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The top 100 books of the 21st century.


I am feeling self-conscious about the appearance of my neck.

by Nora Ephron (2006)

Ephron is most recognized for her work as a screenwriter (including films such as Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally, and Heartburn), but her witty and clever style is also evident in her essays. With a confessional and self-effacing tone, she has a knack for making readers feel like they are chatting with a close friend – even when discussing topics like her home on the Upper West Side of New York. This captivating compilation features her humorous musings on getting older, the pursuit of beauty, and a biting critique of Bill Clinton.
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Broken Glass

Written by Alain Mabanckou in 2005, and translated by Helen Stevenson in 2009.

The author from Congo explains that his goal with Broken Glass was to challenge the French language. This darkly comedic story is narrated by a disgraced teacher who uses minimal punctuation and paragraph breaks. As the narrator, who cannot be fully trusted, indulges in his “bicycle chicken” and red wine, it is evident that he is taking aim at the history of Congo-Brazzaville and French literature as a whole.
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Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara in the 2011 film adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.


The female with the dragon ink.

The book “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” was written by Stieg Larsson in 2005 and translated into English by Steven T Murray in 2008.

Mikael Blomkvist, a radical journalist, teams up with the troubled hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate a series of murders and wrongdoing linked to one of Sweden’s influential families in the initial book of the popular Millennium trilogy. The captivating plot captured the attention of millions of readers, popularized the genre of “Scandi noir,” and sparked numerous imitations.
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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

by JK Rowling (2000)

An entire era was raised on Rowling’s immensely popular tales of magic, but numerous adults have also been captivated by her vivid universe. The fourth book, the first lengthy installment, is where the series truly takes flight. The Triwizard Tournament adds excitement and suspense, and Rowling forces her young wizard to confront mortality for the first time.
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A Little Life

by Hanya Yanagihara (2015)

This American gay melodrama, which is filled with intense emotions, unexpectedly became a popular book and one of the most controversial novels of the current century. The story follows a man whose life is deeply affected by abuse, but also shows the positive impact of love and friendship. While some readers were moved to tears, others criticized it for being provocative and manipulative, but everyone acknowledged its strong impact.
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Chronicles: Volume One

by Bob Dylan (2004)

Dylan’s reticence about his personal life is a central part of the singer-songwriter’s brand, so the gaps and omissions in this memoir come as no surprise. The result is both sharp and dreamy, sliding in and out of different phases of Dylan’s career but rooted in his earliest days as a Woody Guthrie wannabe in New York City. Fans are still waiting for volume two.
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Bob Dylan in New York, 1963.


The Tipping Point

by Malcolm Gladwell (2000)

The writer of The New Yorker takes a look at various topics, from shoe sales to crime rates, using the principles of epidemiology. This led to his own turning point, where he gained fame as an intellectual and began conducting unique studies on modern society. Despite criticism for oversimplifying and selectively choosing information, Gladwell’s unconventional bestsellers have had a significant impact on contemporary culture for the past twenty years.
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by Nicola Barker (2007)

The most rebellious writer in British fiction is incredibly prolific and enjoys playfulness in her works. Her latest masterpiece, set in the Thames Gateway, is a grand and imaginative epic. Barker’s trademark linguistic creativity and quirky humor are on full display as she weaves a story about the impact of history on the modern world. The town of Ashford is plagued by the ghost of a medieval jester, adding an element of supernatural intrigue to the narrative.
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The Siege by Helen Dunmore


The Siege

by Helen Dunmore (2001)

In this novel that takes place during the German siege of Leningrad, the Levin family faces a constant struggle against starvation. Anna must navigate around patrols and dig tank traps while searching for wood, but the impact of historical events cannot be avoided.
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Light by M John Harrison



In 2002, the author M John Harrison wrote this piece.

An often overlooked writer showcases the impressive use of science fiction in literature. The story weaves together three different narratives, each exploring a different aspect of reality through futuristic space adventures, modern anxieties, and virtual-reality imitations. This creates a captivating journey to uncover the enigma at the core of existence.
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This piece was written by Jenny Erpenbeck in 2008 and was translated into English by Susan Bernofsky in 2010.

Erpenbeck’s third novel takes place in a magnificent mansion located near a German lake. The house itself is a central figure, as it endures the tumultuous events of the 20th century. It is first sold by a Jewish family escaping the Third Reich, then taken over by the Russian army, later reclaimed by exiles returning from Siberia, and finally sold once more.
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Bad Blood

by Lorna Sage (2000)

This memoir, which won the Whitbread prize, is filled with meticulously selected language.

This is one of the most well-written accounts of family dysfunction.
hated him and

Sage was raised by her grandparents, who had a tumultuous relationship. Her grandfather was an alcoholic and unfaithful clergyman, while her grandmother despised him after discovering his diaries.

Extorted him and resided in a different section of the residence. The individual.

