As a list geek i was interested to scan this list of top 100 novels, compiled by neil bowers
Here's his methodology which seems fairly credible to me.
heres the top 10, not too many surprises:
1. Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell
2. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
3. The Grapes Of Wrath John Steinbeck
4. The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger
5. Catch-22 Joseph Heller
6. One Hundred Years Of Solitude Gabriel García Márquez
7. Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell
8. Ulysses James Joyce
9. On The Road Jack Kerouac
10. The Lord of the Rings J.R.R. Tolkien
The first novel I recognise of recent years pops up at no 40 - Memoirs Of A Geisha by Arthur Golden.