In no particular order and give me your reasoning because just reading a list of titles is boring. I'll do a crime and thriller novel thread later and there will be some over-lap.
1) The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Though I love the movie and have seen it almost a dozen times, the book is a whole different experience as Goldman creates a fantasy world both familiar and fresh. It is also surprisingly dark and very very funny.
2) 1984 by George Orwell
One of the few books I loved that they made me read in High School. It's a great thriller and fiercely intelligent. I immediately thought of Big Brother when the Patriot Act was drafted.
3) Lamb by Christopher Moore
As a teenager in a wheelchair, church and the people I knew there as a teenager(It helped that the pastor's son had been my best friend all my life) saved my life from depression and wanting to end it. Though I moved away from it, Lamb made me remember what I loved about it and Christ's fate never fails to devastate because we see it through the eyes of his best friend. Also extremely funny.
4) Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
It's so seamless that it's impossible to tell which writer wrote what. Though very British, there are several universal themes and gets funnier with every page and has aged like fine wine.
5) The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley
The prettiest prose in a detective novel ever. The plot is solid, but the writing is just so wonderful.
“When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.”
There's a reason that opening is so famous and the rest of the book more than lives up to it.
6) The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow
It's easily the Godfather of the 21st century, except the crime family is a Mexican cartel and their crimes are global. Endlessly readable, I caught something new in the 4 times I've read it. Just simply a masterpiece.
7) Drowned Hopes by Donald E. Westlake
Simply the funniest crime novel I ever read. So many twists and turns that it's impossible to predict where it will end up. Westlake's masterpiece in a career of great novels.
8) The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
Chandler said it was his best and who am I to argue? A great off-beat mystery at its core but has so much more than that going on, and being Chandler, it is very funny.
9) Eight Million Ways to Die by Lawrence Block
I was 19 when I read it, my father was very much still an alcoholic and the sad but hopeful ending made me cry like a baby. Made me the lover of the genre you know now.
10) Huck Finn by Mark Twain
It changes as you age. If you're a (smart) kid, it's a great adventure story, as a teenager it's a great story about coming of age that's actually readable and relatable and funny and as you get older, it's wonderful to discover all the themes and just what a fantastic writer Twain was. Another book in High School forced on me that I loved.
Edited by Cameron Hughes - 7/30/12 at 5:46pm