The Top 100 Books of the Last 25 Years

What do you consider the best books of the past 25 years?  Here are best reads from 1983 to 2008, according to Entertainment Weekly (June 2008).  Make sure you check out #73 (my favorite):

1. The Road , Cormac McCarthy (2006)
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling (2000)
3. Beloved, Toni Morrison (1987)
4. The Liars’ Club, Mary Karr (1995)
5. American Pastoral, Philip Roth (1997)
6. Mystic River, Dennis Lehane (2001)
7. Maus, Art Spiegelman (1986/1991)
8. Selected Stories, Alice Munro (1996)
9. Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier (1997)
10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami (1997)
11. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer (1997)
12. Blindness, José Saramago (1998)
13. Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1986-87)
14. Black Water, Joyce Carol Oates (1992)
15. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers (2000)
16. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood (1986)
17. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez (1988)
18. Rabbit at Rest, John Updike (1990)
19. On Beauty, Zadie Smith (2005)
20. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding (1998)
21. On Writing, Stephen King (2000)
22. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz (2007)
23. The Ghost Road, Pat Barker (1996)
24. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry (1985)
25. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan (1989)
26. Neuromancer, William Gibson (1984)
27. Possession, A.S. Byatt (1990)
28. Naked, David Sedaris (1997)
29. Bel Canto, Anne Patchett (2001)
30. Case Histories, Kate Atkinson (2004)
31. The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien (1990)
32. Parting the Waters, Taylor Branch (1988)
33. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion (2005)
34. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold (2002)
35. The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst (2004)
36. Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt (1996)
37. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (2003)
38. Birds of America, Lorrie Moore (1998)
39. Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri (2000)
40. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman (1995-2000)
41. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros (1984)
42. LaBrava, Elmore Leonard (1983)
43. Borrowed Time, Paul Monette (1988)
44. Praying for Sheetrock, Melissa Fay Greene (1991)
45. Eva Luna, Isabel Allende (1988)
46. Sandman, Neil Gaiman (1988-1996)
47. World’s Fair, E.L. Doctorow (1985)
48. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (1998)
49. Clockers, Richard Price (1992)
50. The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen (2001)
51. The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcom (1990)
52. Waiting to Exhale, Terry McMillan (1992)
53. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon (2000)
54. Jimmy Corrigan, Chris Ware (2000)
55. The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls (2006)
56. The Night Manager, John le Carré (1993)
57. The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe (1987)
58. Drop City, TC Boyle (2003)
59. Krik? Krak! Edwidge Danticat (1995)
60. Nickel & Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich (2001)
61. Money, Martin Amis (1985)
62. Last Train To Memphis, Peter Guralnick (1994)
63. Pastoralia, George Saunders (2000)
64. Underworld, Don DeLillo (1997)
65. The Giver, Lois Lowry (1993)
66. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, David Foster Wallace (1997)
67. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (2003)
68. Fun Home, Alison Bechdel (2006)
69. Secret History, Donna Tartt (1992)
70. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell (2004)
71. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Ann Fadiman (1997)
72. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon (2003)
73. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving (1989)
74. Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger (1990)
75. Cathedral, Raymond Carver (1983)
76. A Sight for Sore Eyes, Ruth Rendell (1998)
77. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)
78. Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (2006)
79. The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (2000)
80. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney (1984)
81. Backlash, Susan Faludi (1991)
82. Atonement, Ian McEwan (2002)
83. The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields (1994)
84. Holes, Louis Sachar (1998)
85. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (2004)
86. And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts (1987)
87. The Ruins, Scott Smith (2006)
88. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby (1995)
89. Close Range, Annie Proulx (1999)
90. Comfort Me With Apples, Ruth Reichl (2001)
91. Random Family, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (2003)
92. Presumed Innocent, Scott Turow (1987)
93. A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley (1991)
94. Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser (2001)
95. Kaaterskill Falls, Allegra Goodman (1998)
96. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown (2003)
97. Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson (1992)
98. The Predators’ Ball, Connie Bruck (1988)
99. Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman (1995)
100. America (the Book), Jon Stewart/Daily Show (2004)




11 responses to “The Top 100 Books of the Last 25 Years

  1. This reminds me some of the theoretical mathematical analysis I did of book popularity. I disagree with so many of these picks that I don’t even know where to start. So I’m not going to. (The first Harry Potter book that quality started to decline in made #2? What?!?!)

    Alright, I’m done. Interesting that they included at least two comic books.

    Lastly, have you seen Doug’s post (and the ensuing discussion in the comments between us) on A Prayer for Owen Meany?

