Best Novels of the 20th Century

Best Novels of the 20th Century

In the 20th century, fiction came into its own with the blossoming of the novel as a popular form.  Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Willa Cather, Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner shared their individual views of a rapidly changing world. Voted as the best books of the 20th Century, these novels were selected by both publishers and readers. Try some and discover really fine literature that endures.

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1984     1984    
George Orwell
    Y Orwell

Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell's chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, Orwell's narrative is more timely that ever. 1984 presents a "negative utopia," that is at once a startling and haunting vision of the world--so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of entire generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions--a legacy that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time. - (Penguin Putnam)

A Bend in the River     A Bend in the River    
V. S. Naipaul

In an African country that has suffered revolution and civil war and that is headed by a man of almost insane energy and crudity, one restless, reflective, and isolated villager and his friends uneasily submit to the tide of events - (Baker & Taylor)

A Clockwork Orange     A Clockwork Orange    
Anthony Burgess

Presents Burgess' satire of the present inhumanity of man to man through a futuristic culture where teenagers rule with violence, and includes the final chapter deleted from the first American edition. - (Baker & Taylor)

A Farewell to Arms     A Farewell to Arms    
Ernest Hemmingway

A tragic wartime romance set against the brutal and chaotic backdrop of World War I is the classic story of a volunteer ambulance driver wounded on the Italian front and the English nurse he loves and leaves behind. Reprint. - (Baker & Taylor)

A Handful of Dust     A Handful of Dust    
Evelyn Waugh

Evelyn Waugh's 1934 novel is a bitingly funny vision of aristocratic decadence in England between the wars. It tells the story of Tony Last, who, to the irritation of his wife, is inordinately obsessed with his Victorian Gothic country house and life. When Lady Brenda Last embarks on an affair with the worthless John Beaver out of boredom with her husband, she sets in motion a sequence of tragicomic disasters that reveal Waugh at his most scathing. - Amazon

A High Wind in Jamaica     A High Wind in Jamaica    
Richard Hughes

Richard Hughes's celebrated short novel is a masterpiece of concentrated narrative. Its dreamlike action begins among the decayed plantation houses and overwhelming natural abundance of late nineteenth-century Jamaica, before moving out onto the high seas, as Hughes tells the story of a group of children thrown upon the mercy of a crew of down-at-the-heel pirates. A tale of seduction and betrayal, of accommodation and manipulation, of weird humor and unforeseen violence, this classic of twentieth-century literature is above all an extraordinary reckoning with the secret reasons and otherworldly realities of childhood. - Amazon

A House for Mr. Biswas     A House for Mr. Biswas    
V. S. Naipaul

Owning a small portion of the Trinidad earth and a respectable house of his own is the dream that sustains Mohun Biswas through a life of frustration and despair after he marries into the domineering Tulsi family. - (Baker & Taylor)

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man     A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man    
James Joyce

Portrays a young Irish Catholic's family experiences, political views, and poetic inspirations. - (Baker & Taylor)

A Room with A View     A Room with A View    
E. M. Forster

The third novel of the famed British author E.M. Forster, A Room with a View was written in 1908 when he was living in Italy. The story takes color from the outdoors and shows charm in human absurdity, but the comedy is also permeated with a sense of melodramatic evil, sinister in its gratuitousness. A Room with a View revolves around a familiar Forster theme, the difficulties and failures in human relationships. Here the heroes and heroines are European rather than Indian--but the dialogue reveals national character with the same sharp edge we find in A Passage to India.- (Transaction Publishers)

All the King's Men     All the King's Men    
Robert Penn Warren

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, 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. New Foreword by Joseph Blotner for this fiftieth anniversary edition. - (Harcourt Publishing)

Angle of Repose     Angle of Repose    
Wallace Stegner

he classic Pulizer Prize-winning novel traces the lives and fortunes of four generations of one family as they attempt to build a life for themselves in the American West. - (Baker & Taylor)

Animal Farm     Animal Farm    
George Orwell

As ferociously fresh as it was more than a half century ago, this remarkable allegory of a downtrodden society of overworked, mistreated animals, and their quest to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality is one of the most scathing satires ever published. As we witness the rise and bloody fall of the revolutionary animals, we begin to recognize the seeds of totalitarianism in the most idealistic organization; and in our most charismatic leaders, the souls of our cruelest oppressors. - (Penguin Putnam)

