Ranking Author Doris Lessing’s Best Books (A Bibliography Countdown)

Doris Lessing Bibliography Ranking Books

“What are Doris Lessing’s Best Books?” We looked at all of Lessing’s authored bibliography and ranked them against one another to answer that very question!

We took all of the books written by Doris Lessing and looked at their Goodreads, Amazon, and LibraryThing scores, ranking them against one another to see which books came out on top. The books are ranked in our list below based on which titles have the highest overall score between all 3 review sites in comparison with all of the other books by the same author. The process isn’t super scientific and in reality, most books aren’t “better” than other books as much as they are just different. That being said, we do enjoy seeing where our favorites landed, and if you aren’t familiar with the author at all, the rankings can help you see what books might be best to start with.

The full ranking chart is also included below the countdown on the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!



The Top Book’s Of Doris Lessing



60 ) The Cleft

The Cleft Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 59
  • Amazon: 44
  • LibraryThing: 58

The harmony of the Clefts, an ancient community of women with neither need nor knowledge of men, is suddenly thrown into jeopardy with the birth of a strange new child–a boy.



59 ) Through the Tunnel

Through the Tunnel Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 54
  • Amazon: 47
  • LibraryThing: 55

Vacationing at the seashore, a young boy’s endurance is tested to the limit when he tries to swim through an underwater tunnel.



58 ) Playing the Game

Playing the Game Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 60
  • Amazon: 47
  • LibraryThing: 45


57 ) Ben, in the World

Ben, in the World Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 55
  • Amazon: 39
  • LibraryThing: 53

The Fifth Child is Doris Lessing’s 1988 account of marital and parental bliss shattered by the arrival of Ben. That child, now grown to legal maturity, is the central character of this sequel, a misunderstood teenager out in the world.



56 ) Alfred and Emily

Alfred and Emily Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 58
  • Amazon: 34
  • LibraryThing: 51

In this profoundly moving book, Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing explores the lives of her parents, each irrevocably damaged by the Great War. In the fictional first half of Alfred and Emily, she imagines the happier lives her parents might have made for themselves had there been no war. This is followed by a piercing examination of their relationship as it actually was in the shadow of the devastating global conflict. “Here I still am,” says Lessing, “trying to get out from under that monstrous legacy, trying to get free.” Triumphantly, with Alfred and Emily, she has done just that.



55 ) Love, Again

Love, Again Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 53
  • Amazon: 41
  • LibraryThing: 47

An old woman falls in love with a man who could be her grandson. She is Sarah Durham, 65, a widow working in the theater in England and she develops a passion for a young actor. A look at love in the golden age by the author of The Golden Notebook.



54 ) The Old Age of El Magnifico

The Old Age of El Magnifico Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 35
  • Amazon: 47
  • LibraryThing: 54

A story from Doris Lessing about an awkwardly loveable old cat.



53 ) The Fifth Child

The Fifth Child Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 49
  • Amazon: 44
  • LibraryThing: 42

“Doris Lessing’s contemporary gothic horror story—centered on the birth of a baby who seems less than human—probes society’s unwillingness to recognize its own brutality.Harriet and David Lovatt, parents of four children, have created an idyll of domestic bliss in defiance of the social trends of late 1960s England. While around them crime and unrest surge, the Lovatts are certain that their old-fashioned contentment can protect them from the world outside—until the birth of their fifth baby. Gruesomely goblin-like in appearance, insatiably hungry, abnormally strong and violent, Ben has nothing innocent or infant-like about him. As he grows older and more terrifying, Harriet finds she cannot love him, David cannot bring himself to touch him, and their four older children are afraid of him. Understanding that he will never be accepted anywhere, Harriet and David are torn between their instincts as parents and their shocked reaction to this fierce and unlovable child whose existence shatters their belief in a benign world.

From the Trade Paperback edition.”



