Vote For the Best Book

Info seputar Togel Singapore 2020 – 2021.

In October, editors at the Book Review asked you to help us choose the best book of the past 125 years. We received thousands of nominations — including novels, memoirs and poetry collections — from readers across the world.

We narrowed those submissions down to a shortlist of 25 finalists. And now we’re ready to choose the winner.

That’s where you come in. Scroll through the list to learn more about each title, including why readers suggested it and how The Times covered it in the past. You can choose up to three, and we’ll crown a winning book in December.

1984

By George Orwell
1949

This dystopian tale, an indictment of censorship, government overreach and civilian complicity, is just as searing and powerful today as it was when it was published.

The novel earned a rave in the Book Review: “No other work … has made us desire freedom more earnestly or loathe tyranny with such fullness.”

Did You Know?

When Orwell died the year after “1984” was published, V.S. Pritchett, in an appreciation for the Book Review, called him “the conscience of his generation.”

Cover image via Bauman Rare Books

Reader Nominations

“It is a timely and still potent book. … ‘1984’ speaks of authoritarian nationalism, disinformation that still resonates with contemporary politics.”

Mary Rose Kaczorowski, 67, Fort Bragg, Calif.

“The novel depicts the quest for freedom and fulfillment amid the cruelty and oppression of the modern state in an elegantly nuanced way. If the quest can find no external completion, it bursts inward, illuminating self-reflection and consolation.”

Michael Gentry, 59, Columbus, Ohio

“Not only is it excellent literature, its relevance continues to grow and remains almost uncomfortably enduring. It’s impossible to live in today’s world of surveillance, ‘fake news,’ or propaganda, without thinking of this novel.”

Aakanksha Saxena, 31, Mumbai, India

All the Light We Cannot See

By Anthony Doerr
2014

Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning meditation on survival, love and what it means to be caught up in a terrible, inexorable tragedy is told through the lives of a blind French girl and a German boy during World War II.

“More than a thriller and less than great literature” was the Book Review’s assessment.

Did You Know?

Six months after the book’s publication, President Obama was spotted buying a copy in Politics & Prose, a bookstore in Washington.

Cover image via Scribner

Reader Nominations

“As I read the last sentence and closed the book, I had tears in my eyes. Not because the ending was sad, but because I knew I was going to miss Marie-Laure.”

Karen DeStefano, 52, Glen Rock, N.J.

“It encompasses everything the best book should have: beautifully written prose with vivid descriptions of the characters and setting and a plot that intricately and deftly weaves the lives of the main characters. It portrays … the best and the worst of the human spirit and how they collide.”

Diana Lanzelotte, over 60, Naples, Italy

“The buildup is a good kind of slow burn that keeps the reader hooked. … The prose is poetic without being over the top, and the story feels real enough to have been told by someone at the end of their lifetime.”

Olivia Starks, 22, Atlanta

Beloved

By Toni Morrison
1987

A novel about the psychological and physical traumas of slavery — and how a human can bear such terrible weight. The story is centered on Sethe, a formerly enslaved woman driven to make devastating choices while enduring a life of horror, and combines elements of realism and folklore to startling effect.

Margaret Atwood wrote in her review, “If there were any doubts about her stature as a pre-eminent American novelist, of her own or any other generation, ‘Beloved’ will put them to rest.”

Did You Know?

When “Beloved” did not win a 1987 National Book Award, 48 Black writers and critics wrote a letter of protest to the Book Review that read, in part, “Despite the international stature of Toni Morrison, she has yet to receive the national recognition that her five major works of fiction entirely deserve.” (“Beloved” would go on to win the Pulitzer Prize.)

Cover image via Heritage Auctions, HA.com

Reader Nominations

“When I first read the book I had to keep putting it down, because it was too much, and then picking it back up, because it had to be read. Morrison makes you understand that you have to hear this story, no matter how much it breaks your heart.”

Pennie Ticen, 56, Lexington, Va.

“It is monumental and heartbreaking and revelatory. Toni Morrison gave us a story ‘not to be repeated’ so that we would do exactly that: repeat it in our hearts and minds and hopefully learn from the past so that it does not come about again.”

Sarah Flynn, 35, Ontario

“The novel compels the reader to grapple with issues at once unthinkable and central to humanity. Her characters live on in the imagination long after the completion of the story. Beloved makes one question the double-edged sword of love and hate.”

