Now, before y'all freak and start spitting out the "I hate short stories" lines, let me explain why I picked this. LOL
Until I read this book, I, like many people who base a their definition of a good read on supurb character development and interaction, detested short stories. In fact, I disliked them so much that when I picked this book up in a used bookstore while on my "Heinlein" kick, I almost threw it away when I realized it was "just" a book of short stories.
Thankfully, I found myself with nothing else to read one day, and decided to give it a shot. I loved it! His stories tied together one to the next, many of the same characters showed up in several stories, and some even found their way into his full-length novels.
I found out long after I'd read this book that Heinlein actually had one wall of his study that was dedicated to his "universe timeline". His short story collection proved it. It all fit. I was amazed!
So, if you've not discovered Heinlein yet, perhaps start with this. It's an excellent representation of his work.
This is rather short, but compelling post-apocalyptic novel about a man who survives an unusual "end" to the world and how he survives afterward with the others who also made it, and deals with a rather unusual antagonist. Whenever I read it, I can never put it down. What compels me is that the behaviour of the masses is realistic, and because it's an interesting situation they are in - the book itself is interesting to read.
Try "The Satanic Verses" by Salman Rushdie, a "big" book in every sense; complex but well worth the effort. He is an absolute master of perpetual storytelling and it's beautifully written - even if (like me) you don't fully understand the novel's finer points it's still a pleasure.
(If anyone is looking for a more gentle introduction to Rushdie try "Haroun and The Sea of Stories" first. It's much lighter both literally and, er, literally - just 200 pages compared to the 600 pages of TSV, and is basically a modern day fairy tale).
Everyone should read the Last Temptation of Christ. It is my favorite book I have ever read. From the very opening introduction to the very end, it is truly an amazing book. Read the book before you see the movie, I made the mistake of watching the movie first and all's that does is disapoint you for the book because you know whats going to happen. Still the movie does the book no justice at all.
I would say Watership Down by Richard Adams - a book you can enjoy on so many levels, right from looking at it as a children's novel about talking rabbits to seeing it as a social commentary on things such as religion and fascism.