52 ) The Grandmothers: Four Short Novels

The Grandmothers: Four Short Novels Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 52
  • Amazon: 34
  • LibraryThing: 46

The Grandmothers: Two women, close friends, fall in love with each other’s teenage sons, and these passions last for years, until the women end them, promising a respectable old age.” “Victoria and the Staveneys: A poor black girl has a baby with the son of a liberal middle-class family and finds that her little girl is slowly being absorbed into the world of white privilege and becoming estranged from her.” “The Reason for It: Certain to appeal to fans of Shikasta and Memoirs of a Survivor, it describes the birth, flourishing, and decline of a culture long, long ago, but with many modern echoes.” “A Love Child: A soldier in World War II, during the dangerous voyage to India around the Cape, falls in love on shore leave and remains convinced that a love child resulted from the wartime romance.



51 ) The Story of a Non-Marrying Man

The Story of a Non-Marrying Man Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 48
  • Amazon: 47
  • LibraryThing: 31

In her novel Mara and Dann (published in 1999), Doris Lessing introduced us to a brother and sister battling through a future landscape where the climate is much changed – colder than ever before in the north and unbearably dry and hot in the south. In this new novel the odyssey continues.” “Dann is grown up now, hunting for knowledge and despondent over the inadequacies of his civilization, traveling with his friend, a snow dog who brings him back from the depths of despair. And we meet Mara’s daughter and Griot with the green eyes, an abandoned child-soldier who, in this strange and captivating adventure, discovers the meaning of love and the ability to sing stories.” “Like its predecessor, this new novel from one of our greatest living writers explains as much about the world we now live in as it does about the future we may be heading toward.



50 ) The Wind Blows Away Our Words

The Wind Blows Away Our Words Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 33
  • Amazon: 47
  • LibraryThing: 44


49 ) The Summer Before the Dark

The Summer Before the Dark Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 45
  • Amazon: 34
  • LibraryThing: 43

With her children grown and her husband away in America for several months, Kate Brown finds herself alone for the first time in twenty years.



48 ) Memoirs of a Survivor

Memoirs of a Survivor Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 45
  • Amazon: 28
  • LibraryThing: 48

In a beleaguered city where rats and roving gangs terrorize the streets, where government has broken down and meaningless violence holds sway, a woman — middle-aged and middle-class — is brought a twelve-year-old girl and told that it is her responsibility to raise the child. This book, which the author has called “an attempt at autobiography,” is that woman’s journal — a glimpse of a future only slightly more horrendous than our present, and of the forces that alone can save us from total destruction.



47 ) The Real Thing: Stories and Sketches

The Real Thing: Stories and Sketches Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 50
  • Amazon: 16
  • LibraryThing: 52

The stories and sketches in this collection penetrate to the heart of human experience with the passion and intelligence readers have come to expect of Doris Lessing. Most of the piece are set in contemporary London, a city the author loves for its variety, its diversity, its transitoriness, the way it connects the life of animals and birds in the parks to the streets. Lessing’s fiction also explores the darker corners of relationships between women and men, as in the rich and emotionally complex title story, in which she uncovers a more parlous reality behind the facade of the most conventional relationship between the sexes.



46 ) Briefing for a Descent into Hell

Briefing for a Descent into Hell Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 38
  • Amazon: 28
  • LibraryThing: 50

Charles Watkins, a professor of Classics at Cambridge University, has suffered a breakdown. Confined to a mental hospital as his friends and doctors attempt to bring him back to reality, Watkins has embarked on a tremendous psychological adventure that takes him from a spinning raft in the Atlantic to a ruined stone city on a tropical island to an outer-space journey through singing planets. As he travels in his mind through memory and the farther reaches of imagination, his doctors try to subdue him with ever more powerful drugs in a competition for his soul.



