“Dystopia” refers to a broad range of stories, and therefore everyone has their own recommendations for what the “must-reads” are. Lists generally include Orwell’s famous 1984 – and greatly diverge from there.

Although a list’s offerings often have common themes, they don’t always feel similar. For example, one list put The Lorax next to The Maze Runner and The Crucible. These three have dystopic themes while being very different. I can understand why they’re on the same list. But I wanted a lineup which was more specific, more related to each other, and couldn’t easily find such a list. So I created my own:

  1. 1984 by George Orwell (1949)
  2. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)
  3. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)
  4. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1986)
  5. The Children of Men by P. D. James (1992)
  6. Shockwave Rider by John Brunner (1975)
  7. V for Vendetta by Alan Moore (1990)
  8. It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis (1935)
  9. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (2008)
  10. The Running Man by Richard Bachman (1982)

While this list isn’t perfect (or comprehensive), it’s cohesive enough to feel like a good start. These are all popular works you’re likely to hear about (if you don’t already know about them).

And for people who want more, I’ve included a second list here (of 20 honorable mentions). They’re popular, yet not not enough to be in most Dystopia-oriented lists. (Which are usually dominated by 1984 and Brave New World.) Or they simply take a different direction than the top 10 above. Every story here seems increasingly relevant in modern times; it wouldn’t be unusual to see them on the same shelf.

  1. Animal Farm by George Orwell (1945)
  2. The Maze Runner by James Dashner (2009)
  3. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006)
  4. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (2008)
  5. The Circle by Dave Eggers (2013)
  6. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962)
  7. Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart (2010)
  8. Virtual Light by William Gibson (1993)
  9. Americana by Don DeLillo (1971)
  10. Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1954)
  11. The Crucible by Arthur Miller (1953)
  12. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss (1971)
  13. The Iron Heel by Jack London (1908)
  14. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami (1999)
  15. The Giver by Lois Lowry (1993)
  16. The Trial by Franz Kafka (1925)
  17. The Private Eye by Brian K. Vaughan (2013)
  18. Divergent by Veronica Roth (2011)
  19. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (1968)
  20. The Stand by Stephen King (1978)

Did I miss something? Let me know!