The 75 Best Books of the Past 75 Years

This is one of the 305 lists we use to generate our main The Greatest Books list.

  • Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

    The novel is a nostalgic story about the narrator's involvement with the Flyte family, British aristocrats living in a grand mansion called Brideshead. The story explores themes of faith, love, and the decline of the British aristocracy, primarily through the narrator's relationships with the family's Catholic faith and his complicated friendship with the family's son and his love for the daughter. The novel is set in the backdrop of the time period between the two World Wars.

    The 174th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

    This book explores the theory that important myths from around the world which have survived for thousands of years all share a fundamental structure, which the author calls the "monomyth." It outlines the stages of this monomyth, which include a hero's call to adventure, a descent into the underworld, and a triumphant return. The book also discusses how these universal patterns can provide a framework for understanding human experience and the world around us.

    The 1453rd Greatest Book of All Time
  • The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

    Set in London during and just after World War II, the novel revolves around a love affair between Maurice Bendrix, a writer, and Sarah Miles, the wife of a civil servant. The story is narrated by Bendrix, who is obsessed with Sarah and hires a private investigator to follow her when he suspects she's having another affair. The novel explores themes of love, hate, and the existence of God, with Sarah's faith playing a significant role in the narrative.

    The 285th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Nine Stories by J. D. Salinger

    "Nine Stories" is a collection of short stories that delve into the complex inner lives of a variety of characters, often exploring themes of innocence, alienation, and the loss of innocence. Each story is unique, offering a glimpse into a different world or situation, but all are marked by the author's distinctive narrative voice and his ability to create compelling, deeply human characters. From a young boy dealing with the death of his brother to a World War II veteran struggling with PTSD, the stories are both profound and deeply affecting.

    The 468th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle

    This book is a comprehensive guide to traditional French cuisine, providing detailed instructions on how to prepare classic French dishes. It covers everything from basic techniques to complex recipes, all explained in a clear and accessible way. The book also includes tips on selecting ingredients, planning meals, and pairing wines, making it an essential resource for anyone interested in French cooking.

    The 1711th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

    The novel follows the story of a young woman who wins a guest editorship at a magazine in New York City and, after a series of personal and professional disappointments, suffers a mental breakdown and returns to her family, where she continues to struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts. The protagonist's experiences in psychiatric institutions and her attempts to reclaim her life are depicted with brutal honesty, making it a poignant exploration of mental illness and the societal pressures faced by women in the mid-20th century.

    The 78th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

    This comedic science fiction novel follows the intergalactic adventures of an unwitting human, Arthur Dent, who is rescued just before Earth's destruction by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for a galactic travel guide. Together, they hitch a ride on a stolen spaceship, encountering a range of bizarre characters, including a depressed robot and a two-headed ex-president of the galaxy. Through a series of satirical and absurd escapades, the book explores themes of existentialism, bureaucracy, and the absurdity of life, all while poking fun at the science fiction genre and offering witty commentary on the human condition.

    The 73rd Greatest Book of All Time
  • Maus by Art Spiegelman

    This graphic novel tells the story of a Holocaust survivor, as narrated by his son. The unique use of animals to represent different nationalities and ethnic groups adds a distinctive layer to the narrative. The protagonist's father recounts his experiences as a Polish Jew during World War II, offering a poignant depiction of the horrors of the Holocaust. The narrative also explores the complex father-son relationship, revealing the impact of such traumatic historical events on subsequent generations.

    The 407th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone by J. K Rowling

    The story follows a young boy, Harry Potter, who learns on his 11th birthday that he is the orphaned son of two powerful wizards and possesses unique magical powers of his own. He is summoned from his life as an unwanted child to become a student at Hogwarts, an English boarding school for wizards. There, he meets several friends who become his closest allies and help him discover the truth about his parents' mysterious deaths, the dark wizard who wants to kill him, and the magical stone that holds immense power.

    The 134th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K Rowling

    In this fourth installment of a popular fantasy series, a young wizard finds himself unexpectedly entered into a dangerous tournament between rival schools of magic. He must compete in a series of challenging tasks, including a deadly dragon chase and a terrifying underwater rescue mission. Meanwhile, he's dealing with regular teen issues like crushes, jealousy, and school dances. But as he unravels the mystery behind his selection for the tournament, he uncovers a dark plot that puts his life in danger and hints at the return of a powerful dark wizard.

    The 493rd Greatest Book of All Time
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K Rowling

    In the final installment of this popular series, the protagonist and his friends decide to leave their school to complete the mission left to them by their late headmaster - to destroy the remaining pieces of the antagonist's soul, hidden in various objects. As they journey through the wizarding world, they uncover the truth about the antagonist's past and the legend of the Deathly Hallows. Amidst the escalating war, they are captured and narrowly escape, leading to the ultimate battle at their school where many lives are lost. The protagonist learns he must sacrifice himself to truly defeat the antagonist, but is given a second chance at life and finally triumphs, ending the war. The story concludes with a glimpse into the peaceful future they have all earned.

