We know it's insane. We know people will ask why on earth we think that an 1875 British satirical novel is the book you need to read right now—or, for that matter, why it even made the cut. The fact is, no one needs another best-of list telling you how great The Great Gatsby is. What we do need, in a world with precious little time to read (and think), is to know which books—new or old, fiction or nonfiction—open a window on the times we live in, whether they deal directly with the issues of today or simply help us see ourselves in new and surprising ways. Which is why we'd like you to sit down with Anthony Trollope, and these 49 other remarkably trenchant voices.