by Ayn Rand
This is the story of a man who said that he would stop the motor of the world, and did. Is he a destroyer or a liberator? Why does he have to fight his battle not against his enemies but against those who need him most? Why does he fight his hardest battle against the woman he loves? Tremendous in scope, breathtaking in its suspense, "Atlas shrugged" is Ayn Rand's magnum opus, and a premier moral apologia for Capitalism.
by Toni Morrison
The book, which won the Pulitzer Prize, follows the story of Sethe and her daughter Denver as they try to rebuild their lives after having escaped from slavery. The house they live in is haunted by the ghost of Sethe's murdered daughter.
by Joseph Heller
At the heart of Catch-22 resides the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero endlessly inventive in his schemes to save his skin from the horrible chances of war. Catch-22 is a microcosm of the twentieth-century world as it might look to some one dangerously sane -- a masterpiece of our time.
Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger
The story of Holden Caufield with his idiosyncrasies, penetrating insight, confusion, sensitivity and negativism. Holden, knowing he is to be expelled from school, decides to leave early. He spends three days in New York City and tells the story of what he did and suffered there.
by Ray Bradbury
Guy Montag is a fireman whose job is to start fires, and he enjoys his job. He has never questioned the pleasure of the midnight runs nor the joy of watching pages consumed by flames. He never questions anything until he meets a 17-year-old girl who tells him of a past when people were not afraid and a professor who speaks of a future in which people can think.
Go Tell It On the Mountain
by James Baldwin
This semi-autobiographical novel examines the role of the Christian Church in the lives of African-Americans, both as a source of repression and moral hypocrisy and as a source of inspiration and community.
Grapes of Wrath
by John Steinbeck
A portrait of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, of one man's fierce reaction to injustice, and of one woman's stoical strength, the novel captures the horrors of the Great Depression and probes into the very nature of equality and justice in America. At once a naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck's fictional chronicle of the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s is perhaps the most American of American Classics.
by Ralph Ellison
Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of "the Brotherhood", and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be.
Look Homeward, Angel
by Thomas Wolfe
This stunning, classic coming-of-age novel follows the trajectory of Eugene Gant, a brilliant and restless young man whose wanderlust and passion shape his adolescent years in rural North Carolina. Wolfe's largely autobiographical story about the quest for a greater intellectual life has resonated with and influenced generations of readers, including some of today's most important novelists. Rich with lyrical prose and vivid characterizations, this twentieth-century American classic will capture the hearts and imaginations of every reader.
by Richard Wright
The protagonist of Wright's groundbreaking novel is hardly a hero, but that's the point. Bigger Thomas is a young African-American man in 1930s America who will never get a chance to be a hero. Thomas finds desperation, confusion, and fear behind every corner and reacts accordingly in a tragic series of events that continue to spark outrage and conversation decades after publication.
On the Road
by Jack Kerouac
Follows the counterculture escapades of members of the Beat generation as they seek pleasure and meaning while traveling coast to coast. As he travels across 1950s America, aspiring writer Sal Paradise chronicles his escapades with the charismatic Dean Moriarty. Sal admires Dean's passion for experiencing as much as possible of life and his wild flights of poetic fancy.
by Philip Roth
Philip Roth's bestselling novel, which takes the form of a monologue featuring the confession of a comic character who is thrust through life by his unappeasable sexuality, yet at the same time held back by the iron grip of his unforgettable childhood.
by Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut's absurdist classic introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut's) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.
by William Styron
Stingo, a young southerner, who journeyed north in 1947 to become a writer becomes intellectually and emotionally entanglement with his neighbors in a Brooklyn rooming house. Nathan, a tortured, brilliant Jew, and his lover, Sophie, a beautiful Polish woman whose wrist bears the grim tattoo of a concentration camp ... and whose past is strewn with death that she alone survived.
The Color Purple
by Alice Walker
Celie is a poor black woman whose letters tell the story of 20 years of her life, beginning at age 14 when she is being abused and raped by her father and attempting to protect her sister from the same fate. The story continues over the course of her marriage to "Mister," a brutal man who terrorizes her. The rage she feels, combined with an example of love and independence provided by her close friend Shug, pushes her finally toward an awakening of her creative and loving self.
The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The mysterious Jay Gatsby embodies the American notion that it is possible to redefine oneself and persuade the world to accept that definition. Gatsby's youthful neighbor, Nick Carraway, fascinated with the display of enormous wealth in which Gatsby revels, finds himself swept up in the lavish lifestyle of Long Island society during the Jazz Age. Considered Fitzgerald's best work, The Great Gatsby is a mystical, timeless story of integrity and cruelty, vision and despair.
The Joy Luck Club
by Amy Tan
In 1949, four Chinese women--drawn together by the shadow of their past--begin meeting in San Francisco to play mah jong, invest in stocks and "say" stories. They call their gathering the Joy Luck Club--and forge a relationship that binds them for more than three decades.
by Upton Sinclair
A Lithuanian immigrant comes to America in search of fortune only to sacrifice his health and family to the wheels of industry.
To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
Eight-year-old Scout tells about growing up as the daughter of Atticus Finch, a widowed lawyer, in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama during the 1930's. She and her older brother, Jem, happily occupy themselves with resisting "progressive education" and stalking the local bogeyman-until their father's courageous defense of a black man falsely accused of rape introduces them to the problems of race prejudice and brings adult injustice and violence into their childhood world.
by Don DeLillo
The Gladney's family life is disrupted and threatened when an industrial accident sends a lethal cloud over their community. Jack Gladney struggles with the ensuing complications which include murder.