BBC list of 100 'most inspiring' novels

On 5 November 2019, the BBC published a list of novels selected by a panel of six writers and critics, who had been asked to choose 100 English language novels "that have had an impact on their lives".[1] The resulting list of "100 novels that shaped our world",[1] called the "100 'most inspiring' novels" by BBC News,[2] was published by the BBC to kick off a year of celebrating literature.[2][3]

The list triggered comments from critics and other news agencies. News agencies from outside the United Kingdom, like Canadian broadcaster CBC News and Nigerian news website, profiled authors with works included in the list who were nationals of their countries.[4][5] The Guardian noted surprising titles missing from the list, like Moby Dick.[6]

The BBC relied on six experts: Stig Abell, Mariella Frostrup, Juno Dawson, Kit de Waal, Alexander McCall Smith and Syima Aslam.[4][6] The CBC characterized the panel as composed of "writers, curators and critics".[4] According to The Guardian, the list commemorated the publication of Robinson Crusoe, 300 years earlier – "widely seen as the progenitor of the English-language novel".[6]

The panel broke their list into ten categories of ten novels each.[1]

On 5 November 2019 the BBC published a list of the 100 'most inspiring' novels[2]
BelovedToni Morrison1987IdentityAmerican
Days Without EndSebastian Barry2016IdentityIrish
Fugitive PiecesAnne Michaels1996IdentityCanadian
Half of a Yellow SunChimamanda Ngozi Adichie2006IdentityNigerian
HomegoingYaa Gyasi2016IdentityGhanaian-American
Small IslandAndrea Levy2004IdentityBritish
The Bell JarSylvia Plath1963IdentityAmerican
The God of Small ThingsArundhati Roy1997IdentityIndian
Things Fall ApartChinua Achebe1958IdentityNigerian
White TeethZadie Smith2000IdentityBritish
Bridget Jones’s DiaryHelen Fielding1996Love, Sex & RomanceBritish
Forever...Judy Blume1975Love, Sex & RomanceAmerican
Giovanni's RoomJames Baldwin1956Love, Sex & RomanceAmerican
Pride and PrejudiceJane Austen1813Love, Sex & RomanceBritish
RidersJilly Cooper1985Love, Sex & RomanceBritish
Their Eyes Were Watching GodZora Neale Hurston1937Love, Sex & RomanceAmerican
The Far PavilionsM. M. Kaye1978Love, Sex & RomanceBritish
The Forty Rules of LoveElif Shafak2009Love, Sex & RomanceTurkish
The PassionJeanette Winterson1987Love, Sex & RomanceBritish
The Slaves of SolitudePatrick Hamilton1947Love, Sex & RomanceBritish
City of BohaneKevin Barry2011AdventureIrish
Eye of the NeedleKen Follett1978AdventureBritish
For Whom the Bell TollsErnest Hemingway1940AdventureAmerican
His Dark Materials TrilogyPhilip Pullman1995AdventureBritish
IvanhoeWalter Scott1819AdventureBritish
Mr StandfastJohn Buchan1919AdventureBritish
The Big SleepRaymond Chandler1939AdventureAmerican
The Hunger GamesSuzanne Collins2008AdventureAmerican
The Jack Aubrey NovelsPatrick O’Brian1969AdventureBritish
The Lord of the Rings TrilogyJ.R.R. Tolkien1954AdventureBritish
A Game of ThronesGeorge R. R. Martin1996Life, Death & Other WorldsAmerican
Astonishing the GodsBen Okri1995Life, Death & Other WorldsNigerian
DuneFrank Herbert1966Life, Death & Other WorldsAmerican
FrankensteinMary Shelley1818Life, Death & Other WorldsBritish
GileadMarilynne Robinson2004Life, Death & Other WorldsAmerican
The Chronicles of NarniaC. S. Lewis1950Life, Death & Other WorldsBritish
The Discworld SeriesTerry Pratchett1983Life, Death & Other WorldsBritish
The Earthsea TrilogyUrsula K. Le Guin1968Life, Death & Other WorldsAmerican
The Sandman SeriesNeil Gaiman1989Life, Death & Other WorldsBritish
The RoadCormac McCarthy2006Life, Death & Other WorldsAmerican
A Thousand Splendid SunsKhaled Hosseini2007Politics, Power & ProtestAfghan-American
Brave New WorldAldous Huxley1932Politics, Power & ProtestBritish
Home FireKamila Shamsie2017Politics, Power & ProtestBritish
Lord of the FliesWilliam Golding1954Politics, Power & ProtestBritish
Noughts & CrossesMalorie Blackman2001Politics, Power & ProtestBritish
Strumpet CityJames Plunkett1979Politics, Power & ProtestIrish
The Color PurpleAlice Walker1982Politics, Power & ProtestAmerican
To Kill a MockingbirdHarper Lee1960Politics, Power & ProtestAmerican
V for VendettaAlan Moore1982Politics, Power & ProtestBritish
UnlessCarol Shields2002Politics, Power & ProtestCanadian
A House for Mr BiswasV. S. Naipaul1961Class & SocietyTrinidadian
Cannery RowJohn Steinbeck1945Class & SocietyAmerican
DisgraceJ.M. Coetzee1999Class & SocietySouth-African
Our Mutual FriendCharles Dickens1864Class & SocietyBritish
Poor CowNell Dunn1967Class & SocietyBritish
Saturday Night and Sunday MorningAlan Sillitoe1958Class & SocietyBritish
The Lonely Passion of Judith HearneBrian Moore1955Class & SocietyBritish-Canadian
The Prime of Miss Jean BrodieMuriel Spark1961Class & SocietyBritish
The Remains of the DayKazuo Ishiguro1989Class & SocietyBritish
Wide Sargasso SeaJean Rhys1966Class & SocietyBritish
Emily of New MoonL. M. Montgomery1923Coming of AgeCanadian
Golden ChildClaire Adam2019Coming of AgeTrinidadian
Oryx and CrakeMargaret Atwood2003Coming of AgeCanadian
So Long, See You TomorrowWilliam Maxwell1979Coming of AgeAmerican
Swami and FriendsR. K. Narayan1935Coming of AgeIndian
The Country GirlsEdna O’Brien1960Coming of AgeIrish
The Harry Potter seriesJ. K. Rowling1995Coming of AgeBritish
The OutsidersS. E. Hinton1967Coming of AgeAmerican
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 ¾Sue Townsend1982Coming of AgeBritish
The Twilight SagaStephenie Meyer2005Coming of AgeAmerican
A Suitable BoyVikram Seth1993Family & FriendshipIndian
Ballet ShoesNoel Streatfeild1935Family & FriendshipBritish
CloudstreetTim Winton1991Family & FriendshipAustralian
Cold Comfort FarmStella Gibbons1932Family & FriendshipBritish
I Capture the CastleDodie Smith1948Family & FriendshipBritish
MiddlemarchGeorge Eliot1871Family & FriendshipBritish
Tales of the CityArmistead Maupin1978Family & FriendshipAmerican
The Shipping NewsE. Annie Proulx1993Family & FriendshipAmerican
The Tenant of Wildfell HallAnne Brontë1848Family & FriendshipBritish
The WitchesRoald Dahl1983Family & FriendshipBritish
American TabloidJames Ellroy1995Crime & ConflictAmerican
American WarOmar El Akkad2017Crime & ConflictEgyptian-Canadian
Ice Candy ManBapsi Sidhwa1988Crime & ConflictBritish
RebeccaDaphne du Maurier1938Crime & ConflictBritish
RegenerationPat Barker1991Crime & ConflictBritish
The Children of MenP.D. James1992Crime & ConflictBritish
The Hound of the BaskervillesArthur Conan Doyle1901Crime & ConflictBritish
The Reluctant FundamentalistMohsin Hamid2007Crime & ConflictPakistani
The Talented Mr RipleyPatricia Highsmith1955Crime & ConflictAmerican
The Quiet AmericanGraham Greene1955Crime & ConflictBritish
A Confederacy of DuncesJohn Kennedy Toole1980Rule BreakersAmerican
Bartleby, the ScrivenerHerman Melville1853Rule BreakersAmerican
HabibiCraig Thompson2011Rule BreakersAmerican
How to Be BothAli Smith2014Rule BreakersBritish
OrlandoVirginia Woolf1928Rule BreakersAmerican
Nights at the CircusAngela Carter1984Rule BreakersBritish
Nineteen Eighty-FourGeorge Orwell1949Rule BreakersBritish
Psmith, JournalistP. G. Wodehouse1909Rule BreakersBritish
The Moor’s Last SighSalman Rushdie1995Rule BreakersBritish
Zami: A New Spelling of My NameAudre Lorde1982Rule BreakersBritish