Les Klein, 74, Los Angeles

“It changed everything. Ms. Morrison gave us her mighty heart and intensely brilliant mind.”

E. Gratch, 62, Ypsilanti, Mich.

Catch-22

By Joseph Heller
1961

Heller’s blackly comic novel about the absurdities of war follows the experiences of John Yossarian, an Air Force bombardier caught up in military bureaucracy. The novel resonated so strongly that its title remains a common idiom to this day.

The Book Review was not a fan: “‘Catch-22’ has much passion, comic and fervent, but it gasps for want of craft and sensibility.”

Did You Know?

That assessment notwithstanding, the novel became a huge hit. “You’d better have an opinion of ‘Catch-22’ ready if you’re going to hold your own over the cocktails and canapes,”a follow-up article stated.

Cover image via Heritage Auctions, HA.com

Reader Nominations

“It perfectly captures the absurdity of human existence.”

John Anderson, 61, Cheshire, Conn.

“This is the novel that showcases satire as a meaningful genre that can touch the untouchable, critique the government-sanctioned institutions of war and violence, and introduce people to how the everyday can be gravely ridiculous when you take a step back to look again.”

Sylvi Stein, 18, New York, N.Y.

“It was the first book I read that made me consider whether I thought people were good at their core, while also being the first time I ever laughed out loud repeatedly at a book.”

James Roddy, 21, Coleta, Ill.

The Catcher in the Rye

By J.D. Salinger
1951

A classic tale of adolescent angst and alienation, Salinger’s novel follows Holden Caulfield, expelled from his private prep school, as he roams around New York City. Caulfield’s voice — sarcastic, slangy and wistful — became one of the most memorable (and imitated) in American literature.

James Stern wrote his review in the protagonist’s voice: “This Salinger, he won’t write no crumby novel. He’s a short story guy.”

Did You Know?

Shane Salerno, who wrote and directed a documentary about Salinger, told NPR that the author “was carrying six chapters of ‘Catcher in the Rye’ when he landed on D-Day. That was something that stunned me. He carried these chapters with him almost as a talisman to keep him alive, and he worked on the book throughout the war.”

Cover image via Little, Brown and Company

Reader Nominations

“You could read it over and over again and still be astonished.”

Anamaria Arriagada, 50, Santiago, Chile

“I have been reading it every year for about 12 years, and it changes when I change, together with me. The profound change that occurs in Holden Caulfield while the world around him also changes leaves a deep trace. It is a real passion: I collect it in all the languages of the world.”

Maria Chiara Morini, 28, Rome, Italy

“It represents one of the most riveting reversals in character profiles ever put on paper. Holden Caulfield goes from tragically sarcastic to beautifully sensitive in record time. Makes me cry every time.”

David Lewis, 61, Philadelphia

“In 1959 I was bored to death by the required classics in high school and college. Holden Caulfield thought and said what many young people wanted to say but were smothered by the dreariness of the times. I am 83 years old and have read hundreds of novels since 1959. None of them were as engrossing.”

Raymond F. Nalewajk, 83, Stratford, Conn.

Charlotte’s Web

By E.B. White
1952

After he observed a spider on his farm in Maine, White was inspired to write this simple, sweet tale of barnyard friends, including Wilbur, a charming, bashful, loyal pig; Charlotte, a gray spider “about the size of a gumdrop”; and Templeton, a rat.

Eudora Welty, who reviewed the book, wrote that “as a piece of work it is just about perfect, and just about magical in the way it is done.”

Did You Know?

“I wrote it for children, and to amuse myself,” White once said.

Cover image via Raptis Rare Books

Reader Nominations

“Told within the all too brief time of the life cycle of a spider, and with the beautiful economy of language White was so famous for, this book will break your heart and teach you how to be a good friend.”

Pam Allyn, 58, Old Chatham, N.Y.

“‘Charlotte’s Web’ has it all — wry humor, a lilting and radiant evocation of the natural world, a wistful commentary on youth and the passage of time, and a just-below-the-surface parenting manual (truly), all embedded in an honest and heartbreaking tale of friendship, mortality and the power of words.”

Rebecca Daniels, 58, Eugene, Ore.

“A book for all ages with its story of friendship, love, acceptance, loyalty, and the cycle of life. The clear writing conveys deep emotions simply and directly. The story helps readers appreciate the joy and wonder of real friendship.”

Rika Clement, 66, Amherst, Mass.

A Confederacy of Dunces

By John Kennedy Toole
1980

A near-genius slapstick novel featuring an eccentric and unforgettable cast of New Orleans characters, primarily one Ignatius J. Reilly, whose hunt for a job drives the narrative. Published 11 years after the author’s suicide, the novel was saved from obscurity by the author’s mother and the writer Walker Percy.

“A masterwork of comedy,” according to the Book Review, “a pungent work of slapstick, satire and intellectual incongruities.”

Did You Know?

In 1981, Toole was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

Cover image via Heritage Auctions, HA.com

Reader Nominations

“This brilliant work is the funniest book I’ve ever read. I’ve read it countless times and it never fails to cheer me up and make me laugh at the wonderful characters and events that in the life of Ignatius Riley, who ‘graduated smart’ and finally must go to work.”

Mary Sue Donsky, 67, New York, N.Y.

“​​It is funny yet serious at the same time. … I know there are so many books to pick from, but when I saw this posting, it is the only book that came to my mind.”

Umar Tosheeb, 37, Milwaukee

“Absolutely so funny! Besides being hilariously funny, it’s well written and the characters are so well developed that it’s a treat to read. The author has a keen knowledge of New Orleans and its population. Great writing.”

Joanna Coogan, 61, Tubac, Ariz.

The Fellowship of the Ring

By J.R.R. Tolkien
1954

This tale of Middle-earth, the first volume in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, helped define not only fantasy as a genre, but also modern storytelling at large.

The poet W.H. Auden, who reviewed the novel for The Times, wrote that “no fiction I have read in the last five years has given me more joy.”

Did You Know?

In 1955, Tolkien told the paper, a bit tartly, “My work did not ‘evolve’ into a serious work. It started like that.”

Cover image via Heritage Auctions, HA.com

Reader Nominations

“It is an epic battle of good vs. evil which expresses itself in a believable yet imaginary world, complete with poetry, invented languages and magic. Yet, mainly it’s a story of love and its power.”

Linda Adams, 63, Minneola, Fla.

“‘The Lord of the Rings’ is more than a story — it is an entire world that, once one falls into it, it stays with you and becomes part of you forever.”

Christina Dumont, 33, Maine

“Tolkien created a marvelously complex fascinating world but what often gets overlooked is what a powerfully emotional writer he was. There are scenes and passages that bring me to tears every time I read it.”

Ken Coggeshall, 55, Cincinnati

A Fine Balance

By Rohinton Mistry
1996 (originally published in Canada in 1995)

Mistry’s stunning novel considers life in India — and issues of caste, class and religion — during the rule of Indira Gandhi, when four characters from different backgrounds converge in a cramped apartment, eventually becoming a makeshift family.

Our reviewer A.G. Mojtabai wrote of the book, “Rohinton Mistry needs no infusions of magical realism to vivify the real. The real world, through his eyes, is quite magical enough.”

Did You Know?

After Oprah selected the novel for her book club in 2001, it vaulted to the top of the best-seller lists.

Cover image via Heritage Auctions, HA.com

Reader Nominations

“This book illustrates how the most depraved horrors cannot stifle the basic humanity that we all have within us, which makes us love and laugh. This book is not the balancing of good and evil or justice and injustice. Rather, it is about balancing optimism against despair, love against indifference, joy against hatred.”

Niyati Vyas, 40, Los Angeles

“It is a beautiful, at times painfully sad, story about the human condition. I will never forget devouring this book for the first time with my mouth agape at the exceptional talent of Rohinton Mistry.”

Melissa Collery, 54, New York, N.Y.

“Deeply imaginative, humane story of unlikely friends (Hindu, Parsi, Muslim) set against the backdrop of a modernizing, politically-shifting India. Brilliantly conceived, masterfully executed, and emblematic of widespread innovation among global Anglophone literature.”

Cheryl Foster, 60, Wakefield, R.I.

A Gentleman in Moscow

By Amor Towles
2016

In this story of hardship and resilience, a Russian count is sentenced by a Bolshevik tribunal to a lifetime of house arrest at Moscow’s Metropol, a grand hotel that becomes a world of its own in Towles’s novel. Though the book begins in 1922 and takes place during tumultuous times, its telling is suffused with a Wes Anderson-like sense of whimsy.

Our review of the book was largely positive: “Towles is a craftsman … he chooses themes that run deeper than mere sociopolitical commentary: parental duty, friendship, romance, the call of home.”

Did You Know?

For years before his first novel, “Rules of Civility,” was published, Towles led a double life: investment banker by day, writer by night.