    The 878th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K Rowling

    In the sixth installment of the series, the protagonist returns for his sixth year at a magical school, where he excels in potions class with the help of an old textbook once belonging to the mysterious "Half-Blood Prince". As he delves deeper into his enemy's past through private lessons with the headmaster, he learns more about the Dark wizard's history and his own destiny. Amidst this, the school is no longer the safe haven it once was, and danger lurks within the castle walls. The year ends with a devastating loss, setting the stage for the final showdown.

    The 730th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban by J. K Rowling

    In this third installment of the popular fantasy series, the protagonist enters his third year at a magical school, only to find out that a notorious prisoner has escaped from a supposedly inescapable prison and is believed to be after him. As the school year progresses, he learns more about his parents' history, uncovers secrets about his professor, and discovers a magical map. He also learns to summon a powerful defensive spell, confronts the escaped prisoner, and uncovers the truth about his parents' betrayal and death. The book ends with him saving an innocent life and learning a valuable lesson about the complexity of human nature and the importance of true friendship.

    The 448th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K Rowling

    In the fifth installment of this iconic series, the young wizard Harry Potter returns for his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, only to discover that much of the wizarding world, including the Ministry of Magic, is in denial about the teenager's recent encounter with the evil Lord Voldemort. Harry is also beset by disturbing dreams while the sinister prison guards of Azkaban have been stationed at Hogwarts to protect the school, and Harry's budding abilities as a wizard are put to the test. Meanwhile, a secret society, the Order of the Phoenix, is working to fight Voldemort and his followers, and Harry's role in the coming conflict is becoming ever more significant.

    The 692nd Greatest Book of All Time
  • Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets by J. K Rowling

    In this second installment of a magical series, a young wizard returns to his school of witchcraft and wizardry for his second year, only to find that a mysterious entity is petrifying his classmates. With the help of his friends, he uncovers the dark history of the school, including a secret chamber hidden within the castle. Inside this chamber lurks a creature controlled by a memory from the past, and the young wizard must face it to save his school.

    The 591st Greatest Book of All Time
  • On Writing by Stephen King

    This book is a memoir that serves as a guide for aspiring writers. The author shares his journey as a writer, his struggles, and his successes, while also providing practical advice on the craft of writing. It delves into the mechanics of writing, the importance of reading, the role of an editor, and the perseverance required to be a successful writer. The book also discusses the author's near-fatal accident and how it impacted his writing process, emphasizing the importance of resilience and dedication to the craft.

    The 1313th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Consider The Lobster by David Foster Wallace

    "Consider The Lobster" is a collection of essays that delve into a wide array of topics, from the ethics of boiling a lobster alive, to the world of adult video awards, to the impact of September 11 on the American psyche. Each essay is meticulously researched and thought-provoking, showcasing the author's distinctive style of writing and his ability to view everyday situations from unique and often humorous perspectives. The book challenges readers to question their own beliefs and consider new viewpoints, making it a stimulating and engaging read.

    The 4473rd Greatest Book of All Time
  • My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

    The novel is a deeply moving exploration of the complex relationship between a mother and daughter. The protagonist, Lucy Barton, is recovering from a surgery in a New York hospital when she is visited by her estranged mother. Over the course of several days, they share stories from their past, revealing their troubled family history, poverty, and abuse. As Lucy grapples with her own identity and struggles to understand her mother, she also reflects on her own experiences as a wife and mother, her desire to become a writer, and her battle with a mysterious illness. Through their conversations, the two women attempt to reconcile their past and their relationship.

    The 8078th Greatest Book of All Time
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

    This classic novel follows the life of Francie Nolan, a young girl growing up in the slums of early 20th century Brooklyn. The narrative explores her experiences with poverty, her pursuit of education, and her dreams of a better life. The tree in the title serves as a symbol of her resilience and hope, growing and thriving despite the harsh conditions around it, much like Francie herself.

    The 206th Greatest Book of All Time
  • All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren

    "All the King's Men" is a political drama that revolves around the rise and fall of a Southern governor, loosely based on Louisiana's Huey Long. The story is narrated by a journalist who becomes the governor's right-hand man, offering an inside perspective on the political machinations, corruption, and personal tragedies that accompany the governor's climb to power. The novel explores themes of power, corruption, and the moral consequences of political ambition.

    The 166th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Foundation by Isaac Asimov

    This science fiction novel centers around Hari Seldon, a mathematician who has developed a branch of mathematics known as psychohistory. With it, he can predict the future on a large scale. Seldon foresees the imminent fall of the Galactic Empire, which encompasses the entire Milky Way, and a dark age lasting 30,000 years before a second great empire arises. To shorten this period of barbarism, he creates two Foundations at opposite ends of the galaxy. The book follows the first few centuries of the Foundation's existence, focusing on the scientists as they develop new technologies and negotiate with neighboring planets.

