Favorite Books of All Time: 1. Middlemarch
Middlemarch by George Eliot is quite simply the finest novel ever written. If I had to take one book to a desert island, this would be it. It's both broad and deep -- the highly populated canvas of an entire world seen from top to bottom. Also extremely witty. First sentence: "Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress." Read it before you die. And check out a great way to read it in this New York Times appreciation.