Cover image via Viking

Reader Nominations

“When I finished this book, I hugged it to my chest because I loved it so much. It is magical.”

Marci Peace, 47, Greensboro, N.C.

“Because it’s the best book for separating romantics from all the rest.”

Daniel Edward Early, 77, Astoria, Ore.

“The solitude of the setting allows the development of a deep richness of the main character as he seeps into your soul. This book becomes a part of who you are in the most wonderful way. It is a modern day classic.”

Leisa Cleveland, 53, Windsor, Conn.

“It makes me happy.”

Tim Arrowsmith, 57, ​​Sydney, Australia

Gone With the Wind

By Margaret Mitchell
1936

Mitchell’s Civil War-era saga, her only novel, was a blockbuster success that spawned the blockbuster film. The story of the temperamental Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara and her rakish suitor Rhett Butler served up a lot of melodrama. Its treatment of Black characters and its romanticizing of Lost Cause mythology has made it a cultural and political lightning rod since it was first published.

The Book Review’s J. Donald Adams pronounced it “one of the most remarkable first novels produced by an American writer.”

Did You Know?

On Aug. 5, 1936 — a little over a month after the June 30 publication date — the Book Review announced that “Macmillan believes that an all-time record for the sale of a new fiction title was set last week by Margaret Mitchell’s ‘Gone With the Wind.’ In one day this novel of the South during the Civil War sold 50,000 copies.”

Cover image via Alfred Whital Stern Collection, Library of Congress

Reader Nominations

“It has action, historic settings, romance, and gives the reader one perspective on the most devastating war our nation has ever fought. It is emotion-generating fiction.”

Kathleen Dempsey, 79, Pompano Beach, Fla.

“For the exquisite characters, the human rights issues it unravels, the transporting landscapes & setting, for the ending.”

Sofia Kalligeri, 39, Switzerland

“The novel has universal themes that are relevant today: resilience in the face of adversity, race, class, gender, wealth, war, and romantic love.”

Marie Henning, 67, Jensen Beach, Fla.

The Grapes of Wrath

By John Steinbeck
1939

Through the story of the Joad family, Steinbeck addressed a divided and decimated America reeling from the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression and the struggles of the 1930s. He drew on his experience as a journalist covering migrant workers to bring his fictional characters to vivid life.

The Book Review was a fan: “It reads as if it had been composed in a flash, ripped off the typewriter and delivered to the public as an ultimatum.”

Did You Know?

The novel, which won the Pulitzer in 1940, was a blockbuster best-seller from the get-go.

Cover image via Riverrun Books & Manuscripts

Reader Nominations

“You can close your eyes and taste the Oklahoma dust. The characters are some of the most well drawn I’ve ever encountered in any book.”

Joyce Bagley, 66, Plainville, Conn.

“This novel captures the essences of capitalism and the corruption of the American Dream in a brilliant (if disturbing) family saga.”

Fred Seebeck, Charlestown, R.I.

“It demonstrates Steinbeck’s mastery of the language and storytelling while shining light on the plight of America’s less fortunate. I’ve read it many times at different points in my life and taken home something unique each time. It is still relevant today.”

Tucker Kueny, 52, Northampton, Mass.

The Great Gatsby

By F. Scott Fitzgerald
1925

Fitzgerald’s novel about a Midwesterner in the orbit of an enigmatic millionaire on Long Island is a shattering examination of uniquely American yearning. The boozy Jazz Age values that doom these characters may have struck a little close to home: The reading public didn’t much care for the novel when it first appeared.

The Book Review was lukewarm, calling it “curious,” but 35 years later, the paper anointed the novel a “classic of 20th-century American fiction.”

Did You Know?

In 1937, when Fitzgerald wanted to give copies of his books to Sheilah Graham, “they went from bookstore to bookstore only to be told again and again that there were no copies of any of them in stock.”

Cover image via Heritage Auctions, HA.com

Reader Nominations

“The green light on the distant dock has not changed. In essence the American dream is still illusory and unattainable. Ultimately we will all be floating face down in a pool, a lesser body of water.”

Robert Van Stone, 70, Philadelphia

“I had no idea that literature could contain such wealth. I became an English major and never looked back. I then became an English teacher and subsequently a librarian. ‘The Great Gatsby’ gave me the oars to row forever fulfilled through life.”

Bob Stewart, 70, Cape May Court House, N.J.

