Last week, I listed my favorite novels published between 2010 and 2019. This week, I’ll go back a decade to rank my favorite novels with 2000-to-2009 releases. Don’t worry, there’ll be no list of 1990s fiction in next week’s post… 🙂
As was the case with my previous post, I’ll mention my favorite novels rather than necessarily the best ones. We all differ on what’s best, just as some people think Trump’s The Art of the Deal is the worst book of all time while others think it’s ABSOLUTELY the worst book of all time.
Here are my favorites (and I’ll ask for yours at the end of this post):
25. American Gods (2001), Neil Gaiman: Very original fantasy work about (surprise!) deities in the United States. Interesting, quite varied deities.
24. March (2007), Geraldine Brooks: Intense novel about the harrowing Civil War experiences of the father in Louisa May Alcott’s classic Little Women.
23. Still Alice (2007), Lisa Genova: Heartbreaking story of a Harvard professor’s descent into early-onset Alzheimer’s. Skillfully told from Alice’s point of view.
22. The Time Traveler’s Wife (2003), Audrey Niffenegger: Quirky, moving novel about time travel (duh!) and how that effects a Chicago-based couple when only the guy is doing the (involuntary) traveling.
21. A Redbird Christmas (2004), Fannie Flagg: Touching tale of a dying (?) man who moves from wintry Chicago (that city again!) to a small town in Alabama.
20. Ellington Boulevard (2008), Adam Langer: A New York City-set comedic novel that says a lot about gentrification and more.
19. The Namesake (2003), Jhumpa Lahiri: The author gravitated from a Pulitzer Prize-winning story collection to novel-writing with this absorbing work about a Bengali immigrant couple and their Americanized son.
18. The Lovely Bones (2002), Alice Sebold: Haunting novel about a murdered girl (who remains “alive” in a kind of limbo), her grief-stricken family, and the frustrating search for the killer.
17. The Road (2006), Cormac McCarthy: Gripping post-apocalyptic novel from a prose master. A departure for McCarthy, who set a number of his previous novels in the past.
16. From a Buick 8 (2002), Stephen King: It “stars” a spooky automobile that’s a portal to another world, but the book is more subtle and moving than many of King’s novels.
15. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007), Junot Diaz: A novel — set in New Jersey and the Dominican Republic — that’s a potent mix of politics and pop culture. Amazing footnotes, too. (Yes, footnotes in a fiction book.)
14. Middlesex (2002), Jeffrey Eugenides: Ambitious novel that’s primarily about its gender-confused protagonist but is also an immigrant story.
13. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000), Michael Chabon: It’s about two cartoonists sort of based on Superman’s co-creators, but there’s a lot more sweep to the novel than that storyline implies.
12. The Kite Runner (2003), Khaled Hosseini: Very dramatic tale that takes readers from Afghanistan to the U.S. and back to Afghanistan — where a grisly Taliban encounter occurs.
11. Winter Solstice (2000), Rosamunde Pilcher: The final novel of any author’s long career rarely gets this good. Heartwarming story of a former London stage actress who moves to a small English village and what happens after that.
10. The Lacuna (2009), Barbara Kingsolver: A gay part-Mexican/part-American man works for iconic artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, is later victimized during the McCarthy era, and more.
9. Oryx and Crake (2003), Margaret Atwood: As clever as dystopian fiction can get. Funny and apocalyptically harrowing.
8. The Blind Assassin (2000), Margaret Atwood: Emotionally wrenching story of two sisters that includes a big surprise and a novel within a novel.
7. The 2000s decade’s many Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child, with my favorite being Bad Luck and Trouble (2007): In that can’t-stop-reading-it book, loner Jack reunites with his old team of elite military investigators.
6. The Corrections (2001), Jonathan Franzen: Compelling depiction of a dysfunctional family coupled with scathing social satire and excellent (if occasionally over-the-top) writing.
5. Prodigal Summer (2000), Barbara Kingsolver: Several seemingly separate storylines eventually converge in an extremely satisfying way.
4. The Millennium Trilogy — The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2005), The Girl Who Played With Fire (2006), and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest (2007), Stieg Larsson: An as-page-turning-as-it-gets chronicle of abuse, murder, corporate corruption, and more that co-stars a journalist and the brilliant/angry/highly original character of computer hacker Lisbeth Salander.
3. White Teeth (2000), Zadie Smith: A potent combination of laugh-out-loud hilarity, serious social commentary, and a memorable multicultural cast of characters in London.
2. Empire Falls (2001), Richard Russo: A pitch-perfect novel set in a small Maine town. The characters are unforgettable, and the action is low-key (but never boring) until things get VERY dramatic.
1. The fourth-through-seventh books of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series — Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005), and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007): The wildly popular series that deserved every iota of its popularity. As its readers know, the wizard-world books got longer and more complex in the 2000s but never became less than exciting, funny, and poignant.
Your favorite novels published between 2000 and 2009?
My literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.
In addition to this weekly blog, I write the award-winning “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for Baristanet.com. The latest weekly piece — which discusses a heated Board of Education meeting (during which delayed teacher raises were criticized) and climate-strike protests in my town — is here.