Most Influential Fiction of the 20th Century

Selected by librarians and published in the November 15, 1998 issue of Library Journal.

1. Harper Lee. To Kill A Mockingbird
The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina and quiet heroism of one man's struggle for justice.
2. J.D. Salinger. The Catcher In The Rye
Holden, knowing he is to be expelled from school, decides to leave early. He spends three days in New York City and tells the story of what he did and suffered there.
3. J. R. R. Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings
In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. The Lord of the Rings tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the Wizard, Merry, Pippin, and Sam, Gimli the Dwarf, Legolas the Elf, Boromir of Gondor, and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider.
4. Margaret Mitchell. Gone with the Wind
A monumental classic considered by many to be not only the greatest love story ever written, but also the greatest Civil War saga.
5. Toni Morrison. Beloved
Set in rural Ohio several years after the Civil War, this profoundly affecting chronicle of slavery and its aftermath is Toni Morrison's greatest novel, a dazzling achievement, and the most spellbinding reading experience of the decade.
6. Alice Walker. The Color Purple
This landmark work is Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that also won the American Book Award and established her as a major voice in modern fiction. The New York Times Book Review hailed its "intense emotional impact", and the San Francisco Chronicle called it "a work to stand beside literature of any time and place".
7. George Orwell. Nineteen Eighty-Four
To Winston Smith, a young man who works in the Ministry of Truth (Minitru for short), come two people who transform his life completely. One is Julia, whom he meets after she hands him a slip reading, "I love you." The other is O'Brien, who tells him, "We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness." The way in which Winston is betrayed by the one and, against his own desires and instincts, ultimately betrays the other, makes a story of mounting drama and suspense.
8. George Orwell. Animal Farm
Farm is a devastating satire of the Soviet Union by the man V. S. Pritchett called "the conscience of his generation". A fable about an uprising of farm animals against their human masters, it illustrates how new tyranny replaces old in the wake of revolutions and power corrupts even the noblest of causes. 
9. William Golding. Lord Of The Flies
The classic tale of a group of English school boys who are left stranded on an unpopulated island, and who must confront not only the defects of their society but the defects of their own natures.
10. Joseph Heller. Catch-22
Catch-22 is like no other novel we have ever read. It has its own style, its own rationale, its own extraordinary character. It moves back and forth from hilarity to horror. It is outrageously funny and strangely affecting.  
11. Pearl S. Buck. The Good Earth
This great modern classic depicts life in China at a time before the vast political and social upheavals transformed an essentially agrarian country into a world power. Nobel Prize-winner Pearl S. Buck traces the whole cycle of life--its terrors, its passions, its ambitions, and rewards. Includes biographical and historical information and more.  
12. E.B. White. Charlotte's Web
Wilbur, the pig, is desolate when he discovers that he is destined to be the farmer's Christmas dinner until his spider friend, Charlotte, decides to help him.
13. F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby
Gatsby embodies the naive American notion that it is possible to invent oneself and persuade the world to accept that definition. Gatsby 's youthful neighbor, Nick Carraway, fascinated by both the display of enormous wealth and the essential integrity that he perceives in Gatsby 's vision, becomes his confidante and accomplice in his plan to recapture the heart of Daisy Buchanan.
14. Kurt Vonegut. Slaughterhouse-Five
Centering on the infamous firebombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim's odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we are afraid to know.  
15. Gabriel Garcia Marquez. One Hundred Years of Solitude
A classic of world literature for all time--and probably Marquez's most famous work. "The first piece of literature since the Book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race . . . with more lucidity, wit, wisdom, and poetry than is expected from 100 years of novelists, let alone one man".--Washington Post Book World.
16. Larry McMurtry. Lonesome Dove
A love story and an epic of the frontier, Lonesome Dove is the grandest novel ever written about the last, defiant wilderness of America. Richly authentic, beautifully written, Lonesome Dove is a book to make readers laugh, weep, dream and remember.  
17. Vladimir Nabokov. Lolita
Lolita tells the story of Humbert Humbert, a middle-aged man who is aroused to erotic desire only by a young girl.
