Best Books Of The 21st Century Of All Time 2022: Top Picks

Best Books Of The 21st Century

The expression 21st century abilities is usually utilized to refer to specific core competencies like cooperation, electronic literacy, critical thinking, and problem solving, which advocates consider schools will need to teach to assist students in flourishing in the world today.

To feel how perspectives on the topic align and disagree, we recently recorded the best books of the 21st century. Let us begin with dazzling debut novels, incisive polemics, history of humanity, and trailblazing memoirs make for captivating reading.!

Table of Contents

Best Books Of The Century

21st Century Books

SaleBestseller No. 1
Bestseller No. 2
Bestseller No. 3
Bestseller No. 4
SaleBestseller No. 5
Bestseller No. 6

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2006)

#10 about the Guardian listing and only outside the Top 20 with this one. A book that’s been sitting on my shelves for at least a decade and that I should get around to reading this. The first African writer on the list, after one Australian and three from Europe. Chimamanda is presently a significant literary voice with considerable cultural clout globally.

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Normal People by Sally Rooney (2018)

Rooney’s second novel was a love story between two intelligent and flawed young people who are coming of age in modern Ireland. It confirmed her status as a literary star. Although her focus is on the uncertainty and dislocation of millennial life, her elegant prose appeals to all.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (2013)

The very first publication in our countdown of that I’m a huge fan of (I’ve not read 25, could not complete the other two), so I’m thrilled to see it, mainly as it had been nowhere at the Guardian Top 100. An atmospheric and haunting debut novel based on the real story of the last girl to be implemented in Iceland.

A movie adaptation starring Jennifer Lawrence is seemingly in evolution. If you’re a lover of the novel, I can thoroughly recommend The Blue Fox from Sjón, a slender novella with a similar texture.

A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride (2013)

The first book on the list didn’t look from the Guardian Top 100 whatsoever, but it definitely will not be the final. Its omission amazed me viewing as it won many awards and has been a Guardian Book Club selection only three decades back.

When I asked people to publish their favorite books, instead of the novels they considered are the very best, I expected there to be plenty of crowd pleasing yarns in my final list and that I do not view crowd pleasing threads’ for a bad thing in all that I hasten to add, however, that experimental book certainly doesn’t fall within that category. All the more reason to welcome its inclusion here.

Milkman by Anna Burns (2018)

Our third book in a row on the island of Ireland, and also our next difficult book. My choice of adjective but one that kept cropping up in coverage of its Man Booker Prize win last year. The subsequent huge sales indicated the book was not difficult because readers aren’t scared of a small challenge. It was, but not on the Guardian record.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (2004)

It’d have been, I believe, a significant surprise if this publication didn’t seem somewhere on the listing. An ambitious literary experiment that paid off and is exceptionally readable to boot up.

This missed on the Man Booker Prize to The Line of Beauty, which has not lingered in the hearts of as many subscribers in the same manner while a fine publication has not remained in the hearts of as many subscribers. It indeed did not have one vote within this poll. Cloud Atlas is the sole name rated lower in our listing than from the Guardian one, in which it’s #9.

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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (2011)

One criticism leveled at the Guardian record was that it had been a bit light on ripping yarns, mainstream or commercial fiction, and genres out the literary fare. I believe they did make a bid to throw in a couple more popular bestsellers; however, come on, this is the Guardian; for goodness sake, the listing was going to be thick on the literary aspect of things.

The Night Circus is a historical fantasy book that was initially composed during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, an online based imaginative writing month that encourages authors to finish a draft of a book during November) and is possibly unique in that regard within this Best 25.

Watch more about The History and Future of Everything

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews (2014)

I have to admit this is a book that I had heard of but knew nothing about before compiling this listing. Every time someone nominated it, I made a mental note to take a look, and now it has made the Best 20 that I will certainly be reading shortly. This publication was nominated for awards and has resonated with many subscribers, a story of two troubled sisters.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (2014)

I’m a lover of Doerr’s previous book, About Grace, which I believe is enormously underrated, and I sincerely hope the massive success of the publication, about a blind French girl and a German soldier during World War II, has delivered some folks in its leadership.

Another name that ended up in this survey but was not contained from the Guardian one. Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize winning book was also on the New York Times bestseller list for over two and a half years. It was also a finalist in the National Book Award.

