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Top 10 Best Novels of the Last 20 Years

ipresnel . . . Comments

The ten novels on this list all substantiate the belief that books are the most elastic, introspective, human and entertaining form of media that exist. Not movies, not music, not art, not the theatre. A famous author once said that novels are the best way for two human beings to connect with each other. I believe this, and I believe that people who do not find pleasure in words have never had the opportunity to read one of the great novels. The first introductions students often have to literature are stale century-old books that do not translate well to this new modern era. Frankly they are boring, and a lot of kids drift into the living room and turn on the television and stay glued for the rest of their lives. So, here I will present the ten greatest novels of the last twenty years, without apologies.


Music for Torching
by A.M. Homes (1999)

0385600364.02.LzzzzzzzFirst Sentence: ”It is after midnight on one of those Friday nights when the guests have all gone home and the host and hostess are left in their drunkenness to try and put things right again.”

As the only woman on the list, A. M. Homes deserves recognition for her amazing writing skills, her unique voice and her gloomy view of the world. Homes shines when writing about screwed-up, out-of-love or on the brink of out-of-love couples. Torching is no exception. The married couple, Paul and Elaine, first appeared in a short story in The Safety of Objects, and then took on a life of their own. Married in suburbia, with two young boys, we follow them in their search for happiness, or some form of contentment, which they never seem to find. Smoking crack in the dining room, having affairs, trying to burn down their own house…nothing seems to change their boredom and disappointment. They’re stuck. They’ve become strangers to each other, to themselves, to their children.

Homes makes this common enough theme of suburban ennui feel real with her shining prose, a secondary cast of interesting plots and characters, and lack of a fairy-tale ending.


Fight Club
by Chuck Palahniuk (1996)

12-Fight-Club-BookFirst Sentence: “Tyler gets me a job as a waiter, after that Tyler’s pushing a gun in my mouth and saying, the first step to eternal life is you have to die.”

Of course, Palahniuk had to be on this list. And while he may have written better novels than Fight Club (see Survivor), this is the one that brought him to the show and inspired a new, fed-up generation to push back. I won’t insult you by giving a summary of the plot, but I will say that nobody in the world writes better, sentence to sentence, than Palahniuk. His quick, intelligent prose keeps the attention of the worst ADHD-sufferers, and the themes in Fight Club of revolt, of going back to zero, of anti-consumerism are universal, accessible and desperately needed in the world we live in today.


House of Leaves
by Mark Danielewski (2000)

House-Leaves-SmallFirst Sentence: ”While enthusiasts and detractors will continue to empty entire dictionaries attempting to describe or deride it, “authenticity” still remains the word most likely to stir a debate.”

Words to describe this novel: Dazzling, original, mind-bending, genius, heart-breaking, addicting, wonderful, jaw-dropping. The list goes on and on and on. No other novel has created its own world quite like Leaves. Danielewski made us question our own sanity. He led us through the 3-and-a-half-minute hallway and then left us there, shivering and alone, waiting for the monster, who we’ve only ever felt, but that we know (for certain for certain) is the most terrifying thing in the world.

The main plot follows a family who moves into a new house that they quickly find out is haunted. Sounds simple and cliché right? Imagine if you will a book that you have to take over to your mirror to read passages written backwards. Imagine twenty-two page rants about the origins of the word echo. Imagine endless footnotes dripping with blood and perfectly normal characters slowing getting drawn deeper and deeper into neurosis and insanity until they can’t find their way out, until you can’t tell the characters in the book from the people reading it. Imagine.

The house is alive. It breathes. Don’t go any further. Forget you ever read this. Go on with your life, and move down the list. Do NOT read this book. You’ve been warned.


We Don’t Live Here Anymore
by Andre Dubus (2004)

Screen Shot 2010-10-10 At 8.33.51 Am

Dubus is considered by many the greatest short story writer of the 20th century, and there is fairness in this claim. This book consists of three novellas, woven together and taken from earlier Dubus publications. It is also a wonderful movie starring the enigmatic Laura Dern and Naomi Watts. It’s about two middle-aged couples who can’t seem to keep their pants on. Affairs are had, feelings crushed, epiphanies thwarted, friendships tested.

But what makes this one of the great books is the “realness” it elicits from the reader. It puts the reader in every character’s mind, and it puts us right there in the bedroom, in the woods, or on the back porch. Not only does “We Don’t Live Here” entertain us, it gives us a rubric of how to live our own lives. Shows us that nobody ever has anything figured out, not really. That what we do and feel morphs and shifts. Shows us what to do when everything we’ve held on to for so long goes away, how to bear it. It’s about desperation, and love, and marriage. It’s about paralyzing loneliness, kids, and housewives, and betrayal. Ultimately it’s about what it’s like to live in a world where we get to make all the decisions, and have to bear the repercussions of what those decisions mean. It does what a great book is supposed to do: it makes us feel.


The Road
by Cormac McCarthy (2006)

RoadbookFirst Sentence: “When he woke in the woods in the dark and cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him.”

Cormac McCarthy is one of the greatest novelists still alive today (a phantasm of Faulker), and his newest book, The Road, clearly exemplifies this claim. It’s full of McCarthy’s terse dialogue, minute detail (but not TOO much, like Blood Meridian) stream-of-consciousness, masculinity, and an excruciatingly intense violent plot (win!). Not to mention that, in addition to all of these things, it’s also overwhelmingly sad, which is not an easy thing for a novel to be. It’s the perfect combination of everything, with exact measurements dolled out like a recipe for brownies.

It’s about a father and a son walking south to Mexico, to find warmth in a post-apocalyptic world, whose journey is beset on all sides by cannibals, and hunger, and the freezing cold. The sun is gone behind clouds of black dust, and the only light comes from the father’s love of his son. Without each other, all will be lost. This book is heart-wrenching, desperate and mesmerizing. The intensity of their journey, of the book itself, is indescribable, so I won’t even try. Let me just say that I was literally in tears in the middle of a crowded Barnes and Nobles, trying to pretend like there was something in my eyes. You will not be able to breathe until you finish it. It’s a fast read, because you have to see have to see have to see what happens next.


Rules of Attraction
by Brett Easton Ellis (1987-close enough)

Images-6First Sentence: “And it’s a story that might bore you, but you don’t have to listen, she told me, because she always knew it was going to be like that, and it was, she thinks, her first year, or actually weekend, really a Friday, in September, and Camden, and this was three or four years ago, and she got so drunk that she ended up in bed, lost her virginity (late, she was eighteen) in Lorna Slavin’s room, because she was a Freshman and had a roommate and Lorna was, she remembers, a Senior or a Junior and usually sometimes at her boyfriend’s place off-campus, to who she thought was a Sophomore Ceramics major but who was actually either some guy from N.Y.U., a film student, and up in New Hampshire just for The Dressed To Get Screwed party, or a townie.”

This is the second novel from Ellis, of American Psycho fame. It doesn’t depart much from the style (run-on sentences, sex, drugs, 80’s MTV music videos, more drugs, more sex, some violence thrown in there) of his other works, except that here it works throughout the whole book. Here he gives us a little more to work with, like allusions (Howard Roark!), different narrators, a setting that’s not L.A, and a semi-coherent plot. His talent is endless and the sentences run on seamlessly until you’re almost disappointed when a sentence actually ends. Nobody in the world can write like Ellis, though many have tried, and failed miserably. Yes, Ellis is a deranged person (has to be), but he’s also a prolific, talented writer whose put his time in. And here he shines.

It’s about sex and drugs and horrible, self-absorbed, incomplete people, trying to get laid and quit smoking in a fictional University in New England. The things they do are despicable and immoral. There’s nothing redeeming about any of the characters in the entire book, no hope, and yet this book stings because nobody could write this well about people like this if they did not, in fact, exist in real life. When’s the last time you went to college? What do you think happens in Universities around America? What do you think most people are really like? This is a documentary of lost, attractive young people falling into the void. And nobody cares and nobody cares and nobody cares.


Strong Motion
by Jonathan Franzen (1992)

12827First Sentence: “Sometimes when people asked Eileen Holland if she had any brothers or sisters, she had to think for a moment.”

Another second novel. As always Franzen’s scope is immense, and his talent is clear on every page. If Palanuick is the very best writer, sentence to sentence, then Franzen is clearly the best living novelist. This story involves one Louis Holland, and a Harvard seismologist named Dr. Reneé Seitchek, and it revolves around abortion activists, big corporations, and strange sudden earthquakes appearing near Boston, which every Harvard seismologist knows is very strange indeed. It writes about the evil of corporations, but in a stronger, more mature way than Palanuick. Franzen is a historian, and he tells us exactly why the world is bad, how it came to be that way. He goes all the way back to the colonization of America, but not in a preachy or boring way. He personifies a raccoon for five pages, which is strangely one of the most poignant parts of the whole book.

The two main characters are what make the book. The medium-attractive Renee’ Seitchek and the lonely, lost Louis Holland, who fall for each other but seemingly never at the same time, and have painful rubbing sex as the earth shakes underneath them.

Franzen is a master and a genius; he builds and constructs. He creates suspense, and makes us wait for whatever’s going to happen. He makes us work for it. As with the #1 author on this list, you can imagine him standing behind a door somewhere laughing at all of his readers. He’s smarter than us, and God can the man write. This novel succeeds where The Twenty-seventh City fell a little short, and The Corrections overthrew.


The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
by Junot Diaz (2007)

The-Brief-Wondrous-Life-Of-Oscar-Wao1First Sentence: “They say it came first from Africa, carried in the screams of the enslaved; that it was the death bane of the Tainos, uttered just as one world perished and another began; that it was a demon drawn into Creation through the nightmare door that was cracked open in the Antilles.”

This book reverberates with originality, authenticity and craftsmanship. It follows generations of a Dominican-American family, the struggles they encounter in the Dominican Republic, and the curses that follow them to America. The main protagonist Oscar is a 300-pound nerdy, RPG-playing guy in America, who desperately wants to find love. We follow him in his constant struggle to find it, and bear witness to his countless rejections. No girl wants anything to do with this sweaty, obese nerd, and at some point our pity turns to admiration, as we root for him to succeed, screaming “You can do it Oscar. You can do it!”

Now go back a few decades to when his mother was the hottest thing in all of Dominica, and broke guy’s hearts by just batting an eyelash. Who eventually falls for a gangster (Why Beli, why?) involved with the Trujillo (evil dictator) regime that raped and murdered and tortured like it was going out of style. Then go back a little more to her father (Oscar’s grandfather) and see what happens to a respected surgeon who’s looked away from all the raping and torturing going on in his country until Trujillo himself sets his eyes on his beautiful daughter. Then you might just believe that there really are “fuku’s” (horrible unbreakable curses) and that this family’s got a BAD one.

Diaz blends Dominican history and folklore, humor, love, sex, death, revolutions, Castro, and dictators into one of the best freshman novels of all time. He employs current pop references, historical footnotes, a bad-ass original refreshing writing style, a mysterious narrator, Spanish, a blazing humor, age-old plot devices, and one of the most heart-breaking characters in existence to make this an instant classic.


Tree of Smoke
by Denis Johnson (2007)

Tree Of Smoke.LargeFirst Sentence: “Last night at 3:00 A.M. President Kennedy had been killed.”

This mammoth odyssey about the Vietnam War transcends all other attempts to write about Vietnam, and makes them look like Hallmark greeting cards. It follows Skip Sands, working for the psychological operations department of the CIA, and his larger than life uncle “Colonel Sands”. It takes us everywhere in Southeast Asia, and even back to the United States. Johnson depicts a war where nothing is clear, where friends and enemies are indistinguishable, and where myths are created out of the land itself.

With a cast of half-a-dozen supporting characters, he portrays the war from the perspective of both sides of Vietnam, from two G.I. brothers from Arizona (who appeared in Johnson’s Angels), from a widowed Canadian nurse who can’t stop reading Calvin, from a Sergeant who seems to be perpetually tripping on acid, from a German hit-man, from a priest in the Philippines who thinks he’s Judas, from a “civilian” war-hero Colonel who’s trying to implement his own unorthodox campaign against the Vietcong.

Spanning thirty years, and over 700 pages, it’s still a disappointment when you arrive at the last page. This is Johnson’s masterpiece – a book you can imagine him writing under a succubus’s spell in a fallout shelter—hair long, unshaven, chain-smoking, frenzied to get the words out.


Infinite Jest
by David Foster Wallace (1996)

Infinite Jest CoverFirst Sentence: “I am seated in an office surrounded by heads and bodies.”

So here we are. While it was very difficult indeed to rank the other nine books on this list, deciding where to put this book on the list was as involuntary as breathing. This is by far the best, the longest, the most difficult, the most frustrating, the most entertaining, the most rewarding book on this list.

The term Infinite Jest is an allusion to Hamlet, as well as the title of a film by auteur Jim Incandenza, that circulates throughout the book causing anyone who’s unlucky enough to watch it, to want to do absolutely nothing else but watch it again and again and again, even if that means starving to death, or going to the bathroom on themselves, or not taking their insulin and going into epileptic shock. Ultimately, this book is about addiction in every form you could possibly imagine: Heroin, alcohol, cannabis, crack, cocaine, Diludiad, Percocet, sex, sports, cleaning, and on and on and on.