45 ) The Story of General Dann and Mara’s Daughter, Griot and the Snow Dog

The Story of General Dann and Mara's Daughter, Griot and the Snow Dog Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 51
  • Amazon: 46
  • LibraryThing: 16

In her novel Mara and Dann (published in 1999), Doris Lessing introduced us to a brother and sister battling through a future landscape where the climate is much changed – colder than ever before in the north and unbearably dry and hot in the south. In this new novel the odyssey continues.” “Dann is grown up now, hunting for knowledge and despondent over the inadequacies of his civilization, traveling with his friend, a snow dog who brings him back from the depths of despair. And we meet Mara’s daughter and Griot with the green eyes, an abandoned child-soldier who, in this strange and captivating adventure, discovers the meaning of love and the ability to sing stories.” “Like its predecessor, this new novel from one of our greatest living writers explains as much about the world we now live in as it does about the future we may be heading toward.



44 ) A Small Personal Voice

A Small Personal Voice Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 10
  • Amazon: 47
  • LibraryThing: 55

An essential and definitive collection of the Nobel Prize for Literature winner’s finest essays, reviews, reminiscences and interviews from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. ‘The novelist talks as an individual to individuals, in a small personal voice. In an age of committee art, public art, people may begin to feel again a need for the small personal voice; and this will feed confidence into writers and, with confidence because of the knowledge of being needed, the warmth and humanity, and love of people which is essential for a great age of literature.’ In this collection of her non-fiction, Lessing’s own life and work are the subject of a number of pieces, as are fellow writers such as Isak Dinesen and Kurt Vonnegut. There are essays on Malcolm X and Sufism, discussions of the responsibility of the artist, thoughts on her exile from Southern Rhodesia, and a fascinating memoir of her fraught relationship with her mother.



42 ) Retreat to Innocence

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 57
  • Amazon: 47
  • LibraryThing: 5


42 ) Putting the Questions Differently

Putting the Questions Differently Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 3
  • Amazon: 47
  • LibraryThing: 59


41 ) The Temptation of Jack Orkney: Collected Stories, Vol. 2

The Temptation of Jack Orkney: Collected Stories, Vol. 2 Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 31
  • Amazon: 47
  • LibraryThing: 27


40 ) Winter in July

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 56
  • Amazon: 47
  • LibraryThing: 1


38 ) The Good Terrorist

The Good Terrorist Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 43
  • Amazon: 23
  • LibraryThing: 37

A detailed sociopolitical portrait of everyday life within a terrorist group in contemporary London. Alice Mellings mothers a collection of squatters in an abandoned house. The group evolves from radicals in spirit to revolutionaries in practice.



38 ) Spies I Have Known

Spies I Have Known Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 1
  • Amazon: 47
  • LibraryThing: 55


37 ) The Golden Notebook

The Golden Notebook Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 34
  • Amazon: 28
  • LibraryThing: 40

Much to its author’s chagrin, The Golden Notebook instantly became a staple of the feminist movement when it was published in 1962. Doris Lessing’s novel deconstructs the life of Anna Wulf, a sometime-Communist and a deeply leftist writer living in postwar London with her small daughter. Anna is battling writer’s block, and, it often seems, the damaging chaos of life itself. The elements that made the book remarkable when it first appeared–extremely candid sexual and psychological descriptions of its characters and a fractured, postmodern structure–are no longer shocking. Nevertheless, The Golden Notebook has retained a great deal of power, chiefly due to its often brutal honesty and the sheer variation and sweep of its prose.



36 ) The Sweetest Dream

The Sweetest Dream Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 38
  • Amazon: 23
  • LibraryThing: 37

This story of a family, spanning most of the twentieth century, has its fulcrum in the Sixties, that contradictory and embattled decade about which argument becomes louder each day. The youth of that time, bursting old bonds and demanding freedoms, were seen by some of their elders in a manner not at all as they saw themselves, as romantic idealists, but as deeply damaged people. Old Julia, the clan’s matriarch, knows why. “You can’t have two dreadful wars and then say ‘That’s it, and now everything will go back to normal.’ They’re screwed up, our children, they are the children of war.””. “Remarkable women, Julia and Frances, grandmother and mother, fight for “the kids” against obstacles, the worst being Comrade Johnny. Here is a memorable picture of a character only recently departed from our scene. “The revolution comes before personal matters” is his dictum, as he deposits discarded wives and hurt children in the accommodating house whose emotional center is always the extendable kitchen table, that essential prop of the Sixties, around which the family sits through the evenings, eating, joking, boasting about their shoplifting, debating the violent ideologies of the time that take some of them out to the Third World, another to a South African village dying of AIDS.