18. Ray Bradbury. Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which book paper burns. Fahrenheit 451 is a short novel set in the (perhaps near) future when "firemen" burn books forbidden by the totalitarian "brave new world" regime. The hero, according to Mr. Bradbury, is "a book burner who suddenly discovers that books are flesh and blood ideas and cry out silently when put to the torch".  
19. Daphne Du Maurier. Rebecca
Rebecca has been dead for several months, but her sinister influence is still very much alive at Manderley, as Maxim de Winter's second wife soon comes to realize.
20. John Steinbeck. The Grapes Of Wrath
Although it follows the movement of thousands of men and women and the transformation of an entire nation, "The Grapes of Wrath" is also the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads, who are driven off their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California.
21. Betty Smith. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
A poignant tale of childhood and the ties of family, "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" will transport the reader to the early 1900s where a little girl named Francie dreamily looks out her window at a tree struggling to reach the sky.
22. J.R.R. Tolkien. The Hobbit
Join the beginning of the classic fantasy. Bilbo Baggins was a hobbit who wanted to be left in his solitude. But without intending to, he is drawn into a dangerous quest, where, alone and ultimately unaided, he must confront the greatest terror known.
23. Ken Kesey. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
An inmate of a mental institution tries to find the freedom and independence denied him in the outside world.
24. Muriel Spark. The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie
The critically acclaimed story of an independent-minded Scottish schoolteacher.
25. Willa Cather. My Antonia
Tells the story of a remarkable woman whose strength and passion epitomize the pioneer spirit. Antonia Shimerda returns to Black Hawk, Nebraska, to made a fresh start after eloping with a railway conductor following the tragic death of her father. Accustomed to living in a sod house and toiling alongside the men in the fields, she is unprepared for the lecherous reaction her lush sensuality provokes when she moves to the city.  
26. Ernest Hemingway. The Old Man and the Sea
Hemingway's triumphant yet tragic story of an old Cuban fisherman and his relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream combines the simplicity of a fable, the significance of a parable, and the drama of an epic.
27. D.H. Lawrence. Lady Chatterley's Lover
Constance Chatterley, married to an aristocrat and mine owner whose war wounds have left him paralyzed and impotent, has an affair with Mellors, a gamekeeper, becomes pregnant, and considers abandoning her husband.
28. Ralph Ellison. Invisible Man
An African-American man's search for success and the American dream leads him out of college to Harlem and a growing sense of personal rejection and social invisibility.
29. Leon Uris. Exodus
An American nurse and an Israeli freedom fighter get caught up in the re-birth of Israel.
30. William Styron. Sophie's Choice
Three stories are told: a young Southerner wants to become a writer; a turbulent love-hate affair between a brilliant Jew and a beautiful Polish woman; and of an awful wound in that woman's past--one that impels both Sophie and Nathan toward destruction.  
31. Richard Wright. Native Son
Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny: by chance, it was for murder and rape. "Native Son" tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic.
32. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Little House on the Prairie
Pa Ingalls decides to sell the little loghouse, and the family sets out for Indian country! They travel from Wisconsin to Kansas, and there, finally, Pa builds their little house on the prarie .
33. Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell To Arms
By turns romantic and harshly realistic, Hemingway's story of a tragic romance set against the brutality and confusion of World War I cemented his fame as a stylist and as a writer of extraordinary literary power. A volunteer ambulance driver and a beautiful English nurse fall in love when he is wounded on the Italian front.
34. A.A. Milne. Winnie the Pooh
The adventures of Christopher Robin and his friends, in which Pooh Bear uses a balloon to get honey, Piglet meets a Heffalump, and Eeyore has a birthday.
35. Upton Sinclair. The Jungle
The landmark novel about the urban workingman's struggle against industry and "wage-slavery."
36. Margaret Atwood. The Handmaid's Tale
Set in the Republic of Gilead, during the late twentieth century, when declining birth rates caused by the effects of nuclear fallout and the AIDS epidemic result in a new social structure. All young women, who can bear healthy children, are allocated to powerfull regime men. This is the story of one of these young women.  
37. Edith Wharton. The Age of Innocence
When the Countess Ellen Olenska returns from Europe, fleeing her brutish husband, her rebellious independence and passionate awareness of life stir the educated sensitivity of Newland Archer, already engaged to be married to her cousin May Welland. As the consequent drama unfolds, Edith Wharton's sharp ironic wit and Jamesian mastery of form create a disturbingly accurate picture of men and women caught in a society that denies humanity while desperately defending "civilization".
38. John Updike. Rabbit Run
Harry Angstrom was a star basketball player in high school and that was the best time of his life. Now in his mid-20s, his work is unfulfilling, his marriage is moribund, and he tries to find happiness with another woman. But happiness is more elusive than a medal, and Harry must continue to run--from his wife, his life, and from himself, until he reaches the end of the road and has to turn back....
39. Jack Kerouac. On The Road
On the Road chronicles Kerouac's years traveling the North American continent, from East Coast to West Coast to Mexico, with his friend Neal Cassady, "a sideburned hero of the snowy West". As "Sal Paradise" and "Dean Moriarty", the two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience.
40. Robert A. Heinlein. Stranger in a Strange Land
A Mars-born earthling arrives on this planet for the first time as an adult, and the sensation he creates teaches Earth some unforgettable lessons.
41. Aldous Huxley. Brave New World
A fantasy of the future that sheds a blazing critical light on the present-- considered to be Aldous Huxley's most enduring masterpiece.
42. Wallace Stegner. Angle of Repose
Four generations in the life of an American family are chronicled as retired historian Lyman Ward, confined to a wheelchair, decides to write his grandparent's history.
43. Erich Maria Remarque. All Quiet on the Western Front
Though a fictional account, it is a timeless document of the devastation and human tragedy of World War I.
44. James Joyce. Ulysses
Leopold Bloom wanders through Dublin, talking, observing, musing -- and always remembering Molly, his passionate, wayward wife. Set in the shadow of Homer's Odyssey, internal thoughts give physical reality extra color and perspective.
45. Ernest Hemingway. The Sun Also Rises
The story of a group of Americans and English on a sojourn from Paris to Paloma, evokes in poignant detail, life among the expatriates on Paris's Left Bank during the 1920s and conveys in brutally realistic descriptions the power and danger of bullfighting in Spain.
46. Albert Camus. The Stranger
Story of a man who commits a pointless murder, in which the author asks if there is a God or just a cold indifferent universe.
47. William Faulkner. The Sound And The Fury
By turns lyrical and dramatic, hilarious and heartbreaking, The Sound and the Fury is the tragic story of beautiful Caddy Comapson and the dissolution of her family.
48. A. S. Byatt. Possession
As a pair of young scholars research the lives of two Victorian poets, they uncover their letters, journals, and poems, and track their movements from London to Yorkshire-- from spiritualist séances to the fairy-haunted far west of Brittany. What emerges is an extraordinary counterpoint of passion and ideas.
49. Carol Shields. The Stone Diaries
The Stone Diaries is one ordinary woman's story of her journey through life. Born in 1905, Daisy Stone Goodwill drifts through the roles of child, wife, widow, and mother, and finally into her old age.
50. Toni Morrison. Song of Solomon
In Song of Solomon, Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison creates a new way of rendering the contradictory nuances of black life in America. The novel's earthy, poetic language and striking use of folklore and myth helped establish Morrison as a major voice in contemporary fiction.
51. Amy Tan. The Joy Luck Club
In 1949 four Chinese women-drawn together by the shadow of their past-begin meeting in San Francisco to play mah jong, invest in stocks, eat dim sum, and 'say' stories. They call their gathering the Joy Luck Club.  
52. Alex Haley. Roots
This " " (Newsweek) begins with a birth in 1750, in an African village; it ends seven generations later at the Arkansas funeral of a black professor whose children are a teacher, a Navy architect, an assistant director of the U.S. Information Agency, and an author.
53. James Joyce. A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man
First published in 1916, this classic portrays Stephen Dedalus's Dublin childhood and growing awareness of his artistic vocation.
54. Thomas Wolfe. Look Homeward Angel
Thomas Wolfe's classic coming-of-age novel, first published in 1929, is a work of epic grandeur, evoking a time and place with extraordinary lyricism and precision. Set in Altamont, North Carolina, this semi-autobiographical novel tells the story of a restless young man who longs to escape his tumultuous family and his small town existence.