RELATED: Best Ancient History Books of All Time Review

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (2003)

Another publication that has been bound to look somewhere and considered by many to be a contemporary classic. It had been notably absent in the Guardian record, which strikes me as more than a little daft. I’m pleased the dreadful film adaptation will shortly be replaced with a more loyal television variant.

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf (2015)

The next surprise in a row, even if you ask me. I’m evangelical about Haruf and the novels’ quiet elegance, so I was thrilled to find this publication keep getting nominations.

Two of his books, Eventide and Benediction (really the only two others of the printed this century), also obtained multiple votes, but this one has been before them by some space. An easy, short novel about a widow and a widower who form an unlikely relationship. It’s a masterpiece, in my view.

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The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (2011)

Miller’s retelling of this story of Achilles and the Trojan War in the point of view of the fan, Patroclus, is one of several adaptations of ancient mythology which were released to considerable acclaim in the last few decades. Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Ladies produced the Guardian record, but Miller’s book didn’t.

I enjoyed Barker’s take on matters to an extent. Still, her publication asserted to retell the story from the perspective of these girls, and it honestly did not deliver on this, which had been a disappointment. The Song of Achilles, on the other hand, will deliver on its promise and nearly shared the Best 25 with Miller’s second publication, Circe.

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (2008)

Feel free to shout me down with this one, but I will suggest that this is the first actual surprise entrance in our Top 25. Nowhere on the Guardian survey instead of actually, I admit, in my radar. I’d heard of it and have been conscious of a tv variation; however, my understanding ended before it kept cropping up on your nominations.

Again and again. A set of related stories of a retired schoolteacher that, a decade from the publication, stays much adored by many you to get it at the top ten practically.

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Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (2004)

This epic book (well over 800 pages) about a set of combating magicians throughout the Napoleonic Wars didn’t get a look-in using the Guardian but has been an overwhelmingly popular option with individuals voting in this survey.

I have to confess I have never made it beyond the opening pages and just handled one episode of this tv show, but I was possibly more daunted by the magnitude of this item than anything else. Perhaps I need to give it a second go?

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2005)

A publication about the ability to read this is set during World War II and narrated by Death himself. A magazine that was a crossover hit, selling considerable quantities to kids and grownups alike. The following publication in a row and the next in our top ten didn’t have a sniff of this Guardian Top 100.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (2013)

Maybe there’s something about very long novels that means that they linger in viewers’ hearts and minds over short ones. Indeed, there are various giant fat tomes within our listing, and this one clocks in at 880 pages. I wonder if it’s the immersive quality of a long read, the simple fact that we spend weeks in the company of these figures so that they resonate longer?

The current movie version of the novel was a colossal flop, which is a pity, but a book of this period was indeed much better suited to several episodes of a tv adaptation?

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The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006)

In this touching but disturbing story with biblical conviction, a father and young son each other’s whole world explore the wreckage of post-apocalyptic America. It is hard to watch civilization crumble into chaos. But McCarthy’s metaphysical attempts to see a cold, dark universe in which the light of humanity is shining out is what makes the novel such an important ecological warning.

Read also: Best Cormac McCarthy Books of All Time Review 2022

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (2013)

Our listing and that of those Guardian begin to converge somewhat longer as we get nearer to the top place. Atkinson plays time and familiar story in a publication that’s already spawned a sequel; that sequel is also getting a couple of votes but not enough to break into the Top 25.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (2017)

Among the hot word of mouth hits that everybody appears to get, reading is going to read. Selling more than two thousand copies in only two decades is remarkable and a small wonder, then, it ended up in our top ten. And, I guess it’d still fare well if we replicated the survey in five or ten years.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (2015)

If anybody doubted if this was a reasonable survey, then the simple fact that my most despised book of all time has made it to #2 ought to settle the situation. Whatever I might think, this is a publication that has profoundly moved and resonated with a massive number of subscribers and is just another brick of a book at over 700 pages.

Nonetheless, it’s also a divisive one, together with lots of folks tweeting me to state how much they loathed it. I believe it’s reasonable to say this is very much a Marmite novel.

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Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (2009)

Fanfare, please! Even though the readers that contributed to my survey and the anonymous compilers of this Guardian list disagree in several respects, they’re of oneness in regards to the very Best Novels of the Decade. Wolf Hall was sometimes challenging for the best place, with Station Eleven and A Small Life becoming close occasionally.

