100 Must-Read Second Novels

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Amazing debut novels are a thing of joy, and lucky us, it seems like there are more of them than ever these days. But what about the follow-ups? How many authors survived the dreaded sophomore slump? And how many famous novels were actually an author’s second?


100 Must-Read Second Novels


I was curious about this, but when I Googled “second novels,” there were a lot of articles about people trying to write a second novel, but not many on great second novels themselves.

So here’s a list of fantastic second novels that I hope will give people lots of new books to check out. There are literally hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of second novels in existence, so I went with the first 100 that popped into my brain.

Some of these are an author’s most famous work, and some of them are an author’s lesser known work, but all are wonderful.

What are your favorite second novels? Tell us in the comments! And stay tuned for more “second” book lists in the future.

  1. No Longer at Ease by Chinua Achebe
  2. At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcón
  3. The Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea
  4. In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Álvarez
  5. Surfacing by Margaret Atwood
  6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  7. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
  8. Sister of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
  9. City of Thieves by David Benioff
  10. The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman
  11. The Blood of Others by Simone de Beauvoir
  12. Peacekeeping by Mischa Berlinski
  13. Let It Come Down by Paul Bowles
  14. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  15. The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier
  16. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  17. O Pioneers! By Willa Cather
  18. The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee
  19. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  20. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
  21. Kings of the Earth by Jon Clinch
  22. Open City by Teju Cole
  23. Our Spoons Came from Woolworths by Barbara Comyns
  24. The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat
  25. Moonheart by Charle de Lint
  26. The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
  27. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
  28. Play It as It Lays by Joan Didion
  29. The Maytrees by Annie Dillard
  30. The Brothers K by David James Duncan
  31. Juneteenth by Ralph Ellison
  32. The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante
  33. The Magus by John Fowles
  34. Desperate Characters by Paula Fox
  35. The Agüero Sisters by Cristina García
  36. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
  37. Arcadia by Lauren Groff
  38. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
  39. Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway
  40. Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett
  41. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
  42. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez
  43. The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
  44. The Mambo Kings Sing Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos
  45. Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson
  46. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  47. Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson
  48. The Book of Night Women by Marlon James
  49. Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome
  50. Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson
  51. Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey
  52. The Last Illusion by Porochista Khakpour
  53. The English Teacher by Lily King
  54. ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
  55. Life is Elsewhere by Milan Kundera
  56. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
  57. The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli
  58. The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan
  59. The Assistant by Bernard Malmaud
  60. They Came Like Swallows by William Maxwell
  61. Outer Dark by Cormac McCarthy
  62. How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu
  63. All Quiet on the Orient Express by Magnus Mills
  64. Heft by Liz Moore
  65. Sula by Toni Morrison
  66. The Flight from the Enchanter by Iris Murdoch
  67. Skippy Dies by Paul Murray
  68. Inferno by Eileen Myles
  69. Foreign Gods, Inc. by Okey Ndibe
  70. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  71. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
  72. In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje
  73. My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki
  74. Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
  75. True Grit by Charles Portis
  76. The Chosen by Chaim Potok
  77. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
  78. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  79. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
  80. Family Life by Akhil Sharma
  81. Hotel World by Ali Smith
  82. The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith
  83. The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar
  84. Eat the Document by Dana Spiotta
  85. Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone
  86. The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan
  87. The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar
  88. The Green House by Mario Vargas Llosa
  89. Meridian by Alice Walker
  90. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  91. Land of the Blind by Jess Walter
  92. Affinity by Sarah Waters
  93. The Music Lesson by Katharine Weber
  94. John Henry Days by Colson Whitehead
  95. Butcher’s Crossing by John Williams
  96. Annabel by Kathleen Winter
  97. The Passion by Jeanette Winterson
  98. All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld
  99. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
  100. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto