9. Buddenbrooks (1901)
Author: Thomas Mann
Normally, the Nobel Prize is awarded based on a novelist's entire body of work. In the case of Mann's Buddenbrooks, the Swedish Academy went out of its way to identify the novel as the primary reason for the award. The book is not one that you see on tons of your friends' bookshelves, but the themes are as relevant today as they were then.
Mann's novel follows the Buddenbrook children as they wrestle with their desire to engage their artistic side without abandoning the culture of their family. Almost anyone who has left their hometown, whether in 1901 or 2013, can relate to that.