What Are Some Good Books to Read?

Some good books include William Gaddis' "The Recognitions," Virginia Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway," "Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man" and David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest." All four books rank highly on Time magazine's list of the 100 greatest English-language novels published since 1923.

Initially dismissed by critics when it was first published in the 1950s, William Gaddis' monolithic novel "The Recognitions" has since become recognized as one of the most influential works of the 20th century. The story of an art forger striving to live a more authentic life, Gaddis' dense, philosophical novel is also marked by its black humor and satirical bent.

Virginia Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway" takes place in a single day, but the novel examines the entire life of its eponymous protagonist. Woolf's stream-of-consciousness narration mimics the complex flow of human thought, tracing Clarissa Dalloway's reflections on lost love, childhood longing and her ultimate struggle for meaning in an uncertain world.

"Invisible Man" is Ralph Ellison's picaresque journey through race relations in America. The novel's nameless protagonist journeys from the agrarian South to New York City, where he encounters a host of characters with their own conflicting agendas. Ellison's incisive novel explores hypocrisy on both sides of the racial divide.

In "Infinite Jest" David Foster Wallace offers his deeply funny and often deeply moving take on entertainment and addiction in America. Set in both a tennis academy and an addict's halfway house, this lengthy novel distinguishes Wallace as the most ambitious novelist of his generation.