- Listed in alphabetical order by author last name.
- Descriptions are (mostly) pulled from Goodreads, which is where the links go.
- Voting form is at the bottom!
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Goodreads Rating: 4.23 (1.7M ratings)
Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.
Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers.
Published: 1979 | Pages: 216 | Genre: Fiction (Sci-Fi)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Goodreads Rating: 4.28 (3.9M ratings)
Since its immediate success in 1813, Pride and Prejudice has remained one of the most popular novels in the English language. Jane Austen called this brilliant work “her own darling child” and its vivacious heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, “as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print.” The romantic clash between the opinionated Elizabeth and her proud beau, Mr. Darcy, is a splendid performance of civilized sparring. And Jane Austen’s radiant wit sparkles as her characters dance a delicate quadrille of flirtation and intrigue, making this book the most superb comedy of manners of Regency England.
Published: 1813 | Pages: 279 | Genre: Fiction (Old)
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Goodreads Rating: 3.97 (2.2M ratings)
Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But when he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known.
Published: 1953 | Pages: 194 | Genre: Fiction (Dystopia)
The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
Goodreads Rating: 4.34 (86K ratings)
In 1939, as Hitler casts his enormous, cruel shadow across the world, the seeds of apartheid take root in South Africa. There, a boy called Peekay is born. His childhood is marked by humiliation and abandonment, yet he vows to survive and conceives heroic dreams, which are nothing compared to what life actually has in store for him. He embarks on an epic journey through a land of tribal superstition and modern prejudice where he will learn the power of words, the power to transform lives and the power of one.
Published: 1989 | Pages: 544 | Genre: Fiction (Historical)
The Hours by Michael Cunningham
Goodreads Rating: 3.95 (137K ratings)
This Pulitzer Prize-winning story is a daring and deeply affecting novel inspired by the life and work of Virginia Woolf. It is a passionate, profound and haunting story of love and inheritance, hope and despair.
Published: 1998 | Pages: 230 | Genre: Fiction (Historical)
The White Album by Joan Didion
Goodreads Rating: 4.08 (32K ratings)
First published in 1979, Joan Didion’s The White Album records indelibly the upheavals and aftermaths of the 1960s.
Examining key events, figures, and trends of the era—including Charles Manson, the Black Panthers, and the shopping mall—through the lens of her own spiritual confusion, Joan Didion helped to define mass culture as we now understand it. Written with a commanding sureness of tone and linguistic precision, The White Album is a central text of American reportage and a classic of American autobiography.
Published: 1979 | Pages: 224 | Genre: Non-Fiction (Essays)
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Goodreads Rating: 4.26 (833K ratings)
Raskolnikov, a destitute and desperate former student, wanders through the slums of St Petersburg and commits a random murder without remorse or regret. He imagines himself to be a great man, a Napoleon: acting for a higher purpose beyond conventional moral law. But as he embarks on a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a suspicious police investigator, Raskolnikov is pursued by the growing voice of his conscience and finds the noose of his own guilt tightening around his neck. Only Sonya, a downtrodden sex worker, can offer the chance of redemption.
Published: 1866 | Pages: 671 | Genre: Fiction (Philosophical)
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Goodreads Rating: 3.88 (238K ratings)
Based on local history & family stories passed down by Frazier’s great-great-grandfather, Cold Mountain is the tale of a wounded Confederate soldier, Inman, who walks away from the ravages of the war and back home to his prewar sweetheart, Ada. His odyssey through the devastated landscape of the South interweaves with Ada’s struggle to revive her father’s farm, with the help of an intrepid young drifter named Ruby. As their long-separated lives begin to converge at the close of the war, Inman and Ada confront the vastly transformed world.
Frazier reveals insight into human relations with the land and the dangers of solitude. He also unfolds a keen observation of a society undergoing change.
Published: 1997 | Pages: 449 | Genre: Fiction (Historical)
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Goodreads Rating: 3.99 (808K ratings)
Set in Italy during World War II, this is the story of the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. But his real problem is not the enemy—it is his own army, which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempt to excuse himself from the perilous missions he’s assigned, he’ll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.
