so many books, so little time

25 Books that leave a legacyBooks tell a story about our reading preferences, certainly, but also about what's happening in our world. USA TODAY's book editors and critics chose 25 titles that made an impact on readers and the publishing industry over the past quarter-century. If your choices differ, let us know at usatoday.com. We'll post your picks.

#1 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
By J.K. Rowling (1998)
Midnight book parties, all-night readathons, overnight deliveries: A boy wizard named Harry got kids (and adults) thinking that reading was cool. And mega sales of the magical series redefined what it meant to be a best seller.

#2 The Deep End of the Ocean
By Jacquelyn Mitchard (1996)
What was America reading? Whatever Oprah Winfrey was reading. The talk-show host became a publishing powerhouse on Sept. 17, 1996, when she made Mitchard s novel her first book club pick. All 57 selections have been instant smash hits.

#3 The Da Vinci Code
By Dan Brown (2003)
The religious thriller about Jesus s love affair with Mary Magdalene became the fastest-selling adult novel in the history of publishing with 75 million copies in print worldwide. It drew a warning from the Vatican and spawned months of water-cooler debates, a movie, countless Code wannabes and an entire travel industry.

#4 The 911 Commission Report
By the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks (2004)
Praised for its riveting depiction of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, this is the only government report ever nominated for the National Book Award. First-day sales pushed the $10 report to the No. 1 spot on USA TODAY s Best Selling Books list.

#5 Chicken Soup for the Soul
By Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield (1993)
Comfort food for readers, the Chicken Soup books, which told short, bright stories about overcoming adversity, quickly became a franchise. The 144 titles now in the series are geared to teens, single parents, even NASCAR fans.

#6 Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus
By John Gray (1992)
We always knew men and women were from different planets. Gray explained why (women like to talk, men don't), and the Mars/Venus image seeped into the lexicon.

#7 Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution
By Robert C. Atkins (1992)
Dr. Atkins ignited the low-carb craze, the reigning diet of the '90s. Bread and pasta were out, and high protein was in.

#8 And the Band Played On
By Randy Shilts (1987)
Shilts, a reporter at The San Francisco Chronicle who would die of AIDS in 1994, helped wake up the USA to the emerging AIDS epidemic. His book was the first definitive analysis of the medical, cultural and political! dimensions and was written with the power and sweep of a novel.

#9 Beloved
By Toni Morrison (1987)
Morrison s masterpiece about an escaped slave who kills her baby to save the child from slavery won the Pulitzer and propelled her to the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. She is the last American to win it. In a 2006 poll of writers byThe New York Times Book Review, Beloved was named the best American novel of the past 25 years.

#10 The Greatest Generation
By Tom Brokaw (1998)
The former NBC anchor popularized the expression greatest generation when he paid tribute to boomers parents with stories about men and women who survived the Great Depression and fought in World War II.

#11 Bridget Jones's Diary
By Helen Fielding (1998)
Singletons, smug marrieds, v.v.. funny diary observations: This British import set the stage for a flood of chick-lit novels, from The Nanny Diaries to The Devil Wears Prada.

#12 Left Behind
By Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins (1995)
The first in the fictional apocalyptic series about the Rapture clicked with evangelicals and then found a wider audience. Fifteen books about the end of the world followed with titles such as Armageddon and Glorious Appearing. The series wrapped up with a bang on April 3 with Kingdom Come.

#13 The Purpose Driven Life
By Rick Warren (2003)
Everyone has a purpose in God s plan, according to this Christian devotional guide. Sales surged in 2005 when an Atlanta woman used the book s teachings to persuade a murder suspect who took her hostage to turn himself in.

#14 Fast Food Nation
By Eric Schlosser (2001)
This expos of fast-food restaurants and meatpacking plants earned comparisons to Upton Sinclair s 1906 classic The Jungle. The book helped transform the American diet as we were reminded we are what we eat.

#15 The Satanic Verses
By Salman Rushdie (1989)
Riots and political uproar on three continents greeted the publication of the Indian-born writer s novel of good and evil. Fundamentalist Muslims called it blasphemous, and the Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa (death sentence) on Rushdie.

#16 The Closing of the American Mind
By Allan Bloom (1987)
The conservative scholar s attack on the shortcomings of colleges and liberal professors provoked an intense debate as well as self-criticism on campuses across the USA.

#17 The Bonfire of the Vanities
By Tom Wolfe (1987)
Wolfe's first novel captured the Wall Street greed of the 80s better than any non-fiction. It vividly illustrated the growing gap between the haves and have-nots in American cities.

#18 The Joy Luck Club
By Amy Tan (1989)
In 1949 San Francisco, four Chinese women gathered to play mahjong and forget the pain of the past. Tan, daughter of Chinese immigrants, created a debut novel out of this fresh material and launched a wave of immigrant literature.

#19 What To Expect When You're Expecting
By Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg and Sandee Hathaway (1984)
Boomer parents ditched Dr. Spock in favor of this accessible baby guide. The eight books in the series span toddlers to baby-sitters

#20 A Brief History of Time
By Stephen Hawking (1988)
Theoretical physics suddenly was sexy thanks to a wheelchair-bound Cambridge University professor (he has Lou Gehrig'sdisease). Hawking explained black holes and the Big Bang theory for the rest of us.

#21 Iacocca
By Lee Iacocca (1984)
The Chrysler chairman's autobiography rolled off the assembly line and found eager buyers, proving a business memoir could be a hit.

#22 Waiting to Exhale
By Terry McMillan (1992)
With her profane, sassy voice, Terry McMillan s groundbreaking novel about black women looking for satisfying relationships was a wake-up call for the publishing industry. Readers of all races were hungry for entertaining stories about African-Americans.

#23 Cold Mountain
By Charles Frazier (1997)
The Civil War saga got millions of readers talking about a literary novel. It was a rarity: a debut novel by an unknown writer that was both a critical and commercial hit.

#24 Backlash
By Susan Faludi (1991)
Faludi, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, took on the media, Hollywood and anti-feminist propaganda as she examined the backlash that developed in the 1980s against successful women.

#25 Final Exit
By Derek Humphry (1991)
The topic of assisted suicide exploded in controversy in the 90s, thanks to Michigan pathologist Jack Kevorkian and his suicide machine and this how-to manual by an English journalist who helped his cancer-stricken first wife kill herself.

No comments: