Oh, I love Entertainment Weekly and their lists (seriously, the writers there have one of the coolest jobs in the world of writing). This recent list looked at the 100 books published since 1983 that became instant classics– standing the test of times with great works that have been around for centuries. Seriously. The sad thing is that I haven’t read that many of them but, nonetheless, here’s the list and some notes on the ones I did read. Check out Entertainment Weekly’s list and comments here.
1. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006)
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (2000)
3. Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987)
I love Toni Morrison. In fact, my dad called me the other day to tell me about an article he had read about her. When your dad knows your iconic writer worship well enough to call, you know it is serious. Beloved is fabulous, but I have to say that my first foray into Morrison’s work, Song of Solomon is my all-time favorite and in my top 5 books of all time.
4. The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr (1995)
Karr is fabulous and many might say this book sheparded in the golden age of the memoir. Think you don’t like memoir or non-fiction? Try The Liar’s Club and then quickly follow it with Cherry, also by Karr. You’ll be a believer.
5. American Pastoral by Philip Roth (1997)
6. Mystic River by Dennis Lehane (2001)
7. Maus by Art Spiegelman (1986/1991)
8. Selected Stories by Alice Munro (1996)
9. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier (1997)
10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (1997)
11. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer (1997)
I love Krakauer’s work. His work covers some of the really fascinating stories of the human spirit– both good and bad– over the last 25 years or so. Follow Into Thin Air with Into the Wild and Under the Banner of Heaven.
12. Blindness by Jose Saramago (1998)
13. Watchmen by Alan Moore (1986-87)
14. Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates (1992)
15. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (2000)
16. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1986) km
17. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1988)
18. Rabbit at Rest by John Updike (1990)
19. On Beauty by Zadie Smith (2005)
Haven’t read it but it is in my “next five books to read” stack.
20. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding (1998)
Oh, Bridget Jones. You so make me laugh, bunny. I mean honey.
21. On Writing by Stephen King (2000)
I wouldn’t have expected this to be in the top 25 instant classics from the last 25 years, but only because I wouldn’t have expected that of a book on writing. But, to be fair, it’s my favorite book on writing– in fact, seeing it here makes me want to go back and read it because I read it before I was ever a writer for a living.
22. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (2007)
23. The Ghost Road by Pat Barker (1996)
24. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (1985)
25. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (1989) 26. Neuromancer by William Gibson (1984)
27. Possession by A.S. Byatt (1990)
28. Naked by David Sedaris (1997)
Oh, I laughed. Then I used this book with students in non-fiction courses to show them good story telling form. And then we all laughed together.
29. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (2001)
Such an interesting read, but oh how I longed for a different ending.
30. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson (2004)
31. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (1990)
32. Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch (1988)
33. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (2005)
34. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (2002)
35. The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst (2004)
36. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt (1996)
The first 100 pages so devastated me, I couldn’t go any further.
37. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (2003)
38. Birds of America by Lorrie Moore (1998)
39. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (2000)
40. His Dark Materials (The Golden Compass) by Phillip Pullman (1995-2000)
41. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (1984)
This was the first book I read by Sandra Cisneros, and it made me a lifelong fan of her work. Her poetry is especially exquisite. Try Loose Woman.
42. LaBrava by Elmore Leonard (1983)
43. Borrowed Time by Paul Monette (1988)
44. Praying for Sheetrock by Melissa Fay Greene (1991)
45. Eva Luna by Isabel Allende (1988)
46. The Sandman by Neil Gaiman (1988-1996)
47. World’s Fair by E.L. Doctorow (1985)
48. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (1998)
49. Clockers by Richard Price (1992)
50. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (2001)
51. The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm (1990)
52. Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan (1992)
Such a sensual, beautiful book.
53. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon (2000)
54. Jimmy Corrigan by Chris Ware (2000)
55. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (2006)
This was a book club choice last summer, and we all loved it.
56. The Night Manager by John Le Carre (1993)
57. The Bonfire of the Vanities by Thomas Wolfe (1987)
58. Drop City by T. Coraghessan Boyle (2003)
59. Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat (1995)
60. Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich (2001)
I had my college scholarship students read this. For me, it reinforced the idea that I believe everyone should have to work retail or at a restaurant before their 20. The experience is an education in so many things– and this book provides even more.
61. Money by Martin Amis (1985)
62. Last Train to Memphis by Peter Guralnick (1994)
63. Pastoralia by George Saunders (2000)
64. Underworld by Don DeLillo (1997)
65. The Giver by Lois Lowry (1993)
66. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace (1997)
67. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (2003)
68. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (2006)
69. The Secret History by Donna Tartt (1992)
70. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (2004)
71. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman (1997)
72. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (2003)
73. A Prayer of Owen Meany by John Irving (1989)
Oh, this is just a heartrending book. Really fabulous.
74. Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger (1990)
I read this book while in college– maybe around 1995– and was riveted by the tales of football as king in Texas. No surprise that the television show of the same name, inspired by this book, is one of my very favorite shows on television. Read the book. Watch the show. You won’t be sorry.
75. Cathedral by Raymond Carver (1983)
76. A Sight for Sore Eyes by Ruth Rendell (1998)
77. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)
78. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (2006)
I read this book within a month of it coming out and have recommended it to everyone since. It really is a must read.
79. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell (2000)
80. Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney (1984)
81. Backlash by Susan Faludi (1991)
82. Atonement by Ian McEwan (2002)
83. The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields (1994)
84. Holes by Louis Sachar (1998)
85. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (2004)
86. And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts (1987)
87. The Ruins by Scott Smith (2006)
88. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby (1995)
Oh, I love Nick Hornby. After High Fidelity, I’ve read every book he was written, including last year’s book for young adult boys, Slam.
89. Close Range by E. Annie Proulx (1999)
90. Comfort Me with Apples by Ruth Reichl (2001)
91. Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (2003)
92. Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow (1987)
93. A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley (1991)
94. Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser (2001)
95. Kaaterskill Falls by Allegra Goodman (1998)
96. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (2003)
97. Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson (1992)
98. The Predators’ Ball by Connie Bruck (1988)
99. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman (1995)
100. America (The Book) by Jon Stewart (2004)