55. Katherine Anne Porter. Pale Horse, Pale Rider
She was a spirited-looking young woman, with dark curly hair cropped and parted on the side, a short oval face with straight eyebrows, and a large curved mouth. A round white collar rose from the neck of her tightly buttoned black basque, and round white cuffs set off lazy hands with dimples in them, lying at ease in the folds of her flounced skirt which gathered around to a bustle.
56. Edith Wharton. Ethan Frome
This classic novel is a sharply-etched portrait of the simple inhabitants of a 19th-century New England village. Written with stark simplicity, "Ethan Frome" centers on the power of local convention to smother the growth of the individual.  
57. Marguerite Duras. The Lover
Two outcasts--an adolescent French girl and her Chinese lover--struggle to be together during the waning days of the colonial period.
58. Anthony Burgess. A Clockwork Orange
Anthony Burgess's modern classic of youthful violence and social redemption, reissued to include the controversial last chapter not previously published in this country, with a new introduction by the author. This disturbing novel creates an alarming futuristic vision of violence, high technology, and authoritarianism.  
59. Sherwood Anderson. Winesburg, Ohio
A collection of short stories dealing with a small town in Ohio.
60. Virginia Woolf. To the Lighthouse
A landmark of modern fiction, Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse explores the subjective reality of everyday life in the Hebrides for the Ramsay family.  
61. John Irving. The World According To Garp
Irving's classic is filled with stories inside stories about the life and times of T. S. Garp, novelist and bastard son of Jenny Fields - a feminist leader ahead of her time. Beyond that, The World According to Garp virtually defies synopsis.  
62. L. Frank Baum. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
After a cyclone transports her to the land of Oz , Dorothy must seek out the great wizard in order to return to Kansas.
63. C.S. Lewis. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Four English schoolchildren find their way through the back of a wardrobe into the magic land of Narnia and assist Aslan, the golden lion , to triumph over the White Witch , who has cursed the land with eternal winter.
64. A. Conan Doyle. The Hound of the Baskervilles
The most famous of the Sherlock Holmes stories features the spectral hound of Dartmoor, which, according to an ancient legend, has haunted the Baskerville family for generations. When Sir Charles Baskerville dies suddenly of a heart attack on the grounds of the estate, the locals are convinced the ghost dog is responsible, and Holmes is called in.
65. Ayn Rand. The Fountainhead
On the surface, it is a story of a gifted young architect, his violent battle with conventional standards, and his explosive love affair with the beautiful woman who struggles to defeat him. In his fight for success, he first discovers then rejects the seductive power of fame and money, finding that creative genius must ultimately triumph. This novel also addresses a number of universal themes: the strength of the individual, the tug between good and evil, the threat of fascism.
66. Nadine Gordimer. The Burger's Daughter
A depiction of South Africa today, it tells the story of a young woman cast in the role of a young revolutionary, trying to uphold a heritage handed on by martyred parents while carving out a sense of self.
67. Jack London. The Call Of The Wild
The adventures of an unusual dog, part St. Bernard, part Scotch shepherd, that is forcibly taken to the Klondike gold fields where he eventually becomes the leader of a wolf pack.
68. Alexander Solzhenitsyn. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
A masterpiece of modern Russian fiction, this novel is one of the most significant and outspoken literary documents ever to come out of Soviet Russia. A brutal depiction of life in a Stalinist camp and a moving tribute to man's triumph of will over relentless dehumanization, this is Solzhenitsyn's first novel to win international acclaim.
69. Marion Zimmer Bradley. The Mists of Avalon
Putting a new twist on the Arthurian legends, this beloved book tells the epic story of the women behind the rise and fall of King Arthur.
70. Robert Graves. I, Claudius
Considered an idiot because of his physical infirmities, Claudius survived the intrigues and poisonings of the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius, and the Mad Caligula to become emperor in 41 A.D. A masterpiece.  
71. James Jones. From Here to Eternity
In this magnificent but brutal classic of a soldier's life, James Jones portrays the courage, violence and passions of men and women who live by unspoken codes and with unutterable the most important American novel to come out of World War II, a masterpiece that captures as no ther the honor and savagery of men.
72. John Steinbeck. East of Eden
This sprawling and often brutal novel, set in the rich farmlands of California's Salinas Valley, follows the intertwined destinies of two families--the Trasks and the Hamiltons--whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel.
