15. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962)
Author: Ken Kesey
Sometimes we find inspiration in the most unlikely places. Kesey found the spark for his novel while working at a veteran's hospital in San Fransisco. He came to believe that the patients who were treated there for mental illness were really there because they didn't fit society's conventions for behavior.
Kesey's inspiration may or may not have been helped by the hallucinogenic drugs he was voluntarily testing at the time, but the fact remains that he created a must-read novel of stirring, vivid compassion.