And a quick premise of each book in 3-4 lines.
I read my first full-length novel when I was ten (one of Enid Blyton’s Five Find-Outers and the Dog).
After that, I was bitten by the book-lover bug and haven’t looked back since. I’ve read more than 800 books in my life, but when I look back, some stand out more than others. Of the ones that stand out, some do because of the outstanding plot, others for the beautiful language, and yet others for how they made me feel or what they taught me.
In this article, I’ve listed my 15 favorite fiction books of all time. You might find your next read among them.
These might not be the best novels ever written, but each of them is close to my heart. Hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did.
(Note: The links mentioned in this article are affiliate links. If you choose to purchase these books through these links, it will help me earn a small amount of money — at no extra cost to you. Thanks!)
1. The Golden Gate by Alistair MacLean
A team of criminals kidnaps the President of the United States and his two guests on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. The criminals block off both ends of the bridge, wire it with explosives, and demand a hefty ransom and a full pardon in exchange for the president’s life.
Among the members of the press invited to cover the story, there’s FBI agent Paul Revson, equipped with only a camera. In a race against time with insanely high odds, will Revson be able to foil the masterfully conceived and clockwork-timed operation and save the president?
2. The Other Side of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon
Noelle Page knows her only currency to survive in a cruel post-World War I world is her beauty. She can have any man she wants, but her heart yearns for the American pilot Larry Douglas, the man who broke her heart to marry Catherine.
In a wildly convoluted plot involving world-famous theater actors, business tycoons, and powerful criminal lawyers, the two women use every weapon known to them and fight a battle of wits and gore, where the only way to win is when the other dies.
If you love powerful female protagonists who stop at nothing to get what they want, you’ll definitely love this book.
3. A Matter of Honor by Jeffrey Archer
A disgraced British colonel leaves a mysterious envelope to his son, Adam Scott, with instructions to destroy the letter as soon as possible. Curious, Adam opens it, and the items inside lead him to a safe deposit box in Switzerland that contains the only official Russian copy of a secret contract between the United States and Russia.
Suddenly, Adam finds himself in the middle of a tussle worth 712 million dollars and a legacy that could change the geography of the world as he knows it.
4. The Holcroft Covenant by Robert Ludlum
Genre: Espionage thriller
After the Second World War, three top Nazis embezzle millions of Nazi funds and devise a Covenant to be inherited by their three eldest children with the goal to redistribute it among the Holocaust survivors as an atonement for their sins.
Noel Holcroft, one of the inheritors, is tasked with finding the other two ‘children’ and set the wrongs of the past right. But the Sonnenkinder, the Children of the Sun, are determined to gain control of the millions and establish a Nazi Fourth Reich. As Holcroft tries to carry out his destiny, he finds himself enmeshed in a bewildering, horrifying nightmare involving some of the most dangerous men in the world.
5. God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Genre: Literary fiction
An idyllic village where nothing really happens. A divorcee who’s still blamed by her family as if whatever happened to her was her fault. A boy-girl pair of dizygotic twins who have shared their entire lives while growing up and are fated to share much more than anything they could have imagined. A secret relationship forbidden by the rules of the society that dictate whom to love and how. And how much.
Roy’s debut novel that went on to win the Man Booker Prize in 1997 is a must-read for any lover of literature.
6. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Genre: Semi-autobiographical fiction/Coming-of-age story
The talented, ambitious Esther Greenwood is young and full of dreams but never seems to fit in at any place, with any person. She wants to be a poetess and cannot imagine how suffocating it would feel to be tied down with a husband and children. Though she yearns to feel maternal love, she is torn between thinking for herself and thinking what the world told her was right.
Esther feels she is trapped inside a bell jar — a place that distorts her worldview and traps her inside, isolating her from everyone around her. Plath’s words are an accurate depiction of clinical depression — how a person who is depressed never really feels “sad”, but more of “empty”, like a shell.
7. The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak
Genre: Psychological Fiction/Romance
Ella, a forty-year-old housewife in Northampton living with the knowledge that her husband and her teenage children have outgrown their need for her. The knowledge weighs heavy on her heart, but she finds herself in a state of denial, desperately clinging on to the version of reality that she had lived for 20 years — that they are a happy, closely-knit family with no cracks running down the spine threatening to tear them apart.
