Classic American Novels

Madhura Pandit Feb 15, 2019
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There are hundreds of classic American novels that should be read at least once. Here is a list that includes top American novels of all time.
Although the American literature is 400-500 years old, we find outstanding works by several authors and writers that are considered masterpieces in the literature all over the world. Broadly defining, American literature can be defined by the collection of the pieces of literature that were / are produced in the United States of America and its colonies.
Among all the genres of literature, probably the novel and poetry are the most popular and widely read ones. Here is a collection of some of the best and popular American novels that are bestsellers and widely read even today.

Top 10 American Novels

Gone With The Wind

No other novel in the world can beat this classic novel by Margaret Mitchell which has all the elements of a perfect masterpiece: love, romance, war, relationships, etc. The movie based on the novel with the same name is equally popular as the novel.

The Scarlet Letter

Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel, the Scarlet Letter, is considered as one of the best works in American literature. The plot revolves around the life of a young woman named Hester Prynne who commits adultery, is punished and lives her life with repentance.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee's novel is one of the best classic American novels of the 20th century. The book deals with several issues in modern America in a warm manner that touch the heart of the readers.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

This classic novel by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemen) is full of fun, humor and satire. It is a must read for students as well as adults all over the world. It shows the adventures of the 12 year old, Tom Sawyer and his friend Huckleberry Finn.


This light novel by Sinclair Lewis is a satire that throws light on American culture and society. Although this novel was published in 1922, the satire still applies today.

Little Women

Little Women is one of the most read classic American novel by Louisa May Alcott that portrays the life of four sisters during the American Civil War. It is roughly based on the author's relationships with her three sisters in her childhood.

The Great Gatsby

The plot of this novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald revolves around the aftermath of World War I in America. It is considered as one of the greatest novels in literature for the plot and the finer details portrayed by the author.

A Farewell to Arms

This is a semi-autobiographical novel by Ernest Hemingway where he shares his experiences of the world war through a character in the novel.

The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye is a popular novel by American author J. D. Salinger which deals with several complex issues like angst, sexuality, alienation and rebellion. It is very popular among teenagers and young adults even today.

The Grapes of Wrath

This novel, written by John Steinbeck, has a plot that revolves around a poor family of sharecroppers who face economic hardships who later set to find jobs and dignity. This Pulitzer Award-winning novel never fails to move the readers.

List of Other American Classics

  • The Fountainhead ~ Ayn Rand
  • Atlas Shrugged ~ Ayn Rand
  • Invisible Man: A Novel ~ Ralph Ellison
  • The Red Badge of Courage ~ Stephen Crane
  • Call of the Wild ~ Jack London
  • Fahrenheit 451 ~ Ray Bradbury
  • Of Mice and Men ~ John Steinbeck
  • Cannery Row and The Pearl ~ John Steinbeck
  • As I lay Dying ~ William Faulkner
  • The Old Man and the Sea ~ Ernest Hemingway
  • The House of Seven Gables ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • The Yearling ~ Marjorie K. Rawlings
  • Catch 22 ~ Joseph Heller
  • Gravity's Rainbow ~ Thomas Pynchon
  • Beloved ~ Toni Morrison
  • Snow White ~ Donald Barthelme
  • Portnoy's Complaint ~ Philip Roth
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn ~ Betty Smith
These novels are a must-read for all the lovers of novels as well as patrons of American literature. Enjoy reading!