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The ReadDown

20 Bestsellers Published in the 1960s

From the relaxation of social taboos  to protests against the war and for civil rights, the 1960s was a turbulent and unforgettable decade. Read the books that accompanied the history.

  1. 1
    The Left Hand of Darkness Book Cover Picture
    The Left Hand of Darkness Book Cover Picture

    The Left Hand of Darkness

    by Ursula K. Le Guin

    A groundbreaking work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of a lone human emissary’s mission to Winter, an unknown alien world whose inhabitants can choose—and change—their gender. His goal is to facilitate Winter’s inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the completely dissimilar culture that he encounters.
    The Left Hand of Darkness Book Cover Picture
    The Left Hand of Darkness Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $25.00

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  2. 2
    The Fire Next Time Book Cover Picture
    The Fire Next Time Book Cover Picture

    The Fire Next Time

    by James Baldwin

    A stirring, intimate reflection on the nature of race and American nationhood that has inspired generations of writers and thinkers, first published in 1963, the same year as the March on Washington.
    The Fire Next Time Book Cover Picture
    The Fire Next Time Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $22.00

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  3. 3
    The Spy Who Came in from the Cold Book Cover Picture
    The Spy Who Came in from the Cold Book Cover Picture

    The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

    by John le Carré

    In the shadow of the newly erected Berlin Wall, Alec Leamas watches as his last agent is shot dead by East German sentries. For Leamas, the head of Berlin Station, the Cold War is over. As he faces the prospect of retirement or worse—a desk job—Control offers him a unique opportunity for revenge. Assuming the guise of an embittered and dissolute ex-agent, Leamas is set up to trap Mundt, the deputy director of the East German Intelligence Service—with himself as the bait. In the background is George Smiley, ready to make the game play out just as Control wants.
    The Spy Who Came in from the Cold Book Cover Picture
    The Spy Who Came in from the Cold Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $16.00

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  4. 4
    We Have Always Lived in the Castle Book Cover Picture
    We Have Always Lived in the Castle Book Cover Picture

    We Have Always Lived in the Castle

    by Shirley Jackson

    Merricat Blackwood lives on the family estate with her sister Constance and her uncle Julian. Not long ago there were seven Blackwoods—until a fatal dose of arsenic found its way into the sugar bowl one terrible night. Acquitted of the murders, Constance has returned home, where Merricat protects her from the curiousity and hostility of the villagers. Their days pass in happy isolation until cousin Charles appears. Only Merricat can see the danger, and she must act swiftly to keep Constance from his grasp.
    We Have Always Lived in the Castle Book Cover Picture
    We Have Always Lived in the Castle Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $26.00

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  5. 5
    The Autobiography of Malcolm X Book Cover Picture
    The Autobiography of Malcolm X Book Cover Picture

    The Autobiography of Malcolm X

    by Malcolm X

    In the searing pages of this classic autobiography, originally published in 1964, Malcolm X, the Muslim leader, firebrand, and anti-integrationist, tells the extraordinary story of his life and the growth of the Black Muslim movement. His fascinating perspective on the lies and limitations of the American Dream, and the inherent racism in a society that denies its nonwhite citizens the opportunity to dream, gives extraordinary insight into the most urgent issues of our own time.
    The Autobiography of Malcolm X Book Cover Picture
    The Autobiography of Malcolm X Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $28.00

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  6. 6
    The Godfather Book Cover Picture
    The Godfather Book Cover Picture

    The Godfather

    by Mario Puzo

    With its brilliant and brutal portrayal of the Corleone family, The Godfather burned its way into our national consciousness. This unforgettable saga of crime and corruption, passion and loyalty continues to stand the test of time, as the definitive novel of the Mafia underworld.
    The Godfather Book Cover Picture
    The Godfather Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $17.00

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  7. 7
    Couples Book Cover Picture
    Couples Book Cover Picture

    Couples

    by John Updike

    One of the signature novels of the American 1960s, Couples is a book that, when it debuted, scandalized the public with prose pictures of the way people live, and that today provides an engrossing epitaph to the short, happy life of the “post-Pill paradise.” It chronicles the interactions of ten young married couples in a seaside New England community who make a cult of sex and of themselves. The group of acquaintances form a magical circle, complete with ritualistic games, religious substitutions, a priest (Freddy Thorne), and a scapegoat (Piet Hanema). As with most American utopias, this one’s existence is brief and unsustainable, but the “imaginative quest” that inspires its creation is eternal.
    Couples Book Cover Picture
    Couples Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $18.00

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  8. 8
    The Agony and the Ecstasy Book Cover Picture
    The Agony and the Ecstasy Book Cover Picture

    The Agony and the Ecstasy

    by Irving Stone

    Irving Stone’s classic biographical novel of Michelangelo—the #1 New York Times bestseller in which both the artist and the man are brought to vivid, captivating life.
    The Agony and the Ecstasy Book Cover Picture
    The Agony and the Ecstasy Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $20.00

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  9. 9
    Herzog Book Cover Picture
    Herzog Book Cover Picture

    Herzog

    by Saul Bellow

    This is the story of Moses Herzog—a great sufferer, joker, mourner, charmer, serial writer of unsent letters, and a survivor, both of his private disasters and those of the age. Winner of the National Book Award when it was first published in 1964, the novel was hailed as “a masterpiece” (The New York Times Book Review).
    Herzog Book Cover Picture
    Herzog Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $18.00

