I’m usually disappointed by literary best-of lists, because the compiler is either out to prove his erudition by naming obscure and pointless titles and leaving off well known but still notable ones, or because they make me feel inferior for having not read most of the supposed great titles on the list, especially the obscure ones no one has ever heard of. However, the Telegraph has a list of their 50 best cult novels is pretty good, and not just because I’ve read most of them. It’s a pretty decent list as these things go, if a bit incomplete–it leaves off Naked Lunch, which is pretty much the dictionary definition of cult novel. Also, no Brautigan or Lovecraft. Anyway, their descriptions make up for the incompleteness. My vote for snarkist short summary:
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (1943)
Bewilderingly popular and extremely silly Nietzschean melodrama, in which Ayn Rand gives her mad arch-capitalist philosophy a run round the block in the person of Howard Roark, a flouncy architect. Loved by the kind of person who tells you selfishness is an evolutionary advantage, before stealing your house/lover/job.
I wold add The Hearing Trumpet, by Leonora Carrington, which might be a little too obscure for cult status, but it definitely has a place in my heart and on my bookshelf. Any other titles not on the list?