Books of the Decade

This is one of the 305 lists we use to generate our main The Greatest Books list.

  • White Teeth by Zadie Smith

    This novel follows the lives of two friends, a working-class Englishman and a Bangladeshi Muslim, living in London. The story explores the complex relationships between people of different races, cultures, and generations in modern Britain, with themes of identity, immigration, and the cultural and social changes that have shaped the country. The narrative is enriched by the characters' personal histories and the historical events that have shaped their lives.

    The 216th Greatest Book of All Time
  • No Logo by Naomi Klein

    This book explores the negative effects of corporate branding and globalization. It critiques the marketing strategies of large corporations, arguing that they exploit workers and manipulate consumers. The author also discusses how these corporations have a significant influence on culture and public space. The book suggests that consumer activism and grassroots movements can serve as effective counter-forces to corporate power.

    The 3167th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

    This book explores the concept of "tipping points," or the specific moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold and spreads like wildfire. It delves into the science behind epidemics, both in terms of diseases and ideas, and dissects the factors that can cause a sudden shift in public consciousness. The author uses various case studies, from the sudden popularity of certain shoes to the decrease in New York City's crime rate, to illustrate these concepts.

    The 1204th Greatest Book of All Time
  • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

    A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is a memoir that follows the life of a young man who, after the cancer-related deaths of his parents, is tasked with raising his 8-year-old brother. The book explores themes of death, family, and the responsibilities that come with sudden adulthood. It is a testament to the strength of the human spirit, showcasing the protagonist's journey through grief, financial struggles, and the challenge of raising a child, all while trying to navigate his own young adulthood.

    The 755th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

    The final installment in a fantasy trilogy, this novel follows the young protagonists as they continue their journey through parallel universes. They find themselves in the world of the dead, where they lead a rebellion against the oppressive authorities. Meanwhile, celestial forces are gathering for a final, apocalyptic battle. The young heroes must also confront their own destiny, which is tied to a mysterious object known as the amber spyglass. The story explores themes of love, sacrifice, and the nature of consciousness.

    The 2165th Greatest Book of All Time
  • How to Be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking by Nigella Lawson

    This book is a comprehensive guide to comfort cooking and baking, designed to instill confidence in even the most novice of home cooks. The author shares a variety of recipes and techniques, from simple cookies to elaborate cakes and pies, all with a focus on creating comforting, home-made meals. The book emphasizes the joy and satisfaction that comes from cooking and baking, and encourages readers to embrace the role of a domestic goddess in their own kitchens.

    The 9035th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Experience by Martin Amis

    "Experience" is a memoir which delves into the author's life, exploring his relationships with his family, friends, and his own self. The narrative is a candid reflection on his father's influence, his friendships with other writers, his marriages, and his children. The author also discusses his experiences with fame, age, and loss, providing an intimate look into his personal and professional journey. The memoir is a blend of the author's unique humor, sharp observations, and poignant moments, offering a compelling and deeply personal narrative.

    The 1682nd Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

    The novel revolves around the lives of the Lambert family, an old-fashioned midwestern couple and their three adult children. The parents, Alfred and Enid, are dealing with Alfred's Parkinson's disease and their own marital problems, while their children are each facing their own personal and professional crises. The narrative explores the themes of family dynamics, societal expectations, and the struggles of modern life. The story climaxes with the family's last Christmas together at their childhood home.

    The 222nd Greatest Book of All Time
  • Atonement by Ian McEwan

    Atonement is a powerful novel that explores the consequences of a young girl's false accusation. The narrative follows the lives of three characters, the accuser, her older sister, and the sister's lover, who is wrongly accused. This false accusation irrevocably alters their lives, leading to the accused's imprisonment and eventual enlistment in World War II, while the sisters grapple with guilt, estrangement, and their own personal growth. The novel is a profound exploration of guilt, forgiveness, and the destructive power of misinterpretation.

    The 209th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald

    The novel follows the story of Jacques Austerlitz, an architectural historian who was brought to England on a Kindertransport from Czechoslovakia during World War II. As an adult, Jacques embarks on a journey to uncover his past, including his original identity, his parent's fate, and his own lost history. The narrative is a haunting exploration of memory, identity, and the lasting impact of the Holocaust.

    The 465th Greatest Book of All Time
  • A Life's Work: On Becoming a Mother by Rachel Cusk

    The book is a candid exploration of the author's personal journey into motherhood. It delves into the physical and emotional changes, societal expectations, and the profound identity shift that comes with becoming a parent. The narrative confronts the romanticized notions of motherhood, revealing the often unspoken challenges and complexities. It also explores the profound love and connection that forms between a mother and her child.