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  10. 10
    The Outsiders Book Cover Picture
    The Outsiders Book Cover Picture

    The Outsiders

    by S. E. Hinton

    First published in 1967, S. E. Hinton’s novel was an immediate phenomenon. Today, with more than eight million copies sold, The Outsiders continues to resonate with its powerful portrait of the bonds and boundaries of friendship.
    The Outsiders Book Cover Picture
    The Outsiders Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $15.00

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  11. 11
    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Book Cover Picture
    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Book Cover Picture

    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

    by Maya Angelou

    Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide.
    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Book Cover Picture
    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $18.00

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  12. 12
    The American Way of Death Revisited Book Cover Picture
    The American Way of Death Revisited Book Cover Picture

    The American Way of Death Revisited

    by Jessica Mitford

    Only the scathing wit and searching intelligence of Jessica Mitford could turn an exposé of the American funeral industry into a book that is at once deadly serious and side-splittingly funny. When first published in 1963, this landmark of investigative journalism became a runaway bestseller and resulted in legislation to protect grieving families from the unscrupulous sales practices of those in “the dismal trade.”
    The American Way of Death Revisited Book Cover Picture
    The American Way of Death Revisited Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $17.00

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  13. 13
    Catch-22 Book Cover Picture
    Catch-22 Book Cover Picture

    Catch-22

    by Joseph Heller

    One of the funniest books ever written, Joseph Heller’s masterpiece about a bomber squadron in the Second World War’s Italian theater features a gallery of magnificently strange characters seething with comic energy. The malingering hero, Yossarian, is endlessly inventive in his schemes to save his skin from the horrible chances of war, and his story is studded with incidents and devices (including the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade and the hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule that gives the book its title) that propel the narrative in a headlong satiric rush.
    Catch-22 Book Cover Picture
    Catch-22 Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $28.00

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  14. 14
    Slaughterhouse-Five Book Cover Picture
    Slaughterhouse-Five Book Cover Picture

    Slaughterhouse-Five

    by Kurt Vonnegut

    Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous World War II firebombing of Dresden, the novel is the result of what Kurt Vonnegut described as a twenty-three-year struggle to write a book about what he had witnessed as an American prisoner of war. It combines historical fiction, science fiction, autobiography, and satire in an account of the life of Billy Pilgrim, a barber’s son turned draftee turned optometrist turned alien abductee. As Vonnegut had, Billy experiences the destruction of Dresden as a POW. Unlike Vonnegut, he experiences time travel, or coming “unstuck in time.”
    Slaughterhouse-Five Book Cover Picture
    Slaughterhouse-Five Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $17.00

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  15. 15
    The Crying of Lot 49 Book Cover Picture
    The Crying of Lot 49 Book Cover Picture

    The Crying of Lot 49

    by Thomas Pynchon

    The highly original satire about Oedipa Maas, a woman who finds herself enmeshed in a worldwide conspiracy, meets some extremely interesting characters and attains a not inconsiderable amount of self-knowledge.
    The Crying of Lot 49 Book Cover Picture
    The Crying of Lot 49 Book Cover Picture

    Available from:

  16. 16
    Dune Book Cover Picture
    Dune Book Cover Picture

    Dune

    by Frank Herbert

    A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.
    Dune Book Cover Picture
    Dune Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $40.00

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  17. 17
    The Source Book Cover Picture
    The Source Book Cover Picture

    The Source

    by James A. Michener

    In his signature style of grand storytelling, James A. Michener transports us back thousands of years to the Holy Land. Through the discoveries of modern archaeologists excavating the site of Tell Makor, Michener vividly re-creates life in an ancient city and traces the profound history of the Jewish people—from the persecution of the early Hebrews, the rise of Christianity, and the Crusades to the founding of Israel and the modern conflict in the Middle East. An epic tale of love, strength, and faith, The Source is a richly written saga that encompasses the history of Western civilization and the great religious and cultural ideas that have shaped our world.
    The Source Book Cover Picture
    The Source Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $20.00

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  18. 18
    A Small Town in Germany Book Cover Picture
    A Small Town in Germany Book Cover Picture

    A Small Town in Germany

    by John le Carré

    The British Embassy in Bonn is up in arms. Her Majesty’s financially troubled government is seeking admission to Europe’s Common Market just as anti-British factions are rising to power in Germany. Rioters are demanding reunification, and the last thing the Crown can afford is a scandal. Then Leo Harting—an embassy nobody—goes missing with a case full of confidential files. London sends Alan Turner to control the damage, but he soon realizes that neither side really wants Leo found—alive.
    A Small Town in Germany Book Cover Picture
    A Small Town in Germany Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $18.00

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  19. 19
    The Andromeda Strain Book Cover Picture
    The Andromeda Strain Book Cover Picture

    The Andromeda Strain

    by Michael Crichton

    First published fifty years ago, The Andromeda Strain redefined the science fiction genre, and immediately established Michael Crichton as one of the brightest voices in contemporary literature worldwide.
    The Andromeda Strain Book Cover Picture
    The Andromeda Strain Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $15.95

    Also available from:

  20. 20
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Book Cover Picture
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Book Cover Picture

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

    by Ken Kesey

    Ken Kesey’s bracing, inslightful novel about the meaning of madness and the value of self-reliance, and the inspiration for the new Netflix original series Ratched.
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Book Cover Picture
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $28.00

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