100 Best Books of the 2000s

Few things make me feel as culturally ignorant as “Best of…” lists. This wonderful list, compiled the London Times back in November, succeeds at this with distinction.  There are books I’ve read and loved, books I’ve been meaning to pick up and read, and books I’ve never heard of. Rare was the book I had read and hadn’t especially cared for (Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius was the standout in this regard).

There were a handful of books that I questioned.

90 Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (2005)

Meyer’s books about the schoolgirl Bella Swan and her passion for Edward Cullen, the tortured “vegetarian” vampire (doesn’t bite humans), have taken the world’s pre-pubescent females by storm. Basically, he’s a fanged Mr Darcy, with all sexual threat surgically removed.

One of the few books I haven’t finished not from lack of interest or time but from the sheer mediocrity of the craft. There’s no questioning its impact in society or its scope of influence (or its massive sales), which is what I am guessing placed it on this list but in a list of “Best Books” I would put more weight on the actual quality of the book.

73 Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami (2005)

The stories of this Japanese master are sometimes little more than glimpses of a single image, a single moment — but so loaded with meaning that it speaks volumes.

The inclusion of Murakami’s collection of short stories doesn’t bother me because it is badly written or undeserving, it’s not and it is, but that it was included while Kafka on the Shore was not.  This is like making a best movies list with The Aviator at 72 and then no mention of Goodfellas.

The one entry I can’t argue with at all is Cormac McCarthy’s powerfully bleak narrative, The Road, topping the list.  It was one of those books that, from the moment it came out, was clearly a work of force. In the immortal words of Hunter Thompson, it stomped the earth.

Now to get around to finding all of the books from the list that I don’t have…


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