At the age of 16, the author unexpectedly becomes pregnant, but the story ultimately has a positive outcome.
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Noughts & Crosses

by Malorie Blackman (2001)

In a different version of Britain, a significant young adult novel portrays black individuals, known as the Crosses, as the dominant group with authority and influence. Meanwhile, white individuals, referred to as noughts, face discrimination and segregation. This series from the previous laureate for children’s literature is an important resource for educating young readers about racism.



by Patricia Lockwood (2017)

This may not be the only account of living in a religious household in the American midwest (in her youth, the author joined a group called God’s Gang, where they spoke in tongues), but it is surely the funniest. The author started out as the “poet laureate of Twitter”; her language is brilliant, and she has a completely original mind.
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A telling description of modern power … Yanis Varoufakis.


Adults in the Room

by Yanis Varoufakis (2017)

The author, a renowned economist with a signature leather jacket, recounts his six-month tenure as Greece’s finance minister during the country’s tumultuous economic and political turmoil in 2015. This memoir has been hailed as one of the finest political accounts ever penned, as the author navigates through challenging encounters with the IMF, European institutions, Wall Street, wealthy individuals, and media proprietors, gaining valuable insight into the workings of the current power structure.
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The God Delusion

by Richard Dawkins (2006)

During the time when the concept of “New Atheism” was widely discussed, The God Delusion was a prominent piece of literature. Written by Dawkins, it strongly criticizes religion and asserts that faith leads to extremism, while also dismissing all reasoning for the existence of God as absurd. Despite lacking philosophical depth, Dawkins’ fervent conviction attracted a large audience and the book was a bestseller.
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The price of basic necessities and goods necessary for survival.

The expense of essential items and products required for sustaining life.

by Deborah Levy (2018)

Dazzling memoir … Deborah Levy.

“Although chaos is often portrayed as our greatest fear, I have come to believe that it may actually be what we desire most…” This second installment of Levy’s “living memoir” follows her departure from her marriage and serves as a captivating complement to her thought-provoking and whimsical novels. Through a fusion of feminism, mythology, and the mundane, this book brilliantly merges emotion and intellect.
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Could you please explain the purpose of this text?

Can you clarify the intent behind this message?

This text was written by Valeria Luiselli in 2016 and translated by Luiselli and Lizzie Davis in 2017.

In 2015, as concerns about immigration to the US escalated, the Mexican author offered her services as an interpreter in New York’s federal immigration court. Through a series of compelling essays, she shares the moving tales of the young individuals she encountered, placing their experiences within the larger context of the complex relationship between the Americas.
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by Neil Gaiman (2002)

Neil Gaiman is a prominent figure in the literary world, having written popular works such as Sandman comics, American Gods, and even having a presence on Twitter. However, his most accomplished piece may be this children’s novella, where a brave girl discovers a parallel universe where her “Other Mother” is a disturbing replica of her own mother, complete with button eyes. This chilling modern myth delves into the deepest fears and longings of childhood.
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by Jim Crace (2013)

Crace is fascinated by the moment when one era gives way to another. Here, it is the enclosure of the commons, a fulcrum of English history, that drives his story of dispossession and displacement. Set in a village without a name, the narrative dramatises what it’s like to see the world you know come to an end, in a severance of the connection between people and land that has deep relevance for our time of climate crisis and forced migration.
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Amy Adams in Arrival, the 2015 film based on a short story by Ted Chiang.


Stories of Your Life and Others

by Ted Chiang (2002)

Melancholic and transcendent, Chiang’s eight, high-concept sci-fi stories exploring the nature of language, maths, religion and physics racked up numerous awards and a wider audience when ‘Story of Your Life’ was adapted into the 2016 film Arrival.
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The Spirit Level

In 2009, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett authored this work.


A thought-provoking research, supported by substantial proof, that unveiled

“Among wealthy nations, it is consistently observed that those with more equality tend to thrive.”

debated: whether the topic pertains to longevity, infant survival, or crime statistics.
Scandinavian countries have high rates of literacy and recycling, but also struggle with high rates of obesity.

For example, the US will consistently prevail over the UK.
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NK Jemisin explores urgent questions of power in The Fifth Season.


The Fifth Season

by NK Jemisin (2015)

N.K. Jemisin was the first person of African American descent to be awarded the best novel category at the Hugo awards for her debut book in the Broken Earth trilogy. In her complex and creatively envisioned distant future world, the planet is on the brink of destruction, torn apart by unyielding earthquakes and volcanoes. Within this apocalyptic setting, she delves into pressing themes of authority and bondage through the perspectives of three women. During her speech accepting the award, she stated, “As this genre finally recognizes the significance of marginalized individuals’ aspirations and the potential for a shared future, so too will the world. (Hopefully, in the near future.)”


Signs Preceding the End of the World

This text was written by Yuri Herrera in 2009 and was translated by Lisa Dillman in 2015.

Makina departs her Mexican village carrying a parcel from a nearby criminal and a note for her brother, who has been absent for three years. Her journey to the United States explores the merging of borders, the intertwining of languages, and the blending of identities that challenge the notion of a possible homecoming.
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Thinking, Fast and Slow

by Daniel Kahneman (2011)

The Nobel Prize-winning author’s surprising hit book discusses the details of decision-making and categorizes the brain into two systems. System One makes fast, intuitive, and automatic judgments, such as when a cricket player decides whether to hit a cut shot or a pull shot. System Two, on the other hand, is slow, methodical, and intentional, similar to long division. However, according to psychologist Kahneman, even though System Two believes it is in charge, many of our decisions are actually influenced by System One.
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Spoor, the film adaptation of Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead.


Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

Authored by Olga Tokarczuk in 2009 and translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones in 2018.

This story is an eco-thriller with a touch of existentialism. It follows an eccentric who is fascinated by William Blake as they try to solve the killings of both humans and animals in a secluded Polish village. It is easier to understand and has a clearer focus compared to Flights, the book that earned Tokarczuk the Man International Booker prize. However, it still delves deep into the impact of primal male instincts, fueled by the rise of right-wing politics in Europe, on individuals, society, and the environment.
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Days Without End

by Sebastian Barry (2016)

In this strikingly captivating book that takes place during the Indian Wars and American Civil War, a young boy from Ireland escapes the famine in Sligo and travels to Missouri. He forms a lasting bond with another immigrant and together they join the army on its harsh journey west, destroying Native American settlements along the way. The story is gripping and intense, while also highlighting the magnificence of the land. It delves into themes of love, gender, and survival with a unique and powerful energy.
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Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick


Nothing to Envy

by Barbara Demick (2009)

Barbara Demick, a journalist for the Los Angeles Times, conducted interviews with approximately 100 defectors from North Korea for her compelling non-fiction book. She narrows her focus to six individuals, all from the city of Chongjin in the north-eastern region, which is not easily accessible to outsiders and receives less media attention compared to Pyongyang. Through these stories, the true state of North Korea is exposed, with widespread poverty, corruption, and violence. However, the people portrayed show remarkable resilience and a unique ability to see through the pervasive propaganda in their country.
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Rewording not possible.

by Shoshana Zuboff (2019)

An agenda-setting book that is devastating about the extent to which big tech sets out to manipulate us for profit. Not simply another expression of the “techlash”, Zuboff’s ambitious study identifies a new form of capitalism, one involving the monitoring and shaping of our behaviour, often without our knowledge, with profound implications for democracy. “Once we searched Google, but now Google searches us.”
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Jimmy Corrigan- tThe Smartest Kid on Earth


Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth

by Chris Ware (2000)

When Ware won the Guardian first book award, it marked the first time a graphic novel had received a general literary prize. This story follows a 36-year-old office worker who is faced with an existential crisis after reconnecting with his estranged father, combining emotional depth and artistic complexity.
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Judi Dench, left, and Cate Blanchett in the 2006 film adaptation of Notes on a Scandal.


Commentary on a Controversy

by Zoë Heller (2003)

Sheba, a teacher in her middle age working at a comprehensive school in London, engages in a romantic relationship with one of her 15-year-old students. However, the story is told through the perspective of Barbara, a fellow teacher who is emotionally dependent and her fixation on details drives the plot. Reminiscent of the works of Patricia Highsmith, this alluring exploration of themes such as sex, social class, and solitude is a captivating read.
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The Infatuations

Written by Javier Marías in 2011 and translated into English by Margaret Jull Costa in 2013.

The Spanish expert delves into the themes of fate, romance, and mortality in a tale of a seemingly haphazard murder that slowly uncovers underlying complexities. Marías creates a sophisticated thriller with his trademark convoluted sentences, but this inquiry seeks to answer far weightier inquiries than simply who committed the crime.
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Rachel Weisz and Ralph Fiennes in the 2005 film adaptation of The Constant Gardener.


The Constant Gardener

written by John le Carré in 2001

The author, known for his mastery of writing cold war thrillers, shifted his focus to the new world order in this unsettling exploration of the corruption behind the pharmaceutical industry in Africa. Drawing from a real-life incident where a controversial antibiotics trial resulted in the deaths and injuries of children in Nigeria during the 1990s, this novel possesses the same fast-paced intensity and expert storytelling as his previous works. Furthermore, it accurately and foreseeably dissects the risks of a rampant neo-imperialist capitalism.
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The Silence of the Girls

by Pat Barker (2018)

If Homer is the basis of the western literary canon, then it is built on the suppression of women’s voices. Barker’s remarkable contribution, in which she retells the story of the Iliad from the perspective of the enslaved Trojan women, resonated with both the #MeToo movement and a larger effort to give voice to those who have been silenced. In a world that is still plagued by war, this story holds a disturbing relevance.
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“Seven Concise Lessons on the Principles of Physics”

by Carlo Rovelli (2014)

A 96-page overview of modern physics, this text by a theoretical physicist delves into the fundamental mysteries of the universe. With insightful observations and creative analogies, Rovelli presents a top-notch introduction to concepts like relativity, quantum mechanics, cosmology, elementary particles, and entropy, making it a valuable resource for those seeking an understanding of advanced physics.
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Ben Affleck in the 2014 film adaptation of Gone Girl.