  1. "Explore the list of 100 Novels That Shaped Our World". BBC Arts. BBC. 5 November 2019. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  2. "100 'most inspiring' novels revealed by BBC Arts". BBC News. 2019-11-05. Retrieved 2019-11-10. The reveal kickstarts the BBC's year-long celebration of literature.
  3. Sarakshi Rai (2019-11-07). "These are the 100 novels that have shaped our world, according to the BBC: How many of these books have you read?". Esquire magazine. Retrieved 2019-11-10. These novels have all sparked "debate about the novels that have had a big impact on us all personally and culturally".
  4. "Margaret Atwood, L.M. Montgomery, Carol Shields featured on BBC's list of 100 novels that shaped the world". CBC News. 2019-11-08. Retrieved 2019-11-09. Five Canadian books are on the list: Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels, Unless by Carol Shields, Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery, Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood and American War by Omar El Akkad.
  5. Sola Budunrin (2019-11-10). "Things Fall Apart, Half of A Yellow Sun named in the list of 100 novels that shaped the world". Retrieved 2019-11-10. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Chinua Achebe and Ben Okri's novels made the list of 100 novels that shaped the world.
  6. Alison Flood (2019-11-05). "Discworld dishes Moby-Dick: BBC unveils 100 'novels that shaped our world'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2019-11-10. There’s no Wuthering Heights, no Moby-Dick, no Ulysses, but there is Half of a Yellow Sun, Bridget Jones’s Diary and Discworld: so announced the panel of experts assembled by the BBC to draw up a list of 100 novels that shaped their world.
  7. When the BBC listed a series, the date is the publication of the first novel.
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