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Updated on June 5, 2013



To pick just top 10 or so fictions in English is not an easy thing to do and there will be many 'nahs.' This rich and vivid language has got hundreds of years of history and thousands of authors. Mark Twain, Joseph Conrad, Ernest Hemingway, Daniel Defoe, Harper Lee, Charles Dickens, Jane Austin, Jeffrey Archer, Sidney Sheldon, John Grisham.. the list goes on and on. Every author is different and have their own individual essence in writing. To pick just 10 or so fictions is near impossible. It is just a try and above all there is nothing like anyone or everyone should agree with this. Please disagree with this list and shoot me with a better list.

1. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad: We always know one who travels more, acquires a better view about the people, places, and about the life. Conrad belongs to this class of writers. Polish by birth Joseph Conrard did not know the English until he was 20. He was a “foreigner at the gate” to the English literature school of thought, who went on to write some magnificent literary works in English language which knocked out the contemporary literary giants of the 20th Century. Conrad was a seaman for the better part of his life and this life on sea gave an entirely different outlook towards the outer world, which in term became major themes for his novels. Most of his stories have sea as a background. Reading Conrad's novels in like voyage of a lifetime and fulfilling your dreams.

Heart of Darkness is based on Conrad’s real-life adventurous journey into the deep jungles of Congo, Africa, the dark continent. It is difficult to tell exactly what the story is about, but this book makes you to read it again and again and every time you read it, you ought to find new proportion of the same story. Whether it is about human struggle in extreme circumstances or white man’s burden or whatever it is …??? In Conrad’s own words it is the “farthest point of navigation and culmination of human experience.” When you finish this novel, without any doubt it is definitely a kind of culmination of human experience.

2.Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe: How can you live in an uninhibited place all alone for 28 years, and of course, if you are lucky enough you may get man Friday. What would be your thoughts about life, wealth, nature, world, and God etcetera. Considered one of the earliest adventure travelogue kind of book which tells a story of a shipwrecked sailor’s survival on an uninhibited small tropical island for 28 years. This castaway novel is a reader’s delight. You can open any page of the book and start reading. It is thrilling and exhilarating as well as sometimes sends the readers into deep thoughts. This great novel became the storyline for Tom Hank's famous movie Cast Away which went on to win many awards. This novel also is the source for many expeditions to find original Robinson Crusoe's island.

3.Great Expectations by Charles Dickens: An early mid 1800s story set in mainly London and marshes of Kent. Arguably the best work from Charles Dickens, of course not to forget David Copperfield. A village orphan boy and hero of the book, goes through different shades of life. Venturing into the snobbish world of London Society and trying to become a hero on someone's else behalf and leaving all the loved ones is the theme of the story. The novel opens with a gripping beginning in the Kent marshland at an eerie churchyard, where little this boy encounters a criminal who asks for help.

4.The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain: Arguably Mark Twain's finest. Celebration of boyhood romance, a young mind's journey into the Deep South. A tumultuous move of a white boy with a black man down the great Mississippi river is one the most celebrated literary work of nineteenth century by Mark Twain. Different shades of life along the Mississipi river come in front of you in the form of different characters of the Novel. Initially banned, but most widely read and universally loved work in American fiction where tall tale takes the new heights. This sequel of “The Adventure of Tom Sawyer” has high claims. According to Earnest HemmingwayAll modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called “Huckleberry Finn.Moral conflicts, tailor-made civilization, false and gaudy values of the modern society, and racism are some of the themes with Huck struggles throughout the story, but Mark Twain himself famously told not to try to find any motive, plot, or moral in Huckleberry Finn.

5.Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky: Written with a simple thought: Crime never pays. Dostoyevsky is one of the outstanding Russian novelists of the nineteenth century. As a result of his association with revolutionary army, he was deported to Siberia to serve his penal servitude for 4 years. Crime and Punishment is Dostoyevsky’s finest masterpiece and great novels of the world literature. The theme of the novel is just virtue can be its own reward, crime can be its own punishment, in other words, crime never pays. It is also a psychological analysis of a proud, sensitive, young intellectual who is driven, partly by circumstances and partly by his conviction, commits a murder and suffers later. Another important strand of the novel is the penury and misery of downtrodden in the 19th century Russia.

6.The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho:And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Yes, this book is about following one’s dreams and achieving it and believing to achieve it. There may be many how-to-achieve kind of books, but this novel which is short and sweet altogether teaches many things among following your dreams. We all know Paulo Coelho is modern saint, and The Alchemist is a story told very simply but very effectively about chasing one's dream.It also tells us about the various opportunities we get in our living and how blindly we ignore them.

7.To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee: This novel is set in the State of Alabama during the 3 years of Great Depression where a white lawyer defends a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Harper Lee grew up in a Southern town of Alabama from where she has picked up the characters for the novel which at times seem so real. Most of the plot in the novel we see through the young eyes. It is about race and class in the Deep South of thirties.

8.A Painted House by John Grisham:As we all know John Grisham’s speciality is court room brawls and lawyers, but “A Painted House” took him to the new heights in the world of American modern fiction. Set in the rural Arkansas, we get to see vivid but struggling lifestyle of cotton farmers and their struggle with floods and laborers, and of course Mexicans and hill people. The whole story is told by a 7-year-old boy, Luke Chandler.

At the end of the novel, Luke’s parents along with Luke set to explore a new phase of their life, travel to a city to find a better life. Eli Chandler, Luke’s grandfather, drops them at a bus terminal and heads back to home where he is left with wet cotton to be picked from the field with no help at hands. This story is so gripping that even after completing the book, the characters hunt for a long time and we want to know what happened to them later in their lives.

Now, I left this 9 and 10 for readers to put in their choice. I know there will be many more, it is not that easy to just select only 10 novels, but as I said it is just an effort. There is nothing like one should like only these.


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