Gone Girl

by Gillian Flynn (2012)

The deliciously dark US crime thriller that launched a thousand imitators and took the concept of the unreliable narrator to new heights. A woman disappears: we think we know whodunit, but we’re wrong. Flynn’s stylishly written portrait of a toxic marriage set against a backdrop of social and economic insecurity combines psychological depth with sheer unputdownable flair.
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On Writing

by Stephen King (2000)

After surviving a nearly deadly accident, this book by the most accomplished contemporary fiction writer is a mix of personal account and instructional guide. It highlights King’s raw and effortless talent at its finest. Not only is it practical, but it also offers a captivating story of determination in the literary world, and a lifelong passion for words and storytelling.
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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

by Rebecca Skloot (2010)

In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African American, passed away from cancer while receiving treatment in a segregated hospital ward. Without her consent, her cells were taken during a biopsy and later became instrumental in medical advancements, leading to the creation of numerous drugs used globally. Skilfully weaving together the remarkable scientific narrative, Skloot also emphasizes the importance of including the voices of the Lacks children in this story. Despite the immense profits made from their mother’s “HeLa” cells, they have faced ongoing struggles.
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Benedict Cumberbatch in the TV adaptation of Edward St Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose novels.


Mother’s Milk

Reworded: This text was written by Edward St Aubyn in 2006.

In the fourth installment of the autobiographical series about Patrick Melrose, the main character, who has previously turned to drug abuse to escape traumatic memories of childhood abuse, now sets out on a journey towards redemption. The clever use of humor and nuanced exploration of the human psyche elevate the dark themes of the story to a captivating level.
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This House of Grief

by Helen Garner (2014)

A father intentionally drives his three sons into a deep pond and then swims away, leaving them to die. However, was this truly an accident? This tragic event from 2005 caught the interest of one of Australia’s most renowned authors. Garner places herself at the forefront in her retelling of Robert Farquharson’s trial, skillfully blending investigative facts with emotional depth.

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A mesmerising tapestry of the River Dart’s mutterings … Alice Oswald.



by Alice Oswald (2002)

This poem, spanning the length of a book, weaves together the intriguing murmurs of the river. It is inspired by three years of documenting discussions with those who reside and labor along the River Dart in Devon. The voices are diverse, ranging from swimmers to sewage workers, boatbuilders to bailiffs, salmon fishers to ferryman, and are portrayed vividly and authentically.
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The Beauty of the Husband

by Anne Carson (2002)

A renowned poet from Canada delves into the themes of love and longing in a work that defines itself as “a fictional essay presented in 39 tangos”. Through fluidly structured verses, Carson traces the journey of a doomed marriage, capturing the twists and turns of emotions and thoughts from the initial encounter to the final breakdown caused by multiple acts of unfaithfulness.



by Tony Judt (2005)

This extensive examination of Europe from 1945 onwards starts with the aftermath of World War II and provides a comprehensive account of the Cold War from its origins to the disintegration of the Soviet bloc – of which Judt personally experienced during Czechoslovakia’s peaceful Velvet Revolution. The story is intricate and gripping, and with a hint of sentimental belief in “the European idea” that may now be viewed as nostalgic.
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The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

by Michael Chabon (2000)

Reworded: Chabon’s Pulitzer-winning novel celebrates the comic book era in New York City through a love story. The story follows two Jewish cousins, one from occupied Prague, as they create a superhero named The Escapist to combat fascism. Their own real-life experiences are just as colorful and thrilling as the ones they depict in their comic. This book is a heartwarming and generous ride that is sure to be adored by readers.
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Robert Macfarlane’s Underland (Hamish Hamilton).



by Robert Macfarlane (2019)

series of letters between a father and his son,

A deeply moving and eloquent novel, presented as a collection of correspondence between a father and his son.

A sequence of subterranean journeys, often filled with intense fear and a sense of confinement.

– From the icy fjords of the Arctic to the eerie catacombs of Paris. Journeys both beneath and above.
questions about the nature of the rock

The appearance prompts contemplation of long stretches of geological time and provokes inquiry into the characteristics of the rocks.
urgent questions about the human impact on planet Earth.
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The predicament faced by those who eat both plant and animal-based foods:

by Michael Pollan (2006)

A captivating and exceptionally influential book written by the renowned author known for his wise words: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” The writer chronicles four meals as they go through the process of being harvested and served – including one from McDonald’s and a locally-sourced organic banquet. Pollan is a talented and entertaining storyteller, and his book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, revolutionized both food literature and our perspective on food.
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Mary Beard, whose slim manifesto Women & Power became an instant feminist classic.


Women & Power

by Mary Beard (2017)

Beard’s talks about the suppression of women’s voices inspired the book Women and Power, which gained widespread popularity in 2017, known as the “Year of #MeToo”. It delves into the issue of misogyny and traces the roots of “gendered speech” back to the classical period, as well as discussing the challenges faced by powerful women in a male-dominated society. This concise manifesto quickly became a well-known feminist work.
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This is a novel about the life and crimes of the infamous Australian bushranger, Ned Kelly.

This book tells the story of the notorious Australian outlaw, Ned Kelly, and his criminal activities.

by Peter Carey (2000)

Carey’s second Booker winner is an irresistible tour de force of literary ventriloquism: the supposed autobiography of 19th-century Australian outlaw and “wild colonial boy” Ned Kelly, inspired by a fragment of Kelly’s own prose and written as a glorious rush of semi-punctuated vernacular storytelling. Mythic and tender by turns, these are tall tales from a lost frontier.
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Small Island

by Andrea Levy (2004)

Set in London, this novel features four main characters: Hortense and Gilbert, who are Jamaican immigrants, and a stereotypical English couple, Queenie and Bernard. Despite facing prejudice, their different perspectives are brought together by themes of love and loyalty, resulting in a thought-provoking portrayal of the early stages of Britain’s diverse society.
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The 2015 film adaptation of Brooklyn.