    The 9086th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Nickel And Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich

    The book is a firsthand journalistic account of the author's experiment to survive on minimum wage jobs in America. She gives up her middle-class life to understand the reality of low-wage workers, working as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing home aide, and a retail chain employee. The book reveals the harsh and often overlooked conditions of the working poor, highlighting the struggle to afford even basic necessities, the lack of job security, and the physical toll of such work.

    The 2208th Greatest Book of All Time
  • London Orbital: A Year Walking Around the M25 by Iain Sinclair

    This book is a travelogue that documents the author's year-long journey walking around the M25, the motorway that encircles London. Throughout his journey, the author explores the history, geography, and culture of the areas surrounding the motorway, offering a unique and fascinating perspective on the city and its outskirts. The book is a blend of personal experience, social commentary, and historical investigation, providing a detailed and insightful look at London from a different angle.

    The 9178th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

    The novel is a gripping tale set in Victorian England, revolving around two young women, a petty thief and a rich heiress, whose lives intertwine in unforeseen ways. The thief is part of a con to defraud the heiress of her fortune, but as the plot thickens, the lines between deception and truth, loyalty and betrayal, love and manipulation get blurred. The narrative is filled with unexpected twists and turns, exploring themes of gender, sexuality, and class, and keeps the readers on the edge till the end.

    The 696th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

    This graphic novel is a memoir that provides a personal account of the author's childhood and young adult years in Iran during and after the Islamic revolution. The story portrays the impact of war, political upheaval, and religious extremism on ordinary people, while also exploring themes of identity, resilience, and the power of storytelling. Despite the harsh realities the protagonist faces, the narrative also includes moments of humor and warmth, providing a nuanced view of life in Iran during this tumultuous period.

    The 626th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

    This thriller novel follows symbologist Robert Langdon and cryptographer Sophie Neveu as they investigate a murder in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The murder leads them to a trail of clues hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci, revealing a religious mystery protected by a secret society for two thousand years. The mystery involves a conspiracy within the Catholic Church and threatens to overturn the foundations of Christianity.

    The 616th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Landing Light by Don Paterson

    "Landing Light" is a collection of poems that explores the themes of love, loss, and the passage of time. The author uses vivid imagery and emotional depth to evoke a sense of the human condition, touching on the joys and sorrows of everyday life. The poems range from the deeply personal to the universally relatable, offering a thoughtful and poignant exploration of the world around us.

    The 9235th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

    This novel follows a 15-year-old boy with autism as he tries to solve the mystery of who killed his neighbor's dog. Along the way, he uncovers other secrets about his family and must navigate the world using his unique perspective and abilities. The book offers an insightful look into the mind of a character with autism, highlighting his struggles and triumphs in a compelling and empathetic way.

    The 818th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

    This novel is a powerful story set against the backdrop of tumultuous events in Afghanistan, from the fall of the monarchy through the Soviet invasion and the rise of the Taliban regime. It follows the life of a wealthy boy and his best friend, a servant's son, their shared love for kite flying, and a terrible incident that tears their lives apart. The narrative explores themes of guilt, betrayal and redemption as the protagonist, now an adult living in America, is called back to his war-torn homeland to right the wrongs of his past.

    The 736th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss

    This book is a humorous, yet educational, exploration of punctuation in the English language. The author uses wit and sarcasm to highlight the importance of correct punctuation, demonstrating how it can drastically change the meaning of a sentence. It provides examples of punctuation errors and their hilarious consequences, while also offering practical advice on how to avoid such mistakes. The book is a spirited call to arms for grammar enthusiasts, emphasizing the necessity of preserving the clarity and precision in writing that proper punctuation provides.

    The 5848th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The 9/11 Commission Report by 9/11 Commission

    This book is a comprehensive, detailed account of the events leading up to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the attacks themselves, and the immediate aftermath. It was compiled by a bipartisan commission and offers an in-depth analysis of the systemic failures that allowed these attacks to occur. The report also provides recommendations for preventing future terrorist attacks, emphasizing the need for improved intelligence and security measures.

    The 3632nd Greatest Book of All Time
  • Small Island by Andrea Levy

    "Small Island" is a historical novel that explores the intertwined histories of Jamaica and the UK, as well as the themes of race, empire, and migration. The story is set in 1948 and is told from four different perspectives: two Jamaican immigrants, Hortense and Gilbert, who move to England after World War II, and an English couple, Queenie and Bernard. The narrative explores the racial tension, discrimination, and culture shock that the immigrants face in their new home, while also delving into the complexities of war, identity, and the British Empire.

