Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (2004)
As far as we’re concerned, Marilynne Robinson is a national treasure, so we felt we had to include at least one of her much-lauded works. PW nominated an earlier novel, 1980’s Housekeeping, but we’re equally fond of this one, which won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award, the autobiography a dying congregationalist pastor in a flyover state. It’s a beautifully written personal history that doubles as a national one. Bonus: Obama lists the novel as one of his favorites on his official Facebook profile, for whatever that’s worth to you.