35 ) London Observed: Stories and Sketches

London Observed: Stories and Sketches Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 27
  • Amazon: 20
  • LibraryThing: 49

Eighteen stories depicting the people and places of London, full of the observation and compassion characteristic of Lessing.



34 ) The Habit of Loving

The Habit of Loving Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 44
  • Amazon: 8
  • LibraryThing: 41

A collection of short stories set in Africa and England.



33 ) Five

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 22
  • Amazon: 47
  • LibraryThing: 21


32 ) Landlocked

Landlocked Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 17
  • Amazon: 41
  • LibraryThing: 31

In the aftermath of World War II, Martha Quest finds herself completely disillusioned. She is losing faith with the communist movement in Africa, and her marriage to one of the movement’s leaders is disintegrating. Determined to resist the erosion of her personality, she engages in the first satisfactory love affair and breaks free, if only momentarily, from her suffocating unhappiness. Landlocked is the fourth novel of Doris Lessing’s classic Children of Violence sequence of novels, each a masterpiece in its own right, and collectively an incisive, all encompassing vision of our world in the twentiethcentury.



31 ) Particularly Cats

Particularly Cats Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 38
  • Amazon: 16
  • LibraryThing: 34

Here Doris Lessing recounts the cats that have moved and amused her, from her childhood home overrun with kittens, to the wrenching decline of El Magnifico, whose story unfolds in a new essay, appearing here for the first time.



28 ) African Laughter: Four Visits to Zimbabwe

African Laughter: Four Visits to Zimbabwe Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 35
  • Amazon: 40
  • LibraryThing: 12

A highly personal story about returning to her African roots by the eminent British writer, African Laughter is also a rich and penetrating portrait of Doris Lessing’s homeland. In it she recounts the visits she made to Zimbabwe in 1982, 1988, 1989 and 1992, after being exiled from the old Southern Rhodesia for twenty-five years for her opposition to the white minority government.” “The visits constitute an unforgettable journey to the heart of a country whose history, landscape, people and spirit are evoked by Lessing in a dazzling narrative of vivid detail and poignant scenes. Swooping from the verandahs to the grass roots and back again, noting the kinds of changes that can be appreciated only by one who has lived there before, Lessing embraces every facet of life in Zimbabwe from the lost animals of the bush to political corruption, from AIDS to a successful communal enterprise created by poor rural blacks. She talks with white farmers and black storytellers, reflecting on the easy mix of races in Zimbabwe today, in contrast with the racism of the past. She admires the new role of women in bringing about revolutionary social change.” “African Laughter is a book about memory. Lessing evokes her childhood on an isolated farm in the bush, her parents and brother. And she explores the often unexpected ways in which elements of the past – African traditions and white customs – survive and knit themselves into contemporary life.” “A passionate, profound and utterly original book, African Laughter uses memory and reminiscence together with recent experience to create an impressionistic picture of a country in the process of energetic change.



28 ) A Ripple from the Storm

A Ripple from the Storm Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 21
  • Amazon: 41
  • LibraryThing: 25

“Martha Quest, the embodied heroine of the Children of Violence series, has been acclaimed as one of the greatest fictional creations in the English language. In a Ripple from the Storm, Doris Lessing charts Martha Quest’s personal and political adventures in race-torn British Africa, following Martha through World War II, a grotesque second marriage, and an excursion into Communism. This wise and starling novel perceptively reveals the paradoxes, passions, and ironies rooted in the life of twentieth-century Anglo-Africa.
A Ripple from the Storm is the third novel in Doris Lessing’s classic Children of Violence sequence of novels, each a masterpiece in its own right, and, taken together, an incisive and all-encompassing vision of our world in the twentieth century.”



