1. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (1868): This is for sure my all-time favorite detective novel (not that I have read very many) that was so much fun to read. A very well-written page-turner full of colorful characters that you shouldn't pass up.
2. White Noise by Don DeLillo (1985): Still my favorite DeLillo, if you are going to read one book about the 20th century, I think this one should be it.
3. Disgrace by JM Coetzee (1993): This one is pretty dark but if you can make your way through, it's worth it. At it's core, it examines race relations in post-apartheid South Africa.
4. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (2004): Confession: I have read this book three times and I love it even more with each read. It is a romance novel with a dose a sci-fi, but still smart and and I love it. It will always be a book that I won't hesitate to pick up and reread when I need a good love story in my life.
5. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of A Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah (2007): This is a truly heart-breaking read that examines a subject I feel is important for those removed from it to learn about: child soldiers in Sierra Leone.
6. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot (1860): This is my all-time favorite bildungsroman (yes I like it more than Jane Eyre) and if you are interested in Eliot I think this is a great place to state.
7. The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window Into Human Nature by Steven Pinker (2007): I think this is the most interesting of Pinker's books I have read. He combines his vast knowledge of language and human behavior to examine what the words we use say about ourselves.
8. Alphabet Juice by Roy Blount Jr (2009): This is a hysterical and intelligent look into specific words in our ever-changing vocabulary. It reads like an amusing dictionary. If you are a nerd about words, this is for you.
9. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884): A children's classic that I read as an adult, this novel is about the nature of freedom and the meaning of human connections.