Still, after unemployment Hilary Mantel’s hugely acclaimed book was a fantastic decapitated head facing her competition. Maybe interesting to remember that the follow up, Bring Up the Bodies, did receive a small number of votes but nowhere close sufficient to challenge the Top 20.

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The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (2004)

The very first publication in our countdown that’s composed by a guy and [spoiler alert!] The only one which was initially written in a language besides English. This translation from Spanish by Lucia Graves has been a massive bestseller, and I guess it stays much loved because it’s, in several respects, a book about books, about the magic of books and the pursuits that they could ignite.

One of my very few claims to fame is that, for a brief time, there were London Underground posters with this particular publication which included a quotation from me under a quote from Stephen King. This publication has been nowhere on the Guardian record, and I do consider that a significant omission.

RELATED: Best American History Books of All Time Review

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari (2011), translated by Harari with John Purcell and Haim Watzman (2014)

In his Olympian history of humankind, Harari records the several revolutions Homo sapiens has experienced within the past 70,000 years, from new leaps in cognitive reasoning to agriculture, industry, science, data age, and the chances of biotechnology. Harari’s scope could be too broad for a few, but this engaging work topped the charts and created countless marvels.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro has won the Booker Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature. He’s a great author, and in this dystopian science fiction publication (shortlisted for the Booker), his sixth novel command is on full screen. We picked that over his other books since it is a dreadful but brave puzzle that knocks us down each time we read it.

Through the eyes of Kathya, a young woman for an English boarding school that does not permit contact with the external world Ishiguro explores morality, humanity, and memory.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (2002)

Here is the earliest book in our listing and also is the fifth title in a row in the top ten, which don’t look anywhere in the Guardian’s choice. Middlesex is a coming of age narrative with an intersex narrator who manages to be epic, sensitive, moving, and funny. It’s also another enormous fat publication.

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Just Kids by Patti Smith

Patti Smith is an icon, and her memoir about her time living in New York with Robert Mapplethorpe because they both develop to themselves and climb to fame is equally remarkable. It focuses primarily on their relationship and functions as a kind of elegy to Mapplethorpe. It observes the artistry, friendship, love, along with the hustle of New York in the 60s and 70s. It is beautiful and, honestly, iconic.

READ MORE: Best WW2 Books Of All Time: Top Pick

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

Marlon James is a masterful storyteller, capable of weaving an elaborate, striking, and atmospheric narrative of this attempted assassination of Bob Marley from the 1970s. This publication is a brilliant illustration of James’s ability to craft a whole world through the eyes of multiple personalities, and that is why it won the Booker Prize and stole our hearts.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (2014)

This is the full entry in our graph, which did not contain anywhere in the Guardian 100 Best 21st Century Books. There were always going to be novels in this list that were not in theirs.

Still, half of the top ten seems like a large percentage, possibly suggesting a slight disconnect between what critics view as the finest’ and exactly what readers appreciate. There was a stage a couple of days to the voting if this seemed like it may come out on top, but it had been pipped to the post as the week moved.

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

We speak a great deal about the exceptionally talented writer. Our own Sarah Jane has stated, Her books are a skillful and engrossing blend of so many things I adore: lush historical particulars using a seedy Dickensian underbelly. Sophisticated, faulty but powerful female characters. Unusual plot twists.

And though I am not normally a reader of love, the romantic pairings and cries within her books have so much psychological depth and passion and nuance, I can not help but be caught up in them. She’s grown into one of our best writers, and her book Fingersmith is a genuine treasure.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche (2013)

The single writer with two books within this Best 25 can be worthy of notice. This one didn’t create the Guardian record, but I guess that the editors limited their Best 100 to a book a writer, which will be a choice that means their final choice can’t contain all of the best book this century. No such principles here.

This story of love across centuries and continents was just a few nominations before Half of a Yellow Sun, and when Adiche has not composed too many loved novels that divide the vote, then she’d have been in the top three.

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Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (2003)

From the first book in her dystopian Madd Addam trilogy, the Booker winner speculates about how chaos science could wreak around the world. The primary warning that doesn’t trust corporations to conduct the world is blaring louder and louder as the century progresses.

White Teeth by Zadie Smith (2000)

Set around the bond between two wartime buddies, Smith’s introduction brilliantly captures Britain’s multicultural soul and provides a compelling insight into the immigrant household life.