73. Alan Paton. Cry, the Beloved Country
Paton's deeply moving story of Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son Absalom, set against the backdrop of a land and people riven by racial inequality and injustice, remains the most famous and important novel in South Africa's history.
74. Allen Drury. Advise and Consent

75. E.M. Forster. A Passage to India
A classic account of the clash of cultures in British India after the turn of the century.
76. Arthur C. Clarke. 2001: A Space Odyssey
Presents a science fiction allegory about humanity's exploration of the universe and the universe's reaction to humanity.
77. Ford Madox Ford. The Good Soldier
'A Tale of Passion', as its sub-title declares, The Good Soldier tells of the complex social and sexual relationships between two couples, one English, one American, and the growing awareness by the American narrator John Dowell of the intrigues and passions behind their orderly Edwardian facade.
78. Zora Neal Hurston. Their Eyes Were Watching God
Fair and long-legged, independent and articulate, Janie Crawford sets out to be her own person-- no mean feat for a black woman in the '30s. Janie's quest for identity takes her through three marriages and into a journey back to her roots.
79. Kenneth Grahame. The Wind in the Willows
The escapades of four animal friends who live along a river in the English countryside--Toad, Mole, Rat, and Badger.
80. Philip Roth. Portnoy's Complaint
Thrust through life by his unappeasable sexuality and at the same time held back by the iron grip of his childhood, Alexander Portnoy is one of Philip Roth's most intriguing and hilarious characters.
81. Albert Camus. The Plague
The story of the affect of the bubonic plague and the Algerians will to survive.
82. Antine de Exupery. The Little Prince
An aviator whose plane is forced down in the Sahara Desert encounters a little prince from a small planet who relates his adventures in seeking the secret of what is important in life.
83. Toni Morrison. The Bluest Eye
The story of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove - a black girl in an America whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others - who prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will be different. This is the story of the nightmare at the heart of her yearning and the tragedy of its fulfillment.
84. Barbara Kingsolver. The Bean Trees
An unforgettable story of love and friendship, abandonment and belonging, and the discovery of surprising resources in apparently empty places, "The Bean Trees" tells the story of Taylor Green, a spirited woman who grew up in rural Kentucky with two goals: to avoid pregnancy and to get away.  
85. Edgar Rice Burroughs. Tarzan of the Apes
When Tarzan is orphaned as a baby deep in the African jungle, the apes adopt him and raise him as their own. By the time he's ten, he can swing through the trees and talk to the animals. By the time Tarzan is 18, he has the strength of a lion and rules the apes as their king. But Tarzan knows he's different and yearns to discover his true identity.
86. Theodore Dreiser. Sister Carrie
The story of a country girl's rise to riches as the mistress of a wealthy man.
87. Flannery O'Connor. A Good Man is Hard to Find
88. Marcel Proust. Remembrance of Things Past
The novel, told in seven parts, is the story of Proust's own life, told as an allegorical search for truth.
89. E.L. Doctorow. Ragtime
Three remarkable American families--rich white, Harlem black, immigrant Jew--catch the spirit of this country and the shimmering, shattering forces that come together in wonder and terror, in an age when all things seemed possible.
90. Judith Guest. Ordinary People
Describes a youth's breakdown and recovery and how it affects his family.
91. W. Somerset Maugham. Of Human Bondage
Philip Carey, a handicapped orphan, is brought up by a clergyman, but Philip sheds his religious faith and begins to study art in Paris.
92. Joseph Conrad. Heart Of Darkness
His narrator, Marlow, travels into the heart of the Congo to retrieve Mr. Kurtz, a promising young agent who has disappeared into the bush. Throughout Marlow's harrowing journey, Conrad maintains an unflinching focus on the crassness and avarice of which human society is capable, ultimately revealing that "the horror" Kurtz fears lies within us all.
93. Sinclair Lewis. Babbitt
Sinclair Lewis created one of the most compelling and disturbing characters of American fiction in this portrait of a hardened, conniving, social-climbing real-estate man in his classic work "Babbit". Through detailed depictions of the protagonist's home, work, and social life, a meticulous landscape is created, representing the beliefs, aspirations, and failures of the American middle class.
94. Robert Penn Warren. All the King's Men
This classic book is generally regarded as the finest novel ever written on american politics. It describes the career of Willie Stark, a back-country lawyer whose idealism is overcome by his lust for power.
