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!
Best Books Of The Century
Table of Contents
- 1 Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2006)
- 2 Normal People by Sally Rooney (2018)
- 3 Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (2013)
- 4 A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride (2013)
- 5 Milkman by Anna Burns (2018)
- 6 Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (2004)
- 7 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (2011)
- 8 All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews (2014)
- 9 All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (2014)
- 10 The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (2003)
- 11 Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf (2015)
- 12 The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (2011)
- 13 Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (2008)
- 14 Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (2004)
- 15 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2005)
- 16 The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (2013)
- 17 The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006)
- 18 Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (2013)
- 19 Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (2017)
- 20 A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (2015)
- 21 Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (2009)
- 22 The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (2004)
- 23 Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari (2011), translated by Harari with John Purcell and Haim Watzman (2014)
- 24 Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
- 25 Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (2002)
- 26 Just Kids by Patti Smith
- 27 A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
- 28 Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (2014)
- 29 Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
- 30 Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche (2013)
- 31 Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (2003)
- 32 White Teeth by Zadie Smith (2000)
- 33 The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (2001)
- 34 Atonement by Ian McEwan (2001)
- 35 Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (2004)
- 36 The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (2000)
- 37 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling (2000)
- 38 The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (2016)
- 39 Tenth of December by George Saunders (2013)
- 40 Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012)
- 41 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night‑Time by Mark Haddon (2003)
- 42 The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst (2004)
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)
In a spooky illustration of clickbait synchronicity, Regular Individuals was #25 about the Guardian list, so maybe we all need to accept that this is the 25th most excellent book of the 21st century and be finished with that.
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 publication 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.
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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 that I sincerely hope the massive success of the publication, about a blind French girl and a German soldier during WWII, has delivered some folks in its leadership. Another name that ended up in this survey but was not contained from the Guardian one.
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.
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 WWII 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 clock 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)
This blue, spare book was a Top 20 choice for the Guardian but rode considerably higher here. Perhaps not a bundle of opinions, by any way, but proof it isn’t only feel-good tales that viewers consider their favorites.
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.
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.
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 composing 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 worldIshiguro 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.
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.
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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.
- The bestselling novel—a love story of race and identity—from the award-winning author of We Should All Be Feminists and Dear Ijeawele.
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (2003)
From the first book in her dystopian MaddAddam 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)
You will find DH Lawrence and EM Forster echoes McEwan’s finely tuned dissection of guilt and memory. The fates of three young men and women are changed with a young woman’s lie at the end of a sweltering afternoon on a country estate in 1935. Lifelong guilt, the terror of war, and catastrophic twists follow along with an elegant, deeply felt meditation on the energy of art and love.
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)
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.
- Unsettling, insightful, and hilarious, the stories in Tenth of December—through their manic energy, their focus on what is redeemable in human beings, and their generosity of spirit—not only entertain and delight; they fulfill Chekhov’s dictum that art should “prepare us for tenderness.”
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.
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