What are the best 20th century American novels ?

asked by Anonymous
189 contributors
19 solutions
  1. 29

    #1The Great Gatsby

    The Great Gatsby

    The Great Gatsby is a classic book written by F. Scott Fitzgerald which was first published in 1914. It tells the story of wealthy man Jay Gatsby who is in love with Daisy Buchanan from an old money family. This has two film adaptations. 

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    Madison Long
    Written on May 11, 2018
    "The 20th Century brought with it some unforgettable and truly superior writers. When seeking out a list of the best novels to read from this time period, this novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald needs to be at the top of your list. A compelling story for its day, it is an exploration of live and love during the Jazz Age. Many critics agree this is one of the best 20th Century American novels, as well as many casual readers. The book will suck you in and have you seeking out more books written by Fitzgerald and about this time period when you are done. "
  2. 25

    #2The Color Purple

    The Color Purple
    Set deep in the American South, The Color Purple by Alice Walker is the tale of Celie, a young black girl born into poverty and segregation. After living a very hard life, she starts to discover joy and the power of her own spirit.
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    Joseph Henry
    Written on May 11, 2018
    "I had seen the movie and it moved me so much I had to read the novel. It's an amazing tale about the deep south and power and determination in a black time for American history. Just a truly incredible story. "
  3. 25

    #3The Call of the Wild

    The Call of the Wild

    The Call of the Wild is Jack London’s famous short novel published in 1903. London explores the laws of civilization and wilderness and the pull of instinct through the eyes of Buck, a half Saint Bernard, half Scottish shepherd. 

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    Jaime Marín
    Written on April 18, 2018
    "The Call of the Wild is a classic piece of literature and should be on everyone's reading list."
  1. 20

    #4To Kill a Mockingbird

    To Kill a Mockingbird
    To Kill a Mockingbird is Harper Lee's Pulitzer prize-winning masterwork of honor and injustice in the deep south and the heroism of one man in the face of blind and violent hatred. This was first published in 1960.
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    Rose Barnes
    Written on May 2, 2018
    "This is a very fitting American classic. The book is filled with imagery and the author is able to paint complete pictures with her words."
  2. 18

    #5The Crying of Lot 49

    The Crying of Lot 49

    The Crying of Lot 49 is a postmodern literature novel written by Thomas Pynchon which was originally published in 1965. This novel is about a woman named Oedipa Maas and the unveiling of truths between two mail distribution companies.

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    Janet Pierce
    Written on April 16, 2018
    " was unhappy with the sentence structure at first, it seemed to suffer from a lack of editing. Sentences were awkward, often required re-reading. I had no quarrel with the mood or concepts. But this roughness changed about 30 pages in, dramatically. He caught his wind if you will, and it was a rolling free form association blast from there on. I don't know if he was deliberately aiming for the academics, counting on English profs to accept him into their coven of mutual admiration, it seems that way at times, but hey, it takes a bit of erudition to appreciate erudition. This isn't for the monday night football crowd, and it's just as well. The most interesting detail for me is that Pynchon is not of the Bob Dylan and Free Speech Movement generation, he's of the Kingston Trio and Beat generation, and maybe that grants him some additional points, kudos and liberties."
  3. 16

    #6The Border Trilogy

    The Border Trilogy

    This wonderful trilogy, written by Cormac McCarthy, tells about the adventures of two friends in the Southwest and Mexico. With a unique writing style, this amazing story is divided into three books: All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, and Cities of the Plain.


     

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    Carl Crawford
    Written on April 17, 2018
    "The Border Trilogy is one of the best 20th century American novels written. Having just read it, I might be a little bias, but this is an amazing adventure story and might even be my favorite. The unique writing style is what really holds your attention."
  4. 12

    #7As I Lay Dying

    As I Lay Dying

    As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner tells the story of Addie Bundren and her family and her wish to be buried in Mississippi, her hometown. This novel is narrated in the perspectives of many characters including when Addie is still alive. 

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    Shaurya Yadav
    Written on April 16, 2018
    "As I Lay Dying is a good Faulkner novel. The characters are interesting and well-developed. I liked how the story is told from many different viewpoints. It is a worthwhile read that will stick with you for a long time after."
  5. 9

    #8Infinite Jest

    Infinite Jest

    Infinite Jest is a postmodern novel by David Foster Wallace. It is composed of four different narratives, all connected through a fictional film entitled Infinite Jest. The book is known for its unconventionality in style.

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    Jose Williamson
    Written on April 2, 2018
    "Infinite Jest is a great novel. Wallace puts a unique spin on his stories and modern life as well as struggles in our daily journeys. This is a great read."
  6. 7

    #9Of Mice and Men

    Of Mice and Men
    Of Mice and Men is a book by John Steinbeck that follows the story of George, small but smart, and Lennie, big and strong but mentally challenged, as they set off in a journey to look for a livelihood during the Great Depression.
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    Steven Robinson
    Written on April 25, 2018
    "Of Mice and Men is a great, if not one of the best 20th century American novels that will continue to astound readers of all generation. Although some text may fly over the younger readers head, it is a novel that will continually push the question of what is right and what is wrong."
  7. 5

    #10For Whom the Bell Tolls

    For Whom the Bell Tolls
    For Whom the Bell Tolls is a book by Ernest Hemingway. Widely regarded as his greatest masterpiece, it tells the story of Robert Jordan, an American who fought with leftist guerrillas during the Spanish Revolution in the 1930s.
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  8. 3

    #11Absalom, Absalom!