    The 248th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Charlotte's Web by E. B. White

    A young girl named Fern saves a runt piglet from being slaughtered and names him Wilbur. When Wilbur grows too large, he is sent to live in her uncle's barn, where he befriends a clever spider named Charlotte. When Wilbur's life is in danger again, Charlotte weaves messages into her web to convince the farmer that Wilbur is too special to kill. The book explores themes of friendship, sacrifice, and the cycle of life.

    The 99th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

    The novel is a poignant exploration of a young African-American man's journey through life, where he grapples with issues of race, identity, and individuality in mid-20th-century America. The protagonist, who remains unnamed throughout the story, considers himself socially invisible due to his race. The narrative follows his experiences from the South to the North, from being a student to a worker, and his involvement in the Brotherhood, a political organization. The book is a profound critique of societal norms and racial prejudice, highlighting the protagonist's struggle to assert his identity in a world that refuses to see him.

    The 28th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

    An aging Cuban fisherman struggles with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream, isolated from the world and from human help. For days, he fights the marlin alone, admiring its strength, dignity, and faithfulness to its identity—its destiny is as true as his as a fisherman. He finally kills the marlin, but sharks attack and devour it before he can return to the shore. The fisherman returns home empty-handed but remains undefeated, having proven his abilities to himself.

    The 81st Greatest Book of All Time
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

    In a dystopian future where books are banned and burned by the government to prevent dissenting ideas, a fireman named Guy Montag, whose job is to burn books, begins to question the society he serves. After a series of events, including meeting a free-thinking teenager and witnessing a woman choosing to die with her books, Montag begins to secretly collect and read books, leading to his eventual rebellion against the oppressive regime. The narrative serves as a critique of censorship, conformity, and the dangers of an illiterate society.

    The 106th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Long Goodbye: A Novel by Raymond Chandler

    This novel follows the story of a hard-boiled detective in Los Angeles who becomes embroiled in a complex case when he befriends a drunk named Terry Lennox. After Lennox's wife is found dead, Lennox disappears to Mexico and the detective is left to unravel the mystery. The detective then takes on another case of a missing husband, which becomes intertwined with the Lennox case, leading to a web of deceit, corruption, and murder. The detective's pursuit of the truth leads him through a gritty and corrupt world, testing his resolve and morality.

    The 160th Greatest Book of All Time
  • A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor

    This collection of short stories is set in the American South and explores themes of morality, ethics, and the complexity of human nature. The stories feature a variety of characters, each grappling with their own moral dilemmas and personal struggles. The title story centers around a family's disastrous road trip, during which they encounter a notorious escaped convict. Through these narratives, the book examines the concept of "goodness" and the capacity for redemption and grace in a flawed world.

    The 336th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

    The novel tells the story of Humbert Humbert, a man with a disturbing obsession for young girls, or "nymphets" as he calls them. His obsession leads him to engage in a manipulative and destructive relationship with his 12-year-old stepdaughter, Lolita. The narrative is a controversial exploration of manipulation, obsession, and unreliable narration, as Humbert attempts to justify his actions and feelings throughout the story.

    The 7th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin

    The novel explores themes of identity, sexuality, and societal norms in mid-20th century Paris. The protagonist, an American man, grapples with his homosexual identity while engaged to a woman. His life takes a turn when he becomes involved with an Italian bartender, leading to a tumultuous relationship filled with passion, guilt, and self-loathing. The story is a poignant examination of the human struggle for acceptance and the destructive consequences of denying one's true self.

    The 260th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Civil War by Shelby Foote

    This comprehensive three-volume series provides an in-depth and detailed narrative of the American Civil War. It encompasses the political, social, and military aspects of the war, offering a balanced view of both the Union and Confederate sides. The series also delves into the personal experiences of key figures, including generals and soldiers, as well as civilians affected by the war. This work is known for its meticulous research, vivid descriptions, and engaging storytelling style.

    The 398th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Once and Future King by T. H. White

    This novel is a retelling of the Arthurian legend, from Arthur's childhood tutelage under the wizard Merlyn to his eventual death. The story follows Arthur's journey from a naive boy to a wise and just king, his establishment of the Round Table, his marriage to Guinevere, and his complex relationship with his illegitimate son, Mordred. The narrative explores themes of power, justice, war, and human nature, offering a nuanced and humanizing portrayal of a well-known mythical figure.

    The 232nd Greatest Book of All Time
  • Night by Elie Wiesel

    This book is a memoir of the author's experiences during the Holocaust, specifically in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. The narrative focuses on the relationship between a father and son under the most extreme circumstances, the loss of faith in God, humanity, and in each other, and the horrifying reality of the systematic genocide of six million Jews during World War II. The book is a poignant and stark examination of the depths of human evil and the enduring power of hope and survival.

