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The New York Times' 25 Best Books of the Last 125 Years

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The New York Times collected submissions from readers for the best books of the past 125. These are the finalists; vote for your favorites!

1984

1984

Books

1984 is a dystopian novel by English author George Orwell published in 1949. ?The novel is set in Airstrip One, a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public manipulation. It is dictated by a political system named English Socialism under the control of the Inner Party, that persecutes individualism and independent thinking.Many of its terms and concepts, such as Big Brother, doublethink, thoughtcrime, Newspeak, Room 101, telescreen, 2 + 2 = 5, and memory holes, have entered into common use since its publication. In 2005, the novel was chosen by TIME magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels.

Beloved

Beloved

Books

PULITZER PRIZE WINNER • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An unflinchingly look into the abyss of slavery, from the acclaimed Nobel Prize winner. This spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby.Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement.

The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye

Books

The "brilliant, funny, meaningful novel" (The New Yorker) that established J. D. Salinger as a leading voice in American literature--and that has instilled in millions of readers around the world a lifelong love of books."If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth."The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caufield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days.

All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See

Books

*Winner of the Pulitzer Prize* A New York Times Book Review Top Ten Book* A National Book Award Finalist* From Anthony Doerr, the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning author of Cloud Cuckoo Land, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. *Soon to be a Netflix limited series from the producers of Stranger Things*Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel. In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times).

Catch-22

Catch-22

Books

"Catch-22 is one of this century's greatest works of American literature. First published m 1961, Joseph Heller's profound and compelling novel has appeared on nearly every list of must read fiction. It is a classic in every sense of the word. Catch-22 took the war novel genre to a new level, shocking us with its clever and disturbing style. Set in a World War II American bomber squadron off the coast of Italy, Catch-22 is the story of John Yossarian, who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. Yossarian is also trying to decode the meaning of Catch-22, a mysterious regulation that proves that insane people are really the sanest, while the supposedly sensible people are the true madmen. And this novel is full of madmen -- Colonel Cathcart, who keeps raising the number of missions the men must fly m order to finish their tour; Milo Minderbinder, a dedicated entrepreneur who bombs his own airfield when the Germans offer him an extra 6 percent; Major Major Major, whose tragedy in life is that he resembles Henry Fonda; and Major -- de Coverley, whose face is so forbidding no one has dared ask his name. No novel before or since has matched Catch-22's intensity and brilliance in depicting the brutal insanity of war. Heller satirizes military bureaucracy with bitter, stinging humor, all the while telling the darkly comic story of Yossarian, a bombardier who refuses to die. Nearly forty years later, Yossarian lives"--Cover.

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