The top five, in order, are Beloved (Toni Morrison), Underworld (Don DeLillo), Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy), Rabbit Angstrom (John Updike), and American Pastoral (Philip Roth).
Also making the list were 5 other books by Roth (The Counterlife, Operation Shylock, Sabbath’s Theater, The Human Stain, and The Plot Against America), 2 others by DeLillo (White Noise and Libra), 1 other by McCarthy (The Border Trilogy), and 1 each by 9 other writers: John Kennedy Toole (A Confederacy of Dunces), Marilynne Robinson (Housekeeping), Mark Helprin (Winter’s Tale), Raymond Carver (Where I’m Calling From), Tim O’Brien (The Things They Carried), Norman Rush (Mating), Denis Johnson (Jesus’ Son), Richard Ford (Independence Day), and Edward P. Jones (The Known World).
I think I own all of these books, except maybe one of the Roths, and I’ve even read most of them. I think it is hard to argue with Beloved as the top choice, but there are one or two others that I don’t think belong on the list at all, such as Jesus’ Son.
It’s not a bad list, but what’s missing? (I’m having a hard time coming up with an answer . . .)