Appointment in Samarra     Appointment in Samarra    
John O'Hara

At the center of the social elite in 1930s Gibbsville are Julian and Caroline English until Julian makes a fateful decision to break with polite society and embarks on a rapid spiral toward self-destruction, in a new edition of the classic novel about the price one man was forced to pay for rejecting a life of moderation. - (Baker & Taylor)

As I Lay Dying     As I Lay Dying    
William Faulkner

Recounts the Bundren family's odyssey across the Mississippi countryside to bury Addie, their wife and mother, through the eyes of each of the family members - (Baker & Taylor)

Brave New World     Brave New World    
Aldous Huxley

Huxley's classic prophetic novel describes the socialized horrors of a futuristic utopia devoid of individual freedom - (Baker & Taylor)

Brideshead Revisited     Brideshead Revisited    
Evelyn Waugh

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. - (Hachette Book Group)

Catch-22     Catch-22    
Joseph Heller

Arguably the best novel to come out of World War II, in which Heller strips away the veneer of martial glory to expose its insanity, and gives our language a new paradoxical phrase to describe mankind at the mercy of its own institutions. - (Random House, Inc.)

Darkness at Noon     Darkness at Noon    
Arthur Koestler

"A remarkable book, a grimly fascinating interpretation of the logic of the Russian Revolution, indeed of all revolutionary dictatorships, and at the same time a tense and subtly intellectualized drama..." - Times Literary Supplement

Death Comes for the Archbiship     Death Comes for the Archbiship    
Willa Cather

In 1851 Father Jean Marie Latour becomes the Apostolic Vicar to New Mexico, and over the next forty years he faces the lawlessness and loneliness of the frontier as he tries to spread his faith - (Baker & Taylor)

Deliverance     Deliverance    
James Dickey

The setting is the Georgia wilderness, where the states most remote white-water river awaits. In the thundering froth of that river, in its echoing stone canyons, four men on a canoe trip discover a freedom and exhilaration beyond compare. And then, in a moment of horror, the adventure turns into a struggle for survival as one man becomes a human hunter who is offered his own harrowing deliverance.

Fahrenheit 451     Fahrenheit 451    
Ray Bradbury
    SF Br

Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which book paper burns. Fahrenheit 451 is a novel set in the (perhaps near) future when "firemen" burn books forbidden by a 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." Today, when libraries and schools in this country and all over the world are still "burning" certain books, Fahrenheit 451 remains a brilliantly readable and suspenseful work of even greater impact and timeliness. - (Simon and Schuster)

From Here to Eternity     From Here to Eternity    
James Jones

The National Book Award-winning first novel in the epic World War II trilogy weaves together courage, violence, and passions of the men and women stationed in Diamond Head, Hawaii, in 1941, just before America's entrance into the War. Reprint. - (Baker & Taylor)

Go Tell It on the Mountain     Go Tell It on the Mountain    
James Baldwin

"Mountain," Baldwin said, "is the book I had to write if I was ever going to write anything else." Go Tell It On The Mountain, first published in 1953, is Baldwin's first major work, a novel that has established itself as an American classic. With lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy's discovery of the terms of his identity as the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935. Baldwin's rendering of his protagonist's spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves. - (Random House, Inc.)

Gone with the Wind     Gone with the Wind    
Margaret Mitchell

The tumultuous romance of Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler is set against the backdrop of the elegance of the antebellum South, the ravages of the Civil War and the desperate struggle of Reconstruction, in a new edition of one of the world's most famous novels. Reprint. - (Baker & Taylor)

Heart of Darkness     Heart of Darkness    
Joseph Conrad

Marlowe sails down the Congo in search of Kurtz, a company agent who has, according to rumors, become insane in the jungle isolation - (Baker & Taylor)

Henderson, the Rain King     Henderson, the Rain King    
Saul Bellow

A middle-age American millionaire goes to Africa in search of a more meaningful life and receives the adoration of an African tribe that believes he has a gift for rainmaking. - (Baker & Taylor)

Howards End     Howards End    
E. M. Forster

In Howard's End, E.M. Forster unveils the English character as never before, exploring the underlying class warfare involving three distinct groups--a wealthy family bound by the rules of tradition and property, two independent, cultured sisters, and a young man living on the edge of poverty. The source of their conflict--Howards End, a house in the countryside which ultimately becomes a symbol of conflict within British society. - (Penguin Putnam)

I, Claudius     I, Claudius    
Robert Graves

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. - (Random House, Inc.)

