Best Books of the 1980s

I collected over 10 lists of the best literature of the 1980s from various sources and combined them into one meta-list.  The results are below, every book on at least two of the 10+ lists, organized by rank (that is, with the books on the most lists at the top).  Note: These are not my personal opinions and I have not read all these books.  If I have read the book, I have included my 1-5 star rating.

On 10 lists
THE NAME OF THE ROSE (1980, Italy). By Umberto Eco. Translated by William Weaver [fiction: novel] (3)
 (1982, US). By Alice Walker [fiction: novel] (4)

On 9 lists
MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN (1981, India/UK). By Salman Rushdie [fiction: novel] (5)
BELOVED (1987, US). By Toni Morrison [fiction: novel] (4)

On 8 lists
BLOOD MERIDIAN (1985, US). By Cormac McCarthy [fiction: novel]
THE HANDMAID’S TALE (1985, Canada). By Margaret Atwood [fiction: novel]
THE JOY LUCK CLUB (1989, US). By Amy Tan [fiction: novel]

On 7 lists
A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES (1980, US). By John Kennedy Toole [fiction: novel] (4)
HOUSEKEEPING (1981, US). By Marilynne Robinson [fiction: novel]
THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES (1987, US). By Tom Wolfe [fiction: novel]
THE SATANIC VERSES (1988, India/UK). By Salman Rushdie [fiction: novel]
A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME: From the Big Bang to Black Holes (1988, UK). By Stephen Hawking [nonfiction: science] (4)
THE REMAINS OF THE DAY (1989, UK). By Kazuo Ishiguro [fiction: novel] (4)

On 6 lists
THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS (1982, Chile). By Isabel Allende. Translated by Magda Bogin [fiction: novel]
MONEY: A Suicide Note (1984, UK). By Martin Amis [fiction: novel] (5)
LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA (1985, Colombia). By Gabriel García Márquez. Translated by Edith Grossman [fiction: novel] (4)
WHITE NOISE (1985, US). By Don DeLillo [fiction: novel] (5)
MAUS: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleed’s History (1986, US). By Art Spiegelman [fiction/nonfiction: graphic memoir] (5)

On 5 lists
IT (1986, US). By Stephen King [fiction: novel]
MISERY (1987, US). By Stephen King [fiction: novel]
THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING (1984, Czechoslovakia). By Milan Kundera. Translated by Michael Henry Heim [fiction: novel] (4)
WATCHMEN (1987, UK). By Alan Moore [fiction: graphic novel]
THE CLOSING OF THE AMERICAN MIND: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students (1987, US). By Allan Bloom [nonfiction]
BATTLE CRY OF FREEDOM: The Civil War Era (1988, US). By James M. McPherson [nonfiction: history] (5)

On 4 lists
SO LONG, SEE YOU TOMORROW (1980, US). By William Maxwell [fiction: novel] (5)
EARTHLY POWERS (1980, UK). By Anthony Burgess [fiction: novel]
COSMOS (1980, US). By Carl Sagan [nonfiction: science]
RABBIT IS RICH (1981, US). By John Updike [fiction: novel] (4)
LONESOME DOVE (1985, US). By Larry McMurtry [fiction: novel]
ENDER’S GAME (1985, US). By Orson Scott Card [fiction: novel]
THE PRINCE OF TIDES (1986, US). By Pat Conroy [fiction: novel]
THE MAKING OF THE ATOMIC BOMB (1987, US). By Richard Rhodes [nonfiction: history/science] (5)
THE ALCHEMIST (1988, Brazil). By Paulo Coelho. Translated by Alan R. Clarke [fiction: novel]
MATILDA (1988, UK). By Roald Dahl [fiction: children’s literature]
A BRIGHT SHINING LIE: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam (1988, US). By Neil Sheehan [nonfiction: history/biography]

On 3 lists
WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS (1980, South Africa). By J. M. Coetzee [fiction: novel]
A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES (1980, US). By Howard Zinn [nonfiction: history] (5)
WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT LOVE (1981, US). By Raymond Carver [fiction: stories] (5)
A LIGHT IN THE ATTIC (1981, US). By Shel Silverstein [poetry; children’s literature]
THE LORD GOD MADE THEM ALL (1981, UK). By James Herriot [nonfiction: memoir]
AFTER VIRTUE: A Study in Moral Theory (1981, UK). By Alasdair MacIntyre [nonfiction: philosophy]
THE MISMEASURE OF MAN (1981, US). By Stephen Jay Gould [nonfiction: science] (4)
WEALTH AND POVERTY (1981, US). By George Gilder [nonfiction]
SCHINDLER’S LIST (1982, Australia). By Thomas Keneally [fiction: novel] (4)
DIFFERENT SEASONS (1982, US). By Stephen King [fiction: novellas]
THE BFG (1982, UK). By Roald Dahl [fiction: children’s literature]
THE GATE OF HEAVENLY PEACE: The Chinese and Their Revolution 1895-1980 (1982, US). By Jonathan D. Spence [nonfiction: history]
IRONWEED (1983, US). By William Kennedy [fiction: novel] (4)
THE WITCHES (1983, UK). By Roald Dahl [fiction: children’s literature]
CATHEDRAL (1983, US). By Raymond Carver [fiction: stories]
THE LOVER (1984, France). By Marguerite Duras. Translated by Barbara Bray [fiction: novel] (4)
NEUROMANCER (1984, US/Canada). By William Gibson [fiction: novel] (3)
CONTACT (1985, US). By Carl Sagan [fiction: novel]
THE VAMPIRE LESTAT (1985, US). By Anne Rice [fiction: novel]
CADILLAC DESERT: The American West and Its Disappearing Water (1986, US). By Marc Reisner [nonfiction]
(1987, US). By Scott Turow [fiction: novel]
OSCAR AND LUCINDA (1988, Australia). By Peter Carey [fiction: novel] (5)
A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY (1989, US). By John Irving [fiction: novel] (4)
THIS BOY’S LIFE (1989, US). By Tobias Wolff [nonfiction: memoir]

