500 Best Books Tentative List, Fiction

I’m writing a book “500 best books originally written in
English for Japanese audience”
, and this is a tentative list of 160 fiction
(160 at the moment). I have lists for nonfiction
books, children’s
books, and classics

This list is not completed and I would like your input. Some of the book’s
audience are beginning readers of English and some are native level, so I need
a mix of books that would appeal to these various levels that I believe
are enjoyable for the Japanese readers.  Some are entertaining, and some
are mind stimulating, and some of them are informative.  The most
important thing is that the book gives a Japanese reader a good reading
experience. If that experience encourages the reader to pick up another English
book, it will be a success.

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

1)   The reader feels “ I’m glad I have read this book”.

2)   The book has a reasonably wide range of audience.

3)   The book must be reasonably well written.

4)   The book must be still in print and available in Japan.

I’m including some books I personally do not like very much, because I believe
there are many Japanese readers who can learn to enjoy English books from
them.  Because of the limited number I can list for the book, I decided to
chose only one book for one category by each author.I will mention other
notable books by the same author when I introduce the book in “500 Best Books”.

I separated into several genres, but please keep in mind that some of them are
mixture of different genres.


The Long Goodbye (1953) by Raymond Chandler

The Talented Mr. Ripley** (1955) by Patricia Highsmith

A Cry In The Night
by Mary Higgins Clark

A Judgement in Stone  by Ruth Rendell

The Runaway Jury by John Grisham

Mystic River by Dennis Lehane

Down River by John Hart

What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman

Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger

Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less by Jeffrey Archer

Sister by Rosamund Lupton

Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn




The Quiet American (1955) by Graham Greene

Catch-22* (1961) by Joseph Heller

The Day of Jackal by Frederick Forsyth

From Russia with Love (James Bond) (1957) by Ian Fleming

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le Carre

The Eagle Has Landed
by Jack Higgins

Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy

Lion’s Game by Nelson DeMille

The Kill Artist( Gabriel Allon Novel) by Daniel Silva

The Innocent  by David

The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

Daemon by Daniel Suarez

The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown




The Cat Who
Could Read Backwards
(The Cat Who series) by Lilian
Jackson Braun

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (Book 1) by Alexander
McCall Smith

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce
Mystery by Alan Bradley

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King

Alone (Detective D.D. Warren Novels) by Lisa Gardner

Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich

Dog On It by Spencer Quinn

Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Mysteries) by
Louise Penny

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

Her Royal Spyness by by Rhys Bowen

Silent in the Grave (A Lady Julia Grey Novel) by Deanna Raybourn

The Surgeon (A Rizzoli & Isles Novel) by Tess Gerritsen

An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (Cordelia Gray Mysteries, No.
1) by P.D. James

E is for Evidence (The Kinsey Millhone Alphabet Mysteries) by Sue Grafton

Hardball (V.I. Warshawski Novels)
by Sara Paretsky

Frost at Christmas (D.I. Jack Frost) by R.D. Wingfield

The Bone Collector (A Lincoln Rhyme Novel) by Jeffery Deaver


Historical novels


The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

The God of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Seabuiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin

Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland

Atonement by Ian McEwan

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain



High Fidelity by Nick Hornby(男性向けラブストーリー)

One Day
by David Nicholls(男性向けラブストーリー)

Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner

Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes

To Die For by Linda Howard

It Had To Be


Bet Me
by Jennifer Crusie

The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand
by Carla Kelly

Slightly Married (Get Connected Romances)
by Mary Balogh

Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate) by Gail Carriger

The Witness ( or any of Nora Roberts) by Nora Roberts

The Duke and I (Bridgerton Series, Book 1) by Julia Quinn

Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas

The Leopard Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

Slave to Sensation (Psy-Changelings, Book 1) by Nalini Singh

Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 1) by J. R. Ward

Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

The Land of Laughs
by Jonathan Carroll




The Dying Earth (1950) by Jack Vance

The Lord of the Rings (1951) by J.R.R. Tolkien

Invisible Man (1952) by H. G. Wells

Fahrenheit 451 *(1953)by Ray Bradbury

Foundation (1951) by Isaac Asimov

The Once and Future King (1958) by T. H. White

Flowers for Algernon* (1959) by Daniel Keyes

Stranger in a Strange Land(1961) by Robert A. Heinlein

Dune* (1965) by Frank Herbert

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) by Arthur C. Clarke

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) by Phili K, Dick

Slaughterhouse-Five** (1969) by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

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

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire series) by Naomi Novik

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Mistborn (Mistborn, Book 1) by Brandon Sanderson

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Hounded( The Iron Druid Chronicles) by Kevin Hearne

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire series) by George
R. R Martin

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Hakness

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

11/22/63 by Stephen King



Atlas Shrugged(1957) by Ayn Rand

All Creatures Great and Small (1972) by James Herriot

The Shell Seekers
by Rosamund Pilcher

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney

The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

Little Children by Tom

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Prince of Tide by Pat Conroy

