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100 of the most important books in world literature. At least those that you should read ...In addition to the German lists of ZEIT and ZDF as well as the British list of the BBC, you will also find the French list of “Le Monde” here.

It follows an interesting approach: scholarly literary experts have selected the 200 most important titles from their point of view, from which tens of thousands of French have chosen the 100 most important books for themselves.


⇒ Special finds: classics that you should have read ...


1The stranger, Albert Camus

The story of Meursault, who stumbled sociopathically through the world, who uninvolvedly describes the death of his mother and later does not understand the excitement about his murder. → Review

2 In search of lost time, Marcel Proust

Noble and bourgeois France at the turn of the century before last, between eroticism and boredom.→ Ext. Book Description

3 The Trial, Franz Kafka

Josef K., arrested for no reason and trapped in a nightmarish network of self-referential laws and bureaucratic structures - the classic criticism of the state.→ Ext. Book Description

4 The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

With all too simple truths, the little prince fulfills the longing of modern man for clear answers in an increasingly complex world. Almost 90 million copies sold, making it one of the most successful books of all time (but more of a book).→ Ext. Book Description

5 This is how people live, André Malraux

The failed communist revolution of April 12, 1927 in Shanghai and its consequences for ordinary people.→ Ext. Book Description

6 Journey to the end of the night, Louis-Ferdinand Céline

An implacable indictment against the bourgeoisie, a radical outcry against inequality.→ Ext. Book Description

7 Fruits of Wrath, John Steinbeck

Impoverished farm workers from Oklahoma set off for the promised land - California. There they experience merciless oppression by the big landowners. The well-researched and partly fact-based novel generated an outcry from the elite, including American bishops, when it was published. He must have hit a nerve!→ Ext. Book Description

8 Ernest Hemingway

Four days in the life of an American who fought as a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War out of conviction. From the titan of American literature.→ Ext. Book Description

9 The great Meaulnes, Henri Alain-Fournier

Love, loyalty and responsibility at the transition between childhood and adulthood.→ Ext. Book Description

10 The foam of the days, Boris Vian

The classic of romance novels. To quote Simone de Beauvoir: "What amazes me is the veracity of this great novel and also its great tenderness."→ Ext. Book Description

11 The opposite sex, Simone de Beauvoir

The standard work of feminist literature. To this day one of the most influential books in literary history.→ Ext. Book Description

12 Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett

Here one waits for ... yes, what actually? There are almost as many interpretations as there are readers. The most common assumption - though never confirmed by the author - is that Godot is God.→ Ext. Book Description

13 The being and the nothing, Jean-Paul Sartre

The original work of existentialism and the central work of the influential French philosopher. Influences of this philosophical direction can also be found in art, for example with the sculptor Giacometti.→ Ext. Book Description

14 The name of the rose, Umberto Eco

Anyone who found the film exciting will love the book. Eco’s nuanced and knowledgeable book is a classic of the kind that one doesn’t want to put down. It is certainly one of the most exciting books in world literature: Review

15 The Gulag Archipelago, Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Here Solzhenitsyn reports objectively and soberly about the conditions in the gulags. The special thing about it: As a prisoner, he had an inner perspective. Anyone who saw the guard / prisoner pictures in Iraq and Guantanamo inevitably felt reminded of his work.→ Ext. Book Description

16 paroles, Jacques Prévert

The lyric work of the great French poet of the mid-century. Actually just a small volume, but still popular to this day, especially in France.→ Ext. Book Description

17 alcohol, Guillaume Apollinaire

A book of poetry - but one of the most famous of all.→ Ext. Book Description

18 The blue lotus, Hergé

Tintin and Struppi's adventures in India and China. With maharajas, murder and everything that goes with it.→ Ext. Book Description

19 Diary of Anne Frank, Anne Frank

Not only in Germany compulsory reading for anyone with a healthy sense of history.→ Ext. Book Description

20 Sad tropics, Claude Lévi-Strauss

Half narrative, half sociological description. Levi-Strauss looks at a simple, alien culture from an observer's perspective and holds up a mirror to ours.→ Ext. Book Description

21 Brave new world, Aldous Huxley

A dark science fiction classic that supposedly already describes our oh-so-damnable society in large parts. Superficially, it is about an affluent society that has everything - unfortunately at the expense of half of humanity who take on the forced labor.→ Ext. Book Description