Ella comes across a novel, Sweet Blasphemy, written by the mysterious Aziz Zahara and set in Turkey of the 1200s chronicling the mysterious relationship between the poet, Jalal-ud-din Rumi, and his mentor, Shams of Tabriz. As Ella delves into Aziz’s words and discovers the special bond Rumi shared with Shams, she starts questioning her life decisions.
8. Less by Andrew Sean Greer
Genre: Literary fiction
The author takes the reader on a delightful journey across the globe with our bumbling, adorable, and extremely likable protagonist, the novelist Arthur Less. On his journey of trying to find the perfect place to escape his future and finish his novel, Less ends up losing his way but finding his heart. And with him, we, the readers, discover that happiness is not bullshit, and that love is overrated — that sometimes, being alone is just as fine.
I loved the delicate portrayal of human emotions and sexuality, the seamless transition between a mundane, strikingly prosaic present and a rather rose-tinted, honeyed past: the love Less had for Robert that he was foolish enough to squander away on transitory pleasures, and the fire that burned in his heart for Freddy that he was naive enough to refuse to acknowledge.
9. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
This is the story of a bank robbery. But wait, this is the story of a hostage drama with eight hostages and two police officers.
Or is this the story of a psychologist with the painting of a woman standing on a bridge on her table? Or is this is the story of the bridge?
Fredrik Backman is a magician with his words, but he outdoes himself in Anxious People. There are parts that will make you teary-eyed with emotion, and other parts that will make you unexpectedly laugh out loud. This book is like a dear friend that will stay with you long after you’ve completed it.
10. Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson
Genre: High fantasy
A God from another realm is pulled down to earth by the sheer will of the people. He now lies in the wastelands, spilling his lifeblood on the sands, poisoning everything around him, slowly turning mortals and Gods to his will.
A bastard army from a distant kingdom takes it upon itself to save the world from this corruption, only to find itself in the way of endless battles and political games. An epic high fantasy saga spanning across 7 books, reading Malazan Book of the Fallen is a rare treat, rarely paralleled by any there book in this genre.
11. Wolfsong by TJ Klune
Genre: Fantasy/Queer romance
Oxnard Matheson was always a loner, living with the burden of his father never thinking he was man enough. Then, he meets a little boy who fills his life with happiness and the feeling of belonging to a family he didn’t know was missing in his world.
But Ox doesn’t know the little boy who never stops talking hadn’t said a single word for two whole years before they met. He doesn’t know the tragic history of his new family and how soon he’ll be forever intertwined in it, changing his identity forever.
12. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
In the mysterious island city of Camorr, a young orphan tries to navigate through life and ends up in the temple of “The Nameless Thirteenth” — the God of thieves.
And thus begins Locke’s training to become the “Thorn of Emberlain”, the highest revered, most feared thief the city of Camorr had ever known. The only problem: Locke might have been born at the time one of the deadliest coups in history was happening. Thanks to his flamboyance and his unapologetic sass, Locke and his friends find themselves right in the middle of a bloody battle they had nothing to do with.
This is one of the rawest, most honest fantasy books I ever read.
13. The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
I apologize for letting Arundhati Roy appear twice in the list, but believe me when I say, her writing is an absolute delight to read. I took time in reading this book, but every second spent was worth the investment.
This is a beautiful story. Roy is a master in what she does — crafting characters of such intricate depth, that you cannot help but fall in love with their imperfections, their beliefs, the mistakes they commit, and the way they see the world.
14. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Genre: Young Adult/LGBTQ romance
Aristotle (Ari, to his friends) is a self-doubting silent guy, who has learned from experience to bottle his feelings up. Dante, on the other hand, is an expressive, fair-skinned boy who meets Ari at the pool one afternoon and asks him if he should teach him swimming.
Dante reads poetry and loves painting. He makes Ari laugh and fills his world with colors, and before they know it, their friendship develops into something much deeper — a love both of them have to pay a heavy price to acknowledge.
15. The Amulet of Samarkand — Jonathan Stroud
Genre: Fantasy Fiction
Bartimaeus of Uruk, (in his own words) ‘with more resourcefulness (not to mention mindless optimism) in his toenails than other hundreds of porridge-brained spirits together,’ is a powerful 5000-year-old djinni.
While summoned by thirteen-year-old magician’s apprentice Nathaniel and bound to do his bidding, Barty amuses himself with ‘plenty of fights, chases and sarcastic wordplay’ that helps keep his spirits high during the excruciating period he has to spend on our earth. Things soon take a dark turn, and Barty and Nathaniel are pushed to their limits to save the world from a terrifying dark force set to alter the course of history.
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