When discussing the best books of the noughties (from ought to ought-nine!), I would be remiss to not mention the two female powerhouses who smashed records and dominated young minds throughout the decade - J.K. Rowling in the United Kingdom and Stephenie Meyer in the United States. Both Rowling's Harry Potter series and Meyer's Twilight saga bring young people into creative worlds of fantasy and the unknown, and both have enjoyed unimaginable success.
But does most successful mean the best? Measuring general excellence is a tough nut to crack. We look at word choice, plot, suspense, research - so many factors go into the creation of a book. And what about genre? A fiction reader will often neglect non-fiction, and many biography or history readers might likely never give fiction a second look. Personal preference comes into play, as well - many readers respond best to stark, plain writing such as Cormac McCarthy, while others are more moved by descriptive prose full of metaphor like Audrey Niffenegger.
The fact is, creating a 'Best Books' list is purely subjective, and comes down to reader taste as much as anything else - what books we enjoyed and grew to love, what books moved us, educated us, sparked us to conversation and stayed with us. Reading for the pure pleasure of it. With that in mind, here are the 30 best books of the noughties, according to some of the AbeBooks marketing staff.
The first 15 are mine. The only non-fiction book on my list is Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a tale of her family's endeavor to eat only local food for a whole year. It's an excellent book that changed the way I think about, shop for and eat food. Another title of hers, this one fiction, made my cut - her novel Prodigal Summer is a rich, earthy, sensual read full of humor and humanity. She writes frankly but beautifully, with a balance that's a pleasure to read. Pulitzer Prize-winner Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout makes my list, as well. It's a series of glimpses into the lives of people in a town, and the book's title character features prominently in some and has barely a cameo in others. She seems by turns cold and unfeeling, empathetic and vulnerable, and the whole book is insightful and well-written.
If forced at gunpoint to choose my favorite book on the list, I would likely decide on McCarthy's The Road. It's a surprising choice for me, as my tastes often run to slightly touchy-feely (without being sappy, of course), and The Road is as far a departure from that as possible, with stark, matter-of-fact writing that pulls no punches, and a horrifying, unimaginably desolate story that speaks for itself. It is an absolute masterpiece, and one which I always hesitate to recommend because it ruined my sleep for close to a week.
Enjoy our recommendations!
Beth's Best of the Noughties
Kathleen's Best of the Noughties
Richard's Best of the Noughties
Scott's Best of the Noughties