Written by Colm Tóibín in 2009.

Tóibín’s sixth novel is set in the 1950s, when more than 400,000 people left Ireland, and considers the emotional and existential impact of emigration on one young woman. Eilis makes a life for herself in New York, but is drawn back by the possibilities of the life she has lost at home. A universal story of love, endurance and missed chances, made radiant through Tóibín’s measured prose and tender understatement.
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Oryx and Crake

by Margaret Atwood (2003)

The initial installment of her dystopian series, MaddAddam, which won the Booker Prize, delves into the potential destruction that science can cause. The prominent message is a cautionary one – do not rely on corporations to control the fate of the planet – and it becomes increasingly alarming as time goes on.
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Why settle for contentment when you have the potential for happiness?

by Jeanette Winterson (2011)

The title is the question Winterson’s adoptive mother asked as she threw her daughter out, aged 16, for having a girlfriend. The autobiographical story behind Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, and the trials of Winterson’s later life, is urgent, wise and moving.
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Night Watch

by Terry Pratchett (2002)

Pratchett’s renowned Discworld saga is a standout in contemporary literature: a spoof of fantasy writing that evolved into a piercing commentary on our own reality. The 29th installment, which centers on unexpected protagonists, showcases his sharp wit, righteous fury, and uproarious comedy, in a tale that is both moral and full of heart.
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The 2008 film adaptation of Persepolis.



by Marjane Satrapi (2000-2003), translated by Mattias Ripa (2003-2004)

Satrapi’s graphic novel, which is based on her own experiences, depicts her journey through adolescence during the time leading up to and during the Iranian revolution. Through this lively memoir, Satrapi sheds light on a lesser-known aspect of history by delving into the experiences of one individual.


Human Chain

by Seamus Heaney (2010)

The recipient of the Nobel Prize carefully attends to memories and grief in his last book of poetry. Comprised of elegies and echoes, these pieces exude a sorrowful feeling, often leaving a line unfinished to leave the reader in a state of yearning and remorse.
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Levels of Life

by Julian Barnes (2013)

The English writer merges imaginative storytelling and factual writing to create a powerful essay about sorrow and affection for his deceased spouse, literary agent Pat Kavanagh. Barnes splits the novel into three sections with distinct topics – 19th-century hot air ballooning, photography, and marriage – which come together beautifully.
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Hope in the Dark

by Rebecca Solnit (2004)

The author challenges the overwhelming hopelessness during the height of the Bush administration and the start of the Iraq war, and instead finds hope in political engagement and its potential to bring about change in the world. The book covers a diverse range of topics, including the collapse of the Berlin wall, the Zapatista uprising in Mexico, and the creation of Viagra.
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Claudia Rankine confronts the history of racism in the US.


Citizen: An American Lyric

by Claudia Rankine (2014)

The poet’s acclaimed written piece addresses the issue of racism in the United States, discussing instances such as the delayed emergency response in hurricane-stricken black neighborhoods and a mother’s attempt to distance her daughter from a black passenger on a plane. The piece also raises the question of citizenship and who is deemed worthy of it, regardless of their legal standing.
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by Michael Lewis (2010)

The creator of The Big Short has successfully turned complex topics into enjoyable and understandable material throughout their career. Moneyball recounts the tale of how individuals with a strong grasp on mathematics outwitted athletes to transform the game of baseball. However, one does not need to have knowledge or interest in the sport, as the focus is on the storytelling aspect – a hallmark of Lewis’s exceptional writing.
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James McAvoy in the film adaptation of Atonement.



by Ian McEwan (2001)

McEwan’s precise analysis of memory and guilt evokes shades of DH Lawrence and EM Forster. The lives of three individuals are forever changed by a young girl’s fabricated story on a hot summer day at a rural estate in 1935. The lingering regret, the atrocities of war, and unexpected turns that ensue are depicted with grace in this poignant contemplation of the influence of love and art.
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The Year of Magical Thinking

by Joan Didion (2005)

Didion writes in a stark and eloquent style as she recounts the year her spouse, author John Gregory Dunne, suffered a fatal heart attack in their household. Her powerful introspection on loss and being a widow altered the landscape of literature on mourning.
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White Teeth

by Zadie Smith (2000)

Smith’s first novel beautifully portrays the unexpected friendship between two individuals during wartime and effectively showcases the diversity of British culture. It also provides a thought-provoking perspective on the experiences of immigrant families.