28 ) Martha Quest

Martha Quest Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 27
  • Amazon: 23
  • LibraryThing: 37

Intelligent, sensitive, and fiercely passionate, Martha Quest is a young woman living on a farm in Africa, feeling her way through the torments of adolescence and early womanhood. She is a romantic idealistic in revolt against the puritan snobbery of her parents, trying to live to the full with every nerve, emotion, and instinct laid bare to experience. For her, this is a time of solitary reading daydreams, dancing — and the first disturbing encounters with sex. The first of Doris Lessing’s timeless Children of Violence novels, Martha Quest is an endearing masterpiece.



27 ) The Making of the Representative for Planet 8

The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 23
  • Amazon: 38
  • LibraryThing: 24

Planet 8, a prosperous world with intelligent, vital inhabitants, is transformed by an Ice Age, a change that causes a critical variation in lifestyle and a drastic reappraisal of the meaning and value of life.



26 ) Shikasta

Shikasta Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 38
  • Amazon: 23
  • LibraryThing: 22

In this novel, the story of the final days of our planet is told through the reports of Johor, an emissary sent from Canopus.



25 ) The Black Madonna

The Black Madonna Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 47
  • Amazon: 1
  • LibraryThing: 31


24 ) Going Home

Going Home Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 30
  • Amazon: 20
  • LibraryThing: 27

Going Home is Doris Lessing’s account of her first journey back to Africa, the land in which she grew up and in which so much of her emotion and her concern are still invested. Returning to Southern Rhodesia in 1956, she found that her love of Africa had remained as strong as her hatred of the idea of “white supremacy” espoused by its ruling class. Going Homeevokes brilliantly the experience of thepeople, black and white, who have shaped and will shape a beloved country.



23 ) African Stories

African Stories Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 13
  • Amazon: 34
  • LibraryThing: 25

This major collection contains all of Doris Lessing’s short fiction, other than the stories set in Africa, from the beginning of her career until now. Set in London, Paris, the south of France, the English countryside, these thirty-five stories reflect the themes that have always characterized Lessing’s work: the bedrock realities of marriage and other relationships between men and women; the crisis of the individual whose very psyche is threatened by a society unattuned to its own most dangerous qualities; the fate of women.



22 ) The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five

The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 20
  • Amazon: 12
  • LibraryThing: 35

The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five is the second volume in Doris Lessing’s celebrated space fiction series, ‘Canopus in Argos: Archives’. In this interlinked quintet of novels, she creates a new extraordinary cosmos where the fate of the Earth is influenced by the rivalries and interactions of three powerful galactic empires, Canopus, Sirius and their enemy, Puttiora. Blending myth, fable and allegory, Doris Lessing’s astonishing visionary creation both reflects and redefines the history of our own world from its earliest beginnings to an inevitable, tragic self-destruction. The Marriages is set in the indeterminate lands of the Zones, strange realms which encircle the Earth. Zone Three, a peaceful, contented, matriarchal paradise, is ruled by the gentle Queen Al . Ith.; the neighboring Zone Four is a land given to war and chaos, controlled by the brutal warrior-king, Ben-Ata. Their marriage, a melding of the extreme male and female principles, threatens to destabilize the entire galactic empire. Many other Doris Lessing books are available in Flamingo, including other four titles in the ‘Canopus’ series.



19 ) The Pit

The Pit Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 13
  • Amazon: 47
  • LibraryThing: 5


19 ) A Man and Two Women

A Man and Two Women Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 35
  • Amazon: 1
  • LibraryThing: 29


19 ) A Proper Marriage

A Proper Marriage Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 13
  • Amazon: 23
  • LibraryThing: 29

Feeling trapped and alienated by her husband, Martha Quest must choose between the security of marriage and the sacrifices of independence.