22 1984, George Orwell

The dark classic. The mother of all surveillance state books, so to speak. The state knows everything - including the question of which torture method is most effective for which citizen. Most of all, it's a sad, disturbing book.→ Ext. Book Description

23 Asterix the Gaul, René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo

All of Gaul was subject to Rome. All of Gaul? No, a small village ...→ Ext. Book Description

24 The bald singer, Eugène Ionesco

Theater of the absurd. → Ext. Book Description

25 Three essays on the theory of sex, Sigmund Freud You read the three essays of the first great psychologist a bit lengthy. What justifies reading alone is the grandmaster's influence, which has endured to this day. → Ext. Book Description

26 The black flame, Marguerite Yourcenar 16th Century. Bold scientific experiments and free-thinking action in conflict with the church. Exciting! → Ext. Book Description

27 Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov The love of the private teacher Humbert for his 12-year-old student. Should something like that be world literature? The French say "yes". Some others say "Well ...". → Ext. Book Description

28 Ulysses, James Joyce Perhaps the “best book in the world”, if there is one. In any case, the only one that appears on the German, French and English lists of the 100 best books. → Ext. Book Description

29 The Tatar Desert, Dino Buzzat Anyone who wants to approach existentialism from the novel side is well served with Buzzat’s classic. → Ext. Book Description

30 The counterfeiters, André Gide Young rebels who rebel against the parental world of the Parisian bourgeoisie and consequently found a gang of counterfeiters. → Ext. Book Description

31 The hussar on the roof, Jean Giono The ironic picaresque novel about the hussar Angelo Pardi. Nice to read! → Ext. Book Description

32 The Lord's Beauty, Albert Cohen In order to agree with Elke Heidenreich and give her the floor: "If I had to say now which is the most beautiful book that I have read in my life, it would be this one." → Ext. Book Description

33 A Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez The Buendias - Rise and Fall in 100 Years. The Latin American variant of Buddenbrooks. Written nicely. → Ext. Book Description

34 Schall und Wahn, William Faulkner Faulkner main work. the story of the decline of the large landowning family Compson. → Ext. Book Description

35 The deed of Thérèse Desqueyroux, François Mauriac “The deed” is that she wants to poison her husband. However, whoever reads the novel feels, not with the man, but with Thérèse. → Ext. Book Description

36 Zazie on the Metro, Raymond Queneau A book for Paris lovers. → Ext. Book Description

37 Confusion of feelings, Stefan Zweig At its core, it is about increasing slowly awakening feelings to unexpected passions. In addition to the chess novella, this is the second great work by Stefan Zweig. → Ext. Book Description

38 Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell Who would have thought: There is a book about the film! → Ext. Book Description

39 Lady Chatterley's Lovers, D. H. Lawrence D. H. Lawrence’s scandalous hit novel. The beautiful young - but above all bored - Lady Chatterley takes refuge in another man's arms. Reminiscent of Madame Bovary. → Ext. Book Description

40 The Magic Mountain, Thomas Mann The story of the young Hamburg citizen who, half sick, sets out to relax in the Swiss mountains and is cared for completely sick there. At the same time, it was a portrayal of the customs of Europe at the time, put on paper by Thomas Mann in an inimitably sharp and pointed manner. → Ext. Book Description

41 Bonjour tristesse, Françoise Sagan Cécile drives her father's new lover to her death. Scandal! → Ext. Book Description

42 The silence of the sea, Vercors Masterpiece on the French Resistance.→ Ext. Book Description

43 Life. Instructions for use, Georges Perec 99 chapters on the residents of a French tenement house. Very amusing to read!→ Ext. Book Description

44 The Hound of the Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle The giant Baskervilles dog is up to mischief in Dartmoor, chasing the male offspring of the family to death. At least not the women!→ Ext. Book Description

45 The Sun of Satan, Georges Bernanos The everlasting struggle between good and evil.→ Ext. Book Description

46 The great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald The great American novel. Sketch for many imitators, but rarely - or never - achieved.→ Ext. Book Description

47 The joke, Milan Kundera A book about the trials and tribulations of love - and vengeance. And also a fiery plea for sometimes preferring a phone call to the written word.→ Ext. Book Description