Invisible Man     Invisible Man    
Ralph Ellison

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. - (Baker & Taylor)

Kim     Kim    
Rudyard Kipling

Filled with lyrical, exotic prose and nostalgia for Rudyard Kipling's native India, Kim is widely acknowledged as the author's greatest novel and a key element in his winning the 1907 Nobel Prize in Literature. It is the tale of an orphaned sahib and the burdensome fate that awaits him when he is unwittingly dragged into the Great Game of Imperialism. During his many adventures, he befriends a sage old Tibetan lama who transforms his life. As Pankaj Mishra asserts in his Introduction, "To read the novel now is to notice the melancholy wisdom that accompanies the native boy's journey through a broad and open road to the narrow duties of the white man's world: how the deeper Buddhist idea of the illusion of the self, of time and space, makes bearable for him the anguish of abandoning his childhood." - (Random House, Inc.)

Light in August     Light in August    
William Faulkner

n a novel about hopeless perseverance in the face of mortality, guileless Lena Grove searches for the father of her unborn child, Reverend Hightower is plagued by visions of Confederate horsemen, and drifter Joe Christmas is consumed by his mixed ancestry. 10,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)

Lolita     Lolita    
Vladimir Nabokov

When it was published in 1955, Lolita immediately became a cause célèbre because of the freedom and sophistication with which it handled the unusual erotic predilections of its protagonist. But Vladimir Nabokov's wise, ironic, elegant masterpiece owes its stature as one of the twentieth century's novels of record not to the controversy its material aroused but to its author's use of that material to tell a love story almost shocking in its beauty and tenderness.  - Random House, Inc

Lord Jim     Lord Jim    
Joseph Conrad

"Never were Mr. Conrad's felicity of phrase and charm of atmosphere more obvious. . . . A book of the rare literary quality of Lord Jim is something to receive with gratitude and joy."--The New York Times

Lord of the Flies     Lord of the Flies    
William Golding

Lord of the Flies remains as provocative today as when it was first published in 1954, igniting passionate debate with its startling, brutal portrait of human nature. Though critically acclaimed, it was largely ignored upon its initial publication. Yet soon it became a cult favorite among both students and literary critics who compared it to J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye in its influence on modern thought and literature. - (Penguin Putnam)

Loving; Living; Party Going     Loving; Living; Party Going    
Henry Green

Class distinction is the common theme: between masters and servants in an Irish castle, owners and workers in a foundry, and the wealthy and working class in a railway station - (Baker & Taylor)

Midnight's Children     Midnight's Children    
Salman Rushdie

The life of a man born at the moment of India's independence becomes inextricably linked to that of his nation and is a whirlwind of disasters and triumphs that mirror modern India's course, in a twenty-fifth anniversary edition of the Booker Prize-winning novel. Reprint. 10,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)

Native Son     Native Son    
Richard Wright

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. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Richard Wright's novel is just as powerful today as when it was written -- in its reflection of poverty and hopelessness, and what it means to be black in America. - Amazon

Nostromo     Nostromo    
Joseph Conrad

One of the greatest political novels in any language, Nostromo reenacts the establishment of modern capitalism in a remote South American province locked between the Andes and the Pacific. In the harbor town of Sulaco, a vivid cast of characters is caught up in a civil war to decide whether its fabulously wealthy silver mine, funded by American money but owned by a third-generation English immigrant, can be preserved from the hands of venal politicians. Greed and corruption seep into the lives of everyone, and Nostromo, the principled foreman of the mine, is tested to the limit. -- Amazon

Of Human Bondage     Of Human Bondage    
Somerset Maugham

A young man struggling for self-realization becomes caught up in a destructive love affair that forever alters his life. - (Baker & Taylor)

On the Road     On the Road    
Jack Keroucac
    Y Ke

This counterculture classic reveals the escapades of members of the beat generation as they seek pleasure and meaning while traveling coast to coast - (Baker & Taylor)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest     One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest    
Ken Kesey

McMurphy, a criminal who feigns insanity, is admitted to a mental hospital where he challenges the autocratic authority of the head nurse. - (Baker & Taylor)