    The 1285th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst

    Set in the 1980s during the era of Margaret Thatcher's conservative government in Britain, this novel follows the life of a young gay man named Nick Guest. Coming from a middle-class background, he moves into the home of his wealthy friend's family and becomes infatuated with the opulence and power of the upper class. As he navigates his way through this new world, he also explores his sexuality, all while dealing with the societal and political implications of the AIDS crisis.

    The 861st Greatest Book of All Time
  • Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

    This novel is a unique blend of six different stories, each set in a different time and place, spanning from the 19th century South Pacific to a post-apocalyptic future. Each tale is written in a different style, reflecting the time and setting it represents, and they are all connected through shared themes and recurring motifs. The stories are nested within each other, with each interrupted by the next, only to be concluded in the second half of the book. The novel explores themes of predacity, civilization, reincarnation and the eternal recurrence of the same behaviors throughout history.

    The 449th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Being Jordan by Katie Price

    "Being Jordan" is a candid autobiography of a British media personality, model, and businesswoman. The book delves into her personal life, detailing her rise to fame, her experiences with plastic surgery, her relationships, and her struggles with the media. It provides an inside look into her life, from her childhood, through her modeling career, to her life as a mother, offering a glimpse into the reality behind her public persona.

    The 9323rd Greatest Book of All Time
  • Earth: An Intimate History by Richard Fortey

    This book provides a comprehensive understanding of the Earth's geological history. The author explores how the planet's diverse landscapes were formed over billions of years, examining various regions around the world from Hawaii to the Alps. The narrative intertwines scientific theories with engaging storytelling, making complex geological concepts accessible to a general audience. The book also emphasizes the impact of geological forces on human history and culture.

    The 9323rd Greatest Book of All Time
  • Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

    This book explores the hidden side of everything, debunking conventional wisdom and revealing surprising connections between seemingly unrelated things. It uses economic theories to explain social phenomena such as the decrease in crime rates in the 1990s, the impact of a person's name on their life outcomes, and the inner workings of drug gangs. By using data and statistics, it challenges the way people think about the world and encourages them to question the accepted truths in society.

    The 2612th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Untold Stories by Alan Bennett

    "Untold Stories" is a collection of essays, diary entries, and recollections by a renowned playwright. It provides an insightful look into his life, experiences, and thoughts. The book is divided into two parts, with the first part focusing on his family history and the second part containing his personal reflections and observations about various topics, including art, architecture, and literature. It offers a unique perspective on the author's upbringing in Leeds and his later life in London, as well as his views on society and culture.

    The 6428th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

    This book is a raw and honest exploration of grief and mourning, written by a woman who lost her husband of 40 years to a heart attack while their only child lay comatose in the hospital. The narrative delves into the year following her husband's death, a year marked by grief, confusion, and a desperate hope for things to return to normal. The author's poignant reflections on death, love, and loss serve as a powerful testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

    The 583rd Greatest Book of All Time
  • Postwar by Tony Judt

    "Postwar" is a comprehensive analysis of the history of Europe from the end of World War II to the early 21st century. The book examines the major political, cultural, social, and economic changes that have shaped the continent, including the Cold War, the rise and fall of the Soviet Union, the rebuilding of Western Europe, and the challenges of integrating Eastern Europe into the European Union. It also delves into the impact of these events on the daily lives of Europeans, exploring themes of memory, identity, and the struggle to come to terms with the past.

    The 2167th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Saturday by Ian McEwan

    "Saturday" is a novel that unfolds over a single day in London, following the life of a successful neurosurgeon. His day is disrupted by a violent encounter with a petty criminal, which leads to a series of tense situations that force him to confront his values, his family's safety, and his view of the world. The narrative explores themes of love, fear, and the randomness of life, all set against the backdrop of a post-9/11 world.

    The 2611th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

    This book is a well-known critique of religion, arguing that belief in a supernatural creator significantly lacks empirical evidence. The author asserts that faith encourages wars and fosters fanaticism. He also challenges the idea that morality can only come from religion, suggesting instead that humans possess innate empathy and cooperation. The book also explores the roots of religion, explaining its evolution as a byproduct of our tendency to assign agency to inanimate objects and forces. Ultimately, the author encourages atheism and a sense of awe derived from science and the natural world.

    The 5903rd Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy

    In a post-apocalyptic world, a father and his young son journey through a desolate landscape, struggling to survive. They face numerous threats including starvation, extreme weather, and dangerous encounters with other survivors. The father, who is terminally ill, is driven by his love and concern for his son, and is determined to protect him at all costs. The story is a haunting exploration of the depths of human resilience, the power of love, and the instinct to survive against all odds.