48 The contempt, Alberto Moravia A screenwriter's marital problems. His wife suspects that she will be given to the producer.→ Ext. Book Description

49 Alibi, Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot is investigating! A classic from the greatest crime writer of all time!→ Ext. Book Description

50 Nadja, André Breton The narrator's walks through Paris also lead him to a chance encounter with a young woman who has given herself the name Nadja.→ Ext. Book Description

51 Aurélien, Louis Aragon The big, all-changing encounter of the ex-soldier Aurélien, who stumbled through life in post-war Paris aimlessly and without perspective.→ Ext. Book Description

52 The silk shoe, Paul Claudel Theatrical, ironic and somehow irrelevant. The play by Paul Claudel.→ Ext. Book Description

53 Six people are looking for an author, Luigi Pirandello A play. Who’s like it ...→ Ext. Book Description

54 The resilient rise of Arturo Ui, Bertolt Brecht Adolf Hitler as a gangster in Chicago in the 1930s. The banality of evil in an unfamiliar context.→ Ext. Book Description

55 Friday or In the Lap of the Pacific, Michel Tournier Tournier's mind game about Robinsona's island adventure in a new context.→ Ext. Book Description

56 The War of the Worlds, H. G. Wells The magnum opus of the founder of modern science fiction→ Ext. Book Description

57 Is that a human ?, Primo Levi The autobiographical Auschwitz report of the great writer.→ Ext. Book Description

58 The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien The book for the film! No seriously - the book was a classic long before New Zealand was populated by film golums.→ Ext. Book Description

59 Les Vrilles de la vigne, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette Collette’s vacation memories from Le Crotoy.→ Ext. Book Description

60 Capital of Sorrows, Paul Éluard French poetry.→ Ext. Book Description

61 Martin Eden, Jack London London’s autobiographical artist novel.→ Ext. Book Description

62 South Seas Ballade, Hugo Pratt A comic novel. The beginning of the adventure series about the sailor Corto Maltese.→ Ext. Book Description

63 At the zero point of literature, Roland Barthes Barthes ‘answer to Sartre's novel" What is literature? "→ Ext. Book Description

64 The lost honor of Katharina Blum, Heinrich Böll Katharina helps a criminal to escape and then gets lost in the maelstrom of tabloid reporting.→ Ext. Book Description

65 The bank of the Syrten, Julien Gracq Imaginary countries in the cold war.→ Ext. Book Description

66 The order of things, Michel Foucault Foucault's system of thought, takes some getting used to. At most, the science-historical element of the book is interesting.→ Ext. Book Description

67 On the way, Jack Kerouac Kerouac’s classic road trip.→ Ext. Book Description

68 The wonderful journey of little Nils Holgersson, Selma Lagerlöf Anyone who had a decent childhood knows the adventures of little Nils Holgersson. Reads nicely from 9 to 99!→ Ext. Book Description

69 A room of my own, Virginia Woolf These are biting questions that Woolf formulates in her feminist essay. Why don't men and women have the same educational opportunities? Why do men think they have to write women's novels? A classic of feminist literature.→ Ext. Book Description

70 The Mars Chronicles, Ray Bradbury The NYT sums it up: "" This story of a series of journeys that bring Earth's inhabitants to Mars - space travelers, then pioneers, then weirdos and finally the survivors of the last world war on Earth - has become a science fiction classic become. "→ Ext. Book Description

71 The rapture of Lol V. Stein, Marguerite Duras The 19-year-old girl is left standing by her fiancé and sinks into indifference. Typical for Duras ‘figures.→ Ext. Book Description

72 The Minutes, Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio The first work about the bizarre, eccentric antihero Adam Pollo.→ Ext. Book Description

73 Tropisms, Nathalie Sarraute Sarraute’s essay on the human psyche and the subtleties of emotional impulses.→ Ext. Book Description

74 Diaries 1887-1910, Jules Renard The German title: Ideas dipped in ink.→ Ext. Book Description

75 Lord Jim, Joseph Conrad Jim, the ship's officer, strives for higher deeds - but at the crucial moment he fails and abandons the passengers. Will he get a second chance?→ Ext. Book Description

76 writings, Jacques Lacan The popular science teachings of the physician Lacan.→ Ext. Book Description

