Radcliffe's 100 Best Novels by Radcliffe Publishing Course

  1. 1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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    The novel chronicles an era that Fitzgerald himself dubbed the "Jazz Age". Following the shock and chaos of World War I, American society enjoyed unprecedented levels of prosperity during the "roar...


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

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    The Catcher in the Rye is a 1945 novel by J. D. Salinger. Originally published for adults, the novel has become a common part of high school and college curricula throughout the English-speaking wo...


  3. 3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

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    Set during the Great Depression, the novel focuses on a poor family of sharecroppers, the Joads, driven from their home by drought, economic hardship, and changes in the agriculture industry. In a ...


  4. 4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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    As a Southern Gothic novel and a Bildungsroman, the primary themes of To Kill a Mockingbird involve racial injustice and the destruction of innocence. Scholars have noted that Lee also addresses is...


  5. 5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

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    Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on female black life during the 1930s in the Southern United States, addressing the numerous issues including their exceedingly low position ...


  6. 6. Ulysses by James Joyce

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    Ulysses chronicles the passage of Leopold Bloom through Dublin during an ordinary day, June 16, 1904. The title parallels and alludes to Odysseus (Latinised into Ulysses), the hero of Homer's Odyss...


  7. 7. Beloved by Toni Morrison

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    Beloved (1987) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison. The novel, her fifth, is loosely based on the life and legal case of the slave Margaret Garner, about whom Morrison...


  8. 8. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

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    Lord of the Flies discusses how culture created by man fails, using as an example a group of British schoolboys stuck on a deserted island who try to govern themselves, but with disastrous results....


  9. 9. Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell

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    The story follows the life of one seemingly insignificant man, Winston Smith, a civil servant assigned the task of perpetuating the regime's propaganda by falsifying records and political literatur...


  10. 10. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

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    The Sound and the Fury is set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County. The novel centers on the Compson family, former Southern aristocrats who are struggling to deal with the dissolution of their fa...


  11. 11. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

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    The book is internationally famous for its innovative style and infamous for its controversial subject: the protagonist and unreliable narrator, middle aged Humbert Humbert, becomes obsessed and se...


  12. 12. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

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    Published in 1937, it tells the tragic story of George Milton and Lennie Small, two displaced migrant ranch workers during the Great Depression in California. Based on Steinbeck's own experiences a...


  13. 13. Charlotte's Web by E. B. White

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    The novel tells the story of a pig named Wilbur and his friendship with a barn spider named Charlotte. When Wilbur is in danger of being slaughtered by the farmer, Charlotte writes messages praisin...


  14. 14. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

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    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a semi-autobiographical novel by James Joyce, first serialized in The Egoist from 1914 to 1915 and published in book form in 1916. It depicts the formativ...


  15. 15. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

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    Catch-22 is a satirical, historical novel by the American author Joseph Heller, first published in 1961. The novel, set during the later stages of World War II from 1943 onwards, is frequently cite...


  16. 16. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

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    Set in the London of AD 2540 (632 A.F. in the book), the novel anticipates developments in reproductive technology and sleep-learning that combine to change society. The future society is an embod...


  17. 17. Animal Farm by George Orwell

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    Animal Farm is a dystopian novella by George Orwell. Published in England on 17 August 1945, the book reflects events leading up to and during the Stalin era before World War II. Orwell, a democrat...


  18. 18. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

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    The novel explores the lives and values of the so-called "Lost Generation," chronicling the experiences of Jake Barnes and several acquaintances on their pilgrimage to Pamplona for the annual San F...


  19. 19. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

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    The book is told in stream of consciousness writing style by 15 different narrators in 59 chapters. It is the story of the death of Addie Bundren and her family's quest—noble or selfish—to honor he...


  20. 20. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

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    The novel is told through the point of view of Lieutenant Frederic Henry, an American serving as an ambulance driver in the Italian army during World War I.