    It is quite an eclectic list, which is why I liked it (even though I have not read most of the books on the list). The books that I liked were (mostly) in the second 50 (at least post 35), so I guess I’m not too much of a front runner (or maybe I’m just not popular).

    I popped over to see your conversation with Doug about Owen Meany. It is easily my favorite novel. I was fascinated with how the theme of predestination was woven throughout the story (using the same basic themes found in The Scarlet Letter) and the messiah image assigned to Owen. I really enjoyed the character (Owen) and how his relationships developed with the other characters through a redemptive theme. I miss Owen Meany.

  2. Thanks for this list! I love book lists because I am a total book junkie – I am in the library 4 days in a week! I would usually scour the library shelves and borrow books from authors from my days in college and high school — I would read contemporary authors like James Patterson or more classic ones like James Joyce. If you’re looking for book lists, I recommend this reading journal I found called “Read, Remember, Recommend” from — it’s just this great little resource with Awards Lists (including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Los Angels Times Award for Fiction and National Book Award for Fiction), Notable lists (Oprah’s book club is one of them) and Author Pages. It’s really helped organize my reading. (I’ve finished half of the Awards list) Check it out – reading becomes so much more enjoyable with it. Now my reading has much more direction and I feel more well read.

  3. “owen” may be irving’s best…

    as always, your lists remind me of how dreadfully little i’ve been reading recently (reading for a professional development “masters” has taken my nights and weekends)…

    Thankful that “madison county” didnt appear – and that Jon Stewart did…

    sorry to see

    A Prayer for Owen Meany is my favorite, although I like everything he’s written – Cider House Rules may be my second favorite… or maybe Hotel New Hampshire… or The World According to Garp… (you get the picture).

    Master’s work can be taxing. I hope you are enjoying your studies – the celebration and sense of accomplishment at the end will be worth your current effort.

  4. I’m always excited when you post a list with books I’ve actually read! Yay!

    I thought The DaVinci Code was awful! It was a page turner at first…then it just turned into a lesson in whatever the author’s religious beliefs were. I never understood the fuss.

    A lot of these books were adapted into great movies…some, not so great. I was sorely disappointed in the movie version of Cold Mountain. The book was fantastic…and the movie was a cheap romance novel version. Very sad.

    I also really liked The Lovely Bones. It was an odd, slightly creepy, novel…but it’s one that has remained in my psyche .

    You have made The Lovely Bones sound interesting, I may need to read it.
    I tend to avoid the movies made of books I liked (and vice verse) – I am always disappointed.
    I haven’t read The Da Vinci Code – I heard the controversy from some, but it just didn’t catch my interest. Who knows, I may read it yet just to see what all the noise was about.
    I’m glad to inject some excitement into your day. Have a great week!

  5. I read the DaVinci Code because of the controversy. As a believer (even as poor of an example as I am) I thought it was really blasphemous…especially the end….but what really bothered me was how tedious it got to read page after page of the “proof” the author was injecting into the story.

    The Lovely Bones is a very interesting story. I actually heard it is being made into a movie as well. I’m sure I’ll see it…and I’m sure I’ll be disappointed! 🙂

    Kind of like my favorite saying, “I had no expectations, and it met all of them.”

  6. Don’ have saved the page let you know how many I can read, in the Christmas holiday 🙂 though I have already done 9 of them 😀

    I’m going to work on a couple myself.

  7. Thanks for the list! I will be printing it out! I have been wanting a list like this to catch up on some intersting reading. “Catch up”! That’s funny – I use that term extremely loosely since I think I’ve read maybe one book on the list!!! I have been reading “fluff” stuff and have been wanting to get into some good books.

    Happy to be of service.

  8. Lovely bones made this list?? Geeezzz And above The Joy Luck Club? I despair! Truly.

    One for the must read list… To the edge of the sky. Anha Gao (from amazon)

    Well, it is Entertainment Weekly’s list.

  9. Gosh, who ever made up this list isn’t terribly well read. I just went through this list carefully. I think whoever wrote it subscribes to the Oprah Winfrey book club. YUCK!

    Maybe Entertainment Weakly?

  10. I’m going to have to see if I can find out what criteria Entertainment Weekly set for determining this list. But, from a literary sense, I find it lacking unless the list is based on some kind of pop culture standard.

    Enjoying your recent “list” posts very much!

    It was probably compiled by Hollywood’s finest!

  11. I feel like Kate Hudson’s character in Almost Famous: Me too.

    Me too.

    Me too.

    I love A Prayer for Owen Meany. Out of that list and almost any other list, I’d say my favorite hands-down.

    I’ll be a modified Sally Field, “You like it, you really like it.” Owen Meany is also my favorite.

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