    The 635th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Rabbit, Run by John Updike

    The novel follows the life of a 26-year-old former high school basketball star, who is dissatisfied with his current life. He impulsively leaves his wife and son and embarks on a journey in the hopes of finding a more meaningful existence. His decisions, however, lead to a series of tragic events that impact the lives of those around him. This mid-20th-century novel explores themes of freedom, responsibility, and the tragic consequences of impulsive decisions.

    The 131st Greatest Book of All Time
  • Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike

    The book follows the life of a former high school basketball star, who is now in his mid-forties and has inherited a Toyota dealership from his father-in-law. He is living a comfortable life with his wife and son in Brewer, Pennsylvania during the late 1970s. The story unfolds as he navigates through his midlife crisis, dealing with his rebellious son, his longing for his old mistress, and his own insecurities and dissatisfaction. The narrative provides a deep dive into the protagonist's thoughts and feelings, offering a detailed examination of middle-class American life during this era.

    The 377th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Rabbit Redux by John Updike

    The novel is a sequel in a series following the life of Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, a middle-aged man living in a small Pennsylvania town. When his wife leaves him for another man, he finds himself alone and struggling to make sense of the rapidly changing world around him. In his loneliness, he takes in a young runaway and her racially divisive boyfriend, leading to a series of events that force Rabbit to confront his own prejudices and fears. The book is a vivid portrayal of the American social and political climate of the 1960s.

    The 363rd Greatest Book of All Time
  • Rabbit at Rest by John Updike

    The novel is a final look into the life of Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, a former high-school basketball star, now in his mid-fifties, overweight and grappling with several health issues. Despite his success in business, his personal life is in shambles, with his wife addicted to alcohol and his son to drugs. Harry, struggling with his mortality, is trying to understand his past and make sense of his future, while dealing with the changing American society and the consequences of his own choices.

    The 475th Greatest Book of All Time
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

    Set in the racially charged South during the Depression, the novel follows a young girl and her older brother as they navigate their small town's societal norms and prejudices. Their father, a lawyer, is appointed to defend a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman, forcing the children to confront the harsh realities of racism and injustice. The story explores themes of morality, innocence, and the loss of innocence through the eyes of the young protagonists.

    The 8th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

    The protagonist, a young stockbroker in New Orleans, is alienated, detached, and finds more reality in movies and books than in his everyday life. He searches for meaning in life, often through his relationships with his aunt and his cousin, while also dealing with existential dread and the impending reality of turning 30. This exploration of alienation and search for identity in the modern world won the National Book Award for Fiction.

    The 192nd Greatest Book of All Time
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

    Set in a psychiatric hospital in Oregon, the novel is narrated by a half-Native American patient known as Chief Bromden, who pretends to be deaf and mute. The story follows the arrival of a new patient, a boisterous, rebellious man who challenges the oppressive and dehumanizing system of the hospital, particularly the tyrannical Nurse Ratched. The book explores themes of individuality, rebellion, and the misuse of power, ultimately leading to a tragic conclusion.

    The 98th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

    This influential environmental science book presents a detailed and passionate argument against the overuse of pesticides in the mid-20th century. The author meticulously describes the harmful effects of these chemicals on the environment, particularly on birds, hence the metaphor of a 'silent spring' without bird song. The book played a significant role in advancing the global environmental movement and led to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides in the United States.

    The 61st Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn

    This influential book examines the history of science, focusing on the process of scientific revolutions. The author argues that scientific progress is not a linear, continuous accumulation of knowledge, but rather a series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions. During these revolutions, known as paradigm shifts, the old scientific worldview is replaced by a new one. The book also popularized the term 'paradigm shift' and challenged the previously accepted view of science as a steadily progressive discipline.

    The 180th Greatest Book of All Time
  • A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle

    The novel follows the story of a young girl named Meg Murry, her younger brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O'Keefe as they embark on a cosmic journey to rescue Meg and Charles Wallace's father. The father, a scientist, has been missing since he discovered a new planet using the concept of Tesseract, which is a wrinkle in time. Guided by three mysterious celestial beings, the children travel across different dimensions, face evil forces, and learn about the power of love and self-sacrifice.

    The 203rd Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman

    "The Guns of August" is a detailed and engaging account of the first month of World War I. The book explores the events leading up to the war, the political and military strategies of the various countries involved, and the critical decisions that shaped the course of the conflict. It presents a vivid picture of the war's early stages, highlighting the miscalculations, miscommunications, and misunderstandings that led to one of the most devastating wars in history.

    The 918th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

    A young boy named Max, dressed in his wolf costume, wreaks such havoc through his household that he is sent to bed without his supper. In his room, a mysterious, wild forest and sea grows out of his imagination, and Max sails to the land of the Wild Things. The Wild Things are fearsome-looking monsters, but Max conquers them by “staring into their yellow eyes without blinking once”, and he is made the king of all wild things. However, he soon finds himself lonely and homesick and returns home to his bedroom where he finds his supper waiting for him, still hot.