    Absalom, Absalom!

    Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner is published in 1936. This book tells the story of Thomas Sutpen, a man who finds wealth and marries in order to have children to be his heir someday. 

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    Jaime Delgado
    Written on April 7, 2018
    "Absalom is considered Faulkner's pinnacle work and rightfully so. It has beautiful structure and natural prose. Each read is filled with insights not there at the first glance. Definitely give this a try if you haven't read this classic!"
  9. 1

    #12Ender's Game (The Ender Quintet)

    Ender's Game (The Ender Quintet)
    Ender's Game is the first book in The Ender Quintet series by Orson Scott Card which has won the Hugo and Nebula awards. This science fiction novel centers on Ender being trained in military and combat to prepare against an alien attack. 
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    Jerry Hughes
    Written on April 27, 2018
    "This science fiction novel is very interesting. "
  10. 0

    #13Love Among the Chickens

    Love Among the Chickens

    Love Among the Chickens (Penguin Modern Classics) is a classic fictional book written by P.G. Wodehouse. Love Among the Chickens (Penguin Modern Classics) was published by Penguin.

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    Brian Walker
    Written on May 2, 2018
    "You can never go wrong with Wodehouse, and this book is no exception. I know he's better known for the Jeeves stuff, but this book is just as good and ranks right up there with his best work. Some people don't care for it, but I find it as amusing as anything he's written. It's got his typical character bumbling through a series of hilarious scenarios. An instant classic!"
  11. 0

    #14Those Across the River

    Those Across the River

    Those Across the River is a standalone historical fiction novel written by Christopher Buehlman which centers on married couple Frank Nichols and his wife Eudora who have arrived in the town of Whitbrow in Georgia. 

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    Mark Perez
    Written on April 30, 2018
    "I would not put this on my list of best 20th century American novels. I found the book kind of boring. I guess the plot was something that would never interest me."
  12. 0

    #15Anne of Green Gables

    Anne of Green Gables

    Anne of Green Gables (Modern Library Classics) is a novel written by L.M. Montgomery. The book Anne of Green Gables was published on June 10, 2008 by Modern Library.

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    Nathan Baker
    Written on May 5, 2018
    "Modern story telling at its finest. This book was great and I would read it again."
  13. 0

    #16The Broom of the System

    The Broom of the System

    The Broom of the System is a fictional novel written by David Foster Wallace and illustrated by Duke Wallace. This ficitonal novel was published on by Penguin Books.

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    Doris Ortiz
    Written on May 11, 2018
    "This book was hard to put down. I wanted to know what happened to the grandfather and other residents of the nursing home! Very entertaining, interesting, thoroughly got me to the end."
  14. 0

    #17Arrowsmith, Elmer Gantry, Dodsworth

    Arrowsmith, Elmer Gantry, Dodsworth

    Arrowsmith, Elmer Gantry, Dodsworth is a collection of the classic fictional novels written by Sinclair Lewis. Arrowsmith, Elmer Gantry, Dodsworth was published by Library of America.

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    Joyce Willis
    Written on April 27, 2018
    "Finding great 20th century literature is always a challenge, but WOW, this book is amazing. It includes 3 books that should be on the list for everyone to read. You can really get 3 totally different feelings of life in the early 1900's from medical issues, to religious leaders, to a midwestern maker. Worth the time and money to read all three."
  15. 0

    #18Elmer Gantry

    Elmer Gantry

    Elmer Gantry is a classic fictional novel written by Sinclair Lewis. Elmer Gantry was published on October 1, 1998 by Phébus. Elmer Gantry follows an evangelist named Elmer Gantry.

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    Stephanie Washington
    Written on May 1, 2018
    "A very awesome novel. Very fascinating characters. A sort of controversial book. A good talented author."
  16. 0

    #19Silver Miracles (Loveswept series)

    Silver Miracles (Loveswept series)

    Silver Miracles is a fictional category romance novel written by Fayrene Preston. This fictional category romance novel was published on May 1983 by Random House Publishing Group.

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    Russell Gutierrez
    Written on May 10, 2018
    "This is a pleasant read and gets a biased bonus point for being based in Texas. Jokes aside, it's a heartwarming book and it'll be something you enjoy from start to finish, if you give it the chance."

Summary

Best What are the best 20th century American novels
RankSolutionsTypeVotesPrice
1The Great GatsbyBooks 29 Paid
2The Color PurpleBooks 25 Paid
3The Call of the WildBooks 25 Paid
4To Kill a MockingbirdBooks 20 Paid
5The Crying of Lot 49Books 18 Paid
6The Border TrilogyBooks 16 Paid
7As I Lay DyingBooks 12 Paid
8Infinite JestBooks 9 Paid
9Of Mice and MenBooks 7 Paid
10For Whom the Bell TollsBooks 5 Paid
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