95. D.H. Lawrence. Women in Love
A novel of regeneration and dark, destructive human passion, Women in Love reflects the impact on writer D.H. Lawrence of the First World War in the potential both for annihilation and salvation of the self. A full Introduction and detailed notes offer an illuminating discourse on one of Lawrence's most extraordinary, innovative, and unsettling works.
96. Samuel Beckett. Waiting for Godot
The play consists of conversations between Vladimir and Estragon, who are waiting for the arrival of the mysterious Godot, who continually sends word that he will appear but who never does.
97. John Dos Passos. U.S.A.
A novelistic view of America, from the robber barons to the labor radicals to the great American artists of the early twentieth century.
98. Milan Kundera. The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Thomas, a top surgeon in Prague, is a master of seduction. After leaving his wife and son, he becomes incapable of emotional involvement. To him women are for pleasure and his relationships with women, described by him as erotic adventures, are fleeting. Life is blissfully simple until Thomas meets young and innocent Tereza who awakens a tenderness he never knew possible. But it is 1968, and when Russian tanks roll into Czechoslovakia, Thomas's world begins to fragment...
99. James Agee. A Death in the Family
In its lyrical, sorrowful account of a man's death and its impact on his family, Agee has created an overwhelmingly powerful novel of innocence, tenderness, and loss that should be read aloud for the sheer music of its prose.
100. T.H. White. The Once and Future King
The world's greatest fantasy classic is the magical epic of King Arthur and his shining Camelot, of Merlyn and Guinevere, of beasts who talk and men who fly, of wizardry and war. It is the book of all things lost and wonderful and sad. It is the fantasy masterpiece by which all others are judged.
101. Dashiell Hammett. The Maltese Falcon
Archer, Sam Spade's partner, is hot on a case, and it's Spade's obligation to find the killer. In this search for both the murderer and the Maltesr Falcon, a statue rumored to be of incalculable value, Spade runs mortal risks as he comes closer to the answer--what he finds almost destroys him.
102. Henry James. The Golden Bowl
A rich American art-collector and his daughter Maggie buy in for themselves and to their greater glory a beautiful young wife and a noble husband. They do not know that Charlotte and Prince Amerigo were formerly lovers, nor that on the eve of the Prince's marriage they had discovered, in a Bloomsbury antique shop, a golden bowl with a secret flaw.
103. Doris M. Lessing. The Golden Notebook
The experiences of two women provide the framework for an intense literary study of liberated womanhood.
104. John Galsworthy. The Forsyte Saga
Chronicles the lives of a middle-class family whose values are constantly at war with its passions and love affairs.
105. Raymond Chandler. The Big Sleep
Chandler's first novel, published in 1939, introduces Philip Marlowe, a 38-year-old P.I. moving through the seamy side of Los Angeles in the 1930s. This classic case involves a paralyzed California millionaire, his two psychotic daughters, blackmail, and murder.
106. Sylvia Plath. The Bell Jar
This extraordinary work chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, successful - but slowly going under, and maybe for the last time.
107. Henry James. The Ambassadors
James recounts the continental journey of Louis Lambert Strether--a fiftysomething man of the world who has been dispatched abroad by a rich widow, Mrs. Newsome. His mission: to save her son Chadwick from the clutches of a wicked (i.e., European) woman, and to convince the prodigal to return to Woollett, Massachusetts. Instead, this all-American envoy finds Europe growing on him.
108. Isabel Allende. The House of the Spirits
The magnificent saga of proud and passionate men and women and the turbulent times through which they suffer and triumph. They are the Truebas. And theirs is a world you will not want to leave, and one you will not forget.
109. John Steinbeck. Of Mice and Men
While the powerlessness of the laboring class in a recurring theme in this classic work, Steinbeck narrows his focus, creating an intimate portrait of two men facing a world marked by petty tyranny, misunderstanding, jealousy, and callousness--a parable about commitment, loneliness, hope, and loss.
110. Norman Mailer. The Naked and the Dead
Written in gritty, journalistic detail, the story follows a platoon of Marines who are stationed on the Japanese-held island of Anopopei. Composed in 1948 with the wisdom of a man twice Mailer's age and the raw courage of the young man he was.
