The Road: Cormac McCarthy’s own personal The Old Man and the Sea—a slim late-career fable that popularized a difficult writer (and apocalyptic lit in general).
The Da Vinci Code: The inanely addictive juggernaut whose sales sustained an entire book industry.
The Tipping Point: Malcolm Gladwell’s first book of pop sociology was itself a tipping point: It ushered in a whole decade of perky theorizing about everyday experience.
The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier & Clay: Michael Chabon scrambled high-lit artistry and geek obsession long before it became trendy.
The Amber Spyglass: Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is Harry Potter on human-growth hormone: dark, weird, rabble-rousing, and aggressively imaginative.