One of his ten best long books, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1873–1878, 864 pages in Penguin Classics trade paperback edition, trans. by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky)Read about another entry on the list.
A near-contemporary of Middlemarch, Anna Karenina also traces the parallel paths of two characters, in this case Tolstoy’s fictional alter ego Konstanin Levin and the doomed socialite of the book’s title. The concerns in Karenina, however, are less social than existential, demonstrating that ultimate questions can be encountered in drawing rooms as freely as on whaling ships. Aspiring writers can learn almost everything they need to know about managing distance in narration—which is almost everything they need to know, period—through the careful study of the novel’s famous opening paragraphs.
Anna Karenina also appears on Jeffrey Lent's top ten list of books about justice and redemption, Bethan Roberts's top ten list of novels about childbirth, Hannah Jane Parkinson's list of the ten worst couples in literature, Hanna McGrath's top fifteen list of epigraphs, Amelia Schonbek's list of three classic novels that pass the Bechdel test, Rachel Thompson's top ten list of the greatest deaths in fiction, Melissa Albert's recommended reading list for eight villains, Alison MacLeod's top ten list of stories about infidelity, David Denby's six favorite books list, Howard Jacobson's list of his five favorite literary heroines, Eleanor Birne's top ten list of books on motherhood, Esther Freud's top ten list of love stories, Chika Unigwe's six favorite books list, Elizabeth Kostova's list of favorite books, James Gray's list of best books, Marie Arana's list of the best books about love, Ha Jin's most important books list, Tom Perrotta's ten favorite books list, Claire Messud's list of her five most important books, Alexander McCall Smith's list of his five most important books, Mohsin Hamid's list of his ten favorite books, Louis Begley's list of favorite novels about cheating lovers, and among the top ten works of literature according to Peter Carey and Norman Mailer. John Mullan put it on his lists of ten of the best erotic dreams in literature, ten of the best coups de foudre in literature, ten of the best births in literature, ten of the best ice-skating episodes in literature, and ten of the best balls in literature.