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

The World According to Garp by John Irving

Room by Emma Donoghue

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Fight Club
by Chuck Palanhniuk

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Bel Canto (P.S.) by Ann Patchett

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

White Noise by Don DeLillo

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen


短編集 Short
stories, anthologies & literary collections


Where I’m Calling From by Raymond Carver

A River Runs Through It  by Norman Maclean

Birds of America: Stories by Lorrie Moore

Dear Life by Alice Munro

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie



*** The following were also considered for the list.***

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Lord of Scoundrels
by Loretta Chase(米国のロマンスファンには大人気で、おすすめされて読んだのだが、ロマンスブックなのに不愉快だし、読むのが苦痛だったので、落とさせていただいた)

Time and Again  by Jack Finney(すでに知られている作品なので、別の作品を入れるために落とした)

Garden Spells
by Sarah Addison Allen(一般読者の評価は高いが、読んでみると、人物描写もプロットもフラット。特に驚きもなく、退屈だったので削除)

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell(Mitchellは、日本人読者には超上級すぎて対象が限定されすぎる)

The Chill by Ross Macdonald(ミステリ)

The Ghost and Mrs. McClure (Haunted Bookshop Mystery) by
Alice Kimberly(コージーミステリー、別名で同一作家があるのでリスト漏れ)

The Silver Metal Lover
by Tanith Lee(ファンタジー/SF, ロマンス)

Donald E. Westlake(ミステリ? Dortmunderシリーズ)
Warren Murphy(Traceシリーズ、ミステリ、コージーに入れてもよい)
Elmore Leonard(Get Shortyほか、クライムフィクション)
Jill Churchill(コージーミステリ)
Reginald Hill(Dalziel and Pascoeシリーズ、ミステリ)
Peter Cameron(The City of Your Final Destination、文芸)
Jonathan Safran Foer(Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close、文芸)
Patrick McGrath (ゴシックホラーThe GrotesqueかAsylumあたり?)

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill(冊数の制限があるので、落とした)

The Quiche of
Death (Agatha Raisin Mysteries)
by M. C. Beaton(人気のコージーだが、冊数制限で落とした)

On What Grounds (Coffeehouse Mysteries, No. 1) by Cleo Coyle(面白いが、冊数制限で落とした)

Murder Is Binding by Lorna Barrett(良いのだが、冊数制限で落とした)

The Godwulf
(Spencer series) by Robert B.

Postmortem (Kay Scarpetta Mysteries) by Patricia Cornwell(有名だが、他にベターな作家がいるから)

Joyce Carol Oats (None of my family members like her books.)

Tell No One by Harlan Coben

Interview with Vampire by Anne Rice 

The Tourist (Milo Weaver) by Olen Steinhauer

Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman(歴史小説の大家Penmanの代表作で面白いのだが、冊数制限を満たすために外した。長編で日本人には読みにくいかもしれないから)

A Confederacy of Dunces(ノンネイティブには入り込みにくい)

Color Purple(同様の作品が多いことと、英語に慣れていない人には読みにくいから)

Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West

Jonathan Livingston Seagull(日本では有名だが、特に素晴らしい本ではないと思う)

Midnight’s Children (because I chose ‘Haroun and the Sea of
Stories’ instead)

Mervyn Peake

Crossing to Safety

March by Geraldine Brooks

Homestead by Rosina Lippi

The Kitchen God’s Wife – Amy Tan ( I chose another Amy Tan

The Moonstone 

Clan of the Cave Bear(非常に風変わりな本で面白いが、リストに入れるほどではないと判断)

Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics(面白いのだけれど、話題が古すぎるし、すでに冊数を超過しているのでリストから落とした)

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld(米国のプレップスクールの内情をよく表現していて面白いが、主人公に好感を抱きにくい)

The Devil Wears Prada(面白いが、本の場合は映画よりも主人公に好感を抱きにくい)

Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James

A Walk to Remember  by
Nicholas Sparks (I just can’t stand with him!)

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley(非常によく売れているし、評価も高いが、まったく凡庸な作品)

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward(話題が日本人向けではない)

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks(女性の描き方やロマンスに反感覚える人が多いと思う)

Billy Bathgate by E.L.Doctorow(英語ネイティブでも読みにくいスタイル)

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron(よいところは多いが、問題あり)

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe(有名だが、非常に読みにくい。ネイティブでも入り込めない人が多い)

The Samurai’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama(よい作品なのだが、トップ500冊からは漏れると判断)

Valley of the
by Jacqueline Susann(61年刊のトラッシュ・クラシック。歴史小説として読むと面白いのだが、トップ500冊に制限するために落とした)

Forrest Gump by Winston Groom(面白いし、読みやすい本だが、現代では新鮮さが薄れているし、トップ500冊の制限には漏れると判断)

The Best American Short Stories(500冊の制限があるので落とした。)

Sum by David Engelmann(500冊の制限があるので落とした。)

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield(500冊の制限があるので落とした。)

A Bit on the Side by William Trevor(短編集。500冊の制限があるので落とした。)