1. Something by Tom Wolfe. I really can't decide between Bonfire of the Vanities or Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. I'd almost say both should be included because they're such different works and they illustrate his talent in both fiction and journalism.
2. Chesapeake, Hawai'i, or South Pacific by Michener. I know alot of people hate Michener and his sometimes slow pacing, but he definitely brings something to the table no one else does and he weaves beautiful multi-generational tales.
3. Can't Stop, Won't Stop by Jeff Chang. The best book written on hip hop and it's effect on it's generation. Sort of important given how influential hip hop is in our current society. And it should be mentioned that no one teaches a hip hop class these days without making at least a couple chapters of the book required reading.
4. Middlesex by Jefferey Eugenides. Bit of an easier pick given the Pulitzer and the ensuing buzz, but it's a fantastic piece of fiction.
5. House of God by Sam Shem. A sentimental pick on my part, but it should be included for the same reasons that Catch-22 is. It's a wonderful, satrical look at health care in the '70s and really captures the despondency of residency much in the same way that Catch-22 does with the military.
6. Harry Potter. I know we should wait until Deathly Hallows, but I think it's worth talking about. The most important 'children's series' since Narnia deserves mentioning in the canon.