Is ‘All The Light We Cannot See’ the best book ever?

Book store chain Dymocks says that American author Anthony Doerr’s 2014 novel All The Light We Cannot See is the “top book of all time” according to a survey of its readers released today.

The books nominated for the top 101 list cover all forms of literature, but clearly the store’s readers – who registered over 141,000 votes – are most impressed by whatever they’ve read and enjoyed recently.

Of the top 10 books, only one of them was written before 2000. That was Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell written in 1949. He might have Donald Trump to thank for his dystopian vision getting a sales boost with a new generation of readers. By contrast, another literary classic, Charlotte’s Bronte’s Jane Eyre, limped in at No. 72, though Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was ranked a spritely No 23.

True, Jane Austen’s work is regularly trotted out for screen adaptations and that clearly influences appreciation, or awareness, of a book.

The survey showed that six of the top 10 books have been made into successful films. Girl on the Train, which last year was ranked No. 35 in the annual survey, jumped to No. 3 this year after the release of the widely publicised movie version.

If the store’s survey of its readers provides a snapshot of Australian readers’ tastes, then just like our TV programming, we like locally made stories.

For the past three years, Australian writer Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief has occupied the top favourite book “of all time”. Although his novel was pipped from top ranking this year, half of the top 10 and almost two thirds of the top 20 books are by Australian authors.

Highest ranking Australian writers included Zusak’s at No. 2, M.L. Stedman’s The Light Between the Oceans at No.5, Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites at No. 6, Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project at No. 8 and Anh Do’s The Happiest Refugee at No. 9.

The full list (including links to related reviews and commentary) is below.

‘TOP 101 FAVOURITE BOOKS oF ALL TIME’ 

1. ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr

2. THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak

3. THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins

4. THE HARRY POTTER SERIES by J.K. Rowling

5. THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS by M..L. Stedman 

6. BURIAL RITES by Hannah Kent

7. ME BEFORE YOU by Jojo Moyes

8. THE ROSIE PROJECT by Graeme Simsion

9. THE HAPPIEST REFUGEE by Anh Do

10. NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR by George Orwell

11. JASPER JONES by Craig Silvey

12. MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN by Ransom Riggs

13. OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon

14. THE NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH by Richard Flanagan

 15. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee

16. THE DRY by Jane Harper

17. BIG LITTLE LIES by Liane Moriarty

18. TRULY MADLY GUILTY by Liane Moriarty

19. THE GOOD PEOPLE by Hannah Kent

20. JACK WEST JNR SERIES by Matthew Reilly

21. A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES SERIES by Sarah J. Maa

22. RECKONING by Magda Szubanski

23. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen

24. THE NAME OF THE WIND by Patrick Rothfuss

25. THE ALCHEMIST by Paulo Coelho

26. THE WRONG GIRL by Zoë Foster Blake

27. THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern

28. SMALL GREAT THINGS by Jodi Picoult

29. THE HUSBAND’S SECRET by Liane Moriarty

30. A LITTLE LIFE by Lanya Yanagihara

31. THE ONE HUNDRED YEAR OLD MAN WHO CLIMBED OUT OF THE WINDOW AND DISAPPEARED by Jonas Jonasson

32. WORKING CLASS BOY by Jmmy Barnes

33. THE CASUAL VACANCY by J.K. Rowling

34. THE LORD OF THE RINGS by J. R. R. Tolkien

35. THE HOBBIT by J. R. R. Tolkien

36. THE RED QUEEN SERIES by Victoria Aveyard

37. THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt

38. THE BRAIN THAT CHANGES ITSELF by Norman Doidge

39. HUMANS OF NEW YORK: STORIES by Brandon Stanton

40A GAME OF THRONES SERIES by George R. R. Martin

41. I AM PILGRIM by Terry Hayes

42. ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES by Jennifer Niven

43. FIGHT LIKE A GIRL by Clementine Ford

44. THE NEAPOLITAN SERIES by Elena Ferrante

45. WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart

46. THE WRONG SIDE OF GOODBYE by Michael Connelly

47. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green

48. RIVERS OF LONDON by Ben Aaronovitch

49. THE LAST PAINTING OF SARA DE VOS by Dominic Smith

50. THE WHISTLER by John Grisham

51. WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES by Karen Joy Fowler

52. THE BOY BEHIND THE CURTAIN by Tim Winton

53.  SULLY by Chesley Sullenberger & Jeffrey Zaslo

54.  KILLING FLOOR Lee Child

55. THE ILLUMINAE FILES by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

56. THE PASSAGE by Justin Cronin

57. THREE SISTERS, THREE QUEENS by Philippa Gregory

58. THE MESSENGER by Markus Zusak

59. THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir

60. EVERYWHERE I LOOK by Helen Garner

61. A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME by Stephen Hawking

62. LADY MIDNIGHT by Cassandra Clare

63. THE NATURAL WAY OF THINGS by Charlotte Wood

64. THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE by Stephen R. Covey

65. READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline

66. THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett

67. NO MAN’S LAND by David Baldacci

68. TALKING TO MY COUNTRY by Stan Grant

69. CORMORAN STRIKE SERIES by Robert Galbraith

70.  GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn

71. ASSASSIN’S APPRENTICE by Robin Hobb

72. JANE EYRE by Charlotte Brontë

73. THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY by Douglas Adams

74. TWO BY TWO by Nicholas Sparks

75. THE FINAL EMPIRE by Brandon Sanderson

76. TOMORROW, WHEN THE WAR BEGAN by John Marsden

77. RATHER BE THE DEVIL by Ian Rankin

78. THE GIRL WITH THE LOWER BACK TATTOO Amy Schumer

79. THE MILLENNIUM SERIES by Stieg Larsson

80. THE TRIALS OF APOLLO by Rick Riordan

81. BORN TO RUN by Bruce Springsteen

82. THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER by Stephen Chbosky

83. THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald

84. MILK AND HONEY by Rupi Kaur

85. THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A F*CK by Mark Manson

86. OUR SOULS AT NIGHT by Kent Haruf

87. MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA by Arthur Golden

88. GHOST EMPIRE by Richard Fidler

89. THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

90. GOODWOOD by Holly Throsby

91. AMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman

92. MAGICIAN by Raymond E. Feist

93. STILL ALICE by Lisa Genova

94. ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell

95. THE SELLOUT by Paul Beatty

96. THE COURSE OF LOVE by Alain de Botton

97. THE DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL by Anne Frank

98. COMMONWEALTH By Ann Patchett

99. THE DRESSMAKER by Rosalie Ham

100. TELL THE TRUTH, SHAME THE DEVIL by Melina Marchetta

101. SAPIENS by Yuval Noah Harari

One response to “Is ‘All The Light We Cannot See’ the best book ever?

  1. What! No mention of any works by John Grisham, Dan Brown, Terry Pratchett, Philippa Gregory, to name but a few, in a list that boasts the title “top books of ALL time”? Am I to take it, therefore, that Dymock’s survey covered an Australian-only audience? That might explain a number of the entries, especially some of those near the top of the list. If that is the case, then it should be made more clear.

Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Newsletter Signup