The 100 Best Books of the Last 100 Years (1913-2013)

It's hard to take a literarian seriously if they haven't read "Ulysses."
It’s hard to take a literarian seriously if they haven’t read “Ulysses.”

In the first 25 years of my life I have taken into account, above all, critical lists. The “canon” as it is known, is what is taught in schools, promulgated through our cultural halls, and understood to be worth passing unto our children. Most of my reading has revolved around it, and since I continue to read progressively deep and deeper into it, I thought I would make a list of my own canon– the 100 best books of the last hundred ears.

In my listing, I have tried to take into account, a non-American-centric perspective, including international books often overlooked and undervalued in American schools. Moreover, I have included works that are less political and idealistic than those awarded by the Nobel committee, and above all, works that have been central to my development as a writer, and which have informed my expectations of what is to come in an era of post postmodern writing. Included are ONLY novels, collections of short stories, and memoir. Enjoy!

Ulysses, James Joyce
The Sound and The Fury, William Faulkner
The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Adventures of Augie March, Saul Bellow
Sons and Lovers, D.H. Lawrence
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
1984, George, Orwell
The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
Brave New World, Alduous Huxley
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce
Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
On the Road, Jack Kerouac
The Stranger, Albert Camus
Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon
One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Portnoy’s Complaint, Philip Roth
Catch 22, Joseph Heller
The Magic Mountain, Thomas Mann
Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller
Journey to the End of the Night, Ferdinand Celine
Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson
My Antonia, Willa Cather
Of Human Bondage, Somerset Maugham
The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
Finnegans Wake, James Joyce
U.S.A. Trilogy, John Dos Passos
Beloved, Toni Morrison
Animal Farm, George Orwell
The Good Soldier, Ford Madox Ford
Naked Lunch, William Burroughs
The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton
Go Tell It On The Mountain, James Baldwin
Brideshead, Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing
Absalom, Absalom!, William Faulkner
Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
A Passage To India, E.M. Forster
Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
Miss Lonelyhearts, Nathaniel West
Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie
Siddhartha, Herman Hesse
The Counterfeiters, Andre Gide
Freedom, Jonathan Franzen
As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner
Cancer Ward, Alexander Solzhenitsyn
The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
Main Street, Sinclair Lewis
A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
Nausea, Jean-Paul Sartre
Rabbit, Run, John Updike
Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
Herzog, Saul Bellow
Lord of the Flies, William Golding
A Bend in the River, V.S. Naipaul
My Name is Red, Orhan Pamuk
Cathedral, Raymond Carver
Disgrace, J.M. Coetzee
Atonement, Ian McEwan
The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, Murakami
In Cold Blood, Truman Capote
Money, Martin Amis
Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis
Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys
Under the Net, Iris Murdoch
A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway
The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Thornton Wilder
White Teeth, Zadie Smith
Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers
Conversation in the Cathedral, Mario Vargas Llosa
The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck
Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy
White Noise, Don DeLilo
Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut
Lady Chatterley’s Lover, D.H. Lawrence
The Trial, Franz Kafka
A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess
The Heart of the Matter, Graham Greene
The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, Lydia Davis
The Progress of Love, Alice Munro
Play It As It Lays, Joan Didion
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey
An American Tragedy, Theodor Dreisier
I, Cladius, Robert Graves
Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates
Armies of the Night, Norman Mailer
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
The World According To Garp, John Irving
The Recognitions, William Gaddis
The Magus, John Fowles
At Swim Two Birds, Flann O’Brien
The Moviegoer, Walker Percy

By Daniel Ryan Adler

Daniel Adler writes fiction and nonfiction and is finishing his MFA at University of South Carolina.

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