With a cast of hundreds, and almost 400 footnotes, coming in at a whopping 3 lbs, Jest focuses mainly on a halfway house in the Boston suburbs, and the adjacent Enfield Tennis Academy. Wallace spent hundreds of hours going to AA meetings, and this book is considered by many to be the most realistic account of drug addiction and the Alcoholics Anonymous program in either fiction or non-fiction.

Wallace created his own world in Infinite Jest. This is not just a big novel with big ideas. It’s not just a grand achievement by a writer with the greatest voice of his generation. This is not something you finish and then say, “Well that was a really great book,” and then move on with your life. This book deserves its own cannon. It cannot be categorized. This book genuinely redefines the boundaries of what a novel can do.

Wallace hung himself in late 2008. Infinite Jest is his second, and last, finished novel.

  • John M


  • sharlu

    yay new books on my to read list

  • piousaugustus

    These books all sound really good, especially House of Leaves. I need to start reading novels again.

    No Harry Potter, seriously? …I kid, I kid (just be happy I didn't say Twilight instead).

    • If the list was about most influential novels in the last 20 years, Harry Potter would probably rank in the top five.

      • bratwurst

        True, but I believe if this list was expanded to 25 or 30 items, HP would be somewhere in the twenties. Also Trainspotting would be no.11, because it should be on this list but was excluded for some reason I can’t fathom.

    • ashley

      Yeah, where the hell is TWILIGHT?!!!!! it rulez!!!!

      • Christina

        The fact that you can't spell the word "rules" is a reason in itself for not having Twilight on this list.

        I agree with Harry Potter being on a "20 most influential novels" list.

        • Samara

          Sarcasm, look it up.

        • Roberta

          Twilight is actually pretty influential – a story that teaches young girls all the wrong lessons and has created a generation of 20-somethings who have no respect whatsoever for teenagers. There are very few books that can make me instantly dismiss somebody just for their reading tastes.

    • pinkopaque22

      'House of Leaves' is STUNNING

    • Ashley

      I couldn’t even get past the first chapter of Harry Potter. Many people like it, but I guess I’m one of the lucky few who doesn’t get sucked in to inane fads. I’m quite tired of hearing about both Harry Potter and Twilight. Both of them have gone on for far too long and the fans of each are obsessive and senseless.

      • Maggie

        Obsessive and senseless? That’s a serious accusation. I love Harry Potter, but I’m not obsessed with it. It is a great story and a wonderful contribution to children’s literature. It’s fine that you couldn’t get past the first chapter (I know plenty of people who couldn’t), but you shouldn’t hate it just because you didn’t get it. Harry Potter has only been popular for about 15 years, which is way less time than other books. I agree that some fans can get obsessive, but they aren’t hurting anyone. At least they’re reading and not watching shitty tv shows.
        As for Twilight, yes it isn’t well written and is horribly contradicting, but it is mildly entertaining. Everyone thinks it, we just don’t like to admit it because we’re too proud.

        • ana

          It makes me sad to know that a lit major, who probably got to read so many amazing books, could write something like Twilight :(

          • ajf185

            I can understand why that may seem upsetting. Still, Meyer – who was a stay at home mom – hadn’t written a word (by her own admission) in the years after graduating from Brigham Young. She had a dream, transcribed it, and within six months had a publishing contract with Little, Brown. While it’s easy to deride her and the quality of the work, the fact is that she is more successful than most writers could ever hope to be. Most people who graduate with literature or English degrees go on to careers that have little to do with their education. Perhaps the thing to really wonder about is why Western culture “needed” Twilight so badly. Paranormal (vampire) romance is not a new thing. It’s not new in terms of young adult fiction. Why did Twilight become a pop culture phenomenon?
            Is it because culturally “we’re” looking to get back to traditional gender roles and behaviors? Is it because we want to reaffirm that consumerism and the destruction of nature is the correct path to continue along? The questions are endless. Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that readers become invested in the general dramatism of the text (see Kenneth Burke). Meyer, in my opinion, is an expert at drawing out the dramatistic tensions that provide readers ample suspense, making the satisfaction (when the main characters finally resolve the conflict of the moment) enjoyable.
            What Meyer has created is not new by any means. These are the rules that govern all “literature.” However, she’s managed to surpass many people who toil away day after day wishing to become “real authors.” That’s a sizable achievement.
            You’ll also notice, there are no women on this list…

      • dfagfg

        chuck paluinik (whatever) as the best writer ever? I think not. Try Updike, for one.

      • Jamie


        Needed to teach her a lesson.

      • Akanksha

        hehe.. well at sum point i agree wit u.. me 2 din got stuck wit HP series.. bt whn it cums to Twilight.. m jus in luv wit it.. bt had rumors tht 1st prt of Breaking Dawn couldn’t attrct many.. lets c.. :)

    • jm

      don’t bother with house of leaves, unless you need upside down paragraphs forced avant-garde structure to make you enjoy a story. printed normally, this would have been a relatively enjoyable and interesting book, but they just tried too hard. i ended up skipping most of the crap that was written all sideways. it’s incredibly annoying.

    • Amanda

      Harry potter was actually a really good, captivating series once you got past the first couple of books. I don’t understand why people dislike it so much. Of course, anything and everything will have some people who don’t care for it. We’re all entitled to an opinion.

  • Geronimo1618

    Wow, other than 'The Road', I knew none of these. And best novels? I hope they're not boring..I'd rather read the illustrated classics than 'the best novels' which turn out to be just philosophical and preachy shit..will have to check 'em myself heh :)

    • Arsnl

      You havent heard of fight club? I dont know if the book is anything like the movie but still.

      • Ophiucha

        Maybe people just aren't talking about it. ;)

        • fendabenda

          That's the rule :D

        • Roberta

          I see what you did there….

      • Geronimo1618

        Only the movie. It's like I know that 'No Country for Old Men' is a book, but since the movie was so awesome I didn't feel the need to read it.

        • I read it and didn't really like it. Then again, I didn't really like 1984 either, so maybe I just have weird tastes.

          (I absolutely love Arthur Conan Doyle, though. Maybe I just don't like stories that don't have a nice, neat conclusion)

          • yjytj

            Or you like stories with a strong, reliable structure, characters that are the same from novel to novel and where the main character will not be tortured by rats.

    • Nathan S

      This is one of those rare instances when the movie is better than the book. The book is still worth reading. I'd try to keep any preconceived notions from the movie out of mind while reading it if you want to get the most out of it.

    • Drosophil3000

      You've never heard about "Fight Club"? Wow, people have been observing rules 1 and 2 better than I thought.

      • MurasakiDucky


  • Nic_S

    Great list, had only heard of #1 and The Road, which I believe was featured on another Listverse list, and #1 I see only on visits to a certain office…

  • Denizen

    Damn good list – I wish I had already read them all.

  • The Mick

    interesting list. not because it doesn't lack any intellectual argument from the author of the list. Not in the least. All these books (i have read none of them), seem to have substance.
    I would have thought , however, that the list would have contained some of the more popular novels of the last twenty years that have inspired/encouraged people to read a book instead of watching the movie adaptation.

    Some that come to mind are the Harry Potter series that encouraged millions of kids to pick up and read a book. Or another example, the Twilight series of books (please don't give me a thumbs down for this one, i am only pointing out the fact that millions of teenage girls read these books, not that i endorse them…)

    To understand what i mean, I read The Da VInci Code and found it very entertaining. The movie, released much later, was a very bad adaptation and did not do the book any justice. I got so impressed with Dan Brown's writting style that i went out and bought the rest of his books and enjoyed them too.

    Anyhow, thats my humble opinion, now its on to Ebay to chase down some of the books in the list!

    • spiderbait

      Your argument would be valid if this was the top 10 most influential novels of the last 20 years. Rowling and Brown are both great authors and deserve praise but I don't think they really fit this list.

      Also, the book almost always trumps the movie. It's probably because the author takes advantage of the reader's imagination and also has a lot more room to fully shape his vision while the movie has about 2 hours.

      • The Mick

        thanks, spiderbait , for an intelligent and constructive comment. Clearly though, others didn't interpret what i had to say correctly, hence i get negatives….

      • I dunno, I felt LOTR was better as a movie. Maybe because I never fell asleep while watching, whereas I've fallen asleep lots of times trying to get through Fellowship of the Rings.

        I agree about books being better than movies though. My pet peeve at the moment is how awfully they've adapted Rowling's subtle hints throughout the series into the movie version, which makes me curious as to how they're going to make movie 7. A lot of those subtleties are necessary to keep the story cohesive, and randomly revealing them to the audience reeks of deus ex machina.

    • MediocreReader

      As far as real literature goes, Harry Potter – and Twilight especially – aren't that great. Maybe the later Harry Potter ones (you can see her growth as an author throughout the series. I've always thought that was really interesting), but really there are much greater books out there. I haven't read any on this list, but I've read plenty better than the Harry Potter series.
      But Meyer can't write. She doesn't have it.
      Brown isn't that great as far as authors go either, but he was redeemed by an absolutely fascinating story.

      Anyway, this list of books is much better than anything containing a bunch of 'pop' books everyone's already read.

      • Alice

        I don’t think it’s her growth as an author in Harry Potter that made each book so much better than the last. Her style mirrored the content. At first her main character was 11 and so the book was written in immature prose for an immature audience of 11, but her writing ages Harry beautifully well and also stays with the age of her typical audience as the books came out fantastically. So if you find the first book hard to read, please do try to make it through. It’s really just a background novel to set up the rest of the series which has way more depth, suspense, and impressive writing.

  • peeyaj

    Pi by Yann Martel.
    The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

    These two novels are among the best, I have read. Better than the Rules of Attraction and Fight Club.

    • Cahaya

      Definitely Life Of Pi…is one of the best novels I've read in a while….

      • nocturnesthesia

        Pi was the first novel that came to mind when I saw this list :) Also Push by Sapphire, it was the book that inspired the movie Precious. Of course, it's hard to narrow it down to 10.

    • Ellie

      Both of Tartt's novels are better than anything Ellis every dreamed of.

      • Ellie

        Ever. Ever. Yes, I see it.

  • Ben

    great list! i was expecting popular things like potter(which in comparison to the books listed, are not very good), but i was pleasantly surprised.

    • Sumgrl

      Not very good in what way? Does the measure of a good book have to be the acceptance of academia or critics. I would have to say that a good book is any book that makes a person turn off the tv and use some of their own imagination. However, I have to put The Road as my number one choice. It is hands down one of the best books I have ever read.

  • Hmmm… Infinite Jest is #1… Really?

    • Realist

      You read the description. The author killed himself. That means his work is automatically rated at 250% of its actual value.

      • Ophiucha

        Haha, I like Infinite Jest, but as a literary critic-in-training, this comment made me laugh.

      • olla.fischer

        nice one, dumbass…

        just try to read it… it definitly deserves its position on this list.
        wallace was a genius.
        his writing outranges everything you ever read before – or it just overstrains you after half of the first page.

        • Andy

          "or it just overstrains you "

          You mean like ULYSSES? Between the two IJ is so much easier to read. I think it would be hilarious to put a standard on how easy something is to read by rating what you have normally been exposed to. IJ would be rated easy if you have read ULYSSES but if the most difficult thing you read is HARRY POTTER then you might be in trouble with this book.

      • Andy

        I suspect that had this list been compiled while DFW was living it would still be at the top of the list.

  • KabirBhai

    Among novels, there have been a lots of 'favorites' and 'less favorites' and 'intact, back to the library'. A Great List. IPRESNEL has provided me with the list of novels to finish by the end 2010.

    I would like to add some of my favorites…
    1. Possession: A Romance by A. S. Byatt (i actually read it aloud to savor it)
    2. Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres (Beautiful, except the shit end)
    3. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh (OMG, OMG, better than the movie)
    4. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth (a really fat book, not just to kill the wasps)
    5. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (tough but good read)
    There are about 10 more additions to point out but i dont want to give u a stupid listverse list.

    Disclaimer: These are my favourites. i dont expect all to accept these as the best. These are my favorite novels… I like these, i wrote about these. If u dont like these, then dont reply…

    • Arsnl

      Well i wont lie here. Ive seen the movie versions of trainspottin and the remains of the day and they were great.
      If you say that trainspottin is better than the movie you made me very curious.

      • KabirBhai

        Well, go an and read it. It a very different style of writing. The novel gives us more than the movie.
        Movie was MIND-BLOWING, but the novel is absolutely MIND-BLASTING.
        Go Read it…

    • Ninja_Wallaby

      I love the way Trainspotting is written the way it is spoken. Hard to wrap the internal voice around those syllables and I had no idea what ken meant until i had read half a chapter. Was surprised not to see it listed above.

    • cambered

      Possession is a beautiful read, one of my all-time faves, and one that I have promoted to many a friend. I also enjoyed the novel Trainspotting more than the film… and the film was very, very good.

    • Ana

      AAAH!!! I LOVE The Remains of the Day!!!!!! You should read The Book Thief!

  • KabirBhai

    Ha Ha… Why do u show ur IQ here???
    Haven't you read 'Silence is Golden'? Oops… Of Course, u don't read…

  • Kama

    I actually don't like 'best of'-lists because they only show the
    opinion of the author. And opinions mostly differ as much as
    good and evil.
    Nevertheless, this was an suprisingly interesting read and if
    I got ever the time again (and remember it), I will probably read
    some of the books mentioned.

