian Gray** (1890),  The Importance of Being Earnest** (1895) by
Oscar Wilde

The Time Machine (1895)

Dracula (1897)

The Awakening (1899)



Lord Jim (1900) & Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

The Call of the Wild, White Fang and Other Stories by Jack
London (1906)

A Room with a View (1908)





Daddy-Long-Legs (1912)

Pygmalion (1913)
The Moon And Sixpence (1919)

Very Good, Jeeves(1919)





Make Way For Lucia 

The Age of Innocence (1920)


A Passage to India (1924)

The Great Gatsby

Mrs. Dalloway (1925)

These Old Shades
(1926) by Georgette Heyer

The Sun Also Rises

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd* (1926), Murder on the Orient

(1934),  And Then
There Were None (1939), and other mysteries by Agatha Christie

Death Comes for the Archbishop




Brave New World (1932)

Cold Comfort Farm (1932)

Gone with the Wind* (1936)

Their Eyes Were Watching God(1937)

Rebecca* (1938)

The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales by Edgar
Allan Poe*


The Grapes of Wrath (1939) & Of Mice and Men

Death of a Salesman (1940)

The Catcher in the Rye  (1951)

The Old Man and the Sea (1952),

Lord of the Flies* (1954)

A Fable by William Faulkner (1954)

Lolita (1955)

Seize the Day
(Penguin Classics)

Atlas Shrugged (1957)

Goodbye, Columbus (1958)

***** The classics that are suggested, but didn’t make a

A Death in the Family
Go Tell It on the Mountain
Death Comes for the Archbishop
The Canterbury Tales
The Red Badge of Courage
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
An American Tragedy
The Mill on the Floss

Selected Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson
As I Lay Dying

Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

The 39 Steps

The Innocent
Voyage (a High Wind in Jamaica)
by Richard Hughes (Not available)

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The Sound and the Fury
Tom Jones
The Good Soldier
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
The Woman Warrior
The Crucible
A Good Man is Hard to Find
Long Day’s Journey into Night
The Crying of Lot 49
All Quiet on the Western Front
Call It Sleep

The Wind Boy


Things Fall Apart


My Family and Other Animals(1956)