“It is America. And should be read every August.”

Robert Van Stone, 70, Philadelphia

The Handmaid’s Tale

By Margaret Atwood
1986 (originally published in Canada in 1985)

This dystopian classic imagines a near future in which the United States has become the Republic of Gilead, a theocratic dictatorship that strips women of their rights and conscripts them to bear children.

The Book Review was unsparing in its dislike of the book: “The writing of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is undistinguished in a double sense, ordinary if not glaringly so, but also indistinguishable from what one supposes would be Margaret Atwood’s normal way of expressing herself in the circumstances. This is a serious defect, unpardonable maybe for the genre: a future that has no language invented for it lacks a personality. That must be why, collectively, it is powerless to scare.”

Did You Know?

“It’s a study of power, and how it operates,” Atwood told The Times, “and how it deforms or shapes the people who are living within that kind of regime.”

Cover image via Raptis Rare Books

Reader Nominations

“‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ shows what we are capable of if we allow the ends to justify the means and allow ourselves to see any person as less deserving of basic rights. This book forced me to acknowledge the suffering women go through everyday … Nolites des bastardes carborundum everyone!”

Shawna Harline, 30, Edmonton, Alberta

“It is a book that transcends time — and reflects actual historical events in the creation of a dystopian society. It is an important warning for our present conflicts between democracy and the rise of authoritarianism.”

Lee Hewitt, 68, Boston

“Harrowing, sensitive, prophetic and beautifully crafted.”

Patrick Neville, 68, London, Ontario

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

By J.K. Rowling
1998 (originally published in the U.K. in 1997)

The book that started an industry. This first volume in the Harry Potter series opens with an orphaned boy who discovers not only that he is a wizard, but also that the fate of the wizarding world is on his shoulders.

The paper did not review “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

Did You Know?

The book became a best-seller right away, and soon impatient American readers were ordering copies of the second volume from Britain, where it had already come out.

Cover image via Bauman Rare Books

Reader Nominations

“This book contains all the elements of an epic story—heart pounding excitement, fulfilling relationships and humor. It’s an intelligent book that’s still accessible to everyone. It literally made reading cool for kids of all ages and backgrounds. Escapism at its best!”

Stacy Allen, 52, Virginia Beach

“The first book of the famous Harry Potter series deserves its place among the best. It sparked an entire generation of readers, kids and adults alike who weren’t afraid to use their imagination and believe in the magic (literally and figuratively) that the world possesses.”

Parth Shah, 24, New York, N.Y.

“I can think of no other book that touched so many people of all ages, and whose rich world and characters created a lasting and beloved franchise. Though there have been many great books in the past 125 years, the first Harry Potter stands out in the very depths of the people who found love and comfort in its pages.”

Megan Barnard, 24, Los Angeles

Infinite Jest

By David Foster Wallace
1996

Wallace’s magnum opus — which tops 1,000 pages — is filled with postmodern pyrotechnics. It’s set in a future America where the years are named for commercial products, and the many subjects it covers include tennis, addiction, political terrorism and a movie rumored to be so entertaining that viewers watch it on a loop until they die.

Jay McInerney, reviewing the novel for the Book Review, called it “alternately tedious and effulgent.”

Did You Know?

When Michael Pietsch, then an editor at Little, Brown, read the first 200 pages, he told Wallace’s agent, “I want to do this book more than I want to breathe.”

Cover image via Little, Brown and Company

Reader Nominations

“Mindblowingly good. Challenging, earnest, complex, and human. The most rewarding book I’ve ever read.”

Greg Schneider-Bateman, 42, Saint Paul, Minn.

“‘Infinite Jest’ packs more humor, pathos, humanity, and upward redemption than any book I’ve read. The experience of reading it for the first time remains the literary dragon I’ve chased for the past fourteen years.”

Dave Laird, 39, Victoria, British Columbia

“‘Infinite Jest’ translates addiction into a direct literary experience for the reader. It illuminates a sneaky aspect of contemporary human existence that we may be too immersed in to otherwise notice.”

James O’Boyle, 39, Kingston, N.Y.

To Kill a Mockingbird

By Harper Lee
1960

This canonical coming-of-age novel, loosely based on Lee’s childhood in Alabama, is told through the eyes of young Scout Finch. The story of her father, Atticus, a lawyer defending an African American man, illuminates issues of racial inequality and injustice in the Deep South.

It earned a rave in the Book Review: “Harper Lee writes with gentle affection, rich humor and deep understanding of small-town family life in Alabama.”

