With a few exceptions, it isn’t possible to really determine the impact of a text on culture unless a certain amount of time has passed – generally, one would expect to wait at least a generation and preferably two or three to see whether the book/ poem/ play/ thesis has actually found a place in the popular consciousness. That said, there are books worth reading being published every year, and some repeatedly appear on various lists of “best of'”s or “most important”s. Here, then, are some of those that, based on current assessments, have some chance of having a lasting cultural impact.

A People’s History of the United States – Howard Zinn – 1980

July’s People – Nadine Gordimer – 1981

Baltasar and Blimunda – Jose Saramago – 1982

House of the Spirits – Isabel Allende – 1982

Necromancer – William Gibson – 1984

The New York Trilogy – Paul Auster – 1985 – 1986

A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving – 1989

Sexing the Cherry – Jeanette Winterson – 1989

Sexual Personae – Camile Paglia – 1990

The Shipping News – E. Annie Proulx – 1993

Blindness – Jose Saramago – 1995

Wicked – Gregory Maguire – 1995

A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry – 1996

The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order– Samuel Huntington – 1996

The Golden Compass – Philip Pullman – 1996

Guns, Germs and Steel – Jared Diamond – 1997

The Wind Up Bird Chronicle -Haruki Murakami – 1997

Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden – 1997

The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy – 1997

The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver – 1998

American Pastoral – Philip Roth – 1998

No Logo – Naomi Klein – 2000

City of God – E.L. Doctorow – 2000

True History of the Kelly Gang – Peter Carey – 2000

Empire – Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt – 2000

White Teeth – Zadie Smith – 2000

Nickel and Dimed – Barbara Ehrenreich – 2001

Life of Pi – Yann Martel – 2001

American Gods – Neil Gaiman – 2001

The Corrections – Jonathan Franzen – 2001

Bel Canto – Ann Pratchett – 2001

Atonement – Ian McEwan – 2001

Everything is Illuminated – Jonathan Safran Foer – 2002

Kafka By the Shore – Haruki Murakami – 2002

Nowhere Man – Aleksandar Hemon – 2002

Snow – Orhan Pamuk – 2002

The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown – 2003

Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood – 2003

The Plot Against America – Philip Roth – 2004

The Double – Jose Saramago – 2004

Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro – 2005

Collapse – Jared Diamond – 2005

On Beauty – Zadie Smith – 2005

The Road – Cormac McCarthy – 2006

An Inconvenient Truth – Al Gore – 2007

The Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein – 2007

Diary of a Bad Year – J.M. Coetzee – 2007

The Book of Negroes – Lawrence Hill – 2007

The Lazarus Project – Aleksander Hemon – 2008

2666 – Robert Bolano – 2008

The Museum of Innocence – Orhan Pamuk – 2009

Freedom – Jonathan Franzen – 2010

The Origins of Political Order – Francis Fukuyama – 2011

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