  21. 21. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

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    The story details an incident when Marlow, an Englishman, took a foreign assignment from a Belgian trading company as a ferry-boat captain in Africa. Although Conrad does not specify the name of th...


  22. 22. Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne

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    Winnie-the-Pooh, commonly shortened to Pooh Bear and once referred to as Edward Bear, is a fictional bear created by A. A. Milne. The first collection of stories about the character was the book Wi...


  23. 23. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

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    The main character, an African American woman in her early forties named Janie Crawford, tells the story of her life and journey via an extended flashback to her best friend, Pheoby, so that Pheoby...


  24. 24. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

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    The novel addresses many of the social and intellectual issues facing African-Americans in the early twentieth century, including black nationalism, the relationship between black identity and Marx...


  25. 25. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

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    It follows the life of Macon "Milkman" Dead III, an African-American male living in Michigan, from birth to adulthood. The main theme in the novel is Milkman's quest for identity as a black man in ...


  26. 26. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

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    Gone With the Wind is set in Jonesboro and Atlanta, Georgia during the American Civil War and Reconstruction and follows the life of Scarlett O'Hara, the daughter of an Irish immigrant plantation o...


  27. 27. Native Son by Richard Wright

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    The novel tells the story of 20-year old Bigger Thomas, an African American living in utter poverty. Bigger lived in Chicago's South Side ghetto in the 1930s. Bigger was always getting into troubl...


  28. 28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

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    Narrated by the gigantic but docile half-Indian "Chief" Bromden, who has pretended to be a deaf-mute for several years, the story focuses on the antics of the rebellious Randle Patrick McMurphy, a ...


  29. 29. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

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    An anti-war science fiction novel by Kurt Vonnegut about World War II experiences and journeys through time of a soldier called Billy Pilgrim.


  30. 30. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

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    It tells the story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to a communist guerilla unit during the Spanish Civil War. As an expert in the use of explosives, he is ...


  31. 31. On the Road by Jack Kerouac

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    On the Road is a largely autobiographical work that was based on the spontaneous road trips of Kerouac and his friends across mid-century America. It is often considered a defining work of the post...


  32. 32. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

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    The Old Man and the Sea is one of Hemingway's most enduring works. Told in language of great simplicity and power, it is the story of an old Cuban fisherman, down on his luck, and his supreme ordea...


  33. 33. The Call of the Wild by Jack London

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    The plot concerns a previously domesticated and even somewhat pampered dog named Buck, whose primordial instincts return after a series of events finds him serving as a sled dog in the treacherous...


  34. 34. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

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    A landmark novel of high modernism, the text, centering on the Ramsay family and their visits to the Isle of Skye in Scotland between 1910 and 1920, skillfully manipulates temporality and psycholog...


  35. 35. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

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    The story centres on Isabel Archer, an attractive American whom circumstances have brought to Europe. Isabel refuses the offer of marriage to an English peer and to a bulldog-like New Englander, to...


  36. 36. Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin

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    The novel examines the role of the Christian Church in the lives of African-Americans, both as a source of repression and moral hypocrisy and as a source of inspiration and community. It also, more...


  37. 37. The World According to Garp by John Irving

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    The story deals with the life of T. S. Garp. His mother, Jenny Fields, is a strong-willed nurse who wants a child but not a husband. She encounters a dying ball turret gunner known only as Technica...


  38. 38. All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren

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    All the King's Men portrays the dramatic political ascent and governorship of Willie Stark, a driven, cynical populist in the American South during the 1930s.


  39. 39. A Room With a View by E.M. Forster

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    British social comedy examines a young heroine's struggle against strait-laced Victorian attitudes as she rejects the man her family has encouraged her to marry and chooses, instead, a socially uns...


  40. 40. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

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    The Lord of the Rings is an epic high fantasy novel written by philologist and Oxford University professor J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's earlier, less complex children'...


  41. 41. Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally

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    The book tells the story of Oskar Schindler, a Nazi Party member, who turns into the unlikely hero. By the end of the war, Schindler has saved 1,200 Jews from concentration camps all over Poland an...