    • Nassua

      I totally agree that these types of lists are opinion pieces, and therefore completely subjective. I would have preferred a title like, "Ten Interesting Reads" or "My Top Ten Books Of The Past Twenty Years," or something to that effect. "Best," and "Top Ten" are assumptive and ignorant due to the sheer amount of books published in the last twenty years. I highly doubt the author of this list has read them all.

      • silkpenguin

        I agree with both of your comments; I also feel like the author’s voice actually took away from the article for me. I couldn’t actually complete the list, even though I was interested in the books, because the author’s tone was so pompous and self-assured, making such sweeping statements (eg. “I will say that nobody in the world writes better, sentence to sentence, than Palahniuk”) that after the first 4 entries I scrolled straight past their commentary and just took note of the titles. I actually felt disappointed, because usually when I read these lists I love to know what the author thinks; unfortunately I just had a clash with this one.

  • magoopaintrock

    The title is an allusion to Hamlet? That's the case for #1? Wow.

  • CurtShmurt

    ipresnal; I so love this comment,"He led us through the 3-and-a-half-minute hallway and then left us there, shivering and alone, waiting for the monster, who we’ve only ever felt, but that we know (for certain for certain) is the most terrifying thing in the world. "

    This is how cults are born, well said…among other Jungian theories and such…people please correct me if I'm wrong about the theorist…my psych classes are like 20 years gone and I haven't really kept up with the latest and-quite frankly-haven't thought about it forever. You still there Little Boots? You always have such refreshing comments

    • littleboots

      Hey curtshmurt! I read and stopped to reread that sentence as it reminded me of a poem I had written in my teenage years. I would really like to peruse some of these books, if only for their writing style as I have started to write my own book and I sound like Daniel Dafoe, perhaps since I started writing right after I had read Robinson crusoe. Thank you for your compliment about refreshing comments however. You inspired me to log on and comment for the first time since I went mobile. Well, that and I don't see Randall on here anymore lol hope that wasn't saying too much!

  • coocoocuchoo

    what? Im sure you know that Listverse has always been an English language website, so it figures that most of the lists will be primarily 'Western' in their content. also, does it really matter? i mean, you could buy any of these Novels translated into whatever language you want.

  • oouchan

    I love to read. My house is full of books. My TV is for video games. I haven't watched any shows for almost a year now. I rent the occasional movie, but prefer reading. In fact, my family are avid readers and my sister ran a used book store. However, while I have heard of most of the titles on this list, I have great pains reading anything that sounds like real life. :) It's the first thing that will turn my attention off (and anything romance) and sets it to wonder. Give me fantasy, sci-fi, horror, thriller…and you got my attention. If I want real life, I will open my door and look out.
    Out of those above, House of Leaves sounds like one I would read. The Road….maybe. The rest didn't interest me at all….however…..I will recommend these to my family since I'm the only odd ball who likes the non-real stuff. These would be very interesting to them.

    Thanks for the list.

    • Geronimo1618

      "Give me fantasy, sci-fi, horror, thriller…and you got my attention"

      Great taste in reading you have! I look for the same stuff…and comics and graphic novels also :P

      • Vera Lynn

        I love graphic novels! My old library had quite an excellent collection and I read so many. But Ive since moved and the new library sadly doesnt have a good selection. I too love horror and thrillers. Fantasy, not so much.

  • Great list, but I'd add The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

    • bluesman87

      no ways that was boring . like mentally handicapped Adrien mole .

      • Oh no you didn't. It was a great book.

        I would have also added Sleeping Dogs or Princes, both by Sonya Hartnett.

  • coola

    what no battle royale ?

    • Steve

      I was thinking the same thing! That book rocked! You know it's good if it has approximately 40 characters whose names are all very difficult to differentiate, it's 600+ pages long and you can't put it down.

  • plum13sec

    i iz like readin

    • bucketheadrocks

      Good. You can haz cheezeburgurz now.

  • Armadillotron

    I have epilepsy and how can not taking insulin put you into a fit? If you don`t take your sabil or lamictal sure but insulin?

    • Kate

      Blood sugar irregularities can cause people to have seizures, even if they don't have epilepsy or a history of seizures.

      • Nony

        A diabetic seizure is NOT the same as an epileptic one.
        Great list though, have read a couple of the books, and a couple different ones of the same authors.

  • The Heartbreak Kid

    Interesting list. Of these I'd most like to read 'House of Leaves' – your write-up has intrigued me.

    On that bombshell, I shall leave you to rebuild your shattered lives.

  • homersayswhat…. I am sorry but this at least should be an honorable mention. Great book that has not made the liseverse top tens. Read it and you will find out its true value. Eggers is a fantastic writer……one of the best in the last 20 years in my opinion!

    • ipresnel

      Definitely be in the top #20. Interesting fact: Eggers wrote the intro to the new version of Infinite Jest.

  • FallenAngel

    Great timing on the list! A friend and I spoke earlier of needing some novels. I just procured 'Trainspottng' and have begun that, but I always want that next one! :)

  • Matthew

    The Road is amazing. The rest are…okay (House of Leaves) to unbearably pretentious (Rules of Attraction). Somewhat overrated zeitgeist kind of books in my opinion, which is all this list is…one person's opinion. This list would rate much higher at Literature 101 mixer than with most actual readers.

    The Road though…that was an amazing read. Unlike anything I've ever read. It's a disservice to the great McCarthy to include him on the same list with a naval-gazing poseur like Easton.

    • Moonbeam

      I'll never get the comments like, "which is all this list is…one person's opinion." Of course, what else would it be?

      • Jay

        List title says they're the best, That sort of implies an objective estimation. I have no objection to the listmaker stating his opinion, but if that's ALL he's going by he should make the title read "Ten Books I Liked the Most" or something like that.

  • ipresnel

    Trainspotting would definitely be # 11. :)

  • Arsnl

    I dont know. Im happy it stays in its universe (the english speaking world) and doesnt pretend it's for everybody. Unlike science or visual artforms, literature is strictly a cultural thing. The dutch have their books, the germans their masterpieces the french etc etc. So you could never write a top ten universal list about books.
    Ps: dont you start again that bs that goes a bit like this: i am the warrior, i say whats on everybody's mind etc etc etc. You are just trolling.

    • Armin Tamzarian

      I've never pretended to say what's on everybody's mind. I just say what's on my mind. :)

      You're right with the whole 'every language/country/region has it's own classics. But the title doesn't reflect that. It simply states '10 best novels'. And especially since a lot of foreigners come to this site, some of which already having complained about an American/Anglophonic bias, I wonder why the creator of this list or JFrater doesn't take the hint and tries to think the title through a bit more. It would mean a world of difference, especially since titles/lists like these only seem to confirm the 'US is ignorant of the rest of the world' stereotype.

      • Geronimo1618

        Man you are being too choosy… see, most people expect to see English novels only on such a list. English is undeniably the only true global language today, I don't expect novels written in e.g. Cyrillic, evoking any interest.

        • flump

          Not a fan of Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky then?

          • Geronimo1618

            I'v read both- English translations :)

        • fendabenda

          That comment is Greek to me.

        • Arsnl

          I dont see the point in replying to a trollish comment with an annoying one.
          First of all cyrillic is an alphabet not a language. Secondly, what does "only true global language" mean? I speak french so i can talk to europeans, africans, south americans, north americans, asians. Is that not global enough for you? I imagine armin was reffering to books written by english-speaking authors, not the explicit language of the book (that would have made no sense whatsoever), so your comment becomes quite offending. Other people dont count. Hmm feeling c*cky today?

          • Geronimo1618

            Ummmm..mmmm..oh was it meant to be that…I dunno, he said change it to "10 Best English Novels", so I presumed he wanted novels written in other languages to be included. Like in Russian, French, German, Arabic etc. Anyways..whatever that might be…

            And by 'only true global language' I meant that it is the most popular language of communication today worldwide.

          • Drusky

            First, all languages are "of communication".
            Second, Chinese (mandarin) is actually the most popular language.
            Thank you.

        • ulmflb

          I was expecting the majority of the books to be from English speaking countries, but I certainly wasn't expecting all the authors to be American. I don't have anything against US literature, I actually have read and liked most of these books, I just think it would have been more precise to explicit that it was an US list only.
          The Internet and Listverse is not an American-only universe. There are people from all over the world and speaking a lot of languages. I come here because I like to learn new stuff and this being an international site, the "dumb American" attitude is less common. I don't care if a list is "too American" as long as I learn something, and if I don't, I simply don't read it. But I don't like when a list is supposed to be universal and it just happen to be just American.

          And by the way, the world's actual lingua franca is not English, it's Bad English.

      • Lifeschool

        @Armin – 'foreigners' – sorry – just made me laugh.

        Yes the LV does attract a huge international readership. But as the usual candidates might point out: A) The list title is vague on purpose [re: semiotics(*)], B) The author is an Enlish speaker and is therefore generally limited to referencing English works, and C) If anybody wants to write a French version or a Finnish version, or an 'International' version or whatever, they are very welcome to send in their own list.

        (*) – The words 'best', and 'top' are semiotic in that they refer to something in a wider context, but actually mean nothing in themselves. e.g. 'We're Number 1!' – alludes to something, but really could mean anything. Does 'top' mean 'toppest'?, or 'best' bestest? – does 'final' mean the last one ever, or the very latest and the greatest ever ever ever, or the competitor who came last? Nah, it's just marketing code.

        No offence meant towards your own views of course.

        • fendabenda

          You won't believe this, but Finnegans Wake actually HAS been translated. Into the Finnish language by the poet Miikka Mutanen… who has got to be mad to have done that LOL :)
          But here it is:
          Hint: click the bottom of the page where it says "Käännös ja alkuteksti", and you'll get Joyce's original version side by side with the translation. :D

      • Arsnl

        Do you realise the amount of nitpicking you made has reached mother-in-law levels?
        And no, the list title doesnt confirm the us is ignorant stereotype. It confirms the "rest of the world cant stop biatchin' about insignificant things". And im part of the rest of the world. Man up.

        • Bacon the American

          What is the point of complaining about Americans not being overly multicultural from an international perspective? I think it's human nature for the USA. We have hundreds of cultures here to begin with, we don't live geographically next to other intellectual countries (except Canada, but they speak English for the most part), and we recognize that all people are born with the right to express themselves (we fight repressive regimes for it all the time), so our works crowd out those of foreigners, for better or wise, probably worse.

          Anyway, the main point is that when part of your culture is to express yourself freely, you have to go very far to hear another language, and your culture isn't centrally controlled, you have most of what you need already and you have to strive to immerse yourself in a foreign culture. Their distant, speak different languages, have an entirely separate worldview, and perhaps most importantly, they are more than happy to talk in English.

          In the end, we just don't get out much. The rose of liberty has it's thorns too. Nothing is perfect and divine.

          • Arsnl

            Maybe my phone version of intense debate is off, but you seem to reply to me. If you are not, then avoid the following.

            When did i say that the us is not multi cultural?
            Why do you assume its terribly difficult for you to immerse yourself in another culture, while for us its so easy to hop around in the anglo saxon system. Why do you assume we are ever so happy to speak english? Do you think english is a gift from god so its so easy to learn it? No man. We speak english mostly cuz the french got isolated and the brits stepped in, and before that it was spanish and so on and so forth. Its just a status quo. Maybe in 50 years it will be very important to speak chinese.

            And i really dont understand your comment about centralized culture? We're not north korea

            And whats the deal with the rose of liberty, freedom speach etc etc.
            Dude, here we are intelligent humans. You can leave the bs at the door. We have freedom in europe asia africa too. 30% of your text revolves around freedom and i dont get why. Its not at all related to what we were talking about. Hell you might've well talked about bacon.

  • Ophiucha

    I feel like there have been much better works from both McCarthy and Palahniuk. "Blood Meridian" is, by far, the best book from McCarthy, and I would probably argue in favor of "Choke" for Palahniuk, although honestly, many of his books were better than "Fight Club" (good though it was). And there hasn't been a piece of modern literature more overrated than "House of Leaves". "Twilight" is more worthy of it's popularity than "House of Leaves". Also, I am surprised at the lack of Jonathan Safran Foer. He wouldn't be in my top ten, but I feel like he fits the theme of this list. I won't argue at all with "Infinite Jest" being number one, though. That's a perfect pick.

    The only author I would have insisted was on the list who isn't is Haruki Murakami.

  • Jfrater

    No – the contest winner will be the first list on the newly designed site

    • bucketheadrocks

      I don't understand why you got negative thumbs?

      Well, heres a big ol' thumbs up to you Jamie!

    • Is the newly designed site launching this week?

      • oliveralbq

        don't take this as absolution, but projecting mathematically, this was around the right time for it. of course, i vagely remember jafe saying it was getting pushed back a little, which is why the list contest ended 3 days after it was originally supposed to.

  • jackie

    I see someone beat me to it with suggesting Life of Pi. I would also recommend "Middlesex" by Jeffrey Eugenidies.

    • Cahaya

      Well…we have the same taste…Life of Pi and Middlesex was my two of my favorites….