    The 421st Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley

    This book is an autobiography narrating the life of a renowned African-American activist. It delves into his transformation from a young man involved in criminal activities to becoming one of the most influential voices in the fight against racial inequality in America. The book provides a deep insight into his philosophies, his time in prison, conversion to Islam, his role in the Nation of Islam, his pilgrimage to Mecca, and his eventual split from the Nation. It also addresses his assassination, making it a powerful account of resilience, redemption, and personal growth.

    The 140th Greatest Book of All Time
  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

    This true crime novel tells the story of the brutal 1959 murder of a wealthy farmer, his wife and two of their children in Holcomb, Kansas. The narrative follows the investigation led by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation that ultimately leads to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers. The book explores the circumstances surrounding this horrific crime and the effects it had on the community and the people involved.

    The 76th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA by James D. Watson

    This book is a personal account of the race to discover the structure of DNA, told from the perspective of one of the co-discoverers. It provides an insider's view of scientific research, the collaboration and competition, the dedication, the doubt, the exhilaration of discovery, and the often fraught relationship between science and the rest of life. The book also explores the personalities, quirks, and conflicts of the scientists involved in the groundbreaking discovery.

    The 169th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

    The novel follows the life of Billy Pilgrim, a World War II veteran who has become "unstuck in time," experiencing his life events out of order. This includes his experiences as a prisoner of war in Dresden during the Allies' firebombing, his post-war life as a successful optometrist, his abduction by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore, and his eventual death. The book is a critique of war and a demonstration of the destructive nature of time, with a nonlinear narrative that reflects the chaos and unpredictability of life.

    The 54th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown

    This book is a compelling historical narrative that chronicles the systematic decimation of Native American tribes in the United States during the late 19th century. The author uses council records, autobiographies, and firsthand descriptions to provide a detailed account of the battles, massacres, and broken treaties that led to the destruction of the Native American way of life. The book centers on significant events such as the Battle of Little Bighorn and the Wounded Knee Massacre, offering a voice to the often overlooked Native American perspective.

    The 604th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Burr by Gore Vidal

    "Burr" is a historical novel that reexamines the life and times of Aaron Burr, the third Vice President of the United States, who is most famous for killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel. The narrative is presented in the form of a fictional memoir written by Burr's private secretary, which provides a counterpoint to the traditional portrayal of Burr as a villain. The book explores Burr's political career, his relationships, and his role in the founding of the United States, with a focus on his controversial actions and the complex dynamics of the early American republic.

    The 1711th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

    The novel explores the life of an African-American man, Macon "Milkman" Dead III, from birth to adulthood. Set against the backdrop of racial tension in the mid-20th century United States, it delves into his journey of self-discovery and understanding his heritage. As Macon embarks on a literal and figurative journey south to reconnect with his roots, he encounters various characters that help him understand his family history and the power of community. The narrative is deeply rooted in African-American folklore and mythology, offering a profound commentary on identity, personal freedom, and the destructive power of racism.

    The 137th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Suttree by Cormac McCarthy

    Set in 1950s Knoxville, Tennessee, the novel follows the life of a man who has renounced his former existence of privilege to live among society's outcasts on the river. He is an educated man, who has chosen a life of fishing and surviving on the fringes of society. The narrative is filled with his encounters with various characters from the underbelly of the city, including criminals, prostitutes, and other outcasts. Despite his attempts to isolate himself, he finds himself drawn into the problems and tragedies of those around him.

    The 760th Greatest Book of All Time
  • So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell

    The novel revolves around a young boy in Illinois who befriends a new classmate, Cletus, whose father has been murdered. The protagonist becomes obsessed with the murder, imagining the events leading up to the tragedy from the perspectives of the involved parties. The novel explores themes of memory, guilt, and the impact of trauma on childhood friendships.

    The 397th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty

    This collection of short stories provides an insightful look into the human condition through the lens of Southern American life. The narratives, rich in detail and character development, explore a wide range of themes such as love, loss, race, poverty, and the complexities of human relationships. The stories are deeply rooted in the setting of the Southern United States, bringing to life the unique culture, customs, and dialect of the region. The author's masterful storytelling and evocative prose make each story a vivid and memorable exploration of human nature.

    The 714th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

    The novel explores the life of two sisters, Ruth and Lucille, who are raised by a series of relatives in a small, secluded town in Idaho after their mother's suicide. The girls' lives are profoundly affected by the eccentric and transient lifestyle of their aunt Sylvie, who becomes their guardian. The narrative delves deeply into themes of family, identity, womanhood, and the impermanence of life, ultimately leading to a divide between the sisters as they choose different paths in life.