Did You Know?

The book — which won the Pulitzer — has sold more than 40 million copies.

Cover image via Raptis Rare Books

Reader Nominations

“There are probably nonfiction books that could do a more thorough job of educating children (and adults) about our sordid history of racism, but Harper Lee probably accomplished more than any historian could — engaging young readers and sending them on a quest for truth that would last a lifetime.”

Marie Jordan, 59, Chicago

“Most public school kids read this book around age 15 or 16. That is a very impressionable age, and the complete injustice for Tom Robinson lights a fire in bellies, that may have not been there before.”

Julia Wright, 46, Louisville, Ky.

“The use of a child narrator strips back all of the bigotry, biases, constructed complications and excuses that a knowledge of society, economics and politics thrusts upon adults. Seen through the clarity of a child’s view of life we see that we adults are the real problem.”

Jim McCafferty, 62, Broxburn, Scotland

“A book that makes its readers better people deserves the award. Lovely language, finely tuned humanity and sense of place, comedy, point of view…courage is the subtext and we all could use more in our lives.”

Carmen Munnelly, 56, San Diego

A Little Life

By Hanya Yanagihara
2015

At the core of this gutting novel about four male college friends is a heart-wrenching question: Can a person ever recover from unspeakable trauma? The story focuses most intensely on Jude, a lawyer who has suffered a string of horrific events.

“How does someone go from years of suffering and shame to live out the rest of a life? This is the question Hanya Yanagihara, author of ‘People in the Trees,’ takes on in her second novel,” Carol Anshaw wrote in her review.

Did You Know?

“My hope was always that the experience of reading this book would mirror my experience of writing it,” Yanagihara said in an interview. “I wanted it to feel like quicksand, like entering a landscape that literally swallows you and then spits you up somewhere else.”

Cover image via Doubleday

Reader Nominations

“I have never read a book in which the main characters, four friends, become my friends. They exist, they are in my world to this day. And Jude. I celebrate your life.”

Maureen Muldaur, 66, Agoura Hills, Calif.

“Never has a novel so delicately described the sensitive nuances of male feelings, hetero and homosexual experiences, and generally the love males can have for one another. It’s heartwrenching, sweet, gripping, unexpected all at once.”

Zoe Marans, 32, Los Angeles

“‘A Little Life’ makes you feel every feeling. Love, hatred, heartbreak, agony, longing. It is ugly and beautiful, full of peaks and valleys formed by the unimaginable trauma of Jude St. Francis’s life. The novel is magically timeless.”

Molly Thibault, 26, New Hampshire

Lolita

By Vladimir Nabokov
1958 (originally published in France in 1955)

In this brilliant, deeply disturbing fictional memoir of a pedophile, originally published in France in 1955, Humbert Humbert recounts his obsession with Lolita, his 12-year-old stepdaughter. The novel might continue to divide readers over its sensitive subject matter, but there’s wider agreement over Nabokov’s dazzling prose style.

“‘Lolita’ is one of those occasional books,” Elizabeth Janeway wrote in the Book Review, “which arrive swishing behind them a long tail of opinion and reputation which can knock the unwary reader off his feet.”

Did You Know?

In the first Olympia edition of the novel, the Book Review noted, Nabokov, “having no means of measuring nymphets, guessed at the dimensions of Lolita.” These “turned out to be the measurements of a welterweight boxer.”

Cover image via Raptis Rare Books

Reader Nominations

“‘Lolita’ is the foremost literary triumph of the 20th century. Prose perfected. Never before (or since) has a novel so shocked readers with its beauty, genius, and depravity. It’s still controversial today. It’s still a masterpiece.”

Sam Bertini, 22, New York, N.Y.

“The writing simply gets more intoxicating as the story gets progressively more sickening. The juxtaposition of the prose’s indescribable beauty against the horrors that simmer beneath the surface makes this novel nonpareil.”

Liam McGraw, 19, Hoboken, N.J.

“When I first read it (age 13), it was merely dirty. Upon many subsequent readings (age adult), it was a wonder of description and wordplay, wicked humor, and beautiful pathos. In short, it was love at first read, at second read, at ever and ever read.”

Lynda Bertram, 72, ​​Fort Worth

Lonesome Dove

By Larry McMurtry
1985

In McMurtry’s sprawling, affectionate, larger-than-life adventure tale, two aging cowboys embark on an epic trail drive from Texas to Montana. “I’m a critic of the myth of the cowboy,” McMurtry once said. “And since it’s a part of my heritage I feel it’s a legitimate task to criticize it.”