  • TheSharp

    I'd say you're forgetting 3 great books: Middlesex by Jeffrey Euginedes, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Micheal Chabon and Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl.

    • cambered

      Just finished reading "…Kavalier and Clay". Utterly brilliant.

  • felixthecat

    I found The Road to be a disappointment- dull, plodding, illogical, over-rated. Perhaps I was comparing it to other, far superior apocalyptic works of literature, and so was unable to appreciate the greatness that so many others ascribe to this book.

    • genesis105

      I'm really interested in apocalyptic novels, but it's not as common as, say, romance or fantasy etc etc, so I can't really find any by randomly browsing through the library. Can you recommend any?

    • jayhawk781

      What are some other apocalyptic books you read? I love this genre and want some good titles.

      • mr_machina

        If you would like to read other dystopian/ post-apocalyptic novels, I bookmarked this list the other day.
        If you read through the comments there are other titles mentioned as well. Enjoy.

    • weegmc

      Not to criticize but its not an apocalyptic story – thats the back drop. Its a story about the relationship between father and son.

  • Marlena

    I have not read all the novels in the list – thanks for the suggestions – but The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe should be definitely included in every single top ten list of best novels of de last 20 years.

  • 7raul7

    Well I think that The Kite Runner should've been here for the sheer emotional impact it had (& maybe A Thousand Splendid Suns too) Others books could've been The White Tiger, The Da Vinci Code or The Lost Symbol. The Bourne trilogy & The Aquaitaine Progression were good too. Come to think of it even The Timeline by Crichton was good & so was The Andromeda Strain & … How isn't a single book by Paulo Coelho included, or James Patterson or one that I've read recently, Karin Slaughter ? Another possible book was False Witness by Dexter Dias (new author but one of the heaviest & most complicated plots I've ever read). Also, no book by Thomas Harris has been included which makes me kinda sad ( SOTL was 1989, but still … Hannibal & Hannibal rising ).

    Good list nonetheless …

    • 'The Da Vinci Code' and its related books are NOT deserving in ANY way of top ten lists. Nothing but poorly researched mythology and blatant plot holes. It's as if Brown just took a bunch of places he had read about in high school and connected them to organizations that don't exist anymore/never existed at all. Truly a terrible book that deserves none of the hype.
      Real historical thrillers of that sort should have at least SOME facts. Things hat the reader can hold on to; that make him think that maybe this *is* true, even when they know otherwise. 'Da Vinci Code' does none of this—just an utter disregard for logic.

      • Geronimo1618

        Also, Dan Brown copied the writing style of Sydney Sheldon. Totally same to same. Let me be frank, initially on the first reading I thought the Da Vinci Code was a decent enough thriller. But after reading all of his works, particularly Deception Point and Digital Fortress, I thought WTF, this guy follows the same plot in all his novels- some weird code to crack, all the running here and there and a secret so incredible and damning that revealing it would change the course of the entire world…wow

        And it all ends like yaaawwwn…BS. I didn't touch 'The Lost Symbol'.

        • xXx

          I'm sick of people trashing Dan Brown because he's not a perfect writer. No one is perfect and there are other books written just as sloppily that are now classics. The only reason people like to pick on Brown is because his books are so popular that they won't feel like the smartest person in the room if don't have a contrary opinion. These are the same type of people who think Forest Gump is a terrible movie, they just want to prove that they're nonconformists who don't like what everyone else likes.

          • Woyzeck

            Actually no, some people just have higher standards than you. Dan Brown is a lousy writer, and the most enjoyable thing about his novels for many people is the unintentionally hilarious sentences he occasionally comes up with.

          • psychosurfer

            Please mention one "classic" which is written sloppily, I can´t wait to know which authors you consider classic.
            Have you ever heard of terms such as bidimensional characters, common places, pretentiousness? Because all that applies to Dan Brown´s lousy work, I had the courage to read the whole Angels and Demons, I only endured it because I needed to know if it wasn´t a truly sophisticated joke, it wasn´t.
            That´s how bad it was, regardless of how many books he sells he is bad, very bad, believe me.

    • k1w1taxi

      Rhe original Bourne books are all older than 20 years, while the andromeda Strain is closer to 40 years old.


    • Crichton is great, but I believe many of his works fall outside the 20-year time span allotted here.

      I won't even start on Dan Brown. Effing lousy, I use my copy of Da Vinci Code as a door stop.

  • What about Finnegans Wake?? One of the weirdest novels ever written. It took James Joyce 17 years to write it. I dare anyone to try and read it & figure out what it means.

    • fendabenda

      I don't think it fits the time frame, though. It was published in 1939.

    • Andy

      Finnegans Wake. The most unchecked out book in the library.

    • shieldvulf

      You have to let Finnegan’s Wake read you. It’s not for everyone, but those who find their way into it never want to leave. My copy is thick with marginalia. I’ve read it three times through, and my favorite sections many times. (The Anna Livia Plurabel section is one wild ride.)

      And I’m not even an Irish genius!

  • oliveralbq

    the mick makes a good point in an earlier comment.

    i think it's extremely interesting, how the superlative terms good, better, best, etc used to be synonmous with popular — and how fast that all has changed.

    • undaunted warrior 1

      mmmm interesting

  • ryanb69er

    :O as if The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins isnt number 1!

  • Ophiucha

    "The first introductions students often have to literature are stale century-old books that do not translate well to this new modern era. Frankly they are boring, and a lot of kids drift into the living room and turn on the television and stay glued for the rest of their lives." How are ANY of these books listed any LESS boring than your typical Victorian or earlier novel? When I was a teenager, I know I'd rather read Macbeth, Homer, or Wilde than read some pretentious postmodernism, which nearly all of this is. Aside from Fight Club, which would garner a read because of the movie, literally nothing here is any less "dry" than something from the 1600s. Where Shakespeare is a tough read due to the evolution of the language, Danielewski is a tough read because he purposely includes major story notes in mirrored footnotes in the top right corner. And I know McCarthy would have driven me mad five years ago with his lack of quotation marks, alone, let alone his actual subject matter (which is, in fact, QUITE dry – I love him, but it's true).

    • Jay

      Good point, Ophiucha, about the older books. Stale. Theodore Dreiser would be a great more recent example of that.

    • Skata

      Guess I was just fortunate. My 10th grade Lit. Teacher got me to read Candide. Then I started on Boccaccio. Haven't given half a hoot about television since.

    • I read through all of the Sherlock Holmes stories in less than a fortnight, and I typically only read when on break or on public transport. I'm now reading through Jane Austen's works. I've also read most of Jules Verne's well-known novels (the rest I haven't found a copy of), own a number of Oscar Wilde's, and I'm sure I can think of more "stale century-old books" I've read and enjoyed if I think hard.

      I don't know many people who don't find at least one pre-1900s novel that they enjoy.

  • Lifeschool

    hey, these seem to be very good reads. I friend of mine is an avid book worm and he’s half way through #1 – I’ll have to find out what he thinks about it. He raves about ‘The Road’, and, as per usual for him, insists the movie is such a pale immitation of the book. I can see why some thought Harry Potter would make the list, but seriously, comparing Harry Potter to these intense materials is like comparing Lord of the Flies to Lord of the Rings – there’s just too wide a gap there. That’s not to say HP isn’t intellectually and thoughtfully written, but it’s unlikely to win the booker prize for example. Of course, you could argue the semantics of ‘best’ in relation to an age group or particular readership – and who’s could say whether ‘best’ describes the general consensus or purely a view based on the limited number of materials read by the author? It’s a rhetorical question given that we have a published list, and that the list will not be amended either way.

    • Ennis

      Your 'Lord of the Flies to Lord of the Rings' comparison doesn't really apply given that they both stand up as incredibly impressive (and, I suppose, scholarly) material, whereas Harry Potter is in an entirely different sort of world from most of the books on this list.
      (Despite the fact that I am posting this, I do apologise for my nitpicking).

  • Great list! Honestly, 'Fight Club' is one of my favourite books. I know that it's definitely not Pahalniuk's best, but it's the one that's stayed with me longest. I love his writing style and the overall themes of the novel capture its generation and the one after (mine) so well.

  • I found Infinite Jest to be a long, pretentious, difficult read. I had to fight myself to finish that slab of a book.

  • InspectorDetector

    Wow, nothing by Stephen King or Danielle Steele? That's about all I see at book fairs, flea markets, garage sales, and used book stores. You mean there's other authors in the world?

    • PickledTink

      Thankfully, yes.

    • Moonbeam

      Why all the hating with the thumbs down? Could it be that InspectorD is being sarcastic?

  • I've never gotten the love that Chuck Palahniuk gets, Fight Club is a good, not great IMO, book, then I read Invisible Monsters, again good not great, then Survivor, not so good. By this point it dawned on me that while the stories change Palahniuk is just a formulaic writer where everything is something within something within something else with a bunch of snarky pesudo sarcastic dialogue.

    • HelenHooverBoyle

      Read Pygmy and Rant, think about what you've said, then maybe you can have a sleepover with your Chicken Noodle Soup for the 'Deep' Reader's Soul.

  • Laydyem

    No Christopher Moore anything by him should be #1!! Fluke, Lamb, Island of the sequined love nun, FOOL, Bite Me, Blood Sucking Fiends, and so many more!

    • steeveedee

      He is my favorite writer. I think "Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff…" might be one of the funniest books I've ever read. Not sure if he belongs on this list, but he's genius in his own right!

      • DWrubel

        Lamb is hysterical. Everything Moore writes is an automatic buy. As was the case with Jerzy Kosinski, Eric Kraft and others. But they don't belong on the list. Middlesex, absolutely, maybe Kavalier and Clay…too many books, too little time.

  • killborten

    Reading is gay

    • billy

      Then I bet your head is always in a book.

    • bucketheadrocks

      I'm sorry. I couldn't help but laugh when I read this! The simplicity of it was just hilarious!

      Oh, hold up… Let me put this in something you might understand. "Me laughie at your funny"

  • necropenguin

    none of these interest me. i guess i'll just stick with my century old (or older) books.

    • Skata

      I took the $1500.00 I would have spent on a 42" flatscreen and spent it on a run of Dodsley's Annual Register of History, Politics and Literature (Edmund Burke, Editor 1758-1788) for the years 1758-1800. Mostly first editions. Each volume (42 of them) has a section of book reviews for the year at the very end. Now I go after them. I've got diverse reading material for the rest of my life.

  • renee

    you picked ten good ones. The Kite Runner was pretty good.

  • Arsnl

    A novel can very well be non fictional. But to reply also to ryan, ive never read the god delusion, but does he develop caracters, multiple threads, action? You know if a book has many pages, that doesnt make it necessary a novel. E.g:The universe in a nutshell can be a great book to vulgarize fundamental physics but hawking will ever never get a nobel prize in literature.

    • Ophiucha

      A novel could be non-fiction, but none of the books on this list are.

  • hanktherapper

    Interesting list. I haven't read any of them. I own "The Road" and have put off reading it because I need to be in the right mood. I also bought "Infinite Jest" but will probably never read that because I'm not smart enough to get it.

    In the video game "Alan Wake" the creators talk about Mark Danielewski's "House of Leaves" as being an inspiration to the game. They also mention Poe's "Haunted" album and commented on how those two different forms of media seem to complement each other. I don't think the guys at Remedy realized they are brother and sister. I've always been meaning to read "House of Leaves" but never got around to buying it.

  • stockyzeus

    you all can bash me to the ground but, personally, i thought the road was shit.

    • Anonymous


      • Better Taste

        you both make me sad… not touched by the road? Please! If you can't carry the fire, go stand in it.

  • mom424

    Good list – I read constantly and still there are a few new ones for me. Not so sure about the Ellis book – seems to me that an excellent novel should NOT be torture to read. I'm not talking about vocabulary but sentence structure, plotting, and flow. The whole disjointed, stream of consciousness crap fails to impress me – can't be a great novel if the only folks who it resonates with are literature critics. Margaret Atwood anyone?

    • 7raul7

      The Handmaid's tale ? Epic.

  • Sugar Plum Fairy

    You got here ONLY american novels !!??!?!!…no one here even noticed that fact.
    It's sad to see so closed-minded people.
    No wonder to see where you are heading now.
    (something like nowhere…)

    • Vera Lynn

      You obviously didnt read all the comments. It had been noticed and pointed out already. And all the replies to that observation answer your comment as well.

    • Neal

      Sweet mother of balls. If you want a list of great <insert nationality> books then WRITE ONE!!! I'm sure JFrater will publish it if it's up to scratch.

      You can't expect an American contributor to write a list of great Norwegian books for feck sake.

  • Adam

    No one will ever be completely happy with any list but I agree with peeyaj…Pi by Yann Martel was mesmerizing.

  • Schiesl

    Hmmm…To other book worms, I would highly suggest "The Perks of Being a Wallflower". One of my most favorite books from the last 20 years. "The Road" is indeed a wonderful book, as is "House of Leaves" I havn't read any of the others. "Life of Pi" was another one i found very entertaining, though a bit preachy at times. My Favorite book of all time however, has to be "Brave New World" it is an awesome awesome read.

    • Ninja_Wallaby

      Huxley's "Brave New Word" was required reading when I was in highschool and I totally agree with you.