Pale Fire     Pale Fire    
Vladimir Nabokov

Nabokov's parody, half poem and half commentary on the poem, deals with the escapades of the deposed king of Zemala in a New England college town - (Baker & Taylor)

Passage to India     Passage to India    
E. M. Forster

Among the greatest novels of the twentieth century and the basis for director David Lean's Academy Award-winning film, A Passage to India tells of the clash of cultures in British India after the turn of the century. In exquisite prose, Forster reveals the menace that lurks just beneath the surface of ordinary life, as a common misunderstanding erupts into a devastating affair.- (Harcourt Publishing)

Portnoy's Complaint     Portnoy's Complaint    
Philip Roth

Portnoy's Complaint is the famously outrageous confession made to his analyst by Alexander Portnoy, the Huck Finn of Newark, who is trust through life by his unappeasable sexuality, yet held back at the same time by the iron grip of his unforgettable childhood. Thirty years after it was first published, Portnoy's Complaint remains a classic of American literature, a tour de force of comic and carnal brilliance, and probably the funniest book about sex ever written. It was recently designated one of the hundred best books of the twentieth century by the Modern Library judges. - HARPERCOLL)

Ragtime     Ragtime    
E. L. Doctorow

Recounts the interrelated early twentieth-century lives of the families of a New Rochelle manufacturer, an immigrant socialist, and a Harlem musician and their involvement with Evelyn Nesbit, Henry Ford, Houdini, Morgan, Freud, Zapata, and other period notables - (Baker & Taylor)

Scoop     Scoop    
Evelyn Waugh

In "Scoop, " surreptitiously dubbed "a newspaper adventure, " Waugh flays Fleet Street and the social pastimes of its war correspondants as he tells how William Boot became the star of British super-journalism an how, leaving part of his shirt in the claws of the lovely Katchen, he returned from Ishmaelia to London as the "Daily's Beast's" more accoladed overseas reporter. - (Hachette Book Group)

Sister Carrie     Sister Carrie    
Theodore Dreiser

When small-town Carrie Meeber arrives in 1890s Chicago, she cannot know what awaits. Callow, beautiful, and alone, she experiences the bitterness of temptation and hardship even as she sets her sights on a better life. Drawn by the seductive desire to rise above her social class, Carrie aspires to the top of the acting profession in New York, while the man who has become obsessed with her gambles everything for her sake and draws near the brink of destruction.

Slaughterhouse-Five     Slaughterhouse-Five    
Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhous-Five is one of the world's great anti-war books. Centering on the infamous fire-bombing 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. - (Random House, Inc.)

Sons and Lovers     Sons and Lovers    
D. H. Lawrence

Since its publication in 1913, D. H. Lawrence's powerful and passionate third novel stands as one of the greatest autobiographical novels of the twentieth century. Here is the story of artist Paul Morel as a young man, his powerful relationship with his possessive mother, his passionate love affair with Miriam Leivers, his intense liaison with married Clara Dawes. Here, too, England's Derbyshire springs to life with both is sooty mining villages and deep green pastures, a setting as full of contrasts as the deep emotions that rule this remarkable book. - (Random House, Inc)

Sophie's Choice     Sophie's Choice    
William Styron

As the fierce lovemaking and fights of Nathan, a paranoiac Jewish intellectual, and Sophie, a Polish-Catholic concentration-camp survivor, intensify, Stingo, a writer who lives below them in a cheap rooming house, becomes more and more involved in their lives - (Baker & Taylor)

Tender is the Night     Tender is the Night    
F. Scott Fitzgerald

A story of Americans on the French Riviera in the 1930s is a portrait of psychological disintegration as a wealthy couple supports friends and hangers-on financially and emotionally at the cost of their own stability - (Baker & Taylor)

The Adventures of Augie March     The Adventures of Augie March    
Saul Bellow

Augie's nonconformity leads him into an eventful, humorous, and sometimes earthy way of life.

