Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Best Books of the 21st Century

I will start off by saying how incredibly cliche I feel while preparing for this post. Every blogger on the face of the Internet has tried it. Some fail. Some succeed. Some make a boat-load of cash off of it. I hope to do none of these. I am simply trying to amuse myself, keep my head in the game and my fingers on the keyboard.

So here it is: I am going to try and get through every book on a list of the 100 Best Books of the 21st Century. I figure we have had ten years of great writing and before I get into another 10 years I should explore what has already been done from the Millennium on. But, I was looking for something specific. I did not want a list that was arbitrarily made by some stuck-up English major (not that every English major is stuck up... just the chosen few... you know who you are) who never quite made it to professor level but still wishes to subject us to their high-falutin, strictly "literary genius" taste in books. I wanted the nitty-gritty, the "people-have-spoken", best-book-I-have-ever-read-even-if-it-was-written-by-a-stay-at-home-mom kind of list. I want trashy. I want memoirs. I want so-outrageous-I-can't-stop-reading. I want real people kind of books. I want every-Friday-night-book-club-and-lots-of-wine kind of books. I want to be entertained. I want so-good-every-major-studio-wanted-rights-to-it good.

And so, here is what I have chosen. There is a list on the website www.goodreads.com that list the 847 Best Books of the 21st Century. Good Reads is a website where you can keep track of all the books you've read, send book recommendations to friends or form an online books club. Basically a geek's guide to reading. So, the list is composed of books voted on by readers. This list in fact has been voted on by 2,660 members. I have taken the first chunk of books, the first 100 (because let's be honest, who can conceive of reading 847 books?? This blog would EXPLODE!)

And so, I will read them, enjoy them, and report back on them. I might even muse in retrospect on the books on the list that I have already read. (Is it weird to have memories that go along with books, like where you read it, who gave it to you, how you pictured the characters?)

So here goes:

The-People-Have-Spoken List of the Top 100 Books of the 21st Century

  1. The Kiterunner by Khaled Hosseini
  2. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  3. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  5. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  6. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  8. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  9. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  10. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
  11. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
  12. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
  13. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  14. Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix by J.K. Rowling
  15. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathon Safran Foer
  16. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  17. Atonement by Ian McEwan
  18. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  19. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  20. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
  21. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  22. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon & Lucia Graves
  23. New Moon by Stephanie Meyer
  24. Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer
  25. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathon Safran Foer
  26. The Name sake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  27. Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
  28. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  29. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  30. Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
  31. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
  32. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  33. The Corrections by Jonathon Franzen
  34. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  35. Snow Flow and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
  36. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson and Reg Keeland
  37. The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
  38. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
  39. What is the What by Dave Eggers
  40. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  41. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
  42. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
  43. Freakonomics: A Roque Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
  44. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
  45. Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace… One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson
  46. Dress You Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
  47. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
  48. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore
  49. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
  50. The Year of Magical Thinkin by Joan Didion
  51. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
  52. Jonathon Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
  53. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
  54. Empire Falls by Richard Russo
  55. Naked by David Sedaris
  56. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
  57. Eat, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss
  58. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  59. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  60. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver, Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver
  61. A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
  62. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  63. The Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
  64. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
  65. The Known World by Edward P. Jones
  66. The Devil in the White City Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson & Tony Goldwyn
  67. The Secret Magdalene: A Novel by Ki Longfellow
  68. On Beauty by Zadie Smith
  69. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
  70. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
  71. The Host by Stephanie Meyer
  72. The Shack by William P. Young
  73. John Adams by David McCullough
  74. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
  75. The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  76. Black Swan Green by David Mitchell
  77. God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens
  78. Dreams of the Ringed Veil by Robert Fanney
  79. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  80. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  81. Marley & Me: Love and Life with the World’s Worst Dog by John Grogan
  82. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
  83. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
  84. The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
  85. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
  86. Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald
  87. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
  88. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami & Philip Gabriel
  89. Under the Banenr of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
  90. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
  91. Anasi Boys by Neil Gaiman
  92. Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto by Chuck Klosterman
  93. Never Let Me Go by Kazou Ishiguro
  94. Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
  95. Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris
  96. The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon
  97. The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad
  98. The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
  99. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  100. 2666 by Roberto Bolano

I have crossed out the ones I have read already. (Not very many... 13? Sad!)
The only problem I can see ahead is FINALLY being forced to read Harry Potter, Twilight and those Dan Brown books that I have sworn off for years. I'll let you know how much cringing is involved.

Happy Reading!


  1. Avery I love it!! And a great website for book info! Thanks!

  2. I will have trouble with the Harry Potter and Twilight books....not my thing!