Published: 1961 | Pages: 453 | Genre: Fiction (War)
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Goodreads Rating: 4.24 (312K ratings)
Eleven-year-old Owen Meany, playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire, hits a foul ball and kills his best friend’s mother. Owen doesn’t believe in accidents; he believes he is God’s instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul is both extraordinary and terrifying. At moments a comic, self-deluded victim, but in the end the principal, tragic actor in a divine plan, Owen Meany is the most heartbreaking hero John Irving has yet created.
Published: 1989 | Pages: 637 | Genre: Fiction (Literary)
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Goodreads Rating: 4.09 (721K ratings)
The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it — from garden seeds to Scripture — is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.
Published: 1998 | Pages: 546 | Genre: Fiction (Historical)
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
Goodreads Rating: 3.96 (230K ratings)
First published in French as a serial in 1909, The Phantom of the Opera is a riveting story that revolves around the young, Swedish Christine Daaé. Her father, a famous musician, dies, and she is raised in the Paris Opera House with his dying promise of a protective angel of music to guide her. After a time at the opera house, she begins hearing a voice, who eventually teaches her how to sing beautifully.
Leroux’s work, with characters ranging from the spoiled prima donna Carlotta to the mysterious Persian from Erik’s past, has been immortalized by memorable adaptations. Despite this, it remains a remarkable piece of Gothic horror literature in and of itself, deeper and darker than any version that follows.
Published: 1909 | Pages: 360 | Genre: Fiction (Gothic Horror)
West with the Night by Beryl Markham
Goodreads Rating: 4.14 (36K ratings)
Beryl Markham, the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west, describes her childhood on a farm in Kenya, her apprenticeship as a horse trainer, and her later career as a pioneer aviator who piloted passengers and supplies in a small plane to remote corners of Africa.
Ernest Hemingway said of this memoir, “She has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer….[She] can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves writers.”
Published: 1942 | Pages: 306 | Genre: Non-Fiction (Memoir)
The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
Goodreads Rating: 3.66 (27K ratings)
On the eve of his thirtieth birthday, Binx Bolling is adrift. He occupies himself dallying with his secretaries and going to movies, which provide him with the “treasurable moments” absent from his real life. But one fateful Mardi Gras, Binx embarks on a quest — a harebrained search for authenticity that outrages his family, endangers his fragile cousin Kate, and sends him reeling through the gaudy chaos of the French Quarter. Wry and wrenching, rich in irony and romance, “The Moviegoer” is a genuine American classic.
Published: 1961 | Pages: 242 | Genre: Fiction (Coming-of-Age)
Candide by Voltaire
Goodreads Rating: 3.76 (263K ratings)
Candide is the story of a gentle man who, though pummeled and slapped in every direction by fate, clings desperately to the belief that he lives in “the best of all possible worlds.” On the surface a witty, bantering tale, this eighteenth-century classic is actually a savage, satiric thrust at the philosophical optimism that proclaims that all disaster and human suffering is part of a benevolent cosmic plan. Fast, funny, often outrageous, the French philosopher’s immortal narrative takes Candide around the world to discover that — contrary to the teachings of his distinguished tutor Dr. Pangloss — all is not always for the best. Alive with wit, brilliance, and graceful storytelling, Candide has become Voltaire’s most celebrated work.
Published: 1759 | Pages: 129 | Genre: Fiction (Philosophical)
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr
Goodreads Rating: 4.09 (1.3M ratings)
Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time, Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. 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 fear most.
Published: 1969 | Pages: 275 | Genre: Fiction (Sci-Fi/War)
The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
Goodreads Rating: 3.79 (33K ratings)
This classic Pulitzer-winning novel explores the lives of five people who happen to die together in a fatal rope bridge collapse high in the Andes Mountains in the early 18th century, and raises questions about meaning, tragedy, and divine will.
Published: 1927 | Pages: 160 | Genre: Fiction (Historical)