The top 100 great novels?

OCLC identifies the 100 novels most widely held in public libraries around the world.

OCLC’s WorldCat contains data about the collections of more than 18,000 libraries, representing about 447 million catalogued items. OCLC’s data scientists analysed the figures to take into account multiple editions and variations of many novels as well as alternative titles in different countries.

The top ten most widely held novels in libraries worldwide

  1. Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes
  2. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
  3. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
  4. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain 
  5. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
  6. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
  7. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
  8. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
  9. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
  10. The Scarlet Letter, Nathanial Hawthorne

Other interesting findings

  • The Little Prince (#35) is the most translated novel on the list (available in 78 languages)
  • Moby Dick (#9) and Oliver Twist (#20) tie for second place (54 translations each)
  • The three most widely held authors in terms of number of books on the list are Charles Dickens (six); Jane Austen (four); Mark Twain (four)
  • More than half the authors (53%) have only one book on the list
  • The setting for the most novels is the UK
  • One book on the list was originally published in the 1300s; two in the 1600s; three in the 1700s; 51 in the 1800s; 42 in the 1900s; and only one in the 21st century (The Da Vinci Code, #88)

Skip Pritchard of OCLC draws an interesting conclusion to the findings

“The top 100 The Library 100 reflects a historical view of what literature is viewed as important, so it reflects dominant cultures and perspectives over time. These are the books that have been taught, translated, and retold. Of course, libraries increasingly understand that they need to work harder to make their collections representative of the stories, memories, and experiences of all the communities they serve. They are also looking at existing collections in light of historical oversights or exclusions. WorldCat can also be a valuable resource for libraries in this context, and we are interested in learning more about how libraries would like to use it in this important work.”

The full list of 100 novels can be found here...