1. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell –
In a terrifying country, where Big Brother is always watching you and the Thought Police can practically read your mind, Winston is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his memory still functions.
2. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – There is no violence and everyone is provided for, but Bernard Marx feels something is missing and senses his relationship with a young women has the potential to be much more.
3. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller – Set in Italy during World War II, this is the story of the malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him.
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee –
Harper Lee explores with rich humor and unswerving honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s.
5. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – A world where firemen destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.
6. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov – The story of the aging Humbert Humbert’s obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze.
7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan in the height of the Jazz Age.
8. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – 16-year-old Holden Caulfield heads for two days in New York after being expelled from prep school in Pennsylvania.
9. East of Eden by John Steinbeck – This sprawling novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the rivalry of Cain and Abel.
10. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey – A wickedly subversive parable set in a mental ward, the novel chronicles the head-on collision between its hell-raising hero Randle Patrick McMurphy and the totalitarian rule of Big Nurse.
11. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – A chronicle of the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under – maybe for the last time.
12. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy – An epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America’s westward expansion.
13. The Stand by Stephen King – An apocalyptic vision of a world blasted by plague and tangled in an elemental struggle between good and evil remains as riveting and eerily plausible as when it was first published.
14. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy – The tale of the doomed love affair between the sensuous and rebellious Anna and the dashing officer, Count Vronsky.
15. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace – A gargantuan, mind-altering comedy about the pursuit of happiness in America.