The Line of Beauty

by Alan Hollinghurst (2004)

Nick Guest, a graduate of Oxford University, finds himself in the fortunate (yet questionable) position of moving into the luxurious west London residence of a rising member of the Conservative Party. The novel chronicles Nick’s love affair with the son of a wealthy supermarket owner and documents the impact of the Aids epidemic on the gay community in London during the Thatcher era. Through expertly crafted writing, Hollinghurst captures the essence of this particular time period.
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The Green Road

by Anne Enright (2015)

The Irish novelist’s family drama centers around a reunion, but the unique tales of each member of the Madigan family – the mother Rosaleen, and her children Dan, Emmet, Constance, and Hanna – are skillfully intertwined. As the Madigans finally reunite halfway through the book, Enright expertly highlights the significance of their shared past and familial ties.
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Martin Amis recalls his ‘velvet-suited, snakeskin-booted’ youth.



by Martin Amis (2000)

Renowned for his sharp and humorous writing style, Amis showed a more affectionate side in his memoir. He reflects on the haunting memory of his cousin Lucy’s disappearance, only to later discover she was a victim of Fred West’s murder twenty years later. Despite this tragedy, Amis also fondly recalls his wild and carefree youth, and depicts a touching image of his father’s comedic charm as he ages and becomes the opposite of his well-known author father, Kingsley.
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The Hare with Amber Eyes

Written by Edmund de Waal in 2010.

This captivating personal account delves into the journey of the artist as he inherits a remarkable collection of 264 netsuke, tiny Japanese ornaments, from his great-uncle. The unexpected preservation of these objects leads De Waal to recount a tale that spans from Paris to Austria during the Nazi regime to Japan, all while evoking a vivid sense of each location. The narrative also offers insightful musings on the significance of objects in our lives.
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Outline by Rachel Cusk


Outline by Rachel

Cusk (2014)

This startling work of autofiction, which signalled a new direction for Cusk, follows an author teaching a creative writing course over one hot summer in Athens. She leads storytelling exercises. She meets other writers for dinner. She hears from other people about relationships, ambition, solitude, intimacy and “the disgust that exists indelibly between men and women”. The end result is sublime. Read the review

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel


Fun Home

by Alison Bechdel (2006)

The comic artist’s comedic yet somber autobiography recounts the events leading up to her father’s suicide following her own coming out as a lesbian. This groundbreaking piece, later adapted into a musical, played a significant role in defining the contemporary style of “graphic memoir”. It seamlessly blends intricate and stunning illustrations with poignant emotional complexity.
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The Emperor of All Maladies

by Siddhartha Mukherjee (2010)

Normal cells are the same in their normality, but malignant cells take on a unique and unhappy malignancy. Mukherjee’s study of cancer, inspired by the opening lines of Anna Karenina, aims to not only provide insight from an oncologist’s perspective, but also to take readers on a literary and historical voyage.
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The Argonauts

by Maggie Nelson (2015)

A powerful autobiography that captured a pivotal moment in societal views on gender and revolutionized the literary landscape. The narrative is conveyed through fragments, chronicling Nelson’s pregnancy while her partner, artist Harry Dodge, starts taking testosterone injections. It is a candid and thought-provoking account, enriched with a wealth of scholarly influences, ultimately portraying a tale of love that presents a fresh perspective on life.
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The Underground Railroad

by Colson Whitehead (2016)

Unable to reword.
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Uncomfortable truths … Colson Whitehead.


A Death in the Family

The author of this text is Karl Ove Knausgaard and it was originally published in 2009. The translation was done by Don Bartlett in 2012.

The initial part of Knausgaard’s introspective six-book series, My Struggle, delves into the experiences surrounding his father’s alcoholism and passing. Regardless of whether one considers him the Proust of autobiographical writing, his unwavering transparency has set a new standard for autofiction. Check out the review.



This work was written by Carol Ann Duffy in 2005.

Rapture, an extended poem written by the first female poet laureate of the UK, was awarded the TS Eliot prize in 2005. Through themes of love, betrayal, and separation, Duffy presents a unique and innovative perspective on romance.
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The titles of the book are Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage.

by Alice Munro (2001)

Reworded: The Nobel Prize-winning Canadian author, known for her insightful and compassionate short stories, shines in this compilation. In one story, a housekeeper’s life is altered by the mischievous actions of her employer’s teenage daughter, while in another, a notorious flirt gracefully accepts his wife’s newfound love in her nursing home. Munro’s stories are unpredictable and finely attuned to the subtle changes in perspective of her characters.
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Capital in the Twenty First Century

According to the translation by Arthur Goldhammer (2014) of Thomas Piketty’s (2013) work,

The author of Capital, which took 15 years of research to create, became a renowned intellectual and was hailed as the contemporary Marx for its eloquence. This work sheds light on how neoliberalism perpetuates significant disparities, supported by extensive data, theories, and historical examination. Its warning is evident and prescient: if governments fail to raise taxes, the extreme and disturbing wealth gap among the wealthy will lead to political turbulence.
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Sally Rooney focuses on the uncertainty of millennial life.


Normal People

by Sally Rooney (2018)

Rooney’s second novel, a love story between two clever and damaged young people coming of age in contemporary Ireland, confirmed her status as a literary superstar. Her focus is on the dislocation and uncertainty of millennial life, but her elegant prose has universal appeal.
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“An Encounter with The Goon Squad”

by Jennifer Egan (2011)

Egan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, influenced by Proust and The Sopranos, tells the story of multiple individuals within the US music scene. However, at its core, the book delves into themes of memory, family ties, time, storytelling, and the contrast between connection and separation.
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The Noonday Demon

by Andrew Solomon (2001)

Based on the author’s personal struggles, this book delves into the complexities of depression, exploring its various manifestations and exploring its scientific, societal, and therapeutic aspects. With a blend of candor, academic rigor, and poetic language, this memoir has become a standard in the genre and a valuable resource for understanding mental well-being. Check out the review for more insight.