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (2001)

The members of a single ordinarily unhappy American household struggle to adapt to the changing axes of the world within the last decades of the 20th century. Franzen’s go into realism reaped enormous literary benefits: exploring both national and domestic battle, this family saga is intelligent, funny, and exceptionally readable.

Atonement by Ian McEwan (2001)

Atonement is a war story and a love story. It also tells the story of a girl who lies to her family. The novel also opens into a moving portrait of England’s transition from the quiet 1930s to the horrors and terrors of World War II. The heroic account of the 1940 Allied retreat at Dunkirk is one of the most memorable combat scenes in literature. It hammers home war’s terror, confusion, and banality with a visceral urgency.

This is the best known sequence in a beautifully orchestrated novel. It injects many of the author’s favorite themes, such as the dangers of innocence, the sudden intrusions of lousy luck into ordinary lives, and the blurring between art and life with new resonance and depth.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (2004)

Robinson’s meditative, profoundly philosophical book is told through letters written by older preacher John Ames from the 1950s to his son. The latter, if he eventually reaches adulthood, his dad will not see, will have this posthumous one-sided dialog: “While you read this, I’m imperishable, somehow more alive than I’ve ever been”.

This is a publication about heritage, a list of a pocket of America which won’t ever go back, a glimpse of this mysterious, transient beauty which is seen in everyday life. Since Ames concludes, to his son and himself: “You will find a thousand motives to live this life, each of them.”

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The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (2000)

Chabon’s Pulitzer winner is a love story to comics’ golden age in New York. It features two Jewish cousins, one of whom was smuggled from occupied Prague. They created an anti-fascist comic book hero called The Escapist. A romance to the golden era of comic books in New York, Chabon’s Pulitzer winner contains two Jewish cousins, one smuggled from busy Prague.

The latter make an anti-fascist comic superhero called The Escapist. Their particular experiences are as fascinating and highly colored as those they write and draw this generous, open hearted, profoundly adorable rollercoaster of a publication.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling (2000)

A generation grew up on Rowling’s all-conquering charming dreams, but her immersive universe also enthralled innumerable adults. Novel four, the first of these doorstoppers, marks the point at which the show takes off. The Triwizard Tournament supplies speed and anxiety, and Rowling makes her boy magician look death in the eye for the first time.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (2016)

A thrilling, genre bending narrative of escape from slavery in the deep south, this Pulitzer prize winner combines exceptional prose and embarrassing truths. Two slaves flee their masters utilizing the underground railroad, the community of abolitionists who aided slaves from the southwest, beautifully reimagined by Whitehead as steampunk eyesight of a literal train.

Tenth of December by George Saunders (2013)

This hot yet biting set of short stories from the Booker-winning American writer will revive your faith in humankind. No matter how bizarre the atmosphere a new prison laboratory, a middle-class residence where individual yard ornaments are working as a status symbol at such surreal satires of a post-crash lifetime, Saunders reminds us of the significance, we find in tiny moments.

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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012)

The deliciously dark US crime thriller launched a thousand imitators and took the idea of the unreliable narrator to fresh heights. A girl disappears: we believe we know whodunit, but we are mistaken. Flynn’s stylishly composed portrait of a poisonous marriage set against a background of social and financial insecurity combines emotional depth with absolute unputdownable flair.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night‑Time by Mark Haddon (2003)

Fifteen-year-old Christopher John Francis Boone becomes consumed in the mystery of a puppy’s passing, meticulously exploring via diagrams, timetables, maps, and maths issues. Haddon’s intriguing portrayal of an unconventional head was a crossover hit with adults and kids and adapted into a successful stage play.

The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst (2004)

Oxford grad Nick Guest has the suspicious great fortune of moving to the expansive west London house of a climbing Tory MP. Thatcher-era degeneracy is displayed as Nick falls in love with the son of a grocery magnate with the publication records how Aids started to poison homosexual life in London. In peerless prose, Hollinghurst catches something near the soul of an era.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (2005), translated by Steven T Murray (2008)

Mikael Blomkvist, a radical journalist, forms an unlikely alliance with Lisbeth Slander, a young hacker. They follow a trail that leads them to murder and malfeasance linked with one of Sweden’s most powerful families. This is the first novel in the bestselling Millennium trilogy. Millions of readers were captivated by the high-level intrigue and Scandi noir was a hit.

True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey (2000)

Carey’s second Booker award winner is an irresistible tour-de-force of literary ventriloquism. It’s the pseudo autobiography of Ned Kelly (19th century), an Australian outlaw and wild colonial boy. Kelly’s prose inspired Carey to write it as a brilliant rush of semi-punctuated vernacular storytelling. These are tall tales from a lost frontier, both tender and mythic.

Human Chain by Seamus Heaney (2010)

In his final poetry collection, the Nobel laureate tends with moving precision to the fragments and memories of loss. These poems, a collection of elegies or echoes, are filled with a haunting sense and pathos. A line is often left hanging to suspend readers in regret and longing.

The Infatuations by Javier Marías (2011), translated by Margaret Jull Costa (2013)

In this story, the Spanish master explores love, chance, and death through an improbable murder that slowly reveals its true depths. Marias creates an elegant murder mystery using his labyrinthine sentences. But this investigation is about more meaty questions than a whodunnit.

Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich (2001)

Ehrenreich’s story is in a modern classic reportage. She chronicles her struggles to survive on minimum wage in three American states. She began her career as a waitress and then became a nurse’s aide and cleaner. Despite struggling to survive, the stories of her coworkers are pretty shocking. She experienced the US economy full of humiliation and low rewards. This is still urgent news, even after two decades.

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The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

The #1 New York Times bestseller, this rich and compelling historical drama is full of love and sex. It became a movie sensation and spawned a whole fan culture about the Tudor court.

This novel reveals a woman with extraordinary determination and desire, who lived in the heart of Europe’s most glamorous court and who survived treacherous political terrain by following her heart Mary Boleyn. She had to leave Henry VIII’s heart for her rival and best friend. We will just say, “Thanks, Philippa.” We can’t get enough historical fiction.

Zone One, by Colson Whitehead

In a century that has seen the demise of the divide between genre fiction and literature, Zone One is a good hybrid. It offers both the best of both. Whitehead’s post-apocalyptic novel, a zombie novel and 9/11 meditation that is also a cultural comedy, delivers both psychological realism and satisfying gore.

“I will remember the moment Mark Spitz finds his undead mom eating from his father’s corpse until the day that a zombie eats my flesh. Whitehead’s novels are fantastic and more directly deal with the horrors of American history, but they never portray the horrors in the American present.” – Dan Kois

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry (2016)

This savagely beautiful novel tells the story of a young Irish boy who flees Sligo, afflicted by famine. It takes place during the Indian wars and the American civil war. He meets another emigrant and forms a lifelong friendship. They join the army as they travel west to destroy Indian settlements.

The book is viscerally focused, intense, and imbued in the grandeur and beauty of the landscape. It explores love and gender with rare, luminous power.

Night Watch by Terry Pratchett (2002)

Pratchett’s mighty Discworld series represents a high point of modern fiction. It is a parody on fantasy literature that has deepened and darkened over time to create incisive satires about our own world. In the 29th book, Pratchett’s fierce intelligence, anger, and wild humor are displayed in an illuminating story that is moral, humane, and funny.

Mother’s Milk by Edward St Aubyn

Mother’s Milk was first published in 2006. It is the fourth novel of the critically acclaimed Patrick Melrose series. It was shortlisted in the Man Booker Prize and won the 2007 Prix Femina Etr.

The Amber Spyglass, by Philip Pullman

Pullman’s Dark Dark Materials trilogy’s final volume follows its teenage heroes Lyra, Will, and their friends across universes and into the shadowlands and the dead. The epic tale of Lyra and Will is interwoven with the strange, quiet story of Mary Malone, a physicist who uses the analytical tools of a scientist to unravel the trilogy’s cosmological mysteries.

Although Harry Potter may have launched children’s books into the commercial sphere, it was this book, a stew of Milton, Blake, rich in allusion, kind, and fierce, that showed the creative and literary heights that books for young people could reach. The ending! It’s the ending! It breaks my heart to think about it.

A Death in the Family by Karl Ove Knausgaard (2009), translated by Don Bartlett (2012)

Knausgaard’s six-volume series My Struggle revolves, which is relentlessly self-examinating, features the story of his father, an alcoholic. His compulsive honesty set a new standard for autofiction, regardless of whether you consider him the Proust in memoir.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (2006)

This darkly comic memoir by an American cartoonist tells how her gay father committed suicide a few months after she became a lesbian. This groundbreaking work, later made into a musical, helped create the graphic memoir genre. It combines beautiful panels with extraordinary emotional depth.