    The 215th Greatest Book of All Time
  • A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn

    This book is a comprehensive overview of American history from the perspective of the marginalized and underrepresented groups, rather than the typical focus on political elites. It covers a wide range of historical events and periods, including the discovery of the continent, the founding of the United States, slavery, the Civil War, and up to the modern era. The book challenges traditional narratives and provides a critical and thought-provoking look at the nation's past.

    The 1926th Greatest Book of All Time
  • A Perfect Spy by John le Carré

    This espionage novel follows the life of Magnus Pym, a high-ranking British intelligence officer who disappears after attending his father's funeral, causing a massive manhunt. As the intelligence service scrambles to find him, the narrative dives into Pym's past, revealing his complex relationship with his conman father and his recruitment into the world of espionage. The story is a complex exploration of betrayal, identity, and the blurry line between loyalty and deception.

    The 1279th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

    The book is a collection of linked short stories about a platoon of American soldiers fighting in the Vietnam War. The story is semi-autobiographical, based on the author's experiences in the war. The narrative explores the physical and emotional burdens the soldiers carry during the war, as well as the lingering effects of war on veterans. It delves into themes of bravery, truth, and the fluidity of fact and fiction.

    The 257th Greatest Book of All Time
  • All Over But The Shoutin' by Rick Bragg

    The memoir is a heartfelt tribute to the author's mother who struggled to raise her three sons in dire poverty in the deep south. The author recounts his journey from a poor, white, uneducated family in Alabama to winning a Pulitzer Prize as a national correspondent. It is a story of love, loss, and redemption, showcasing the enduring strength and resilience of a mother's love amidst hardship and adversity.

    The 2423rd Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt

    A group of six classics students at a small, elite Vermont college, led by a charismatic professor, become entranced by the study of Greek culture and decide to recreate a Dionysian ritual, which ends in a tragic accident. The group, bound by their shared secret, begins to unravel as paranoia and guilt take hold. The novel explores themes of beauty and terror, the allure of the esoteric, and the destructive consequences of obsession.

    The 190th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

    The novel follows the life of Daisy Goodwill Flett, a seemingly ordinary woman, from her birth in Canada in 1905 to her death. It explores her experiences as a mother, wife, and widow, as well as her work as a gardener and her later years as a columnist. The book is unique in that it is written in a variety of styles including letters, diary entries, and third-person narrative, and it explores themes of identity, love, and the often overlooked lives of women.

    The 1039th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Collected Stories by Grace Paley

    "The Collected Stories" is a compilation of short stories that delve into the lives of various characters, often women, living in New York City. The stories are filled with humor, sorrow, and the daily struggles and triumphs of ordinary people. The author's skillful use of language and dialogue brings these characters and their experiences to life, offering insightful commentary on social issues, relationships, and the human condition.

    The 4848th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Last Train to Memphis by Peter Guralnick

    "Last Train to Memphis" chronicles the early life and rise to fame of a young musician from Tupelo, Mississippi. It details his humble beginnings, his love for gospel music, and his eventual rise to stardom as a rock 'n' roll icon. The book also explores his complex relationships, his military service, and his struggle with fame, providing a comprehensive and intimate look at a cultural icon's journey to stardom.

    The 3706th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride

    This book is a moving memoir that tells the story of a biracial man raised in a housing project in Brooklyn by his white, Jewish mother. The narrative alternates between the author's perspective and his mother's, providing a nuanced view of issues related to race, religion, and identity. The author's mother, a Polish immigrant, married a black man in the 1940s and raised twelve children in the midst of poverty and racial tension. Despite the hardships, she instilled in her children the importance of education and self-reliance. The book is a tribute to the strength, resilience, and love of this remarkable woman.

    The 1406th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

    "Interpreter of Maladies" is a collection of nine short stories, each exploring different aspects of life, love, and identity. The stories are set in both India and America, and the characters often grapple with issues of cultural identity, displacement, and the complexities of relationships. Themes like marital issues, communication breakdowns, and the struggle to fit in are prevalent throughout the stories, offering a poignant and nuanced glimpse into the human experience.

    The 872nd Greatest Book of All Time
  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

    A high school freshman becomes a social outcast after calling the police to break up a summer party and refuses to explain why. As she navigates the challenges of high school, she struggles with a traumatic event from the party that has left her feeling silenced. Throughout the year, she slowly regains her voice and confronts her attacker, ultimately revealing the truth about what happened that night.

    The 2745th Greatest Book of All Time
  • American Pastoral by Philip Roth

    This novel tells the story of Seymour "Swede" Levov, a successful Jewish-American businessman and former high school athlete from Newark, New Jersey. Levov's happy and conventional upper middle class life is ruined by the domestic social and political turmoil of the 1960s during the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, which in the novel is seen through the eyes of the narrator, Nathan Zuckerman, a budding writer who idolizes the Levovs. The novel portrays the impact of this turmoil on Levov and his family, particularly his rebellious daughter who becomes involved in revolutionary political activities.