  42. 42. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

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    The Age of Innocence centers on an upperclass couple's impending marriage, and the introduction of a scandalous woman whose presence threatens their happiness. Though the novel questions the assump...


  43. 43. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

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    The Fountainhead's protagonist, Howard Roark, is an individualistic young architect who chooses to struggle in obscurity rather than compromise his artistic and personal vision. The book follows hi...


  44. 44. Finnegans Wake by James Joyce

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    Having done the longest day in literature with his monumental Ulysses (1922), James Joyce set himself an even greater challenge for his next book — the night. "A nocturnal state.... That is what I ...


  45. 45. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

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    1906 best-seller shockingly reveals intolerable labor practices and unsanitary working conditions in the Chicago stockyards as it tells the brutally grim story of a Slavic family that emigrates to ...


  46. 46. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

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    Created from two short stories, "Mrs Dalloway in Bond Street" and the unfinished "The Prime Minister", the novel's story is of Clarissa's preparations for a party of which she is to be hostess. Wit...


  47. 47. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

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    The story chronicles the adventures of a girl named Dorothy in the Land of Oz. Thanks in part to the 1939 MGM movie, it is one of the best-known stories in American popular culture and has been wid...


  48. 48. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence

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    Lyric and sensual, D.H. Lawrence's last novel is one of the major works of fiction of the twentieth century. Filled with scenes of intimate beauty, explores the emotions of a lonely woman trapped i...


  49. 49. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

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    The title is taken from an old Cockney expression, "as queer as a clockwork orange" and alludes to the prevention of the main character's exercise of his free will through the use of a classical co...


  50. 50. The Awakening by Kate Chopin

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    First published in 1899, this novel shocked readers with its open sensuality and uninhibited treatment of marital infidelity. Poignant and lyrical, it tells the story of a New Orleans wife who atte...


  51. 51. My Antonia by Willa Cather

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    In Willa Cather's own estimation, My Antonia, first published in 1918, was "the best thing I've ever done." An enduring paperback bestseller on Houghton Mifflin's literary list, this hauntingly elo...


  52. 52. Howards End by E. M. Forster

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    "Only Connect," Forster's key aphorism, informs this novel about an English country house, Howards End, and its influence on the lives of the wealthy and materialistic Wilcoxes; the cultured, ideal...


  53. 53. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

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    On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no appar...


  54. 54. Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger

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    Franny and Zooey, a sister and brother both in their 20s, are the two youngest members of the Glass family, which was a frequent focus of Salinger's writings. The action of both parts takes place o...


  55. 55. Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

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    The character of the chief protagonist of The Satanic Verses is based on Indian film star Amitabh Bachchan and a bit of Rama Rao. The title refers to what are known as the satanic verses, a group o...


  56. 56. Jazz by Toni Morrison

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    In the winter of 1926, when everybody everywhere sees nothing but good things ahead, Joe Trace, middle-aged door-to-door salesman of Cleopatra beauty products, shoots his teenage lover to death. At...


  57. 57. Sophie's Choice by William Styron

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    It concerns a young American Southerner, an aspiring writer, who befriends the Jewish Nathan Landau and his beautiful lover Sophie, a Polish (but non-Jewish) survivor of the Nazi concentration camp...


  58. 58. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

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    Absalom, Absalom! is a Southern Gothic novel by the American author William Faulkner, first published in 1936. It is a story about three families of the American South, taking place before, during,...


  59. 59. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster

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    A Passage to India is set against the backdrop of the British Raj and the Indian independence movement in the 1920s. The story revolves around four characters: Dr. Aziz, his British friend Cyril Fi...


  60. 60. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

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    Tragic story of wasted lives, set against a bleak New England background. A poverty-stricken New England farmer, his ailing wife and a youthful housekeeper are drawn relentlessly into a deep-rooted...