Tenth of December

by George Saunders (2013)

This warm yet biting collection of short stories by the Booker-winning American author will restore your faith in humanity. No matter how weird the setting – a futuristic prison lab, a middle-class home where human lawn ornaments are employed as a status symbol – in these surreal satires of post-crash life Saunders reminds us of the meaning we find in small moments.
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Chart-topping history of humanity … Yuval Noah Harari.



This text was written by Yuval Noah Harari in 2011 and was later translated by Harari in collaboration with John Purcell and Haim Watzman in 2014.

Harari’s book, “Olympian History of Humanity,” chronicles the various revolutions that Homo sapiens has experienced in the past 70,000 years. These include advancements in cognitive reasoning, agriculture, science, and industry, as well as the current era of information and the potential of biotechnology. While some may find Harari’s scope to be too broad, this captivating work became a bestseller and captivated millions of readers.
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Life After Life

by Kate Atkinson (2013)

Atkinson examines family, history and the power of fiction as she tells the story of a woman born in 1910 – and then tells it again, and again, and again. Ursula Todd’s multiple lives see her strangled at birth, drowned on a Cornish beach, trapped in an awful marriage and visiting Adolf Hitler at Berchtesgaden. But this dizzying fictional construction is grounded by such emotional intelligence that her heroine’s struggles always feel painfully, joyously real.
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A stage adaptation of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night‑Time

by Mark Haddon (2003)

At the age of fifteen, Christopher John Francis Boone becomes fixated on solving the mystery of a dog’s death. He meticulously investigates using diagrams, timetables, maps, and math problems. Haddon’s intriguing depiction of an unconventional mind appealed to both adults and children, and the story was later adapted into a highly successful stage production.


The Shock Doctrine

by Naomi Klein (2007)

Klein’s urgent analysis of free-market fundamentalism reveals that the societal disruptions caused by years of neoliberal economic policies are not coincidental, but rather essential to the operation of the free market. Through thorough reporting, she exposes how disasters and human suffering are necessary for the functioning of this economic system.
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Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee in The Road, based on Cormac McCarthy’s novel.


The Road

by Cormac McCarthy (2006)

A man and his son, who are each other’s whole world, travel through the desolate remains of America after an apocalypse in this unsettling yet heartfelt tale that is told with strong religious beliefs. The descent into barbarism as society falls apart is distressing, but it is McCarthy’s philosophical exploration of a bleak and dark universe where humanity is fading away that gives the novel its impact as an environmental cautionary tale.
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The Corrections

by Jonathan Franzen (2001)

The ordinary and discontent American family members face challenges in adapting to the changing dynamics of their lives during the later years of the 20th century. Franzen’s transition to realism resulted in great success in the literary world. This tale of a family delves into both personal and societal struggles, showcasing wit and humor while remaining highly engaging.
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The Sixth Extinction

by Elizabeth Kolbert (2014)

The journalist specializing in science explores in a clear and impactful manner the present issue of decline in plant and animal populations due to human civilization. This issue has resulted in five mass extinctions on Earth over the course of half a billion years, with humans being responsible for the current one. Kolbert delves into the impact on various ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Amazon rainforest, as well as the fate of extinct and endangered species like the Sumatran rhino and the black-faced honeycreeper of Maui, considered by some to be the most beautiful bird in the world. This article reviews her work.

Sensuous love story … Sarah Waters.



by Sarah Waters (2002)

Moving from the underworld dens of Victorian London to the boudoirs of country house gothic, and hingeing on the seduction of an heiress, Waters’s third novel is a drippingly atmospheric thriller, a smart study of innocence and experience, and a sensuous lesbian love story – with a plot twist to make the reader gasp.
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Nickel and Dimed

by Barbara Ehrenreich (2001)

In this modern classic of reportage, Ehrenreich chronicled her attempts to live on the minimum wage in three American states. Working first as a waitress, then a cleaner and a nursing home aide, she still struggled to survive, and the stories of her co-workers are shocking. The US economy as she experienced it is full of routine humiliation, with demands as high as the rewards are low. Two decades on, this still reads like urgent news.
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There is a conspiracy against America.

by Philip Roth (2004)

What if famed pilot Charles Lindbergh, who previously praised Hitler as a “great man”, had won the US presidential election by a large margin and formed an alliance with Nazi Germany? With a mix of paranoia and possibility, Roth’s alternate history novel remains timely in the current era of Trump.
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My Brilliant Friend

The novel “by Elena Ferrante (2011), translated by Ann Goldstein (2012)” cannot be reworded.

The initial book in Ferrante’s Neapolitan series is a bold and intimate portrayal of domestic life, solidifying her as a renowned literary figure. The subsequent three novels delve into the impact of misogyny and violence on individuals’ lives, as well as the political climate of Italy during the late 20th century.