The Book Review was on the fence about the book, finally deciding, “For now, for the Great Cowboy Novel, ‘Lonesome Dove’ will do.”

Did You Know?

The book started out as a script called “Streets of Laredo” that McMurtry wrote with Peter Bogdanovich. The movie never materialized, though, and McMurtry riffed on the material for “Lonesome Dove.”

Cover image via Heritage Auctions, HA.com

Reader Nominations

“It contains all of the elements required by literary snoots to be a good novel, yet it does so without all of the pretension to which literary snoots tend to gravitate. One can immerse oneself in it, live it, feel it, enjoy it and mourn when it’s over.”

Mike Long, 68, Bozeman, Mont.

“In my opinion, it’s ‘the Great American Novel.’ It’s sweeping in scope and captures the spirit of American expansion, using the West in the 1880s as its backdrop. McMurtry, who sometimes strayed into lazy repetition in some of his novels, is at the peak of his literary powers here.”

Emily Hedrick, 73, North Charleston, S.C.

“Because you spend hours wondering, ‘How can I be so fascinated about a cow drive in the Old West?’ and it is well written.”

Dianne Berry, 83, West Des Moines, Iowa

One Hundred Years of Solitude

By Gabriel García Márquez
U.S. publication 1970 (originally published in 1967)

The surreal, colorful saga of the Buendía family, braided with the tale of the mythical town of Macondo, unfolds over a century of Latin American history. This cornerstone of the magical realism genre sold millions of copies and made García Márquez an international star.

It was hailed in the Book Review as “a novel so filled with humor, rich detail and startling distortion that it brings to mind the best of Faulkner and Günter Grass.”

Did You Know?

A year before it was published in the U.S., The Times reported that the novel had already caused a “literary furor in Latin America and Europe.”

Cover image via Harper Perennial Modern Classics

Reader Nominations

“It laid bare the psychoscape of a people long overlooked by other corners of the world, an experience uniquely shared by every other colonized land. It brought to life myths, unspoken truths and the unreadable pulse of time and history with the heaviness of unrestrained detail.”

Rizowana Hussaini, 29, Guwahati, India

“I have read the book in both English and Spanish, and while the writing is transcendent, people often forget the brilliance of its plot, characters, setting — the ever devolving time-circle of it, like the universe approaching entropy, only to expand and fill and love again.”

Shalvi Jaxay Shah, 27, Ahmedabad, India

“The brutality of the conquest and its after effects are still being felt today by our people. ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ shows our sorrow, joy, fragmentation, resiliency.”

Elsa Mantilla, 68, Washington, D.C.

The Overstory

By Richard Powers
2018

Though it features many people, the real stars of Powers’s novel are trees and the remarkable ways in which they communicate and endure. A spectacular celebration of nature, as well as a climate-change warning, this novel is nothing less than a tree’s-eye view of our planet.

Our reviewer, Barbara Kingsolver, loved it. “Even if you’ve never given a thought to the pulp and timber industries, by this book’s last page you will probably wish you weren’t reading it on the macerated, acid-bleached flesh of its protagonists,” she wrote. “That’s what a story can do.”

Did You Know?

Powell told The Times’s Ezra Klein, “When you stumble across an 1,100 or 1,200-year-old tree that’s as wide as a house and as tall as a football field, it puts a different context on your dinner table conversations with humans who are trying to escape death.”

Cover image via W. W. Norton & Company

Reader Nominations

“This book touches the heart, the soul and the conscience of anyone who cares about where we are headed — the natural world and humanity and gives us both heartbreak and hope. It is a masterpiece for the time and place we are at in the universe.”

Kelley Culmer, 58, Buffalo

“Each sentence is beautifully crafted with dense research. Scientific knowledge woven into a complex but riveting story. It is a book that requires a lot from the reader yet is so generous with the rewards.”

Connie Carter, 64, ​​Washington D.C.

“No other book comes close to conveying the destruction wrought upon nature by humanity while simultaneously capturing the hope and idealism of the aforementioned species. Dare I say that this is a Romantic book for our contemporary, pre-apocalyptic times?”

Brenda Lee, 32, Brooklyn, N.Y.