    The 246th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

    The novel is a complex narrative that weaves together the story of two sisters in early 20th century Canada, one of whom publishes a scandalous novel that leads to her suicide. The surviving sister, now an elderly woman, reflects on their lives, revealing family secrets, heartbreak, and the truth behind the scandalous novel. The narrative is interspersed with excerpts from the controversial book, a science fiction story within a story, adding layers of intrigue and mystery.

    The 847th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Old Filth by Jane Gardam

    The novel follows the life of Sir Edward Feathers, a successful but emotionally stunted barrister, who is known by the nickname "Old Filth" (Failed in London, Try Hong Kong). The protagonist's life is traced from his birth in Malaya, his upbringing in Wales, to his successful law career in Hong Kong, and retirement in England. The narrative explores themes of love, loss, and the lasting effects of the British Empire, while revealing the personal history and emotional landscape of a man who has spent his life avoiding introspection and emotional connections.

    The 3005th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Collected Poems by Jane Kenyon

    This collection of poetry explores a wide range of human emotions and experiences, from joy and love to sorrow and loss. The poet's intimate, accessible style invites readers into her world, where they can find beauty in the everyday and solace in the face of hardship. Her poems often draw on the natural world and rural life for inspiration, and they are marked by a deep sensitivity and a quiet, contemplative tone.

    The 6146th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

    The novel is a haunting tale of three friends, who grow up together at a seemingly idyllic English boarding school. As they mature, they discover a dark secret about their school and the purpose of their existence, which is to become organ donors for the rest of society. The story is a profound exploration of what it means to be human, the morality of scientific innovation, and the heartbreaking reality of love and loss.

    The 387th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

    This book explores the political acumen of Abraham Lincoln, focusing on how he assembled his cabinet from political adversaries, many of whom initially dismissed him for his perceived lack of experience and ungainly appearance. The narrative delves into how Lincoln used his rivals' talents to navigate the tumultuous times of the Civil War, maintaining unity and leading the nation towards the abolition of slavery. It underscores Lincoln's extraordinary ability to turn rivals into allies, demonstrating his leadership and his profound impact on American history.

    The 1943rd Greatest Book of All Time
  • We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live: Collected Nonfiction by Joan Didion

    This book is a compilation of seven works of nonfiction that explore the themes of American culture, politics, and landscape. The author's sharp observational skills and distinctive narrative voice provide insightful commentary on a range of topics, from the counterculture of the 1960s to the breakdown of the nuclear family. Her essays are deeply personal, often reflecting on her own experiences and emotions, while also offering a broader critique of society. The collection is a testament to the power of storytelling, both in shaping our understanding of the world and in helping us navigate through life.

    The 4525th Greatest Book of All Time
  • What Is the What by Dave Eggers

    The novel is a fictionalized account of a real-life Sudanese refugee, Valentino Achak Deng, who was forced to flee from his village during the Second Sudanese Civil War. The story follows his harrowing journey as a child through Ethiopia and Kenya, his life in various refugee camps, and his eventual resettlement in the United States. The book explores themes of survival, identity, and the power of storytelling, while shedding light on the tragic history and ongoing humanitarian crisis in Sudan.

    The 1894th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

    The book is a semi-autobiographical novel that follows a Native American teenager who leaves his school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white high school in a neighboring town. The protagonist grapples with his own identity, the perceptions and prejudices of his new classmates, and the harsh realities of life on the reservation. Throughout the story, he uses humor and his passion for drawing cartoons to navigate the challenges he encounters.

    The 2362nd Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

    This novel tells the story of Oscar de Leon, an overweight Dominican boy growing up in New Jersey who is obsessed with science fiction, fantasy novels, and falling in love, but is perpetually unlucky in his romantic endeavors. The narrative not only explores Oscar's life but also delves into the lives of his family members, each affected by the curse that has plagued their family for generations. The book is a blend of magical realism and historical fiction, providing a detailed account of the brutal Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic and its impact on the country's people and diaspora.

    The 391st Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

    This wordless picture book tells the classic Aesop's fable of a tiny mouse and a mighty lion. When the mouse accidentally disturbs the lion, the lion spares the mouse's life. Later, when the lion is caught in a hunter's trap, the grateful mouse gnaws through the ropes to free him. The story is a beautiful depiction of kindness and reciprocity, showing how even the smallest creature can help someone much bigger and stronger.

    The 6583rd Greatest Book of All Time
  • Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

    The novel is a historical fiction set in the 1500s, during the reign of King Henry VIII. The story is told from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell, a man of humble beginnings who rises to become the King's chief minister. The narrative explores the political and religious upheavals of the time, including King Henry's break with the Catholic Church and his controversial marriage to Anne Boleyn. The protagonist's cunning, ambition, and survival instincts are central to the plot as he navigates the treacherous waters of the Tudor court.