  61. 61. A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor

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    The collection that established O'Connor's reputation as one of the american masters of the short story. The volume contains the celebrated title story, a tale of the murderous fugitive "The Misfit...


  62. 62. Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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    The story is that of the rise and fall of Dick Diver, a promising young psychoanalyst and his wife, Nicole, who is also one of his patients. It would be Fitzgerald's first novel in nine years, and ...


  63. 63. Orlando: A Biography by Virginia Woolf

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    In her most exuberant, most fanciful novel, Woolf has created a character liberated from the restraints of time and sex. Born in the Elizabethan Age to wealth and position, Orlando is a young noble...


  64. 64. Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence

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    Sons and Lovers is one of the landmark novels of the twentieth century. When it appeared in 1913, it was immediately recognized as the first great modern restatement of the oedipal drama, and it is...


  65. 65. Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe

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    Tom Wolfe’s modern American satire tells the story of Sherman McCoy, a Wall Street “Master of the Universe” who has it all — a Park Avenue apartment, a job that brings wealth, power and prestige, a...


  66. 66. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

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    Cat's Cradle explores issues of science, technology, and religion, satirizing the arms race and many other targets along the way. After turning down his original thesis, the University of Chicago, ...


  67. 67. A Separate Peace by John Knowles

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    It would be inconceivable for an American author to write a coming-of-age novel in a comedic vein without reckoning with J.D. Salinger's A Catcher in the Rye; and it would be equally impossible to ...


  68. 68. Light in August by William Faulkner

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    Lght in August is an exploration of racial conflict in the society of the Southern United States.


  69. 69. Wings of the Dove by Henry James

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    One of the masterpieces of James' final period, this novel tells the story of Milly Theale, an American heiress stricken with a serious disease, and her impact on the people around her. Some of the...


  70. 70. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

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    A novel of great power that turns the world upside down. The Nigerian novelist Achebe reached back to the early days of his people's encounter with colonialism, the 1890's, though the white man and...

    - Time

  71. 71. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

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    Rebecca is considered to be one of her best works. Some observers have noted parallels with Jane Eyre. Much of the novel was written while she was staying in Alexandria, Egypt, where her husband wa...


  72. 72. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

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    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the title of the first of five books in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy comedy science fiction series by Douglas Adams. The novel is an adaptation of th...


  73. 73. Naked Lunch by William Burroughs

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    The book is structured as a series of loosely-connected vignettes. Burroughs himself stated that the chapters are intended to be read in any order. The reader follows the narration of junkie Willia...


  74. 74. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

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    Brideshead Revisited, The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder is a novel by the English writer Evelyn Waugh, first published in 1945. Waugh wrote that the novel "deals with what is t...


  75. 75. Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence

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    Perhaps no other of the world’s great writers lived and wrote with the passionate intensity of D. H. Lawrence. And perhaps no other of his books so explores the mysteries between men and women–both...


  76. 76. Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe

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    It is Wolfe's first novel, and is considered a highly autobiographical American Bildungsroman. The character of Eugene Gant is generally believed to be a depiction of Wolfe himself. The novel cover...

    - 1929

  77. 77. In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway

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    When In Our Time was published in 1925, it was praised by Ford Madox Ford, John Dos Passos, and F. Scott Fitzgerald for its simple and precise use of language to convey a wide range of complex emot...


  78. 78. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein

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    Largely to amuse herself, Gertrude Stein wrote this book in 1932..using as a sounding board her companion Miss Toklas, who had been with her for twenty-five years. The book is full of the most luci...


  79. 79. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

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    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, ...


  80. 80. The Naked Dead by Norman Mailer

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    The Naked and the Dead is a 1948 novel by Norman Mailer. It was based on his experiences and exaggerations of that experience with the 112th Cavalry Regiment during the Philippines Campaign (1944–4...


  81. 81. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

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    In Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Bertha is the madwoman locked in the attic by her husband Rochester, the simmering Englishman whose children Jane has been hired to tutor. In Bronte's novel we lear...