111. Thomas Mann. The Magic Mountain
In this dizzyingly rich novel of ideas, Mann uses a sanatorium in the Swiss Alps--a community devoted exclusively to sickness--as a microcosm for Europe, which in the years before 1914 was already exhibiting the first symptoms of its own terminal irrationality. "The Magic Mountain" is a monumental work of erudition and irony, sexual tension and intellectual ferment, a book that pulses with life in the midst of death.
112. Dalton Trumbo. Johnny Got His Gun
Experiences of a severely disabled World War I veteran which relates the horrors of war.
113. William Kennedy. Ironweed
Francis Phelan is a man trying to make peace with the ghosts of his past and present.
114. Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell To Arms
By turns romantic and harshly realistic, Hemingway's story of a tragic romance set against the brutality and confusion of World War I cemented his fame as a stylist and as a writer of extraordinary literary power. A volunteer ambulance driver and a beautiful English nurse fall in love when he is wounded on the Italian front.
115. Frank Herbert. Dune
Set on the desert planet Arrakis begins the story of a great family's plan to bring to fruition an unattainable dream.
116. Boris Pasternak. Doctor Zhivago
Connecting images and episodes describe the great feeling and effect of the Russian Revolution on a variety of characters, but in particular on a sensitive young doctor .
117. Willa Cather. Death Comes for the Archbishop
Death Comes for the Archbishop is Willa Cather's best-known novel, a narrative whose spare beauty achieves epic--and even mythic--qualities as it recounts a life lived simply in the silence of the southwestern desert.
118. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Cat's Cradle
Cat's Cradle is Vonnegut's satirical commentary on modern man and his madness. An apocalyptic tale of this planet's ultimate fate, it features a midget as the protagonist; a complete, original theology created by a calypso singer; and a vision of the future that is at one blackly fatalistic and hilariously funny.
119. Evelyn Waugh. Brideshead Revisited
Waugh tells the story of the Marchmain family. Aristocratic, beautiful and charming, the Marchmains are indeed a symbol of England and her decline in this novel of the upper class of the 1920s and the abdication of responsibility in the 1930s.
120. Anne Tyler. Breathing Lessons
During a ninety-mile drive to her best friend's husband's funeral, Maggie and her husband, Ira, recall and revaluate the details of their twenty-eight-year marriage.
121. Judy Blume. Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret
Faced with the difficulties of growing up and choosing a religion, a twelve-year-old girl talks over her problems with her own private God.
122. Anne Tyler. The Accidental Tourist
Meet Macon Leary--a travel writer who hates both travel and strangeness. Grounded by loneliness, comfort, and a somewhat odd domestic life, Macon is about to embark on a surprising new adventure, arriving in the form of a fuzzy-haired dog obedience trainer who promises to turn his life around.
123. Jane Smiley. A Thousand Acres
When a proud Iowa farmer decides to retire and leave his large farm property to his three daughters, events unfold that threaten to tear the family apart.
124. E.M. Forster. A Room with a View
Visiting Italy with her prim and proper cousin Charlotte as a chaperone, Lucy Honeychurch meets the unconventional lower-class Mr. Emerson and his son, George. Upon her return to England she becomes engaged to the supercilious Cecil Vyse, but finds herself increasingly torn between the expectations of the world in which she moves and the passionate yearnings of her heart.
125. Flannery O'Connor. Wise Blood
The story of Hazel Motes, a twenty-two-year-old caught in an unending struggle against his innate, desperate faith.
126. Günter Grass. The Tin Drum
The autobiography of thirty-year-old Oskar Matzerath, who has lived through the long Nazi nightmare and who, as the novel begins, is being held in a mental institution. Willfully stunting his growth at three feet for many years, wielding his tin drum and piercing scream as anarchistic weapons, he provides a profound yet hilarious perspective on both German history and the human condition in the modern world.
127. Jean Rhys. Wide Sargasso Sea
Beautiful, wealthy Antoinette Cosway's passionate love for the arrogant Mr. Rochester threatens to destroy her idyllic Caribbean existence and her very life, in a novel based on Jane Eyre.
128. Don De Lillo. White Noise
After a deadly toxic accident and his wife's addiction to an experimental drug, a man is forced to question everything about his life.