On 2 lists
THE TRANSIT OF VENUS (1980, Australia). By Shirley Hazzard [fiction: novel]
THE RESTAURANT AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE (1980, UK). By Douglas Adams [fiction: novel]
THE COLLECTED STORIES OF EUDORA WELTY (1980, US). By Eudora Welty [fiction: stories] (5)
THE EXECUTIONER’S SONG (1980, US). By Norman Mailer [fiction: novel/nonfiction]
TRUE WEST (1980, US). By Sam Shepard [play] (5)
FREE TO CHOOSE: A Personal Statement (1980, US). By Milton and Rose D. Friedman [nonfiction]
THE THIRD WAVE (1980, US). By Alvin Toffler [nonfiction]
LANARK: A Life in Four Books (1981, UK). By Alisdair Gray [fiction: novel]
THE WAR OF THE END OF THE WORLD (1981, Peru). By Mario Vargas Llosa. Translated by Helen Lane [fiction: novel]
THE HOTEL NEW HAMPSHIRE (1981, US). By John Irving [fiction: novel] (3)
GORKY PARK (1981, US). By Martin Cruz Smith [fiction: novel]
SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK (1981, US). By Alvin Schwartz [fiction: children’s literature]
THE GUNSLINGER (1982, US). By Stephen King [fiction: novel]
‘MASTER HAROLD’ … AND THE BOYS (1982, South Africa). By Athol Fugard [play] (4)
THE REAL THING (1982, UK). By Tom Stoppard [play]
TOP GIRLS (1982, UK). By Caryl Churchill [play]
NOISES OFF (1982, UK). By Michael Frayn [play]
THE MISTS OF AVALON (1983, US). By Marion Zimmer Bradley [fiction: novel]
CHRISTINE (1983, US). By Stephen King [fiction: novel]
WINTER’S TALE (1983, US). By Mark Helprin [fiction: novel]
PET SEMATARY (1983, US). By Stephen King [fiction: novel]
THE COLOR OF MAGIC (1983, UK). By Terry Pratchett [fiction: novel]
THE COMPLETE POEMS: 1927-1979 (1983, US). By Elizabeth Bishop [poetry]
EMPIRE OF THE SUN (1984, UK). By J.G. Ballard [fiction: novel]
BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY (1984, US). By Jay McInerney [fiction: novel] (3)
COLD SASSY TREE (1984, US). By Olive Ann Burns [fiction: novel]
THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET (1984, US). By Sandra Cisneros [fiction: novel]
GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (1984, US). By David Mamet [play]
ORANGES ARE NOT THE ONLY FRUIT (1985, UK). By Jeanette Winterson [fiction: novel]
THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST (1985, US). By Anne Tyler [fiction: novel] (4)
THE CIDER HOUSE RULES (1985, US). By John Irving [fiction: novel]
THE MAMMOTH HUNTERS (1985, US). By Jean M. Auel [fiction: novel]
SELF-HELP (1985, US). By Lorrie Moore [fiction: stories]
COMMON GROUND: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families (1985, US). By J. Anthony Lukas [nonfiction: journalism] (5)
THE NEW YORK TRILOGY (1985-1986, US). By Paul Auster [fiction: novels] (5)
NORWEGIAN WOOD (1987, Japan). By Hakuri Murakami. Translated by Alfred Birnbaum [fiction: novel]
THE EYES OF THE DRAGON (1987, US). By Stephen King [fiction: novel]
THE SHELL SEEKERS (1987, UK). By Rosamunde Pilcher [fiction: novel]
HATCHET (1987, US). By Gary Paulsen [fiction: novel]
MORT (1987, UK). By Terry Pratchett [fiction: novel]
FENCES (1987, US). By August Wilson [play] (4)
AND THE BAND PLAYED ON: Politics, People, and the Aids Epidemic (1987, US). By Randy Shilts [nonfiction: journalism] (5)
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1988, US). By Thomas Harris [fiction: novel]
WHERE I’M CALLING FROM (1988, US). By Raymond Carver [fiction: stories] (5)
BAD BEHAVIOR (1988, US). By Mary Gaitskill [fiction: stories]
M BUTTERFLY (1988, US). By David Henry Hwang [play]
LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE (1989, Mexico). By Laura Esquivel. Translated by Carol and Thomas Christensen [fiction: novel]
HYPERION (1989, US). By Dan Simmons [fiction: novel]
A TIME TO KILL (1989, US). By John Grisham [fiction: novel]
NUMBER THE STARS (1989, US). By Lois Lowry [fiction: novel]
GUARDS! GUARDS! (1989, UK). By Terry Pratchett [fiction: novel]
CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER (1989, US). By Tom Clancy [fiction: novel]