OUP staff select their top five books of all time

To mark the Australian Reading Hour on September 14, we asked some Oxford University Press Australia and New Zealand staff to list their top five reads of all time.

Do you agree with their selections? What books are in your top five?


  1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott  – I think anyone who has read this book identifies with one of the March sisters (I’m a Jo).
  2. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides– love the dark humour woven throughout this book, and the last paragraph always gets me.
  3. The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge – a dreamy fairytale set in the 1800s, with lots of strong female characters!
  4. Mary Poppins by P.L Travers– Book Mary Poppins is so much sassier than Julie Andrews!
  5. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari – a fairly recent publication but a must-read! A fascinating look back at how we’ve evolved into the humans of today. (Also recommend the sequel, Homo Deus).


  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  • Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
  • Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop by Bob Stanley
  • The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
  • Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Ann Tyler


  1. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden – I love the setting and way the words make you feel like you are really there, living her life.
  2. Harry Potter by JK Rowling – I love that I can get lost in the world of Hogwarts. The words create such a vivid image in your mind and really make you feel magical! (Note for Fleur – I totally would have attended Hogwarts; I know it!)
  3. Lovely Bones by Alice Seebold – One of the most powerful books I have read. The character studies it created on the family members and how they all lived through their own trauma was so touching.
  4. The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve – AMAZING ENDING! I loved how it worked backwards in time.
  5. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler – Really great twist that I did not see coming. Makes for a good, interesting read.


  1. Candy by Luke Davies
  2. Bossypants by Tina Fey
  3. The Good Cop by Justine Ford
  4. All the Goosebumps (literally all of them)
  5. Garfield by Jim Davis


  1. I love anything by Barbara Kingsolver, particularly Prodigal Summer, as I can re-read this over and over again.
  2. Anything by Ian McEwan, particularly Atonement.
  3. Currently working through The Secret Seven series by Enid Blyton with my daughter and really enjoying them
  4. I also loved Salt Creek by Lucy Treloar this year (a historical novel set in the Coorong in the 1800s, brilliant)
  5. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak is wonderful but heartbreaking so although I loved it, I’m not brave enough to read it again.


  1. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  2. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – a strange, mystical read that is hard to put down or forget.
  3. All That I Am by Anna Funder – beautiful language and a fascinating, tragic story.
  4. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver – a chilling story about motherhood and the nature of evil.
  5. The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton – for the nostalgia.


  1. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  3. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  4. Under the Net by Iris Murdoch
  5. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll


  1. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta (razor-sharp and so relatable – I read it at least six times a year)
  2. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  3. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  4. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
  5. Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden


  1. Tommo & Hawk by Bryce Courtenay
  2. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
  3. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  4. Our Iceberg is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under any Conditions by John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber
  5. Animal Farm by George Orwell


  1. Jemima J: A Novel About Ugly Ducklings and Swans and Straight Talking: A Novel by Jane Green
  2. Tully by Paullina Simons
  3. The Pact, Second Glance and Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Piccoult
  4. The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve
  5. Watermelon, Sushi for Beginners and Angels by Marian Keyes


  1. Emma by Jane Austen
  2. The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald
  3. Just Kids by Patti Smith
  4. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  5. The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa


  1. Old Pig by Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks – The first book that made me cry.
  2. The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton – I used to climb trees looking for magical lands, but sadly never found any.
  3. The Other Side of the Story by Marian Keyes – This book sparked my interest in a book publishing career.
  4. What Do People Do All Day? by Richard Scarry – I read this with my Dad all the time.
  5. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine – I just love a good re-versioned fairy tale and I read this one repeatedly.


  1. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick
  2. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
  3. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  4. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
  5. Easy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind


  • Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson
  • Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
  • The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
  • To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell – This one is a memoir – just released and I’ve only just read it but it is amazing. I’m already looking forward to re-reading it very soon!


  1. What do you think, Feezal? by Elizabeth Honey
  2. White Tiger by Kylie Chan
  3. Model Spy by Shannon Greenland
  4. Death by Water by Kerry Greenwood
  5. High Five by Janet Evanovich


  1. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil Degrasse Tyson


  1. She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
  2. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
  3. Choke by Chuck Palahniuk
  4. Ode to Billy Joe by Herman Raucher
  5. Wetlands by Charlotte Roche


  1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  3. Life of Pi by Yann Martell
  4. Of a Boy by Sonya Hartnett
  5. Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho


Interested in classics? Check out the Oxford World’s Classics range

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