    - Time

  82. 82. White Noise by Don DeLillo

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    Set at a bucolic midwestern college known only as The-College-on-the-Hill, White Noise follows a year in the life of Jack Gladney, a professor who has made his name by pioneering the field of Hitle...


  83. 83. O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

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    This powerful early Cather novel, a landmark of American fiction, tells the story of the young Alexandra Bergson, whose dying father leaves her in charge of the family and of the Nebraska lands the...


  84. 84. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

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    Set in France (primarily Paris) during the 1930s, it is the tale of Miller's life as a struggling writer. Combining fiction and autobiography, some chapters follow a strict narrative and refer to M...


  85. 85. War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells

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    When four Martian space ships land in England, masses of people flee the cities, driven by an overwhelming fear of the alien creatures devastating weapons of death and destruction. Excellently adap...


  86. 86. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

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    Conrad's great novel of guilt and redemption follows the first mate on board the Patna, a raw youth with dreams of heroism who, in an act of cowardice, abandons his ship. His unbearable guilt and i...


  87. 87. The Bostonians by Henry James

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    The plot of this novel revolves around the feminist movement in Boston in the 1870's. F.R. Leavis called it one of "the 2 most brilliant novels in the language. "The novel's many allusions to the h...


  88. 88. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser

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    Clyde Griffiths is a young man with ambitions. He's in love with a rich girl, but it's a poor girl he has gotten pregnant, Roberta Alden, who works with him at his uncle's factory. One day he takes...

    - Time

  89. 89. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

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    Death Comes for the Archbishop is a 1927 novel by Willa Cather. It concerns the attempts of a Catholic bishop and a priest to establish a diocese in New Mexico Territory.


  90. 90. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

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    A classic in children's literature The Wind in the Willow is alternately slow moving and fast paced. The book focuses on four anthropomorphised animal characters in a pastoral version of England. T...


  91. 91. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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    Definitive novel of the "Lost Generation" focuses on the coming of age of Amory Blaine, a handsome, wealthy Princeton student. He exemplifies the young men and women of the 20s who grew up to find ...


  92. 92. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

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    Ayn Rand's epochal novel, first published in 1957, has been a bestseller for more than four decades as well as an intellectual landmark. It is the story of a man who said that he would stop the mot...


  93. 93. The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles

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    The novel's protagonist is Sarah Woodruff, the title Woman, also known by the nickname of “Tragedy”, and by the unfortunate nickname “The French Lieutenant’s Whore”. She lives in the coastal town o...


  94. 94. Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis

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    When Babbitt was first published in 1922, fans gleefully hailed its scathing portrait of a crass, materialistic nation; critics denounced it as an unfair skewering of the American businessman. Spar...


  95. 95. Kim by Rudyard Kipling

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    Kim is an orphan, living from hand to mouth in the teeming streets of Lahore. One day he meets a man quite unlike anything in his wide experience, a Tibetan lama on a quest. Kim's life suddenly acq...


  96. 96. The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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    It tells the story of Anthony Patch (a 1920s socialite and presumptive heir to a tycoon's fortune), the relationship with his wife Gloria, his service in the army, and alcoholism. The novel provide...


  97. 97. Rabbit, Run by John Updike

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    Rabbit, Run depicts five months in the life of a 26-year-old former high school basketball player named Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom, and his attempts to escape the constraints of his life.


  98. 98. Where Angels Fear to Tread by E. M. Forster

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    "Let her go to Italy!" he cried. "Let her meddle with what she doesn't understand! Look at this letter! The man who wrote it will marry her, or murder her, or do for her somehow. He's a bounder, bu...


  99. 99. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis

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    In this classic satire of small-town America, beautiful young Carol Kennicott comes to Gopher Prairie, Minnesota, with dreams of transforming the provincial old town into a place of beauty and cult...


  100. 100. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

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    Midnight's Children is a loose allegory for events in India both before and, primarily, after the independence and partition of India, which took place at midnight on 15 August 1947. The protagonis...