17 ) On Cats

On Cats Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 24
  • Amazon: 28
  • LibraryThing: 12

Doris Lessing’s love affair with cats began at a young age, when she became intrigued with the semiferal creatures on the African farm where she grew up. Her fascination with the handsome, domesticated creatures that have shared her flats and her life in London remained undiminished, and grew into real love with the awkwardly lovable El Magnifico, the last cat to share her home. On Cats is a celebrated classic, a memoir in which we meet the cats that have slunk and bullied and charmed their way into Doris Lessing’s life. She tells their stories—their exploits, rivalries, terrors, affections, ancient gestures, and learned behaviors—with vivid simplicity. And she tells the story of herself in relation to cats: the way animals affect her and she them, and the communication that grows possible between them—a language of gesture and mood and desire as eloquent as the spoken word. No other writer conveys so truthfully the real interdependence of humans and cats or convinces us with such stunning recognition of the reasons why cats really matter.



17 ) Conversations

Conversations Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 4
  • Amazon: 1
  • LibraryThing: 59

In these twenty-four provocative interviews, Doris Lessing talks frankly to a variety of interviewers–among them Joyce Carol Oates and Studs Terkel–about a wide range of subjects that concern her deeply. We hear about her early years in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), her involvement in Marxist politics, her views on feminism and “space fiction,” and her own work, especially The Golden Notebook and The Good Terrorist. Included is a recent talk on the failure of Communism. These interviews, informed by Lessing’s unfailing intelligence and refreshing directness, present an invaluable and up-to-date view of the mind and art of a distinguished contemporary writer.



15 ) The Grass Is Singing

The Grass Is Singing Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 27
  • Amazon: 28
  • LibraryThing: 8

Set in Southern Rhodesia under white rule, Doris Lessing’s first novel is at once a riveting chronicle of human disintegration, a beautifully understated social critique, and a brilliant depiction of the quiet horror of one woman’s struggleagainst a ruthless fate. Mary Turner is a self-confident, independent young woman who becomes the depressed, frustrated wife of an ineffectual, unsuccessful farmer. Little by little the ennui of years on the farm works its slow poison. Mary’s despair progresses until the fateful arrival of Moses, an enigmatic, virile black servant. Locked in anguish, Mary and Moses—master and slave—are trapped in a web of mounting attraction and repulsion, until their psychic tension explodes with devastating consequences.



15 ) Mara and Dann

Mara and Dann Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 25
  • Amazon: 28
  • LibraryThing: 10

In a world destroyed by environmental damage, a people trek north in search of the remnants of civilization. They include two children and it is through their eyes that the novel analyzes the real meaning of civilization.



14 ) The Sun Between Their Feet: Collected African Stories, Vol. 2

The Sun Between Their Feet: Collected African Stories, Vol. 2 Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 42
  • Amazon: 1
  • LibraryThing: 16

This is the second volume of Doris Lessing’s ‘Collected African Stories’. A classic work of 20th-century literature from teh Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 2007. ‘As for these stories – when I write one, it is as if I open a gate into a landscape which is always there. Time has nothing to do with it. A certain kind of pulse starts beating, and I recognise it: it is time I wrote another story from that landscape, external and internal at the same time, which was once the Old Chief’s Country.’ Doris Lessing, from the preface. This much-acclaimed collection of stories vividly evokes both the grandeur of Africa and the glare of its sun and the wide open space, as well as the great, irresolvable tensions between whites and blacks. Tales of poor white farmers and their lonely wives, of storm air thick with locusts, of ants and pomegranate trees, black servants and the year of hunger in a native village – all combine to present a powerful image of a continent which seems incorruptible in spite of all the people who plough, mine and plunder it to make their living. In Doris Lessing’s own words, ‘Africa gives you the knowledge that man is a small creature, among other creatures, in a large landscape.’