Half of a Yellow Sun

Written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in 2006

As a child in Nigeria, Adichie lived under the shadow of the Biafran war. Her award-winning book delves into the intertwined struggles of both the political and personal during this conflict, shedding light on the lasting effects of colonialism in Africa.
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Cloud Atlas


Cloud Atlas

David Mitchell (2004)

Mitchell became well-known for his epic novel, which can be compared to a Russian nesting doll. It contains multiple stories within stories and covers a wide range of time periods and literary genres with skill. The book follows a 19th-century sailor, explores a post-apocalyptic world, delves into nuclear conspiracy in the 1970s, and even includes the account of a cloned individual from the future. These complex narratives are intricately connected, emphasizing the patterns and repetitions in the grand human saga.
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by Ali Smith (2016)

Smith started working on her Seasonal Quartet, an ongoing project of fast-paced publishing, amidst the context of the EU referendum. The resulting “first novel about Brexit” is not just a glimpse into a newly separated Britain, but a brilliant journey into themes of love and creativity, time and imagination, and existence and mortality, all presented with her usual originality and cleverness.
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A meditation on what it means to be a black American today … Ta-Nehisi Coates.


Between the World and Me

by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2015)

Coates’s impassioned meditation on what it means to be a black American today made him one of the country’s most important intellectuals and writers. Having grown up the son of a former Black Panther on the violent streets of Baltimore, he has a voice that is challenging but also poetic. Between the World and Me takes the form of a letter to his teenage son, and ranges from the daily reality of racial injustice and police violence to the history of slavery and the civil war: white people, he writes, will never remember “the scale of theft that enriched them”.
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The Amber Spyglass

by Philip Pullman (2000)

The genre of children’s literature reached a milestone when Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy was awarded the Whitbread book of the year, making it the first book for younger readers to receive this honor. Pullman’s writing is characterized by vivid imagination and strong storytelling, tackling weighty themes such as religion, free will, totalitarianism, and the human pursuit of knowledge, rebellion, and personal growth. In this final installment, Asriel’s battle against the Authority reaches its climax, Lyra and Will embark on a journey to the Land of the Dead, and Mary delves into the enigmatic elementary particles that give their name to Pullman’s current trilogy, The Book of Dust. While Pullman may not have achieved the same level of commercial success as JK Rowling, his sophisticated retelling of Paradise Lost has helped adult readers shed any shame in enjoying literature intended for children. As a result, the publishing industry has flourished.
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In 2001, WG Sebald’s work was translated by Anthea Bell.

Sebald died in a car crash in 2001, but his genre-defying mix of fact and fiction, keen sense of the moral weight of history and interleaving of inner and outer journeys have had a huge influence on the contemporary literary landscape. His final work, the typically allusive life story of one man, charts the Jewish disapora and lost 20th century with heartbreaking power. Read the review

From left: Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield in the 2010 film adaptation of Never Let Me Go.


Do not ever abandon me.

by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005)

Ishiguro, a Nobel laureate, is known for his thought-provoking stories that delve into themes of history, nationalism, and the individual’s role in a complex world. His sixth novel, which takes place in an alternate version of 1990s England and centers around a love triangle between clones, carries on this tradition with its subtle and poignant examination of mortality and the human experience.
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Secondhand Time

This work was written by Svetlana Alexievich in 2013 and translated by Bela Shayevich in 2016.

The Belarusian Nobel laureate recorded thousands of hours of testimony from ordinary people to create this oral history of the Soviet Union and its end. Writers, waiters, doctors, soldiers, former Kremlin apparatchiks, gulag survivors: all are given space to tell their stories, share their anger and betrayal, and voice their worries about the transition to capitalism. An unforgettable book, which is both an act of catharsis and a profound demonstration of empathy.



by Marilynne Robinson (2004)

Robinson’s contemplative and profoundly philosophical novel is conveyed through a series of letters penned by an elderly preacher named John Ames in the 1950s. These letters are addressed to his young son, who will one day read them as an adult, long after his father has passed away. Through this posthumous correspondence, Ames strives to leave a lasting legacy for his son. The novel serves as a testament to a bygone era in America, a poignant reminder of the fleeting yet exquisite beauty that can be found in the routines of daily life. As Ames reminds both his son and himself, there are countless reasons to embrace and cherish this precious existence.
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Hilary Mantel captures ‘a sense of history listening and talking to itself’.


Wolf Hall

by Hilary Mantel (2009)

Mantel had been writing for twenty-five years before her groundbreaking project, which solidified her status as a literary sensation. The trilogy, culminating with the third installment, The Mirror and the Light, to be released in March of next year, tells the story of Thomas Cromwell’s ascent at the Tudor court. Through Mantel’s masterful use of present tense, readers are transported into the mind of Cromwell and witness the making of a new England and a new type of man. The details are vivid and captivating, the language fresh and vibrant. However, beneath the surface, there is a deeper exploration of themes such as power, fate, and fortune, all in conversation with our own contemporary society. As readers, we are reminded of how our past shapes and defines us. As Mantel herself intended, this book allows for a dialogue between history and the present.
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Source: theguardian.com