A Prayer for Owen Meany

By John Irving
1989

Love, loss and what it means to have — or not have — faith are explored in Irving’s bighearted novel about lifelong friends John Wheelwright and Owen Meany. Owen, one of the most distinctive characters of Irving’s career, is a small boy with a “wrecked voice” who believes he is an instrument of God.

Alfred Kazin, in his review, complained that Irving’s vision did not “translate convincingly as fiction. It is just pushed at us enthusiastically.”

Did You Know?

“I’ve read about myself that I am not to be taken seriously because I am a shameless entertainer, a crowd pleaser,” Irving told The Times soon after the review ran. “You bet I am.”

Cover image via William Morrow

Reader Nominations

“It encapsulates how human memory works (faultily), how spirituality and religion differ, how society and friendship can both buoy you up and let you down, how life can be both deadly seriously and laugh-out-loud funny, and it does this all while having the most satisfying ending I’ve ever read.”

Navarra Good, 52, Alberta

“I feel a sense of wonderment and joy every time I have read and reread the book (which is at least a dozen times). I think I can mentally visualize the world he created in this story better than any other book.”

Jon Gibson, 58, West Hartford, Conn.

“I sobbed on a bus when I read the last page. I mean sobbed. Tears ran down my cheeks and I couldn’t stop crying for a while.”

Saralyn Fosnight, 81, Chicago

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

By Betty Smith
1943

A plainspoken, heart-rending coming-of-age novel that captures a young girl’s desire to survive — and find beauty in — the Brooklyn tenement where she lives. The book drew on Smith’s own experience in the early 20th century as a child of first-generation immigrants in the Williamsburg neighborhood of the borough.

“This is … a stringing together of memory’s beads and the workmanship is extraordinarily good,” the Book Review declared.

Did You Know?

A 20-year-old Marine wrote to Smith after he read the novel: “I just wanted you to understand that despite my youth I have seen a little bit of suffering. … I can’t explain the emotional reaction that took place, I only know that it happened and that this heart of mine turned over and became alive again.”

Cover image via Raptis Rare Books

Reader Nominations

“An aspirational tale that never forgets that not everyone who wants more can see their dreams come true, a moving and heartbreaking family story without sentiment or saccharine, romantic and clear-eyed and intimate and sweeping all at once. And if that hasn’t sold you, go back and re-read that Christmas tree scene.”

Annie Frisbie, 48, Queens, N.Y.

“I stole the copy I have now from my high school, and it’s been all over the world with me. Just seeing it on the shelf reminds me of who I am. Its physical presence, and the story itself, transcend age and time.”

Mary Jo Andow, 37, New Brunswick

“My grandmother gave it to me when I was 9 and told me it would educate me throughout the years. I read it once per year and each time it tells me something different. An eternal book.”

Leacy Burke, 32, Washington D.C.

Ulysses

By James Joyce
1922 (originally serialized 1918-1920)

Joyce’s brilliant, wildly experimental novel follows Leopold Bloom over one day in Dublin: June 16, 1904. A masterpiece of modernism, the book (and its inventive structure and linguistic flights) have been an inexhaustible source of pleasure and study for nearly a century.

Though “Ulysses” is now regarded as a masterpiece, the Book Review’s critic vacillated between admiration and annoyance in his review: “The average intelligent reader will glean little or nothing from it … save bewilderment and a sense of disgust.”

Did You Know?

Two years later, the Book Review printed a recollection of Joyce by a college chum, who wrote that “he was tall and slender then, with a Dantesque face and steely blue eyes. His costume as I see him now in my mind’s eye included a peaked cap and tennis shoes more or less white. He used to swing along the street carrying an ash-plant in his hand for a cane.”

Cover image via Heritage Auctions, HA.com

Reader Nominations

“‘Ulysses’ remains the great game changer of the 20th century and reverberates to this day. The book works in tandem with Einstein’s theory of relativity and Picasso’s Cubist paintings of the time. It’s the light that illuminated and ushered in the era of modern literature.”

Bernie Langs, 64, Gillette, N.J.

“There is a profound, utterly moving, evocation of human lives and human relations — a father who has lost a son, a wife who loves her husband. It is almost infinitely generous, in the compassionate honesty with which it offers these characters to the reader.”

Robin Durie, 56, Exeter, U.K.

“It made modern literature possible. He put in what all the other writers had been forced to leave out, and as a result changed literature forever. To paraphrase Cocteau, there is fiction before and after a Joyce as there is painting before and after Picasso.”

Tom Moran, 61, New York, N.Y.