The Age of Innocence     The Age of Innocence    
Edith Wharton

The perfect marriage between the wealthy, worldly attorney Newland Archer and the beautiful and docile May Welland is threatened by the arrival from Europe of May's cousin, the fascinating Countess Olenska. Winner of the 1921 Pulitzer Prize. - (Baker & Taylor)

The Ambassadors     The Ambassadors    
Henry James

Sent to Paris by a wealthy matron to retrieve her son, Strether becomes sidetracked by intriguing complications - (Baker & Taylor)

The Bridge of San Luis Rey     The Bridge of San Luis Rey    
Thornton Wilder

"On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714,the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipi-tated five travelers into the gulf below." With this celebrated sentence Thornton Wilder begins The Bridge of San Luis Rey, one of the towering achievements in American fiction and a novel read throughout the world. - Amazon

The Call of the Wild     The Call of the Wild    
Jack London
    Y London

Buck (a dog that is half St Bernard and half Shepherd) goes through many lives, trials, and tribulations finally realizing his potential. On the way he learns many concepts from surprise, to deceit, and cunning; he also learns loyalty, devotion, and love. As he is growing he feels the call of the wild. - Amazon Review

The Catcher in the Rye     The Catcher in the Rye    
J. D. Salinger

With the author's recent passing, the classic novel about young Holden Caulfield's disillusionment with the adult world and its "phoniness" will only rise in popularity--and controversy, since it is a favorite target of censors, who often cite profanity and sexual references in their efforts to ban the book. - (Baker & Taylor)

The Day of the Locust     The Day of the Locust    
Nathanel West

Hollywood of the 1930s and the collapse of the American dream are seen through the eyes of a refined, educated set designer and an inarticulate bookkeeper from Iowa - (Baker & Taylor)

The Ginger Man     The Ginger Man    
J. P. Donleavy

First published in Paris in 1955 and originally banned in America, J. P. Donleavy's first novel is now recognized the world over as a masterpiece and a modern classic of the highest order. Set in Ireland just after World War II, The Ginger Man is J. P. Donleavy's wildly funny, picaresque classic novel of the misadventures of Sebastian Dangerfield, a young American ne'er-do-well studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Dangerfield's appetite for women, liquor, and general roguishness is insatiable--and he satisfies it with endless charm. "Lusty, violent, wildly funny ... The Ginger Man is the picaresque novel to stop them all."--Dorothy Parker, Esquire - (Perseus Publishing)

The Golden Bowl     The Golden Bowl    
Henry James

Set in England, The Golden Bowl is Henry James's highly charged exploration of adultery, jealousy, and possession that continues and challenges James's characteristic exploration of the battle between American innocence and European experience. Maggie Verver, a young American heiress, and her widowed father, Adam, lead a life of wealth and refinement in London. They are both getting married: Maggie to Prince Amerigo, an impoverished Italian aristocrat, and Adam to the beautiful but penniless Charlotte Stant. But both father and daughter are unaware that their new conquests share a secret- one for which all concerned must pay the price - Amazon

The Good Soldier     The Good Soldier    
Ford Madox Ford

"A Tale of Passion," as its subtitle declares, The Good Soldier relates 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. It is the attitude of Dowell, his puzzlement, uncertainty, and the seemingly haphazard manner of his narration that make the book so powerful and mysterious. Despite its catalogue of death, insanity, and despair, the novel has many comic moments, and has inspired the work of several distinguished writers, including Graham Greene. - Amazon

The Great Gatsby     The Great Gatsby    
F. Scott Fitzgerald

A young man newly rich tries to recapture the past and win back his former love, despite the fact she has married - (Baker & Taylor)

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter     The Heart is a Lonely Hunter    
Carson McCullers

A quiet, sensitive girl searches for beauty in a small, but damned southern town - (Baker & Taylor)

The Heart of the Matter     The Heart of the Matter    
Grahamn Green

An assistant police commissioner in a West African coastal town lets passion overrule his honor - (Baker & Taylor)

The House of Mirth     The House of Mirth    
Edith Wharton

"Uniquely authentic among American novels of manners." --Louis Auchincloss The House of Mirth is the novel that first established the literary reputation of Pulitzer Prize-winner Edith Wharton. In it, she honed her devastating acerbic style, created one of her most memorable heroines in Lily Bart, and discovered her defining theme: the vulgarity, greed, human frailty, and false social values that form the true foundation of New York society. - (Penguin Putnam)