    • Shaun596

      A teacher suggested "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" and I'm glad I listened to her. It's a great young adult book that I would still re-read today. Sadly, I do believe the author Stephen Chbosky did not write any other books.

  • shorn

    House of Leaves is a book I recommend to anyone with an open mind, and a curiosity to see how an art form can be pushed. The author makes the written word itself into a kind of visual art.

    A "good book" however is not necessarily a phrase I would use to describe it.

    • vom666


  • br0ck

    books are outdated

    • billy

      Oh I don't know. Imagine Listverse, the novel:

      'It was late in the day when Br0ck finally went online. Finally, all the struggles of his day- his search for friendship and quest to prove he has an intelligence level above a chimpanzee- could be cast aside for a short period as he revelled in the attention his trite comments garnered. True, it was a shallow, pointless way of life; but, hell, at least it was a life. Far better than what he was doing only six months before…'

      • Arsnl

        I really hope the opening line of LV the book wont be about brock. Maybe it would be the part written on a napkin in the bar that gets moisted with beer and is thrown away by the waiter.

    • Woyzeck

      'br0ck read the title of the latest list slowly, tracing the words out with his mouth: "Top 10 Best Novels of the Last 20 Years". His lips peeled back in a grin as he pondered what today's comment would be. "books are gay"? "books are too american"? This one required some thought.

      Seven hours later, br0ck struck gold. With a shrill, excited laugh, he began to type: "books….. are….. outdated." With a triumphant yell, he clicked 'submit comment' and awaited the requisite appalled reaction from the Listversers. His grin widened; he'd shat himself again.'

      I love you, br0ck.

      • PickledTink

        Brilliant. :D

      • fairtwiggy1

        you're hilarious

      • oliveralbq

        yes —- an ommission from todays list — brock – king of chodes, his puppy dog, a lemon peeler, and the progress of man — by the artist formerly known as the artist who will one day be called woyzek.

        thanks for the first 5 sentences — solid #11

        you a baaaad, boss.

    • bsballbuster

      Ah br0ck, yet again you do not disappoint with another ridiculous comment.

    • Jay

      Whereas br0jck is out and dating?

    • So, what do you suggest? I am interested. I've read several of the books listed and have opinions that have varied from some of the other comments. Got new stuff? Please share.

  • Gav

    Will someone please inspire me and say that I'll be able to read a whole novel once my children grow up? Once the kids started getting born, it seems the only books I read these days have cartoon animals in them and rhyme an awful lot.

  • randomprecision24

    I wish I had more time to read. If you want to read something entertaining, not necessarily "great literature", check out "Apathy and Other Small Victories" By Paul Neilan

  • Woyzeck

    Nice list. Literary lists are always a blast.

    Edit: Woyzeck wasn't paying attention.

  • Woyzeck

    Bonus: almost anything by Peter Carey.

    • cambered

      Peter Carey is the man. "Oscar and Lucinda" is slightly older than 20 years now, but is sensational. I've yet to read "True History of the Kelly Gang", but am dying to do so… maybe I'll go and buy it today.

      Another modern Australian classic would have to be "Cloudstreet" by Tim Winton… simply glorious and a real favourite.

  • Lifeschool

    I commented several hours ago (perhaps even 7 hours ago). One day my comment might even appear on the list?

    • mom424

      I am soo sorry – this is beginning to piss me off. regulars should never go into moderation…settings are supposed to see to that. hmmm

  • nessa

    I must say that "The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield should be on the list. It's one of those novels that you read the first time finish it and have to reread right away because the intire thing takes on a whole new meaning.

    Also, if you don't take your insulin you typically don't go into epileptic shock. That's more likely if you take too much insulin.

  • Woyzeck

    JFrater is quietly weeping over the fact that you didn't include his book.

    • Geronimo1618


  • Woyzeck

    "This book deserves its own cannon."

    What would a book do with a cannon?

    • Jay

      Provide *cover* fire?

      • Arsnl

        Just imagine how pimpin a cannon book would be. Confucius say: "dont kill mosquitos with a cannon". Cuz he never tried a book cannon. Id put a predator shoulder type cannon on it. And 12 inch spinnin' rims.

        • Jay

          Confucius say: "dont kill mosquitos with a cannon". Right. A Lockheed Starfighter armed with air-to-air missiles is much better. According to Monty Python…

    • Geronimo1618

      Oh stop it man you're too much heh :D

  • mrjimmyos

    Looks like I have a few to check out. I knew The Road would be on here though, its the first Cormac McCarthy book I've read and it's brilliant. On more than one occasion I had my heart beating really fast, and on other occasions I was happy for the character, you really can get into it. I barely put the book down, and that's not like me at all, I take ages to read a book, I may leave it for a while and come back, but not with The Road. I also went on to read The Orchard Keeper which is really atmospheric (and that's a great quality for a book to have)

  • Kayla

    Brave New World is a pretty great book. Written in the 1930s, but even in 2010, it's still way futuristic.

  • Moe Lester

    This list puts the shit back into "fuck this is a shit list!"

    • bsballbuster

      Shouldn't you be out driving around in your dirty white panel van cruising playgrounds? I bet you break out into a cold sweat every time you pass a Toys R Us? Douche.

    • Neal

      Best comment.

  • chaka

    Someone's a postmodernism fan, then, eh? An entire genre about how bleak, hard and empty life is for privileged people.

    I'm not saying that many of these books aren't quite good (I've read about half of them), but it seems as though the author of this list has a bit of a one-track-mind.

    • vom666

      cos what u got there brilliance?

  • Guest

    Very bad list. These are not the "Top 10 best novels". The items chosen reflect the author's taste and nothing more, as most of the books are similar in style. House of Leaves – seriously? That book was nothing but pretentious crap. Oscar Wao – utterly dull. Not a good list.

  • murpheyslawyer

    No Stephen King or Dean Koontz………………………really?

    • Tap

      Stephen King would be the first to admit his craft isn't top notch literary work.

      "I just flail away at the goddamn thing. I'm a salami writer. I try to write good salami, but salami is salami. You can't sell it as caviar." – S King

      • Read Closer

        he's being facetious…

  • FlameHorse

    How ya like the negative criticism, ipresnel? Abandon all hope. :) Great list, I say.

  • hanktherapper

    I went to the book store to buy "House of Leaves" and when I was thumbing through it I realized I had no idea how to read it. So I bought a Dan Brown book instead.

    (I'm just kidding about the buying a Dan Brown book.)

  • Jay

    Shame on you! That's what br0ck was going to say.

  • Kirke

    Douglas Coupland is fantastic writer. any of his books are beautifully written, thought provoking and entertaining. Oh, also Hugh Laurie The Gun Seller, humour, wit, wording… laughing out loud experience.

  • Jay

    Not to some people, it's not. Some people consider God as a fact, and anything that contravenes that is purely fiction. Hehehe.

  • @hanktherapper – You said it perfectly. I looked up "House of Leaves" at the library and started to read it there. At first, it was weird but interesting. Then I realized I had no idea what I was reading. It made no sense to me. So, yeah, I didn't know how to read it. So I put it back and picked up Adam Fawver's "Improbable." I actually began to understand quantum physics and mathematics when I was was done. That was a great read.

  • kokopelli1000

    Must be a Twilight fan…

  • Kirbytheawesome

    I like to read, I like books, and I can safely say House of Leaves is a painfully bad book.

    Sorry, but making your book look like it was edited by a 2 year old does not make you look creative, just desperate.

    • fendabenda

      Have you read "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes?

      • Kirbytheawesome

        Can't say I have.

        Although after looking it up I think I probably will.

        • k1w1taxi

          Do! It is brilliant.


          • cambered

            I concur. It was adapted to a great film, called "Charly".

      • Vera Lynn

        When we read this in school, I always have the kids debate whether he was better off before the operation, or after. Before always wins. That book is crushingly sad.

  • Jay

    I haven't read enough of these books to comment on the list as a whole, but a couple of things. First, yes the title should contain the phrase "In English" or something like that. While I don't know if for a fact, I'm sure there are a great many novels in other languages that rival these.

    To the lovers of Dan Brown's work: He really became famous with the "Da Vinci Code." If you'll read "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" from about a quarter century earlier, you may come to believe as I did, that Brown did most of his writing with "Holy Blood" flattened out on the computer desk next to the keyboard. That might not detract from your enjoyment of Brown's book, but it may change your estimation of him as a writer and historian. There are a lot of people who think Brown himself *discovered* all this stuff.

    "The Life of Pi" by Yan Martel. I haven't read this, but I think I'm going to. And, as part of my ongoing effort to help American TV viewers to discover the quirky charm of Canadian television, there's an episode of –all together now — CORNER GAS which features a book discussion group and they have some interesting comments on "The Life of Pi." Just open a browser and search for "Corner Gas TV show" and you'll find it easily enough.

    • Arsnl

      " your estimation of him as a writer and historian"
      Hehe. Thanks man. I needed a really good laugh. Historian? Luckly i wasnt eattin or i would have sprayed my screen. You should warn people before sprinkling these kind of jewels in your text. A disclaimer.

      • Jay

        I thought my next sentence WAS a disclaimer. Hehehe.

    • jeffpv

      "The Life of Pi" is painfully slow (and it's not even that long!).

      • Tap

        It flew by for me. Feels like a Novella.

  • fendabenda

    I'd like to recommend a couple of historical novels by Ildefonso Falcones that I found enjoyable: "La mano di Fatima" (Fatima's Hand) and "La catedral del mar" (The Cathedral of the Sea). They aren't difficult or anything, but pretty good nebertheless :)

  • Crystal

    The Road is terrible.

  • Alyssa

    No name has ever been so apt as this fellow's.

  • Pöpö

    Uh oh! Where's Irvine Welsh?!?

  • you'rewrong

    10~ Who really wants to read a depressing, hopeless book? (Oh yeah, depressed, hopeless people.) 9~ So you're saying that what the world needs now is anarchy? 8~ Now that's more like it. 7~ Simple: don't cheat, and you won't have any "decision issues." 6~ I'm interested in the film, but the book sounds good too. 5~ Somewhere between "run-on sentences" and "semi-coherent plot", he lost me. 4~ Someone else's interpretation of U.S. history? No thanks. 3~ Nah. 2~ Interesting, but 700 pages? Sheesh. 1~ If I had the time, sure.

    • Woyzeck

      You're an idiot.

  • panic0

    House of Leaves just too good for words, and if you liked this book too,
    i would highly suggest Only Revolutions done by the same author

    • Diablociego

      I dunno, I just can't feel Only Revolution, but the House is a masterpiece

  • Gary

    Just finished Oscar Wao-totally agree with the high placement.

  • I yam what I yam

    Reading your take on "House of Leaves" made me think of "Shutter Island." The movie axed one of the most important scenes which was pivotal non-crazy perspective. I refuse to admit that Teddy was nutso. I love that feeling of wondering if I'm crazy or not. I'm starting "House of Leaves" tomorrow.

  • thisguy

    #8 for #2

  • mkoua

    Quite the Nihilist list. While I did enjoy "Fight Club", everything else Palhuaink has done just seems forced and too "edgy" for the sake of being edgy (not to mention one of the few movies that I thought was much better than the book).
    Mark Danielewski, one of the most creative writers, but damn, I have never been more dissappointed in a book's ending than "House of Leaves". One of the better reading experiences I have ever had, and he did such a good job in fully engrossing you in the read, but the last hundred pages seemed like it was trying to suck its own dick.
    "We Don't Live Here Anymore" might give it a try, but thought the movie was garbage.
    Corman McCarthy, no complaints.
    Outside the era, and no slight to "Rules of Attraction" but "Less than Zero" is possibly the quintessential nihilist novel.
    For people that like these types of books, I would highly recommend David Wong's "John Dies at the End".

  • Jay

    It sounds like "House of Leaves" is doing some really interesting things with typography and I've always loved that since the work of Theodore Bester and e.e. cummings. (Bester won Hugo Awards in '51 and '52 for his two novels, then didn't write another one for 18 years.) Both had a wonderful grasp of language and used typography well to convey their points. I haven't seen much really great use of typography since. So I guess that's another one I have to read.

    But right now, I'm going to read Terry Pratchett's new book. Warning: The first page has a footnote that is not only far longer than the main text but has a footnote of its own. Which I guess you would call a toe-note? But just keep reading; it gets better.

    • k1w1taxi

      1. Who the fuck is Theodore Bester?
      2. The Hugos did not start until 1953.
      3. The first Best Novel Hugo was won by ALFRED Bester for The Demolished Man. The Hugos were not awarded the next year and the 1955 winner was by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley. Alfred Bester never won another Hugo in any category.



      • Jay

        You're right about the name, for some reason I was thinking of Theodore Sturgeon at the same time. I was also thinking of Algis Budrys; I'm surprised he didn't show up in there somewhere. Hehehe.

        Yeah, I've fallen prey to "Internet Syndrome." That's Jessica Caine's name for the odd habit we have of treating Internet posts as casual communication rather than what they are: written works that will remain in print for a long time. In casual conversation we throw out this stuff and expect people to catch our errors in about two seconds; with Internet posts, it can take days or sometimes years for a follow-up post to appear. If I'd been writing that post as a stand-alone work to appear in some magazine, I'd have done a lot of research. In fact, when I wrote about the12-year syndrome (Sci-fi seemed to go through a period of intense excellence about every 12 years), I did a LOT of research.

