100. Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club (1989)
99. Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979)
98. Judy Blume, Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret (1970)
97. Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep (1939)
96. Italo Calvino, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler (1979)
95. Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible (1998)
94. Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone (1868)
93. Dorothy Allison, Bastard Out of Carolina (1992)
Abused by her stepfather, ”Bone” Boatright is an indomitably spunky country girl who finds refuge with and solace in her lesbian aunt Raylene — a strong, compassionate woman who helps Bone understand herself and her own sexuality. Like its heroine, Allison’s book is tough, unsentimental, and affecting.
92. Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game (1943)
The book that won Hesse the Nobel Prize. The plot may sound too rarefied for enjoyment — but don’t be misled. This is the elegantly crafted futuristic tale of Joseph Knecht, a scholar who devotes his time to mastering all there is to know about science and literature by playing an obscure game.
91. Giusseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, The Leopard (1958)
Di Lampedusa died thinking this would never be published. The novel chronicles the downfall of his noble (and decadent) Sicilian ancestors without sentimentality but not without sentiment. It’s as if he’s holding the era up for one last farewell before tossing it onto the trash heap of history.
90. Carson McCullers, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1940)
89. Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1895)
88. Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987)
87. Zadie Smith, White Teeth (2000)
86. Michael Cunningham, A Home at the End of the World (1990)
85. Joseph Heller, Catch-22 (1961)
84. Richard Price, Clockers (1992)
83. Carol Shields, The Stone Diaries (1993)
82. J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace (1999)
81. Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1818)
Old Flattop scared the heck out of cinemagoers when the classic 1931 film adaptation was released, but Shelley’s original conception of the creature as an eloquent, existentially dispossessed being is still far more unnerving. What could be more frightening than a monster who actually knows he’s a monster?
80. Marcel Proust, Swann's Way (1913)
79. Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies (2012)
The second volume of Mantel’s trilogy is a virtuoso reimagining of the relationship between Henry VIII and his counselor Thomas Cromwell, whose plotting ultimately led to the execution of Anne Boleyn. In Mantel’s hands, Cromwell’s cunning, morally complicated orchestration of that slice through the royal neck is as exciting as any thriller.
78. V.S. Naipaul, A House for Mr. Biswas (1961)
77. Henry Fielding, Tom Jones (1749)
Shockingly licentious in its time, Fielding’s novel still feels pretty lusty as it follows the odyssey of the libidinous Tom, who traverses the English countryside, colliding with a colorful array of schemers, bullies, trollops, and thieves. A wry critique of English society away from the drawing rooms and royal courts.