    The 301st Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright

    "The Looming Tower" is a comprehensive historical examination of the events leading up to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. It delves into the origins of Al-Qaeda, the rise of Osama bin Laden, and the failure of U.S. intelligence agencies to prevent the attacks. The narrative is extensively researched and provides a detailed account of Islamic fundamentalism, the complex politics of the Middle East, and the role of the United States in the region. The book also explores the personal stories of key figures on both sides of the conflict.

    The 2105th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery

    "The Weather Makers" is an informative and thought-provoking book about climate change. It explores the history of global warming, its current impact on our planet, and the potential future consequences if we do not take action. The book also discusses the role of humans in accelerating climate change, the science behind it, and the measures that can be taken to mitigate its effects. It serves as a comprehensive guide to understanding the complexities of climate change and urges the reader to acknowledge and act upon this urgent global issue.

    The 9367th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Revenge of Gaia by James Lovelock

    The book presents a compelling argument about the Earth's self-regulating system, Gaia theory, and the severe impact of climate change on it. The author warns that if humans continue to harm the environment, Gaia will take revenge, leading to a much hotter and less hospitable planet. He proposes solutions to mitigate the damage, such as nuclear power and sustainable technology, emphasizing the urgency to act before it's too late.

    The 9473rd Greatest Book of All Time
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K Rowling

    In the final installment of this popular series, the protagonist and his friends decide to leave their school to complete the mission left to them by their late headmaster - to destroy the remaining pieces of the antagonist's soul, hidden in various objects. As they journey through the wizarding world, they uncover the truth about the antagonist's past and the legend of the Deathly Hallows. Amidst the escalating war, they are captured and narrowly escape, leading to the ultimate battle at their school where many lives are lost. The protagonist learns he must sacrifice himself to truly defeat the antagonist, but is given a second chance at life and finally triumphs, ending the war. The story concludes with a glimpse into the peaceful future they have all earned.

    The 878th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale

    "The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher" is a true crime novel that explores the infamous Road Hill House murder of 1860 in England. The book follows the investigation of Detective Inspector Jonathan Whicher, one of the earliest detectives in the London police force, as he tries to solve the murder of a three-year-old boy. The case, filled with scandal, intrigue, and mystery, was a sensation in its time and had a profound impact on the public perception of detectives and their methods. The book not only delves into the details of the case but also examines its influence on the detective genre in literature.

    The 9589th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Blair Years by Alastair Campbell

    "The Blair Years" is a comprehensive and insightful account of British politics from 1994 to 2003, as seen through the eyes of the author, who served as the Director of Communications and Strategy for Prime Minister Tony Blair. The book provides readers with an insider's perspective on the key political events of the time, including the 1997 general election victory, the peace process in Northern Ireland, and the controversial decision to go to war in Iraq. This memoir offers a unique, behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of Downing Street and the complex dynamics of Blair's government.

    The 9525th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    The novel is set in Nigeria during the Biafran War, exploring the impact of the conflict on the lives of its characters. The story is told from the perspective of three characters: a young houseboy, a radical university professor, and the professor's wealthy lover. The narrative delves into themes of love, race, and war, offering a vivid depiction of the horrors of conflict and the resilience of the human spirit.

    The 652nd Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

    The novel is a monologue by a young Pakistani man, Changez, who tells his life story to an American stranger in a café in Lahore. Changez recounts his journey from a scholarship student at Princeton to a high-flying job in a prestigious New York valuation firm and his subsequent disillusionment with the American Dream post 9/11. The story explores themes of identity, love, and the shifting global power dynamics, as Changez grapples with his feelings towards America, his native Pakistan, and his love interest, Erica. The narrative ends ambiguously, leaving the reader to interpret the true nature of Changez and his American listener's relationship.

    The 4882nd Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama

    This book is a call for a new kind of politics that bridges divisions and ideologies. It explores the author's vision for America, discussing a range of issues from the economy and health care to faith and values. The author shares personal reflections on family and his own religious beliefs, while also outlining his thoughts on the American political system, including the influence of money and lobbyists. The book serves as a blueprint for political change, grounded in the author's belief in the potential of the American dream.

    The 9473rd Greatest Book of All Time
  • Change We Can Believe In by Barack Obama

    This book outlines the political vision of a prominent U.S. politician during his 2008 presidential campaign. It includes his plans on key issues such as the economy, health care, education, and national security. The book also contains a collection of speeches, policy proposals, and personal essays, offering insights into his beliefs, values, and experiences that shaped his political ideology and leadership style.