        Instead I'm remembering a lot of stuff from years ago and talking about books I no longer own. So Bester won for material that appeared earlier, but it was in '53. He did not receive a Retro-Award, which I thought he did. But many people who have studied the history of sci-fi believe he should have gotten the 1957 award. There's some controversy about that as the work in question hadn't been published in America at that time! Though he never said so specifically, the decision to give the Hugo to a fine but inferior work for what some have called "sentimental" reasons may have been part of the reason he largely deserted science fiction. He basically gave up sci-fi for about 18 or 19 years, then published "The Computer Connection" which was nominated for the Hugo and Nebula Awards (in different years! Hehehe.) in '74, but didn't win. *sigh* He did get a Grandmaster Award later from SFWA.

        Sorry for the longish post about a writer who doesn't even qualify for the topic,but I find this stuff really interesting.

  • dirtydblfjc

    Your name is not only a failed attempt at humor but a glaring insight to your complete lack of intelligence and maturity, just like your comment.

  • jen

    I despiiiiiiiiiiiise Bret Easton Ellis novels. Other than that, good list! A few I haven't read yet, but will get to as soon as possible.

  • fredelliot

    I kind of expected to see The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold on here, but that may be due to it being one of my all time favourite books.

    I also would of liked to have seen In The Name Of Ishmael on here by Guiseppe Genna, maybe even at #1. It’s such a surreal, but amazing book and I wouldn’t even know where to start with explaining the plot, but it’s a book that I highly recommend.

  • jeffpv

    "Infinite Jest" is an appropriate name, because I spent weeks reading that overrated tome only to understand, at the end, that the joke was on me. To put it at #1 is complete tosh. But of course it is your opinion.
    No Salman Rushdie. No Orhan Pamuk. No Stieg Larsson. No Umberto Eco. I could go on of course.
    I smell a person who possesses a very limited range of "what's good".
    TWO Bret Easton Ellis books on this list? He's indeed very talented, but c'mon.

    • ulmflb

      The title should be "Top 10 Best American Novels…".
      That being said, I miss Paul Auster, Don DeLillo and Phillip Roth.
      If talking about world literature, the list could go on for hours…

      • cambered

        Oh yeah… I just love Don DeLillo… "White Noise" is actually my favourite book ever… aeq with Graham Greene's "Our Man in Havana"; plus "Scoop" by Evelyn Waugh… and probably a few others that I can't recall at the moment… (add "Cloudstreet" by Tim Winton for my pet Australian novel).

        Phillip Roth — loved "Portnoy's Complaint"… not so much "American Pastoral".
        Paul Auster — loved the New York Trilogy, in particular "The Locked Room".

        You could also add John Updike to this list.

    • ocrasaroon

      By my count, there is currently only ONE Brett Easton Ellis novel on this list ("The Rules of Attraction") – though there is another three-name author. Was there possibly another version of this list posted sometime between the 10th and today that included an additional Easton work? If so, I'd like to check the cache – I love reading the pre-edit postings of LV lists…

    • Andy

      Umberto Eco yes! Love Foucault's Pendulum.

  • RachelT

    I appreciate your list; it will give my reading friends and me something to discuss. I would like to suggest "A Fine Balance" by Rohinton Mistry and "I Know This Much is True" by Wally Lamb. Okay, okay, they're both Oprah books. That had nothing to do with me reading or loving them. I also third the suggestion of "Middlesex."

  • msp

    No Murakami?

    • jeffpv

      Great call on Murakami. Certainly deserves to be on any "top whatever" list…

  • fairtwiggy1

    Some of these look really good. I just might have to trade in my trashy romance novels for awhile.

  • Diablociego

    I became obsessed with "House of Leaves" for quite a while, it is my all time favorite

  • blas

    MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM…… rules of atraction is quite good but y would have said LESS THAN ZERO, it have more philosophical meaning, serious atmosphere and a feeling of individualism, egocentrism, egoism and hopeless through all the story, brett is the eye of the 17 old teens generation.

    • acc

      But doesn't meet the list criteria.

      • Woyzeck

        Technically, neither does The Rules of Attraction.

        • blas

          CORRECT, if we look for a criteria based on the other novels here, it should be American Psycho.

  • Tom

    I'm sorry to say this, but anyone who has read Infinite Jest, and has not thought it should be number 1 on this list, is an idiot.

    • jeffpv

      Wow, color me idiot then.

    • marqueemark

      what a thing to say. I also think if your opinion about anything is different than mine you are an idiot too

  • Fred

    Call me an idiot, then. I'm sure there is a fine book in there somewhere. INFINITE JEST would be #1 on my list of Books Which Needed a Good Editor.

    • Le tel

      I'd add lord of the Rings to that one too

      • Neal

        Completely agree. The films suffered from the same problem actually.

        "Oh Frodo I love you"
        "Oh Sam, sweet Sam"
        repeat for 2+ hours

  • vom666

    thank you so much for this….i am truely indebted to you…..after looking up house of leaves on wiki im impressed and cannot believe how out of touch i must be….reading the comments here is almost (not) as good as the article…..really youre going off point that far? just who the (expletive deleted) is JKROWLING? so i wonder your opinion of neil stephenson especially CRYPTONOMICOM but yer list seems so heavy i dont doubt you…….im very excited to check these out! how bout yer take on confederacy of dunces (not my personal fave)(and i know the background there)… say ellis instead of pahulniuk…..both will take you to the place you dont want to go though….lets not forget the classics though because thats where my love truely lies…..HP LOVECRAFT or DOESTOYEVSKI will truely work your mind in ways modern genreists cant touch….and anyone interested in film noir check the master….from my home state…JIM THOMPSON!!!!!!!ps selby

  • vom666

    ipresnel you are great….obviously the posts here are from idiots….koontz king wtf!?!

  • waitwhat

    Paradise of the Blind anyone? By no means is it some sort of super intellectual piece, but it's so beautifully written. The literature is simply breathtaking and it leaves you with this incredible ache. I love, love, love that book. It's a translated piece by a Vietnamese author but I don't know if it's necessarily from the last 20 years (hard to believe that starts in 1990!!!). Also, I must agree with The Road, Music for Torching, Fight Club, and House of Leaves. Someone commented about The Kite Runner and I think it should've at least been an honorable mention. It has impacted our world in some way or another.

  • ashley

    I really like Vladimir Nabokovs style of writing. What about A Clockwork Orange? Or Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas? Was surprised not to see a single Hunter S. Thompson novel on this list.

    • cambered

      Whilst all good reads, none of these fit into the list criteria, "…of the Last 20 Years".

  • Pontevin

    Where are the works by Camus? Kafka? McEwan? Kundera?

    • jeffpv

      I think Kafka doesn't quite fit into the "last 20 years" part.

      • cambered

        Nor Albert Camus… nor Milan Kundera.

    • LBC

      Yeah Kafka was a literary giant in the 90s.

    • iri

      It would be pretty hard for most of them to publish anything seeing as they've been dead for some time.

  • marqueemark

    I'm confused about the link between insulin and epilepsy as described in number 1

  • Top Kill

    Great List

  • silverfall

    Very subjective list here. I personally HATED The Road, and I had really high hopes for that Novel. Fight Club was enjoyable, but I can see why many people here are putting it down. Palahniuk and Easton Ellis seem to write a lot of things jus for shock value. All tastes are different. I enjoy Fantasy, this person obviously doesn`t, as no Fantasy titles were included. Check out Brandon Sanderson`s Mistborn, better than half the books on this list. Or Stephen Brust`s Vlad Taltos books. For some reason people just don`t consider those kinds of books in these kinds of lists, when in fact they require a lot more creativity to write and are much more enjoyable. Granted there is a LOT of crap to sift through, but the same goes for each and every genre.

    • Ennis

      I wish I could hit that 'thumbs up' several times over. Even if only for the mention of Mistborn. Brandon Sanderson has me hooked! If you've yet to read his latest, The Way of Kings, I'd recommend it with no hesitation.

    • iri

      I personaly believe that shock value is a great artistic tool as long as it's used to make an intelligent point. I loved all of Palahniuk's novels. After all, most of us read for the purpose of entertainmet, and C.P. is one of the most original writers out there. I found all of his characters to be amazingly defined. The best thing about his work is that it makes even the most disgusting things (read Haunted) beautiful.

  • Canadianguy

    Nobody writes like Bret Easton Ellis? I wouldn't have picked that particular sentence to make that point. It's an overly dramatic sentence, a good example of a purple prose in my opinion.

  • Kizitaly

    House of Leaves was amazing. It's like a story within a story within a story. It would make a freaking awesome movie. Loved that book. I have to say that and Water For Elephants were the two best books i've read in the last two years.

  • freckledsmile99

    Great list. I am going to Barnes and Noble right now to pick these up! Thanks!

  • bluesman87

    just finished reading fight club . too short .

  • Le tel

    The diceman by Luke Rhinehart
    The White Tiger by Aravind Adig
    the dark materials by philip pullman
    Life of Pi by Yann Martel

    There's my 2 cents :)

    • silverfall

      Dark materials put me to sleep. I just can`t get into Pullman`s books.

  • SteveO

    I know it's not exactly "literature", but Dennis Lehane is one of my new favorite authors.

  • psychosurfer

    "Leaving Las Vegas" by John O'Brien
    Fantastic novel, I refused to watch the movie after reading such a great book, oh and the author also blew his brains out.

  • Luis

    House of leaves is the only book that's ever given me nightmares. Simply incredible.

  • RiggersD

    The correct term is "hanged himself" not "hung himself"
    Otherwise awesome list!

  • yup

    Armin, you make a good point and it`s well taken. i guess the default for this list was the English speaking world and literature. but then you dont EVER argue with a bunch of teeny boppers on the Internet. it`s never productive- they simply get worked up and abuse the TD button. so i am going to have to call fail.

  • Yougen

    Good list but why no mention of 2666 by Roberto Bolaño?

  • Zack

    It's five and a half minutes hallway.

    Tip: Listen to Poe's full lenght album "Haunted" while reading the book. It works, then again, Poe is Mark's sister.

  • Guest

    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon should be on that list somewhere. Also to whoever up there said that Steig Larsons novels deserved a spot, I will admit that his books were entertaining but they were in no way life-altering like a really good novel can be.

    • cambered

      I agree with everything you have said… especially re: Kavalier and Clay.

  • Jbox

    Chuck Palahniuk’s RANT was far better than Fight Club.

  • Joann

    Thank you for not putting Twilight on here!

    • sadaf

      hey twilight is the most interseting novel y u r saying this?

  • Aeracura

    I think a better way to compose a list such as this would be to create catagories for the novels.. all of these are "intellectual reads", and personaly I don't believe that is the only reason why people read, nor the only things they should read.

    Try to think of books as television for my argument's sake. There are shows you will watch because you want to feel emotionaly and intellectualy stimulated, however there are also shows you will watch for light hearted humor and simplicity, there are programs your children will watch, there are shows you watch because you want to be frightened and ones that are guilty pleasures… the list goes on.

    Point being, we treat books as if the "good ones" are only the "emotionaly and intellectualy stimulating" kind. If we catagorized books into groups based on what the author was trying to acomplish, and their success in doing so; ie. Harry Potter was created to enrich reading for children, it did a fantastic job, etc. You would have a much more comprehensive list of "bests".

    Right now the list resembles movie awards where all of the victors fit loosley into "drama" and the audiance is left wondering : Why was there no "action"? No "comedy"? No "family"? Do they not deserve the same recognition even though they did an incredible job at what they set out to do?

    That is what the majority of the comments are aimed at, and although im aware that this, and any blog post is based purley on the feelings and opinions of the author, and that books don't always fit into "snug" generes as movies do, I think the list could have been more well rounded.

  • Keith

    Yikes. “Dolled?” surely, the author meant “doled,” for something meted out. OK, maybe that was a typo.

    David Foster Wallace wasn’t “hung,”

    he “hanged” himself. If you suffer this form of death, you are “hanged,” not “hung.”

  • gringation

    Good list! I like how you added the first sentence of each one. :) House of Leaves, Oscar Wao and Infinite Jest sound especially interesting.

    My only complaint is that all the books sound so depressing!!! Seriously, not a single one on there that's not just a bit depraved.

    Is being happy not considered cool anymore?

  • the road was a wonderful book it's amazing

  • Jenn

    Brief and Wondrous Life is one of the best books ever written. Junot Diaz spoke at my university and was utterly inspiring and funny, just like his novel.

  • Leon

    Great to see "House of Leaves" on the list.

    By the way, it's a "5 and a Half Minute Hallway", not 3.

  • gbedlam

    I can attest that Infinite Jest is entirely justified in it's number one position on this list.

  • steeveedee

    Great list. I've got some reading to do. Some of the following were mentioned in other comments, but I think they deserve accolades as well:
    Life of Pi; Kavalier & Clay; Everything is Illuminated; Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Jesus' Childhood Friend; Thank you for Smoking.

    • Guest

      Thank you! I was looking for someone to mention Everything is Illuminated! Amazing, Amazing book!

