Cover image for The best American novels of the twentieth century still readable today
The best American novels of the twentieth century still readable today
Gehres, Eleanor M.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Golden, Colo. : Fulcrum Pub., [2001]

Physical Description:
viii, 119 pages ; 24 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS379 .G34 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PS379 .G34 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



What were the best novels written by Americans during the twentieth century? Does "best" necessarily mean the most influential at the time of publication, or that the book was a best-seller or held the highest standard of writing from purely an academic point of view? Eleanor Gehres, former Director of the Denver Public Library's Western History Department, was assigned the task of evaluating the field of American literature in the twentieth century and came up with this book. Novels recommended by others were discarded if they did not pass Eleanor's criteria: First, was the book important; and, second, was the book still a good read in the current day?Entries range from masterpieces, such as Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Nabokov's Lolita, and Potok's The Chosen, to such modern classics as Pat Conroy's The Great Santini, James Dickeys Deliverance, and Toni Morrison's Beloved. Organized chronologically by decade, offering anywhere from four to twenty-five chosen novels for each decade, Eleanor's notes on,these distinguished books will make you want to rediscover, or read for the first time, the key ingredients to what made these books claim the title "best" of the past 100 years.

Author Notes

After receiving her masters degree in history and library science from the University of Denver, Eleanor M. Gehres worked in the Denver Public Library's Western History Department, where she became manager in 1974, a position she held shortly before her passing in 2000.