129. Maurice Sendak. Where the Wild Things Are
A naughty little boy, sent to bed without his supper, sails to the land of the wild things where he becomes their king.
130. John Cheever. The Wapshot Chronicle
John Cheever follows the destinies of the impecunious and wildly eccentric Wapshots of St. Botolphs, Massachusetts.
131. Malcolm Lowry. Under The Volcano
The Consul staggers from bar to bar hoping to find salvation. The dissolute life suits him until his former wife Yvonne returns with Hugh, the Consul's half-brother. As the trio enjoys a local Mexican festival, they discover the dead body of a peasant, thus beginning a series of events that will decide the Consul's fate. In the course of one day an entire life is chronicled.
132. Henry Miller. Tropic Of Cancer
Chronicles the bohemian life of a penniless artist living in Paris between the world wars.
133. Chinua Achebe. Things Fall Apart
Achebe's masterpiece tells the story of Okonkwo, strongman of an Ibo village in Nigeria, as he witnesses the destruction of his culture and the loss of his own place within it.
134. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. The Yearling
A young boy living in the Florida backwoods is forced to decide the fate of a fawn he has lovingly raised as a pet.
135. Herman Wouk. The Winds of War
Follows the various members of the Henry family as they become involved in the events preceeding America's involvement in World War II.
136. Walker Percy. The Moviegoer
Kate's desperate struggle to maintain her sanity forces her cousin Binx to relinquish his dreamworld.
137. Somerset Maugham. The Razor's Edge
The story of the spiritual odyssey of a young American in search of God.
138. Albert Camus. The Rebel

139. John Steinbeck. The Pearl
For the diver Kino, finding a magnificent pearl means the promise of a better life for his impoverished family. His dreams blind him to the greed that the pearl arouses in him and his neighbors. Baring the fallacy of the American dream--that wealth erases all problems--Steinbeck's classic illustrates our fall from innocence.
140. Colin Wilson. The Outsider

141. Henry Roth. Call It Sleep
First published in 1934, and immediately hailed as a masterpiece, this is a novel of Jewish life full of the pain and honesty of family relationships. (Audio)
142. Carson McCullers. The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter
A sensitive teenage girl discovers the meaning of loneliness.
143. Mario Puzo. The Godfather
The sweeping saga of a family and of its leader, a friendly and reasonable man who just happens to be the deadliest gang leader in the Cosa Nostra.
144. Eudora Welty. A Curtain of Green
145. Graham Greene. The End of the Affair
The novelist Maurice Bendrix's love affair with his friend's wife, Sarah, had begun in London during the Blitz. One day, inexplicably and without warning, Sarah had broken off the relationship. It seemed impossible that there could be a rival for her heart. Yet two years later, driven by obsessive jealousy and grief, Bendrix sends Pakris, a private detective, to follow Sarah and find out the truth.
146. James McBride. The Color of Water: a Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
James McBride grew up one of twelve siblings in the all-black housing projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn, the son of a black minister and a woman who would not admit she was white. McBride was an adult before he discovered the truth about his mother: The daughter of a failed itinerant Orthodox rabbi in rural Virginia, she had run away to Harlem, married a black man, and founded an all-black Baptist church in her living room in Red Hook.
147. Herman Wouk. The Caine Mutiny
When the commanding officer of the U.S.S. Caine is transferred, a new captain, strict disciplinarian Philip Francis Queeg, replaces him. But Queeg's actions go beyond strictness into psychopathology as he brings the ship and its crew to the brink of destruction. This necessitates a brutal shipboard court-martial that threatens by turns to clear or condemn him.
148. Thornton Wilder. The Bridge of San Luis Rey
"The Bridge of San Luis Rey" opens in the aftermath of an inexplicable tragedy-- a tiny foot-bridge in Peru breaks, and five people hurtle to their deaths. For Brother Juniper, a humble monk who witnesses the catastrophe, the question in inescapable. Why those five? Suddenly, Brother Juniper is committed to discover what manner of lives they led-- and whether it was divine intervention or a capricious fate that took their lives.  

149. Irving Stone. The Agony and the Ecstacy
Fictional depiction of Michelangelo.

150. James T. Farrell. The Studs Lonigan Trilogy