  • guest

    Life of Pi was a revelation and a breath of fresh air, from the first page to the last it is entertaining, engrossing and filled me with wonder bordering on the sublime. Truly a masterpiece, and this is coming from someone who would have populated any list of literature with Dostoevsky and Faulkner.

  • Rob

    I don't know if anyone has mentioned it but "The Lamb.."The Gospel According to Bif" By Christopher Moore should have been on here.

  • Anthony Saint

    Rules of Attraction is from 1987, so its pretty much out since it is the last 20 years. Along with that, its really not one of Ellis's best, good yes, but in comparison to his other works no.

  • evileye

    So we have 9 men & one woman, 9 Americans & one Dominican (whose novel is set in New Jersey). Tunnel vision or what?

  • guest

    It isn't "Wallace hung himself," it's "Wallace hanged himself."

    • Jay

      Either way, he was hung.

  • Dustan

    When I heard Dan Brown was being sued for 'The Da Vinci Code' I thought it would be Umberto Eco bringing the suit lol. For anyone out there who is interested in a much better researched novel about history in general and conspiracy in particular MUST read 'Foucault's Pendulum'. I cant stress how wonderful this book is. While Brown's book is a quick easy read Pendulum is much more layered and is even better with repeated readings. Really opened up my world to non-American authors.

  • danidgaf

    What about Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby? In my opinion, it is an amazing novel.

  • Matt

    I haven't read all of these, but I'm fairly certain you missed "Underworld" by DeLillo… and you gotta at least talk about him in the conversation of "Best Living Novelist," great as Franzen is. Even "Mao II" is downright brilliant. You gotta have a Delillo novel on this list my friend.

    • cambered

      I love Don De Lillo. Underworld could easily be on this list.

      If this were a list of my favourite novels of the past 30 years, White Noise would definitely crack a mention.

  • TDavis

    No Michael Chabon?
    Shame on you!

  • Powerful Entity

    No J.M.Coetzee’s ‘Disgrace’? I have read about a hundred novels, and none of them had moved me as much as that book did. The Life and times of Michael K did, too, but that was written and published more than 20 years ago, and hence, does not count. But no Disgrace? It’s a disgrace, I tell ya. :P

  • marmalamuc

    Because "The Road" is on this list and Murakami is not, I just can't take it seriously.

    Here is my summary of The Road:

    The world was cold and gray.
    I'm scared, said the boy.
    I know, said the man.

    There, I've saved you 300 pages of tedious, self-indulgent garbage.

    • silverfall

      Thank you very much…TEDIOUS is the key word here. Man that was a tough book to finish. I wanted to stop, but I HAD to try to see what all the hype was about…Never found it.

  • Wardell

    I love Bret Easton Ellis…and was filled with glee when I saw him on this list. My only complaint is that there's no Michael Chabon! The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is incredible. I'm also going to shamelessly throw in that I believe James Ellroy is one of the best novelists I've ever read from.

  • davekat

    Oryx and Crake
    that is all

  • Hugh

    I cannot believe you have The Road on this list. Yes, Cormac McCarthy is brilliant, but the Road? That book was the most boring and repetitive work I have read so far. All conversations end with "okay" and I think the words "dark" and "grey" are used at least once per page. Is there any chance you could change it to No Country For Old Men? It is a much more likable piece of McCarthy's work.

  • pop-a-long

    I'm not going to pass judgement on the list have only read Fight Club. But I'd like to throw in Jonathan Safran Foer's "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" as by far the most interesting book I've read of late. Fantastic protagonist and structure. And very easy to read… which is a huge bonus!

  • Powerful Entity

    No J.M.Coetzee's 'Disgrace'? I have read about a hundred novels, and none of them had moved me as much as that book did. The Life and times of Michael K did, too, but that was written and published more than 20 years ago, and hence, does not count. But no Disgrace? It's a disgrace, I tell ya. :P

  • LBC

    Yes, yes, and more yes. Infinite Jest absolutely belongs at the #1 spot. Whoever considers it boring and unreadable never really tried. Fantastic novel.

  • jmartcougar

    The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao…what a wonderful story

  • If I were to read these books, I'm pretty sure I'd feel like slitting my wrists in short order. I am so sick of reading novels about angst and loss and depression and desperation, as if these topics automatically give weight to novels. No–I'm with the previous poster who likes fantasy. (And mystery, history, and classics.)

    For some of you, though, I'd suggest looking at the title again: it specifies "in the last 20 years." Hence no Camus, Kafka, James Joyce, or Aldous Huxley.

    But there are mistakes in the text of the list itself; as others have pointed out, missing one's insulin is dangerous to diabetics, not epileptics. Sloppy writing.

  • carrie

    my favorite recent book is the time traveler's wife. i haven't read any of the ones on this list except fight club and i kind of preferred the movie to the book for that one.

  • Razy

    House of Leaves: I'm in the middle of it and I have to put it down for weeks cause I get so terrified. just reading about it made me look at the book on my shelf and tremble since I'm home alone right now. Fantastic writing to be able to affect this way but it taps into that innate fear of the unknown or for me houses.

  • Staley

    The problems with this list (and pretty much any list like this, whether its books, movies, TV series, athletes, songs, singers….basically “the best…” anything) turned me off to the whole idea a long time ago. A list like this might be a good start to a conversation in a book club or a class, but I wish we’d get away from this ridiculous need so many people have to rank things for no good reason. If you like a book, say I like this book. If it makes you feel superior, say “I think this is an excellent/well-written/brilliant book.”

    • Ennis

      If you have a problem with things like this (ranking items in terms of worth or success), why, may I ask, are you bothering with this website? It is a site full of top ten lists after all…

      If you are not comfortable with the list authors expressing their opinions on what they consider to be the 'best' then maybe you should save yourself the trouble of seeing these things and simply avoid Listverse altogether. Silly to criticise one list for suiting the websites purpose.

  • iri

    Well, I think that Rant deserved a spot on this list. Also, Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh, and Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Sfran Foer.

  • pipeparias

    I read "Oscar Wao" this summer, had no idea who the author was and what the book was about, it just caught my attention so I picked it up. What can I say? I read it in a couple of days! I ate that book!! Reminded me of Gabriel Garcia Marquez' magic realism.. it just has that sweet caribbean magic thing going on.. highly reccomend it, especially if you're caribbean like me

  • Jason

    If anyone has read "The Circle of Reason" by Amitav Ghosh I think they'd vouch for that being on this list

  • deathbystereo

    Wow, way to almost entirely ignore women authors of the last 20 years.

    • knews5

      I'm sure if a woman had written a great book in the past 20 years, he'd have included it. If we want equality, we gotta accept losing along with winning.

    • sadaf

      hehehe lol

  • … Whoa, a top 10 book list I agree with fully.

    Well done. My only slight beef is I'da put house of leaves slightly higher, if only for the effect the book can have on you. I still have nightmares.

  • Name

    you need to read more books, author

  • Kevin

    dude, 1-7. harry potter. nrly

  • cambered

    Hmmm…I have just finished reading a stunning novel:

    "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" by Michael Chabon.

    This gorgeously written tale made me laugh, hope, dream and cry. The structure and cleverness of the script is second to none, and his style of prose is intelligent and elegant, yet deceptively accessible. The characters are vivid and expertly conjured. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001. Read it.

  • thom

    Ok, first and foremost, House of Leaves should NOT be on any "best of" list, except maybe for most avant-garde. This is a novel in the loosest sense of the term, in that it is something that is entirely new, but there is weak character development, and shoddy story telling. I would include Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon (and one could also argue for Mason & Dixon's inclusion on the list) in its place and move that up to number 2. That being said, I whole-heartedly agree with Infinite Jest being the best book of the past twenty years. Lunar Park is by far Bret Easton Ellis' best work in the past twenty years, both for its sheer psychological drama and witty deadpan comedy (and even Glamorama is better than Rules of Attraction). The Road definitely belongs on this list. One could easily put Survivor before Fight Club, but both are equally amazingly good. I'm absolutely going to check out the Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Strong Motion (I was a big fan of the Corrections and would put that on my top ten list).

  • Amira Taher

    That's interesting.

  • Brice

    Way to end by saying the best book of the last twenty years was written by a man who hung him himself 2 years ago.

  • clord

    If this is someone's idea of a "best books" list and not a joke, he or she needs to read more books. "Infinite Jest" may have a shelf life, and "Fight Club" will probably be remembered in a few years (but not because it's good literature). Diaz's Pulitzer was a misplaced nod to multiculturalism, full of great language but truly uneven storytelling. Not including "Gilead" is the most glaring oversight, and proof that the list writer is young, hasn't read widely from the 19th or 20th century "canon," and needs to take an undergraduate lit survey course or two before demonstrating such shortsightedness as compiling this list.

  • knews5

    How could Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates by The Great Awesomeness Himself Tom Robbins, have been left off this list? At least you included Pahlanuik (sp? I never get that right, but he is amazing)

  • Himself

    Great list minus House of Leaves and Fight Club. If any reading this haven't read Infinite Jest, or DFW for that matter….do it. Now.

  • Tammy

    Scuse me, but I’m new here so my opinion won’t count for much but I’m surprised to see no mention of Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Maybe it doesn’t qualify – I’m not sure but it’s an amazing book. Funny, enlightening and poignant. It’s not something I’d read as a rule, but something drew me to it. The film certainly didn’t do it credit – too much was omitted.

  • Thebestperson

    You forgot Don Delillo's Underworld, which would be 1B to 1A Infinite Jest. Other than that, well done.

  • Neal

    "Words to describe this novel: Dazzling, original, mind-bending, genius, heart-breaking, addicting, wonderful, jaw-dropping."

    Addicting isn't a word. It should be addictIVE.

  • Neal

    House Of Leaves is fantastic. Infinite Jest sounds unbearably dull.

  • If I may conclude your list, I’ll say, famous and best seller doesn’t mean the best…So, so long and good bye to harry Potter and (I wish I’d never say this name again) Twilight.

  • Cthulhu

    "…or not taking their insulin and going into epileptic shock."
    Um, diabetics can go into insulin shock or a diabetic coma, not an epileptic shock.
    Thanks for the book recommendations though.

  • Michael

    A little advice about Infinite Jest: don't expect it to make sense for at least 300 pages, and use two book marks one for the endnotes. Oh, and read it, it truly is the best book ever.

  • julia

    i love that you included House of Leaves but 1) its the 5 1/2 minute hallway and 2) their house isn't haunted. its bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. anyhow great list :)

  • House of Leaves is a fantastic novel. I suggest it to everyone as well. :)

  • Penfield

    I can't even begin to describe how much I hated House of Leaves. To each his own, I guess.

  • Mungo Wusbitt

    "stale century-old books that do not translate well to this new modern era. Frankly they are boring,"

    Sort of marks the rest out as bullshit.

  • Anamika

    Shouldn't it be "Wallace _hanged_ himself in late 2008"?

  • John Blandly

    this list should better be called, best sado-masochistic novels of the last 20 years

  • filbertmeek

    what about john barth's "the last voyage of somebody the sailor"? no tom robbins? paul auster? this list is mainly books you find at the bargain bin in borders (maybe not denis johnson, my favorite pick up there). i don't like this (or as another reader pointed out, any lists like this), but i will give infinite jest a try because i've heard so many wondrous rantings about it. also the comments about da vinci code and harry potter are very entertaining, i think i even saw twilight down there. why don't we just add RL Stine to the list and call it a day!

  • filbertmeek

    also did ANYONE read the title of this list?? it's books from THE LAST 20 YEARS, so stop ranting about authors that have been dead for half a century!

  • fata

    So I took your advice, and went on reading House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski and Tree of Smoke byDenis Johnson. I'd already ploughed through Fight Club and The Road, and was looking forward to these.

    Considering Listverse being the world greatest website ever, I was hugely dissapointed.

    House of Leaves is an interesting read, but hardly frightening. It's just all just too annotated and artsy. I was continiously being sidetracked, thus losing any momentum.

    Tree of Smoke, on the other hand, showed great promise in it's synopsis. Espionage with the Vietnam war serving as backdrop. Alas, it's quagmired in dreadful prose and confusing poetic depictions of small details. To put it plain: a bore. Just like The Thin Red Line when it comes war movies.

  • Bligh

    You Shall Know Our Velocity!

  • Bligh

    Man, you need to read some Dave Eggers. I don’t mind the omissions of Chabon and Safer Foyer in the least bit, but it’s a crime to not have Eggers on the list.

  • David P

    And this list is per who's opinion? IMHO 4 of these books are pure drivel the rest are at best artsy mediocre but again that is ONLY MY OPINION.

  • V123

    The "Harry Potter" books are actually great. People tend to look for revolutionary ideas in books too often, as they mistakingly mix literature and philosophy. Sadly, too many acclaimed books are over-complicated pseudo-intellectual over-babblings, instead of what they should be. I am not saying that the Harry Potter series has to be number one, or even on this list, I am just saying that most opinions, defining the HP books as amateur, childish or simplistic are incorrect, if not retarded.
    What I would argue against not being included on the list, however, are the works of Neil Gaiman and Stephen King. The second as in "the greatest living author".

    • bratwurst

      Very much true. It’s disappointing to see the books be regarded as a childish fad or as something immature, when in fact the story and the characters evolved immensely over the years. It was truly a labor of love, and has meant so much to so many who grew up with it. Also, it put reading back on the map for young people everywhere, and got millions of kids to start reading.