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Secondhand Time by Svetlana Alexievich (2013), translated by Bela Shayevich (2016)

This oral history of the Soviet Union’s end was created by thousands of hours of testimony, including many from ordinary citizens. Writers and waiters, soldiers, doctors, soldiers, and former Kremlin apparatchiks and gulag survivors are all given the space to share their stories, anger, betrayal, and concerns about the transition to capitalism. This unforgettable book is both a catharsis and an expression of deep empathy.

Austerlitz by WG Sebald (2001), translated by Anthea Bell (2001)

Sebald was killed in a car accident in 2001. However, his unique mix of fiction and fact, keen sense of moral history, and interleaving between inner and outer journeys significantly impacted contemporary literature. The typically ambiguous life story of one man, his final work, chronicles the Jewish diaspora and the lost 20th century with great power.

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson (2015)

A powerful memoir that captured a moment in thinking and changed the world of books. This story is told in fragments. It is about Nelson’s pregnancy. Harry Dodge, Nelson’s partner begins testosterone injections. It is an original written, candid love story filled with academic references.

Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel

Any writer can have conducted the research that informed this extraordinary historical novel. Only genius, gimlet eyed, wicked Hilary Mantel could’ve created the animating intelligence that underpins this remarkable historical novel.

Thomas Cromwell was an advisor to Henry VIII and antagonist to Thomas More. He is brilliant, ambitious, heartbroken, and ruthless. Mantel wrote, Some men have an eye to horseflesh, or cattle to fatten, and she shares that quality as a novelist, taking unlikely narrative leaps which always pay off. This book should be wildly entertaining.

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Wolf Hall (Wolf Hall Trilogy,...
9,858 Reviews

DISSENT: Freedom

This is a great idea. It focuses on less attention than love and family: male friendship. It’s a love story that Patty tells Walter, and then Patty tells Richard. But it’s also about the love story of Walter and Richard. These two friends are fiercely opposed but not less close. Franzen is the man who gives his friend the gift of a 600-page novel.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (2011), translated by Ann Goldstein (2012)

We couldn’t get enough of My Brilliant Friend in the past few years. Elena Ferrante is a force. This novel showed us her amazing gift of writing flawed characters that become entangled in relationships and friendships that are both loving, resentful, and highly universal. We are excited to see her new novel, but we wouldn’t be so thrilled if we first read and fell in love with the first Neapolitan Novel.

The Constant Gardener by John le Carré (2001)

In this chilling investigation of corruption in Africa’s big pharma, the master of cold war thrillers turned his attention towards the new world order. It is based on the case of a rogue anti-biotics trial in Nigeria that resulted in the deaths and maiming of children in Nigeria during the 1990s. It has all the authority and sexiness of his previous novels while revealing the dangers of growing neo-imperialist capitalism.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

This list includes books that we have loved for the past 20 years. For almost half of that time, The Glass Castle was on the New York Times bestseller list. For years, this remarkable memoir of redemption and resilience has been a treasure trove for readers.

It offers a glimpse into a dysfunctional family that is also vibrant and resilient. It is heartbreaking but full of love, faith, and honesty, making it one of the most popular books published of the 21st Century.

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Do Everything in the Dark, by Gary Indiana

The working title of this novel was Psychotic friends network. It is composed in 74 sections and follows a group of loosely bound friends, artists, writers, and careerless people into the broken state of middle age. Their center of gravity is Manhattan, but they have been scattered before, finding themselves as much human debris after personal failures and betrayals.

Do Everything in the Dark, a literary descendant from Renata Adler’s Speedboat is a precursor to recent autofiction. It concludes on the weekend before 9/11 and shows that the American wreckage was not something that happened on a sunny Tuesday morning.

The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein (2007)

Klein’s urgent examination of free market fundamentalism argues, along with accompanying reporting, that the social breakdowns seen over decades of neoliberal economic policy are not accidental. They are integral to the functioning and success of the free marketplace, which depends on human suffering and disaster.

Atonement, by Ian McEwan

Atonement is a war story and a love story. It also tells the story of a girl who lies to her family. The novel also opens into a moving portrait of England’s transition from the quiet 1930s to the horrors and terrors of World War II. The heroic account of the 1940 Allied retreat at Dunkirk is one of the most memorable combat scenes in literature. It hammers home war’s terror, confusion, and banality with a visceral urgency.