    The 9589th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama

    This memoir explores the life of a man who grew up in a multicultural family, with a Kenyan father and an American mother. The narrative delves into his early years in Hawaii and Indonesia, his self-discovery and racial awakening in Chicago, and his journey to Kenya to learn more about his father's heritage. The book provides an introspective look at the author's struggle with his racial identity, his relationship with his family, and his path to finding his place in the world.

    The 1738th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross

    "The Rest is Noise" is a comprehensive exploration of 20th-century classical music, examining the social, political, and cultural contexts that influenced its development. It provides a detailed study of the works of renowned composers, their inspirations, and their impact on the musical world. The book also explores the ways in which classical music has intersected with major events and movements of the 20th century, including two World Wars, the Cold War, and the rise of totalitarian regimes.

    The 5403rd Greatest Book of All Time
  • Netherland by Joseph O'Neill

    "Netherland" is a post-9/11 novel set in New York City, which explores the life of a Dutch banker named Hans. After his wife and son move back to London, Hans becomes immersed in the world of cricket, where he befriends a charismatic Trinidadian named Chuck Ramkissoon who dreams of building a cricket stadium in the city. The novel is a meditation on the American Dream, identity, and the immigrant experience, all set against the backdrop of a city and a country grappling with a new reality.

    The 3765th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Forever War by Dexter Filkins

    "The Forever War" is a non-fiction account of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq from a journalist's perspective. The author, who was embedded with American troops, provides a raw and unfiltered look at the realities of war. The book gives a detailed description of the experiences of soldiers, civilians, and the author himself, offering a unique perspective on the ongoing conflicts. It explores the complexities and consequences of war, and the impact it has on those directly involved and the wider world.

    The 3252nd Greatest Book of All Time
  • Home by Marilynne Robinson

    "Home" is a deeply emotional narrative that explores the themes of faith, redemption, and the complexity of family relationships. The story revolves around the Boughton family, particularly the prodigal son, Jack, who returns home after twenty years. His struggle to fit into the family and society, and his sister Glory's attempts to help him, form the crux of the story. The book delves into their past, revealing secrets and regrets, and provides a profound reflection on love, loss, and forgiveness.

    The 2425th Greatest Book of All Time
  • The Age Of Wonder by Richard Holmes

    "The Age of Wonder" explores the scientific and cultural advancements of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, known as the Romantic Age. Richard Holmes delves into the lives and achievements of prominent figures such as Joseph Banks, Humphry Davy, and William Herschel, who revolutionized fields like astronomy, chemistry, and botany. Through vivid storytelling, Holmes captures the spirit of curiosity, imagination, and wonder that defined this era, highlighting the profound impact it had on shaping our modern understanding of science and the world.

    The 4604th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

    The novel is a historical fiction set in the 1500s, during the reign of King Henry VIII. The story is told from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell, a man of humble beginnings who rises to become the King's chief minister. The narrative explores the political and religious upheavals of the time, including King Henry's break with the Catholic Church and his controversial marriage to Anne Boleyn. The protagonist's cunning, ambition, and survival instincts are central to the plot as he navigates the treacherous waters of the Tudor court.

    The 619th Greatest Book of All Time
  • 2666 by Roberto Bolaño

    The novel is a sprawling, ambitious work that spans continents and time periods, centering around an elusive, reclusive German author. It intertwines five different narratives: a group of European academics searching for the author, a professor in Mexico dealing with his own personal crises, a New York reporter sent to cover a boxing match in Mexico, an African-American journalist in Detroit, and the horrifying and unsolved murders of hundreds of women in a Mexican border town. The narratives are linked by themes of violence, mystery, and the search for meaning in a chaotic world.

    The 488th Greatest Book of All Time
  • Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

    The novel tells the story of a young Irish woman, Eilis Lacey, in the 1950s who, unable to find work at home, is sent to Brooklyn by a helpful priest where she builds a new life. She finds work, studies to become a bookkeeper, and falls in love with an Italian plumber named Tony. However, a family tragedy forces her to return to Ireland, where she must choose between her new life in America and her old life at home.

    The 2618th Greatest Book of All Time
About this list

The Guardian, 52 Books

The 50 books that defined the decade(2000)

Added over 10 years ago.

How Good is this List?

This list has a weight of 36%. To learn more about what this means please visit the Rankings page.

Here is a list of what is decreasing the importance of this list:

  • List: only covers 10 years
  • Voters: specific voter details are lacking
  • Voters: are mostly from a single country/location

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