      If you simply don’t like it, that’s fine. But if you regard it as a way to cash in on children’s imaginations, then you are greatly mistaken.

  • DVT

    Ouch, no Crimson Petal and the White?

  • Gsmack

    Liked the list, only missing We Don't Live Here Anymore. Wasn't surprised, but still sickened, to see Infinite Jest on it. I have to agree, pretty American list here. The omission of Blindness by Saramago is a crime. You didn't think the Rules of Attraction was just an add on to Less Than Zero? Great book, but by no means Easton's opus. I am shocked to see The Road on here, it is a good book but it is one of McCarthy's weakest offerings. Do yourself a favor- dump the Road and read Blood Meridian. Do it fast, the movie is coming.

  • Mykelh

    To the author of this: In number 3 you write: “Now go back a few decades to when his mother was the hottest thing in all of Dominica” when you’re actually talking about the Dominican Republic. I want to tell you that Dominica and the Dominican Republic are two COMPLETELY DIFFERENT countries. They speak different languages, have different people and have a much different history. Please change that sentence. Being from the country of Dominica, I am a little offended.
    Thank you for reading this, if you did read it.

  • sadaf

    any body tell me the name of most interseting novel
    i use to read novels but frm last week i didnt find a good one!!!

  • sadaf

    the house of leaves is really interseting! and if i am going to write a novel in next 20 years it will also come in this list!

  • Rebekah

    Re: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

    The book’s protagonist is Dominican, meaning from the Dominican Republic, not Dominica. Unless, however, Dominica also (by pure coincidence, of course) had a dictator named Trujillo, and is now a hispanophone nation.

  • THOR

    I agree to an extent that this list is maybe too American-centric, which is kind of ironic to me because a lot of these authors – Franzen and Wallace in particurlar – are very very harsh on American culture. I completely agree with Wallace as number one though. Vonnegut is the only other writer besides Wallace that’s inspired me to laugh and be profoundly heartbroken at the same time.

  • x


  • mike


  • samzie

    So where’s is Irvin Welsh in this, the poet of the chemical generation! i mean come on, how could you ignore train spotting?

  • Symphony

    House of Leaves is the most beautiful, haunting, fascinating book I have ever read.

  • Kumar

    The Kite Runner?

  • Abigail

    I did not enjoy Alice I Have Been at all and i don’t understand why it is on this list. Fight Club was good, but (even though i hate to say it) the movie was a million times better. And how in the world did Harry Potter get exempt from this list?!

  • Matt

    , or not taking their insulin and going into epileptic shock.

    I wasnt aware not taking insulin could give you epilepsy, i thought it was diabetic shock.

  • skittles

    i luv

  • Thom

    What about British and Anglophone fiction? Atonement, Never Let Me Go, The God of Small Things, Disgrace, Remainder?

  • Linus

    Some of these books are legitimately terrible. “Tree of Smoke” in particular was just ridiculously bad.

  • Blake

    The implication that the Road is anywhere near as good as Blood Meridian is laughable

    • Mike U

      too true!

  • DPunneo

    How can one author take credit for House of Leaves? That book was passed around for year all over the internet and to other authors and was eventually finished. There are still hyperlinks in the novel that certain editions with full color prove.

  • sandi s.

    Cold Mountain is certainly on my list of the best 10 in the last twenty years.

  • bratwurst

    no Trainspotting, though? not even an honorable mention?

  • Suvivour of The Gap

    Anyoone read any Michael Marshall Smith books? His novel Spares might just be the best thing I’ve ever read.

    All of his books have a very similar… plot device I suppose running through them, but they’re all incredible so it doesn’t really matter. I’ve never read a book that has made me feel what the character is feeling so well, and there are few flashes of sheer indescribable beaty in his writing.

  • AR

    You completely ignored Bolano on this list!

  • Amy

    Thank you so much for providing this list.I have been out of reading for awhile and am ready to get back into the game!I look forward to reading some of these mentioned .I appreciate that you took the time to review these for us.I am excited to begin.Even though they all won’t be everyone’s cup of tea,there are certainly some good ones on your list!!I have also written down a few recommendations from other visitors to this site.I am not an intellectual or pretend to be but I do like a book to make me think and challenge me-hopefully I can be a better person somehow from an idea expressed in one of these books or at least make me look at the world in a new light somehow.I believe reading should be for enjoyment and critics should realize that everyone isn’t always going to pick a book for its depth or meaning-but isn’t ANY kind of reading better than NONE?Thank you again.God Bless and keep ’em coming!!!!Thanks to all the others for your recommendations and reviews,also!!

  • Mike U

    It’s the minute detail that puts blood meridian in my top three novels of all time! I read because of the feeling of escapism which it inspires, and escapism is made as pure as it can be by intricacy and depth.

  • sara

    i actually want to read House of Leaves…even though it just might scare the sh*t outta me…

  • Flip

    Yeah, that first line of Holmes novel is so amazing….right up there with “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times”…..NOT

  • sumit

    Like it. Intresting

  • MinMin

    Uh, only if you want to be the most depressed person in the world.

  • hr

    Cannon? Canon?

  • Rondo

    It’s pure ignorance to rate “The Road” over one of the great novels of the 20th century, “Blood Meridian.”

  • I cannot for the life of me finish Rules of Attraction, but damn I loved American Psycho and Less than Zero.

  • Chintan Anjaria

    its tooooo good.

  • Shelley

    None of these books is even remotely close to being one of the best novels of the last 20 years. I am really shocked by this list. Anyone who is considering reading these books based on this list needs to talk to some intelligent people who can give better suggestions.

  • kelly

    Jeffrey Eugenides’ MIDDLESEX should have been on this list-me thinks!
    Also,ppl whose IQ is less than 120 or do not know what a complex-compound sentence is or cannot spell a word of more than four syllables ,should refrain from commenting altogether; there are some out there that take these lists seriously.

  • Kaushik

    Strange how the best 10 novels of the last 20 years are ALL AMERICAN. News: There’s literature on other continents, too.

  • Clara Riedlinger

    Why isn’t Jonathan Safran Foer on this list?!

  • P. Iles

    “Hanged” himself, not “hung” himself.

  • Roach

    Put some Neil Gaiman on here
    American Gods and Neverwhere are two of my favorite books of all time

  • Estrella Saeler

    Quality content like this is just what I like to find and read when I am searching for online reading material. You’ve done great work.

  • K S Rana

    Every thing was eye opening. To me entire life is much smaller to know the mysteries of Nature. Courage, tolerance, emotions, enigma, charisma, survival and sense of duty over the demand of the heart were found in one way or the other. I am not a deep thinking or a class critique, but the very fact that the feelings of othesr affect me and I fall prey to empathy is more than anything to me. Love is one thing that knows no bounds,cast, creed or situation, it has no time n space. It just happens and enriches the life is more than anything to live the rest of life. Anyway the selection was more than educative, beatiful, and making an indelible impression on my mind. Enjoyed readind reviews/ comments.

  • r kelly

    fuck books, where all the honeydips at?

  • Passionwz

    Hung himself? Come on. Hanged himself

  • oli-o

    my first comment, love Having I.J. at #1, brilliant. When i saw the name of.the list, that was a book I would have at the top. Wallace was a genius. Excited to read some other books listeds that I havent yet….sorry phone typing….

  • Elicia Verhagen

    This is actually exciting, You’re an especially expert author. I have joined with your feed and also count on reading all of your stunning write-ups. Also, We’ve shared your web site inside our internet sites.

  • hruthik s

    we all really want harry potter to be first as all children like it very much even in tamil nadu. other things are very superb

  • Gin

    I’m now going to have to make a run to the bookstore!! I’m surprised that The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson is not on this list, if you haven’t read it, you definately should!!

  • maisa


  • Akanksha

    guys.. i think u all shud try Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.. itz a bit old.. but.. d stunning facts u’ll cum 2 learnn.. u wudn’t hav eva imagined it.. think so u all shuda try tht out.. :)

  • Akanksha

    Dan Brown’s THE DA VINCI CODE’s missin ova here

  • MBP

    On your review of The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, please note that Dominica and the Dominican Republic are two separate countries.

  • Mohammed

    The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes!
    The Sign of Four
    The Hound Of Baskervilles, but then, all these are more than a Century old!!!!

  • Nat

    Small correction: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao- the family is from the Dominican Republic not Dominica :)

  • kamal verma

    eh realy like rules of attracti0n……….

  • hemant gandu

    omg……….its really true…thnx …to brett easton who wrote dis novel named
    “”””rules of attraction”””

  • Roop Singh

    we don’t live here anymore

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  • Ana
  • neha

    bful collection…enlightning

  • Rolin L.

    Its outrageous that people think Twilight should be on this list (lmao) . It maybe have a good story(which I think is a load of crap) but there not good forms of literature. Those books was so simply written I would think it was only written for children. Save yourself the embarrassment if you mention them, because I’m gonna assume your a little child or an old lady whose having a mid life crisis.

  • Kelley

    So many typos in this, it makes me sad. Whose? Dolled? And so on…

  • prableen kaur

    yr ik bhut vadiya aa novel fight club by chuck palahniuk

  • Megan

    I hated House of Leaves. Hated. The idea was really good, but you have to slog through all that bullsh!t to get to any kind of plot. What a waste of $20.

  • Michelle

    I am so excited to read these books, you really sparked my curiosity. Thanks. Although I already knew what a genius chuck was!

  • I agree

    the road is an amazing book. got it one night and read it all in one sitting, no sugar coating to it. bleak and very engrossing. I would tell everyone I know and I did that they should read this book. thanky ou for putting it on here

  • ArropyAlcof


  • Nates

    A Storm of Swords by George R.R Martin is better than any of those 10.. In my opinion of course!

  • cbrhik


  • shankar tiwari

    god collection

  • qwdqwdffq


  • SB_Australia

    I nearly had a heart attack there for a second! I had just finished reading your info on The Road when I saw a picture of the cover of Fifty Shades of Grey & I thought “Huh? How did THAT steaming pile of manure make it to this list?”…then I scrolled a little & realised it was advertising…phew!

  • james


  • charlydavies

    this is pure nonsence;15million copies of harry potter and the deathly hallows were sold in one night,making it the bestselling novel of all times

  • satish

    rules of attraction is nice novel..

  • pankaj

    no dude….influential novels doesnt count cartoon novels… how ever i accept it was a best selling book ever…. but not best…. this is for children

  • Rilicraniodic


  • Amyss

    YES! I applauded at Infinite Jest taking #1! My son and I have a category of books, Infinite Jest, and NOT Infinite Jest. It is just that good. So fantastic, words can’t pin this masterpiece down.

  • caleb

    Where’s “Let The Right One In”? It’s an absolutely AMAZING book! JOHN AJVIDE LINDQVIST IS A GENIUS!!

  • anonymous

    harry potter???

  • ISHA


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  • Hayden

    -That was a great description of Infinite Jest. I read it in the first few months of 2012, while in the throes of active alcoholism, and it was like an ecstatic torture. I could relate to everything that was said in the book, but I was in such denial that I hated reading about characters that were so similar to me. It wasn’t until I went to rehab in June of 2012 that I finally “got” Infinite Jest and all the Recovery references. There is a particular stream-of-consciousness passage (narrated by Don Gately, if I remember correctly) that is about Alcoholics Anonymous and how it works…it is the best description of AA I have ever read, and gets the desperation and cult-like quality perfectly…but I myself didn’t understand it until I was in AA. I was actually scared away from AA after reading it, although I have since realized I was just scared of admitting to my alcoholism. Anyways, reading IJ is a fantastic life experience, although I don’t think DFW really knew that much about illegal drugs.

    -Blood Meridian is, in my opinion, McCarthys’ best novel. It murders and scalps the traditional Western, and his prose is so brutally efficient. It reads like a transcript of actual events, and it probably is the most factual Western out there.

    -Fight Club was pretty good, but the rest of Chucks’ books just kind of blend together. They are all written in such a similar style (a try-hard style) that it almost makes me ill to read them too quickly. Most of his books are of the “Cool Story, Bro” variety, although i have read most of them (haha).

    -The Rules of Attraction is the PERFECT angsty novel. Bret Easton Ellis is the best writer of…whatever it is he writes. Take the gritty from Bukowski, the nihilism from Welsh, the casual-treatment-of-addiction of Burroughs, and the designer labels of Vogue and you have Bret Easton Ellis. Nothing has ever made whining about silly things/made-up problems, drinking too much, and smoking cigarettes look as glamorous as Less Than Zero and Camden College.

  • encubalenesia


  • Ginny

    “or not taking their insulin and going into epileptic shock. ”
    Sorry this is totally bugging me-diabetes & epilepsy have nothing to do with each other. I’m sure someone previously commented on it but I just couldn’t let that go.

  • Fredrick

    I would have to say that Cormac McCarthy is the best author of our time. His words are perfect and the stories completely fascinating. I was introduced to him in high school and loved him ever since.

  • saikiran

    good novels

  • Guest

    it should be fifty shades of grey

  • Steve

    Wallace hanged himself, I hope you mean?

    What a horrible mistake to make.

  • this is an insult

    you have to be kidding me what horrific awful top ten trash