13 ) To Room Nineteen: Collected Stories, Vol. 1

To Room Nineteen: Collected Stories, Vol. 1 Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 11
  • Amazon: 10
  • LibraryThing: 36

From the Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 2007, a collection of some of her finest short stories. For more than four decades, Doris Lessing’s work has observed the passion and confusion of human relations, holding a mirror up to our selves in her unflinching dissection of the everyday. From the magnificent ‘To Room Nineteen’, a study of a dry, controlled middle-class marriage ‘grounded in intelligence’, to the shocking ‘A Woman on the Roof’, where a workman becomes obsessed with a pretty sunbather, this superb collection of stories written over four decades, from the 1950s to the 1990s bears stunning witness to Doris Lessing’s perspective on the human condition.



12 ) Time Bites: Views and Reviews

Time Bites: Views and Reviews Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 25
  • Amazon: 15
  • LibraryThing: 16

A collection of literary essays and criticism includes the author’s reviews of classic books, commentaries on world politics, and insights into the role of personal experience in the creation of literature.



10 ) On Not Winning the Nobel Prize

On Not Winning the Nobel Prize Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 2
  • Amazon: 47
  • LibraryThing: 5


10 ) The Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire

The Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 19
  • Amazon: 16
  • LibraryThing: 19


9 ) The Sirian Experiments

The Sirian Experiments Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 17
  • Amazon: 12
  • LibraryThing: 20

The third in Doris Lessing’s visionary novel cycle “Canopus in Argos: Archives”. It is a mix of fable, futuristic fantasy and pseudo-documentary accounts of 20th-century history.



8 ) Prisons We Choose to Live Inside

Prisons We Choose to Live Inside Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 16
  • Amazon: 8
  • LibraryThing: 23

Explores the thesis that we are “dominated by our savage past, as individuals and as groups”.



6 ) In Pursuit of the English

In Pursuit of the English Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 32
  • Amazon: 1
  • LibraryThing: 4

In the early post-war years, Doris Lessing left her native Southern Africa in search of a grail. But the English she pursued – and found – were living in working-class homes in East London. They were lusty, quarrelsome, unscrupulous and full-blooded – quite unlike what they were supposed to be.



6 ) Under My Skin: Volume One of My Autobiography, to 1949

Under My Skin: Volume One of My Autobiography, to 1949 Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 9
  • Amazon: 20
  • LibraryThing: 8

The experiences absorbed through these “skins too few” are evoked in this memoir of Doris Lessing’s childhood and youth as the daughter of a British colonial family in Persia and Southern Rhodesia Honestly and with overwhelming immediacy, Lessing maps the growth of her consciousness, her sexuality, and her politics, offering a rare opportunity to get under her skin and discover the forces that made her one of the most distinguished writers of our time.



5 ) The Four-Gated City

The Four-Gated City Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 5
  • Amazon: 16
  • LibraryThing: 15

Dorris Lessing’s classic series of autobiographical novels is the fictional counterpart to Under My Skin. In these five novels, first published in the 1950’s and 60s, Doris Lessing transformed her fascinating life into fiction, creating her most complex and compelling character, Martha Quest.



4 ) Stories

Stories Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 6
  • Amazon: 12
  • LibraryThing: 11

“This major collection contains all of Doris Lessing’s short fiction, other than the stories set in Africa, from the beginning of her career until now. Set in London, Paris, the south of France, the English countryside, these thirty-five stories reflect the themes that have always characterized Lessing’s work: the bedrock realities of marriage and other relationships between men and women; the crisis of the individual whose very psyche is threatened by a society unattuned to its own most dangerous qualities; the fate of women.

From the Trade Paperback edition.”



