I really cannot make a comprehensive list, but it's a start. These are not in any particular order. (*Denotes an author with many great books!) Let me know what I'm missing out on.
  1. A Prayer for Owen Meany
    *By John Irving. A hilarious and bittersweet story of a weird little dude and his best friend growing up in New England.
  2. The Poisonwood Bible
    *By Barbara Kingsolver. A missionary family goes to Africa and antics ensue.
  3. The Right Stuff
    By Tom Wolfe. A fictionalization account of the start of NASA and the first US astronauts.
  4. The Tenth Justice
    *By Brad Meltzer. A Grisham-style thriller about a Supreme Court clerk.
  5. The Poet
    *By Michael Connelly. A thriller about a scary killer called The Poet.
  6. The Boys in the Boat
    By Daniel James Brown. The true story of a resilient young man who goes to the Berlin Olympics with his Univ. of Washington crew team. This is so much more than a sports story. (And I don't care about rowing but I loved it.)
  7. Seabiscuit
    By Laura Hildebrand. About a very special horse and the world of horse racing. (I've got no interest in horses but I loved it.)
  8. Bitter is the New Black
    By Jen Lancaster. A hilarious memoir about a professional woman in Chicago who loses her job, goes broke, becomes a writer.
  9. The Stand
    *By Stephen King. A group of end times survivors travel the US to come together and fight evil.
  10. Orange is the New Black
    By Piper Kerman. The true story upon which the genius Netflix series is based.
  11. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
    By Stieg Larsson. RIP. The cool Nordic thriller that made cool Nordic thrillers hot.
  12. Beach Music
    *By Pat Conroy. An expansive, epic family tale that starts in Italy but mostly takes place on the coast of Georgia. It's got mysterious twists and cry-inducing plot lines.
  13. The Help
    By Kathryn Stockett. Again, the movie was good but the book is better. A young white woman in 1962 Mississippi writes a tell-all full of scandalous stories from the black maids who work in the homes of her neighbors.
  14. Drop Dead Healthy
    *By A.J. Jacobs. He writes regularly for Esquire and he's hilarious. His books are grand experiments - in one he reads the encyclopedia from A to Z; then he lives a year strictly following the rules of the Bible; and in this one he tries a bunch of different fad diets. They're all great! And God bless his wife.
  15. Gone Girl
    By Gillian Flynn. A murder mystery with a huge twist. It's better than the movie. BUT if you already know the twist then it loses some of it's charm.
  16. The Devil in the White City
    *By Erik Larson. A historical thriller about the turn-of-the-century Chicago World's Fair and the serial killer plaguing the city. (His Isaac's Storm is also great!)
  17. Midnight In the Garden of Good & Evil
    By John Berendt. A semi-autobiographical novel about a murder and the wacky cast of characters living in Charleston, SC. The movie with Kevin Spacey and John Cusack is entertaining but the book is better.
  18. The Lovely Bones
    By Alice Sebold. A horrific story of a little girl who is raped and murdered and then narrates this story about the investigation from beyond the grave.
  19. Assassination Vacation
    *By Sarah Vowell. She makes history fascinating and funny and great. All of her books are excellent.
  20. The Fountainhead
    By Ayn Rand. I know she's divisive but I love some of the central themes in this novel about a Frank Lloyd Wright-esque architect who refuses to compromise his beliefs. And there's a love story!
  21. The Alienist
    By Caleb Carr. Another historical thriller with Teddy Roosevelt as a main character, about the hunt for a serial killer in NYC and the development of modern forensics.
  22. The Lady and The Unicorn
    *By Tracy Chevalier. A historical novel set in Paris in 1490 telling the story behind a set of real, well known tapestries. A mix of fact and fiction.
  23. We Need To Talk About Kevin
    By Lionel Shriver. A heartbreaking and chilling Columbine-esque tale told from a mother's perspective. To tell you much more would give too much away.
  24. The Day the World Came to Town
    By Jim DeFede. Tells the true story of what happened in small, sleepy Gander, Newfoundland on 9/11 when many of the airplanes on their way to the U.S. were diverted for almost a week. It's an amazing take that really encapsulates how tragedy can bring out the best in people.
  25. Gap Year Girl
    By Marianne Bohr. An inspirational travelogue about a baby boomer and her husband quitting their jobs, selling their house and cars, and backpacking around Europe for a year. (Full disclosure - the author is a friend of mine, but her book stands on its own as a really well written and entertaining story.)
  26. Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table
    By Ruth Reichl. A compelling, often funny memoir focused on how food and food rituals shaped her early life - from the former editor of Gourmet magazine, and continued in the equally great Comfort Me with Apples.
  27. The Lion's Game
    *By Nelson DeMille. Detective John Corey pursues the world's most dangerous terrorist, The Lion, in this riveting thriller that continues on in The Lion and The Panther. I love most DeMille thrillers.
  28. Along Came a Spider
    *By James Patterson. Detective Alex Cross hunts a serial kidnapper/murderer in DC in this first of the long-running Alex Cross series. These books are like brain candy for me.
  29. Lamb
    *By Christopher Moore. The Gospel According to Biff - Christ's Childhood Pal. The hilarious story of Jesus' adolescent years as told by his BFF, Biff.
  30. Little Green Men
    *By Christopher Buckley. A millennial comedy of manners about aliens and pundits as told by a DC talk show host who was abducted by aliens - maybe. No one does DC satire quite like Buckley.