This is the memorable sequence in a beautifully orchestrated novel. It injects many of the author’s favorite themes, such as the dangers of innocence, the sudden intrusions of lousy luck into everyday lives, and the blurring between art and life with new resonance and depth.

The Known World, by Edward P. Jones

The intimate portrait of the national nightmare of slavery is disguised in the mourning and britches of an antebellum historical novel. Although it was widely praised for uncovering an obscure part of American history, the story of slave owning free people of color in America was mainly invented.

Many details about the period, including references citations and Henry Townsend’s Virginian plantation, are fabricated. Having denied historical distance, the Known World forces a reckoning with a moral terror that lives still.

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On Writing by Stephen King

You’ll notice that our ed board loves Stephen King if you come to us often. This memoir/manual will be 20 years old in 2020. We’re sharing a short tribute to the book in honor of its 20th anniversary. On Writing is a brilliantly structured, friendly, and inspiring work that will inspire and empower all who read it, whether writers or anyone who loves a great story well-told fans.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Díaz

Junot Diaz’s debut novel was not only an affirmation of the vitality and talent resoundingly shown in Drown, but it also expanded our notions of what is possible and what American literature can be. It could be written in vernacular but well formed and composed for an audience of ascendancy.

The person could be the focus, but it could also include the historical and political. Oscar Wao, the extraordinary American filmmaker, did all that and left us with a lasting understanding of American life as it encompasses lives beyond our narrow borders.

How Should a Person Be?, by Sheila Heti

Her supporters don’t give heti enough credit for being funny or her critics for being severe. Her voice shifts imperceptibly between ironic and earnest, challenging and chatty. It is sui generis, and it is ideally suited for capturing the experience and making art in today’s world. Her autofiction is a breakthrough work exploring sex, friendship, self-documentation, and aesthetics.

The title is a joke. It’s a mission statement for deranged grandiosity and straight faced self-awareness. Is this not what every book ever wants to know?

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (2009)

Mantel was publishing for a quarter century year before the success of the trilogy. The third part, The Mirror, and the Light will be published next March. You can read her story about Thomas Cromwell’s rise at Tudor court. It is a fascinating tale of how England was created and who made it.

Although the surface details are vividly and sensually immediate, her language is as fresh and current as new paint. However, her explorations of power, fate, and fortune are deeply thought out and in constant dialogue with our own time, as the past shapes us.

This book has a sense history listening to and talking to itself, as she intended.

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The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett (2009)

A shocking study based on overwhelming evidence revealed that “more equal societies almost always do better” for everyone. The authors concluded that growth is less critical than inequality: Life expectancy, infant death, crime rates, or literacy, the Scandinavian countries will always prevail over the UK.

A Death in the Family by Karl Ove Knausgaard (2009), translated by Don Bartlett (2012)

Knausgaard’s six-volume series My Struggle, relentlessly self-examination oriented, revolves around his father’s death. The story of his father, an alcoholic, focuses on Knausgaard’s first instalment of the six-volume series My Struggle.

Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware (2000)

Ware was the Guardian’s first book winner. No graphic novel had ever won a generalist literary award before. This story is perfectly poised about a 36-year-old dog body in the office who finds himself in an existential crisis after meeting his father.

Adults in the Room by Yanis Varoufakis (2017)

The memoir of the leather jacketed economist who served as Greece’s Finance Minister in 2015 during a political and economic crisis has been called one of the most important political memoirs ever written. He takes on the IMF, European institutions, Wall Street, and billionaires and is then shown how the system works. His book is a powerful description of modern power.

The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon (2001)

This anatomy of depressive disorder is based on Solomon’s painful experiences. It examines the many aspects of this condition and its sociology, treatment, and science. Its blend of poetry, scholarly rigor, and honesty made the book a landmark in literary memoirs and understanding mental health.

The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee (2010)

Normal cells behave the same way as malignant cells; unhappily malignant cells can be made in unique ways. Mukherjee adapts the opening lines from Anna Karenina to outline the astonishing ambition of his cancer research. He wants to share his knowledge and take his readers on a historical and literary journey.

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Other Best Books Of 21st Century Considered

  • The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell (2000)

  • Honored Guest, by Joy Williams

  • The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin (2015)

  • The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan (2006)

  • Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine (2014)

  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K Rowling

  • Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty (2013), translated by Arthur Goldhammer (2014)

  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (2005)

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Last update on 2022-04-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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