3 ) This Was the Old Chief’s Country

This Was the Old Chief's Country Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 7
  • Amazon: 1
  • LibraryThing: 14

In this superb volume of African stories, Doris Lessing paints a magnificent portrait of the country in which she grew up. The cruelties of the white man towards the native, ‘the amorphous black mass, like tadpoles, faceless, who existed merely to serve’, the English settlers, ill at ease, the gamblers and moneymakers; searching for diamonds and gold, and the presence, ‘latent always in the blood’, of Africa itself, its majestic beauty and timeless landscape: Doris Lessing draws them all together into a powerful, memorable vision.



1 ) The Diary of a Good Neighbour

The Diary of a Good Neighbour Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 12
  • Amazon: 7
  • LibraryThing: 2


1 ) Walking in the Shade: Volume Two of My Autobiography, 1949 to 1962

Walking in the Shade: Volume Two of My Autobiography, 1949 to 1962 Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 8
  • Amazon: 10
  • LibraryThing: 3

More casually written and organized than Under My Skin, the second volume of Doris Lessing’s autobiography boasts the same acute, brutally frank insights. She begins with her 1949 arrival in London as a 30-year-old single mother from Rhodesia who is searching for a place and a means to write freely; Lessing closes in 1962 with the publication of her most famous novel, The Golden Notebook. In between, she covers love affairs, years of psychotherapy, and her increasingly disenchanted involvement with the Communist Party. Walking in the Shade is essential reading for anyone interested in mid-century British culture.



Doris Lessing’s Best Books



Doris Lessing Review Website Bibliography Rankings

BookGoodreadsAmazonLibraryThingOveral Rank
The Diary of a Good Neighbour 1272 1
Walking in the Shade: Volume Two of My Autobiography, 1949 to 1962 8103 1
This Was the Old Chief’s Country 7114 3
Stories 61211 4
The Four-Gated City 51615 5
In Pursuit of the English 3214 6
Under My Skin: Volume One of My Autobiography, to 1949 9208 6
Prisons We Choose to Live Inside 16823 8
The Sirian Experiments 171220 9
On Not Winning the Nobel Prize 2475 10
The Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire 191619 10
Time Bites: Views and Reviews 251516 12
To Room Nineteen: Collected Stories, Vol. 1 111036 13
The Sun Between Their Feet: Collected African Stories, Vol. 2 42116 14
The Grass Is Singing 27288 15
Mara and Dann 252810 15
On Cats 242812 17
Conversations 4159 17
The Pit 13475 19
A Man and Two Women 35129 19
A Proper Marriage 132329 19
The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five 201235 22
African Stories 133425 23
Going Home 302027 24
The Black Madonna 47131 25
Shikasta 382322 26
The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 233824 27
African Laughter: Four Visits to Zimbabwe 354012 28
A Ripple from the Storm 214125 28
Martha Quest 272337 28
Particularly Cats 381634 31
Landlocked 174131 32
Five 224721 33
The Habit of Loving 44841 34
London Observed: Stories and Sketches 272049 35
The Sweetest Dream 382337 36
The Golden Notebook 342840 37
The Good Terrorist 432337 38
Spies I Have Known 14755 38
Winter in July 56471 40
The Temptation of Jack Orkney: Collected Stories, Vol. 2 314727 41
Retreat to Innocence 57475 42
Putting the Questions Differently 34759 42
A Small Personal Voice 104755 44
The Story of General Dann and Mara’s Daughter, Griot and the Snow Dog 514616 45
Briefing for a Descent into Hell 382850 46
The Real Thing: Stories and Sketches 501652 47
Memoirs of a Survivor 452848 48
The Summer Before the Dark 453443 49
The Wind Blows Away Our Words 334744 50
The Story of a Non-Marrying Man 484731 51
The Grandmothers: Four Short Novels 523446 52
The Fifth Child 494442 53
The Old Age of El Magnifico 354754 54
Love, Again 534147 55
Alfred and Emily 583451 56
Ben, in the World 553953 57
Playing the Game 604745 58
Through the Tunnel 544755 59
The Cleft 594458 60

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