The Magnificent Ambersons     The Magnificent Ambersons    
Booth Tarkington

The Magnificent Ambersons is the epic story of an American family's traumatic tumble from the dizzying heights of fame and fortune. A dynasty spanning three generations, the Ambersons' pre-eminence as society's elite is threatened--not only by a hungry new breed of industrial entrepreneurs--but from its own arrogance and greed. At the center of the story is George Amberson Minafer, the pampered but pitiful, scion of the clan upon whose shoulders the fate of the family fortune will be won...or lost. - (McMillan Palgrave)

The Magus     The Magus    
John Fowles

A treasury of Christmas favorites ranges from the gospel story of Christ to traditional carols and hymns to the Christmas writings of O. Henry and Charles Dickens - (Baker & Taylor)

The Maltese Falcon     The Maltese Falcon    
Dashiell Hammett
    MYS Hammett

A treasure worth killing for. Sam Spade, a slightly shopworn private eye with his own solitary code of ethics. A perfumed grafter named Joel Cairo, a fat man name Gutman, and Brigid O'Shaughnessy, a beautiful and treacherous woman whose loyalties shift at the drop of a dime. These are the ingredients of Dashiell Hammett's coolly glittering gem of detective fiction, a novel that has haunted three generations of readers. - (Random House, Inc.)

The Moviegoer     The Moviegoer    
Walker Percy

The late author's classic novel, a winner of the National Book Award, follows a young New Orleans stockbroker who resorts to movies to fill his life on a hare-brained quest during Mardi Gras. - (Baker & Taylor)

The Naked and the Dead     The Naked and the Dead    
Norman Mailer

Written in gritty, journalistic detail, the story follows an army platoon of foot soldiers who are fighting for the possession of the Japanese-held island of Anopopei. Composed in 1948, The Naked and the Dead is representative of the best in twentieth-century American writing. - (Holtzbrinck)

The Postman Always Rings Twice     The Postman Always Rings Twice    
James M. Cain

An amoral young tramp. A beautiful, sullen woman with an inconvenient husband. A problem that has only one grisly solution--a solution that only creates other problems that no one can ever solve. - Random House Inc.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie     The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie    
Muriel Spark

A teacher at a girl's school in Edinburgh during the 1930s comes into conflict with school authorities because of her unorthodox teaching methods - (Baker & Taylor)

The Rainbow     The Rainbow    
D.H. Lawrence

The Brangwen family has lived in Nottinghamshire for generations. "The Rainbow" tells the story of the three generations of Brangwens who live at Marsh Farm from 1840 to the early 1900's. In this book, D. H. Lawrence explored the impact of sexuality upon human relationships with such frankness that, shortly after its publication in 1915, it was brought to trial for obscenity. - Amazon

The Secret Agent     The Secret Agent    
Joseph Conrad

The Secret Agent is the unsurpassed ancestor of a long series of twentieth-century novels and films which explore the confused motives that lie at the heart of political terrorism. In its use of powerful psychological insight to intensify narrative suspense, it set the terms by which subsequent works in its genre were created. Conrad was the first novelist to discover the strange in-between territory of the political exile, and his genius was such that we still have no truer map of that region's moral terrain than his story of a terrorist plot and its tragic consequences for the guilty and innocent alike. - Random House Inc.

The Sheltering Sky     The Sheltering Sky    
Paul Bowles

A story about three American travelers adrift in the cities and deserts of North Africa after World War II, The Sheltering Sky explores the limits of humanity when it touches the unfathomable emptiness and impassive cruelty of the desert. - Amazon

The Sound and the Fury     The Sound and the Fury    
William Faulkner

The Sound and the Fury is the tragedy of the Compson family, featuring some of the most memorable characters in literature: beautiful, rebellious Caddy; the manchild Benjy; haunted, neurotic Quentin; Jason, the brutal cynic; and Dilsey, their black servant. Their lives fragmented and harrowed by history and legacy, the character's voices and actions mesh to create what is arguably Faulkner's masterpiece and one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century.- (Random House, Inc.)