    The 619th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Brother, I'm Dying by Edwidge Danticat

    "Brother, I'm Dying" is a memoir that explores the author's life growing up in Haiti, her immigration to the United States, and the lives of her father and uncle. The story delves into her father's struggle with illness in America, her uncle's experience as a pastor in Haiti during political turmoil, and his subsequent death in U.S. immigration custody. The book serves as a poignant exploration of family, immigration, love, and loss.

    The 3790th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Selected Stories of Alice Munro by Alice Munro

    This collection of short stories offers a comprehensive view of the author's narrative talent, showcasing her ability to create complex characters and situations that reflect the human condition. Set in various locations, from small Canadian towns to exotic foreign locales, each story delves into the intricate relationships, personal struggles, and quiet triumphs of its characters. The author's writing is marked by her keen observation, psychological insight, and the ability to convey the extraordinary within the ordinary, making each story a unique exploration of life's complexities.

    The 639th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Collected Poems by Jack Gilbert

    "Collected Poems" is a compilation of works by a renowned poet, known for his minimalist style and profound themes. The book features a wide range of poems that explore human emotions, life experiences, love, loss, and the beauty of simplicity. The poet's unique perspective is evident in his vivid imagery and thought-provoking verses, offering readers a deep, introspective journey through his life and thoughts.

    The 5862nd Greatest Book of All Time
  • Never Mind by Edward St Aubyn

    "Never Mind" is a darkly humorous and deeply disturbing narrative about an aristocratic English family. The story primarily focuses on a five-year-old boy who is the victim of his sadistic and sexually abusive father, while his mother, an alcoholic, ignores the situation. The narrative also provides a scathing critique of the British upper class through its exploration of the family's decadent lifestyle and morally corrupt behavior.

    The 1378th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Bad News by Edward St Aubyn

    "Bad News" is the second novel in a series that follows the life of Patrick Melrose, a man from a wealthy but deeply troubled family. In this installment, Patrick, now 22, must travel to New York to collect his father's ashes. As he navigates the city, he struggles with his addiction to drugs and alcohol, and grapples with the traumatic memories of his abusive father. The narrative provides a darkly comic and deeply poignant exploration of addiction, trauma, and the struggle for redemption.

    The 2147th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Some Hope by Edward St Aubyn

    "Some Hope" is a darkly humorous novel that delves into the life of a man who struggles to overcome his traumatic past and drug addiction. He is invited to a lavish party filled with Britain's aristocracy, where he must confront his past and deal with the pretentious and shallow society he is part of. The narrative explores themes of abuse, recovery, and the struggle to find redemption and hope amidst despair.

    The 2227th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Mother's Milk by Edward St Aubyn

    The novel follows the life of Patrick Melrose, a man battling with his drug addiction and his troubled relationship with his parents. Patrick tries to come to terms with his mother’s decision to leave her estate to a New Age foundation rather than to him, her only son. The story delves into the complexities of inheritance, parenthood, and the lasting impact of childhood trauma. The narrative shifts between the perspectives of Patrick, his wife, and their two young sons, providing a multi-dimensional view of the family's struggles.

    The 2288th Greatest Book of All Time
  • At Last by Edward St Aubyn

    "At Last" is the final installment in a five-part series that follows the life of a man from a dysfunctional, upper-class English family. The protagonist attends his mother's funeral, where he reflects on his traumatic childhood, filled with abuse and neglect, and his subsequent struggles with drug addiction. Throughout the day, he interacts with a host of characters from his past and present, leading to introspection and revelations about his life and relationships. The book presents a scathing critique of the British aristocracy, while also exploring themes of recovery, redemption, and the possibility of change.

    The 4103rd Greatest Book of All Time
  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

    This is a poignant memoir written in verse, detailing the author's childhood as an African-American growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, split between South Carolina and New York. The narrative explores her experiences with segregation, her growing awareness of the civil rights movement, her deep love for storytelling and her gradual understanding of her own identity as a writer. The book provides a powerful portrayal of a girl finding her voice in a time of social and political unrest.

    The 2373rd Greatest Book of All Time
  • When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

    This poignant memoir is a reflection on life and death by a young neurosurgeon who is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He grapples with the role reversal from doctor to patient, and confronts the reality of his mortality. The narrative explores the intersection of medicine and philosophy, and the meaning of life when faced with death. Despite his deteriorating health, he continues to find joy in his relationships and work, leaving behind a powerful message about the value of every moment.

    The 4466th Greatest Book of All Time
About this list

Parade Magazine, 88 Books

A list of voted on by 17 employees(book sellers) at Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN for Parade Magazine.

Added over 7 years ago.

How Good is this List?

This list has a weight of 84%. To learn more about what this means please visit the Rankings page.

Here is a list of what is decreasing the importance of this list:

  • Voters: are mostly from a single country/location
  • List: only covers 75 years

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