77 The theater and its double, Antonin Artaud Artaud's vision of the modern theater.→ Ext. Book Description

78 Manhattan transfer, John Dos Passos Dos Passo's socially critical New York novel is also on the German ZEIT list of the 100 most important novels.→ Ext. Book Description

79 fictions, Jorge Luis Borges Fictional biographies, fictional literature, unreal chronologies and fictional realities. “Fictions” demands a lot from the reader.→ Ext. Book Description

80 Moloch. The Life of Moravagine, Blaise Cendrars Moravagine, the monster, the madman, the psycho - about the reality of life.→ Ext. Book Description

81 The general of the dead army, Ismail Kadare A book about a general who, even 20 years after World War II, cannot break free of his demons and who undertakes a journey to the former enemy territory.→ Ext. Book Description

82 Sophie's choice, William Styron

The writer Stingo gets to know his neighbors Nathan and Sophie - and immediately falls in love with the delicate but also complicated Sophie→ Ext. Book Description

83 Romancero gitano, Federico García Lorca

Once a cult book, Lorca changes from pathos to irony, from shrill to romantic.The characters in Lorca's work are convincingly drawn and entertaining.→ Ext. Book Description

84 Maigret and Pietr the Latvian, Georges Simenon

Like Agatha Christi - Inspector Maigret's cases are exciting and entertaining.→ Ext. Book Description

85 Notre-Dame-des-Fleurs, Jean Genet

Autobiographical, obscene, and hard to take.→ Ext. Book Description

86 The man without qualities, Robert Musil

A book about life itself. Musil did not make it easy for himself: he wrote his work for 20 years.→ Ext. Book Description

87 Wrath and Mystery, René Char

German and French poems.→ Ext. Book Description

88 The catcher in the rye, J. D. Salinger

The cult book, which has sold millions of copies, is about 16-year-old Holden Caulfield, who wanders through New York alone and thinks almost everyone and everything is stupid. Even yourself ..→ Ext. Book Description

89 No orchids for Mrs. Blandish, James Hadley Chase

The young heiress is kidnapped, even several times, and then - how can it be otherwise - the gang leader falls in love with her.→ Ext. Book Description

90 The Adventures of Blake and Mortimer, Edgar P. Jacobs

In the post-fascism era, Blake and Mortimer's adventures deal with the question of whether the danger is finally over.→ Ext. Book Description

91 The notes of Malte Laurids Brigge; Rainer Maria Rilke

The little Danish Malte goes to the big city - and is overwhelmed and shaped by impressions in Paris.→ Ext. Book Description

92 Paris-Rome or The Modification, Michel Butor

The protagonist travels from Paris to Rome to visit his lover and is determined to part with his wife and children. Overnight his plan withers and he returns. Der Spiegel writes: "Your last chance to rejuvenate remains untapped". That's the way it goes.→ Ext. Book Description

93 Elements and Origins of Total Domination, Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt analyzes National Socialism and Stalinism as related types of rule and sees them partly as a result of anti-Semitism.→ Ext. Book Description

94 The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov

Evil invades Moscow and kills everyone except two righteous. Recalls Abraham's dialogue with his Creator for the benefit of the righteous in Sodom.→ Ext. Book Description

95 Trilogy: Sexus, Plexus and Nexus, Henry Miller

Miller's three-volume work "The Rosy Crucifixion" encompasses his early adventures.→ Ext. Book Description

96 The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler

A typical detective story with pretty women, dangerous gangsters - and nobody seems to be what they claim to be.→ Ext. Book Description

97 nautical marks, Saint-John Perse

Perse himself describes his book as follows: "My resolution was to praise the drama of man on earth with all his fervor and boldness". We couldn't have explained it any better!→ Ext. Book Description

98 Gaston, André Franquin

A famous cartoon character.→ Ext. Book Description

99 Under the volcano, Malcolm Lowry

Yvonne wants to free her husband Geoffrey from drinking and is instead dragged down by him.→ Ext. Book Description

100 Midnight Children, Salman Rushdie

On the night India gains independence, a daft nurse exchanges two children. The son of a completely destitute family with the one from a rich family. Fate takes its course ... Extremely well-written and exciting too.→ Ext. Book Description

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And which books are Germans' favorites? That reveals the readers' choice d

The classic list from the Gröls editorial team

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The UK's top 100 list

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The ZDF readers' choice: The great reading!

Author: Best Books