Table of Contents

Edward AbbeyJames AgeeNelson AlgrenHervey AllenSherwood AndersonLouis AuchinclossJames BaldwinHenry BellamannSaul BellowThomas BergerRay BradburyRichard BradfordRichard BrautiganLouis BromfieldPearl S. BuckJames M. CainErskine CaldwellTaylor CaldwellTruman CapoteCaleb CarrWilla CatherRaymond ChandlerJohn CheeverTom ClancyWalter Van Tilburg ClarkJames ClavellPat ConroyJames Gould CozzensMargaret CravenA. J. CroninDon DeLilloJames DickeyE. L. DoctorowJohn Dos PassosLloyd C. DouglasTheodore DreiserAllen DruryWalter D. EdmondsRalph EllisonJames T. FarrellWilliam FaulknerEdna FerberVardis FisherF. Scott FitzgeraldCharles FrazierJohn GardnerEllen GlasgowZane GreyHannah GreenDavid GutersonA. B. Guthrie, Jr.Dashiell HammettRobert A. HeinleinJoseph HellerErnest HemingwayJohn HerseyJames HiltonLaura Z. HobsonEric HodginsEvan HunterMac HymanJohn IrvingWill JamesJames JonesMacKinlay KantorBel KaufmanWilliam KennedyJack KerouacKen KeseyBarbara KingsolverJohn KnowlesJerzy KosinskiRing LardnerHarper LeeSinclair LewisRoss LockridgeJack LondonNorman MailerBernard MalamudJohn P. MarquandDon MarquisMary McCarthyCarson McCullersLarry McMurtryGrace MetaliousJames A. MichenerHenry MillerMargaret MitchellChristopher MorleyToni MorrisonVladimir NabokovJohn NicholsEdwin O'ConnorJohn O'HaraJoyce Carol OatesWalker PercySylvia PlathGene Stratton PorterKatherine Anne PorterCharles PortisChaim PotokE. Annie ProulxMario PuzoAyn RandMarjorie Kinnan RawlingsConrad RichterMary Roberts RinehartTom RobbinsKenneth RobertsPhilip RothJ. D. SalingerHelen Hooven SantmyerWilliam SaroyanJack SchaeferBudd SchulbergMichael ShaaraIrwin ShawCarol ShieldsUpton SinclairJane SmileyBetty SmithLillian SmithWallace StegnerJohn SteinbeckIrving StoneWilliam StyronAmy TanBooth TarkingtonJohn Kennedy TooleB. TravenAnne TylerJohn UpdikeLeon UrisVarious AuthorsGore VidalKurt Vonnegut Jr.Alice WalkerRobert Penn WarrenFrank WatersJames H. Webb Jr.Eudora WeltyNathaniel WestEdith WhartonThornton WilderSloan WilsonOwen WisterThomas WolfeTom WolfeHerman WoukRichard Wright
Publisher's Prefacep. vi
The Monkey Wrench Gang 1975p. 86
A Death in the Family 1957p. 49
The Man with the Golden Arm 1949p. 31
Anthony Adverse 1933p. 18
Winesburg, Ohio 1919p. 5
The Rector of Justin 1964p. 67
Go Tell It on the Mountain 1953p. 50
Kings Row 1940p. 32
Seize the Day 1956p. 51
Little Big Man 1964p. 68
Fahrenheit 451 1953p. 51
Red Sky at Morning 1968p. 69
Trout Fishing in America 1967p. 69
Early Autumn: A Story of a Lady 1926p. 8
The Good Earth 1931p. 19
The Postman Always Rings Twice 1934p. 20
Tobacco Road 1932p. 20
This Side of Innocence 1946p. 33
Breakfast at Tiffany's 1958p. 52
The Alienist 1994p. 106
Death Comes for the Archbishop 1927p. 9
The Big Sleep 1939p. 21
The Wapshot Chronicle 1957p. 52
The Hunt for Red October 1984p. 98
The Ox-Bow Incident 1940p. 33
Shogun 1975p. 87
The Great Santini 1976p. 88
By Love Possessed 1957p. 53
I Heard the Owl Call My Name 1973p. 88
The Keys of the Kingdom 1942p. 34
Underworld 1997p. 107
Deliverance 1970p. 89
Ragtime 1975p. 90
U.S.A. Trilogy 1930-1936p. 22
The Robe 1942p. 35
An American Tragedy 1925p. 10
Advise and Consent 1959p. 54
Drums Along the Mohawk 1936p. 22
Invisible Man 1952p. 54
Studs Lonigan: A Trilogy 1935p. 23
The Sound and the Fury 1929p. 14
So Big 1924p. 11
Mountain Man 1965p. 70
The Great Gatsby 1925p. 11
Cold Mountain 1997p. 108
Nickel Mountain 1973p. 90
Vein of Iron 1935p. 23
Riders of the Purple Sage 1912p. 6
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden 1964p. 71
Snow Falling on Cedars 1994p. 109
The Big Sky 1947p. 36
The Maltese Falcon 1930p. 24
Stranger in a Strange Land 1961p. 71
Catch-22 1961p. 72
For Whom the Bell Tolls 1940p. 36
A Bell for Adano 1944p. 37
Lost Horizon 1933p. 25
Gentleman's Agreement 1947p. 38
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House 1946p. 38
The Blackboard Jungle 1954p. 55
No Time for Sergeants 1954p. 56
The World According to Garp 1978p. 91
Smoky, the Cowhorse 1926p. 12
From Here to Eternity 1951p. 57
Andersonville 1955p. 58
Up the Down Staircase 1965p. 73
Ironweed 1983p. 99
On the Road 1957p. 59
One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest 1962p. 74
Pigs in Heaven 1993p. 110
A Separate Peace 1959p. 59
Being There 1971p. 91
You Know Me Al 1916p. 6
To Kill a Mockingbird 1960p. 74
Babbitt 1922p. 12
Raintree County 1948p. 39
The Call of the Wild 1903p. 1
The Naked and the Dead 1948p. 40
The Fixer 1966p. 75
The Late George Apley 1937p. 26
Archie and Mehitabel 1927p. 13
The Group 1963p. 76
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter 1940p. 40
Lonesome Dove 1985p. 100
Peyton Place 1956p. 60
Tales of the South Pacific 1947p. 41
Tropic of Cancer 1961p. 77
Gone with the Wind 1936p. 26
Kitty Foyle 1939p. 27
Beloved 1987p. 101
Lolita 1958p. 61
The Milagro Beanfield War 1974p. 92
The Last Hurrah 1956p. 61
Ten North Frederick 1955p. 62
Them 1969p. 77
The Moviegoer 1961p. 78
The Bell Jar 1971p. 93
A Girl of the Limberlost 1909p. 3
Ship of Fools 1962p. 78
True Grit 1968p. 79
The Chosen 1967p. 80
The Shipping News 1993p. 110
The Godfather 1969p. 80
The Fountainhead 1943p. 42
The Yearling 1938p. 28
The Light in the Forest 1953p. 63
The Circular Staircase 1908p. 2
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues 1976p. 94
Northwest Passage 1937p. 28
Portnoy's Complaint 1969p. 81
The Catcher in the Rye 1951p. 63
And Ladies of the Club 1982p. 101
The Human Comedy 1943p. 43
Shane 1949p. 44
What Makes Sammy Run? 1941p. 44
The Killer Angels 1974p. 94
The Young Lions 1948p. 45
The Stone Diaries 1994p. 111
The Jungle 1906p. 2
A Thousand Acres 1991p. 112
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn 1943p. 45
Strange Fruit 1944p. 46
Angle of Repose 1971p. 95
The Grapes of Wrath 1939p. 29
The Agony and the Ecstasy 1961p. 82
The Confessions of Nat Turner 1967p. 82
The Joy Luck Club 1989p. 102
The Magnificent Ambersons 1918p. 7
A Confederacy of Dunces 1980p. 103
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre 1927p. 15
The Accidental Tourist 1985p. 104
Rabbit, Run 1960p. 84
Exodus 1958p. 64
Three Popular Novels 1970-1992p. 113
Burr: A Novel 1973p. 96
Slaughterhouse-Five 1969p. 84
The Color Purple 1982p. 104
All the King's Men 1946p. 47
The Man Who Killed the Deer 1942p. 47
Fields of Fire 1978p. 97
Delta Wedding 1946p. 48
The Day of the Locust 1939p. 30
The Age of Innocence 1920p. 15
The Bridge of San Luis Rey 1927p. 16
The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit 1955p. 65
The Virginian 1902p. 4
Look Homeward, Angel 1929p. 16
The Bonfire of the Vanities 1987p. 105
The Caine Mutiny 1951p. 65
Native Son 1940p. 54