The Sun Also Rises     The Sun Also Rises    
Ernest Hemingway
    Y He

A brilliant profile of the Lost Generation, Hemingway's first bestseller captures life among the expatriates on Paris's Left Bank during the 1920s, the brutality of bullfighting in Spain, and the moral and spiritual dissolution of a generation. Reprint. - (Baker & Taylor)

The Wapshot Chronicle     The Wapshot Chronicle    
John Cheever

Presents the story of the Wapshot inheritance, from the early twentieth century to the 1960s, as succeeding generations of the Wapshot family grapple with upper-class greed, pitiful lust, and intellectual amorality. Winner of the National Book Award. - (Baker & Taylor)

The Way of all Flesh     The Way of all Flesh    
Samuel Butler

Originally written in the 1880s and published posthumously in 1903, a semiautobiographical novel examines the complex relationships that exist in the Pontifex family as they reflect the hypocrisy of middle-class life in Victorian England. - (Baker & Taylor)

The Wings of the Dove     The Wings of the Dove    
Henry James

The Wings of the Dove is a classic example of Henry James's morality tales that play off the naïveté of an American protagonist abroad. In early-20th-century London, Kate Croy and Merton Densher are engaged in a passionate, clandestine love affair. Croy is desperately in love with Densher, who has all the qualities of a potentially excellent husband: he's handsome, witty, and idealistic--the one thing he lacks is money, which ultimately renders him unsuitable as a mate - Amazon

To Kill a Mockingbird     To Kill a Mockingbird    
Harper Lee

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature. - (Hachette Book Group)

To the Lighthouse     To the Lighthouse    
Virginia Woolf

To the Lighthouse features the serene and maternal Mrs. Ramsay, the tragic yet absurd Mr. Ramsay, and their children and assorted guests who are on holiday on the Isle of Skye. From the seemingly trivial postponement of a visit to a nearby lighthouse, Virginia Woolf constructs a moving examination of the complex tensions and allegiances of family life and the conflicts within a marriage. - (Blackwell North Amer)

Tobacco Road     Tobacco Road    
Erskine Caldwell

Set during the Depression in the depleted farmlands surrounding Augusta, Georgia, Tobacco Road was first published in 1932. It is the story of the Lesters, a family of white sharecroppers so destitute that most of their creditors have given up on them. Debased by poverty to an elemental state of ignorance and selfishness, the Lesters are preoccupied by their hunger, sexual longings, and fear that they will someday descend to a lower rung on the social ladder than the black families who live near them.- (Univ of Georgia Press)

Town Like Alice     Town Like Alice    
Nevil Shute
    Y Shute

Jean Paget, a young Englishwoman living in Malaya, is captured by the invading Japanese and forced on a brutal seven-month death march with dozens of other women and children. A few years after the war, Jean is back in England, the nightmare behind her. However, an unexpected inheritance inspires her to return to Malaya to give something back to the villagers who saved her life. But it turns out that they have a gift for her as well: the news that the young Australian soldier, Joe Harmon, who had risked his life to help the women, had miraculously survived. Jean's search for Joe leads her to a desolate Australian outpost called Willstown, where she finds a challenge that will draw on all the resourcefulness and spirit that carried her through her war-time ordeals. - Amazon

Ulysses     Ulysses    
James Joyce

This account of several lower class citizens of Dublin describes their activities and tells what some of them were thinking one day in 1904 - (Baker & Taylor)

Under the Net     Under the Net    
Iris Murdock

Iris Murdoch's first novel is set in a part of London where struggling writers rub shoulders with successful bookles, and film stariets with frantic philosophers. Its hero, Jake Donaghue, is a drifting, clever, likeable young man, who makes a living out of translation work and sponging off his friends. However, a meeting with Anna, an old flame, leads him into a series of fantastic adventures. - Amazon

Under the Volcano     Under the Volcano    
Malcolm Lowry

Under the Volcano remains one of literature's most powerful and lyrical statements on the human condition, and a brilliant portrayal of one man's constant struggle against the elemental forces that threaten to destroy him. - Amazon

Winesburg, Ohio     Winesburg, Ohio    
Sherwood Anderson

Profiles the people of a small Midwestern town during the early 1900s, revealing the potential consequences of human misunderstanding. - (Baker & Taylor)

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance     Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance    
Robert Pirsig
    155.2 Pir

One of the most important and influential books of the past half-century, Robert M. Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a powerful, moving, and penetrating examination of how we live and a meditation on how to live better. The narrative of a father on a summer motorcycle trip across America's Northwest with his young son, it becomes a profound personal and philosophical odyssey into life's fundamental questions. A true modern classic, it remains at once touching and transcendent, resonant with the myriad confusions of existence and the small, essential triumphs that propel us forward. - (HARPERCOLL)