The Greatest Russian, British "Contemporary" Books Since 1980

Click to learn how this list is calculated.

This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 305 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

Filter by: Genres Dates Countries
Follow on:

Genres

Contemporary

Contemporary books are a genre that focuses on stories set in the present day, often exploring current social, cultural, and political issues. These books are typically written in a modern style and often feature relatable characters dealing with real-life situations. Contemporary books can cover a wide range of topics, from romance and family drama to coming-of-age stories and thrillers. The genre is constantly evolving to reflect the changing world we live in, making it a popular choice for readers who want to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and issues.

Add additional genre filters

Countries

Russian

British

Add additional country filters

Date Range

Filter

Reading Statistics

Click the button below to see how many of these books you've read!

Download

If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.

Download
  1. 1. 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
  2. 2. Money by Martin Amis

    "Money" is a darkly humorous novel that follows the life of John Self, a hedonistic, self-destructive director of commercials, as he navigates the excesses and depravities of 1980s New York and London. His life is filled with overindulgence in food, alcohol, drugs, and women, leading to a downward spiral of self-destruction. The novel is a satire on the excesses of capitalism and the obsession with wealth and materialism, and it also explores themes of identity, self-loathing, and the destructive power of addiction.

    The 323rd Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

    The novel follows two Indian actors who miraculously survive a plane explosion, and as a result, find themselves embodying good and evil. As they navigate their new identities, the story also delves into the life of a prophet and his creation of a new religion in a city of sand. The narrative is a blend of fantasy and reality, exploring themes of identity, religion, and the immigrant experience, while also providing a controversial interpretation of Islamic faith and the life of Prophet Muhammad.

    The 523rd Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes

    The novel centers around a retired doctor's obsession with the life and works of Gustave Flaubert, a 19th-century French writer. The doctor's fascination leads him on a quest to find a stuffed parrot that once belonged to the writer. The novel is a blend of biography, literary criticism, and personal memoir, and it explores themes such as the nature of art and the difficulties of interpreting the past.

    The 632nd Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

    This novel revolves around the life of a record store owner in his mid-thirties who is obsessed with pop culture, particularly music. He has just been dumped by his long-term girlfriend and begins to question his life choices. As he revisits his top five breakups, he decides to get in touch with the exes to find out what went wrong in each relationship. Throughout this process, he learns a lot about himself, his fears, and his shortcomings while trying to make sense of his life.

    The 656th Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend

    The book is a humorous and touching glimpse into the life and mind of a British adolescent boy, navigating the challenges of teenage life. Written in diary format, the protagonist grapples with everything from acne, unrequited love, school bullies, family issues, and his aspirations of becoming an intellectual. His misinterpretations of the adult world around him, coupled with his overly serious and introspective nature, provide plenty of comedy and make for an endearing and relatable coming-of-age story.

    The 718th Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding

    The book is a humorous and honest portrayal of a single woman's life in London. The protagonist, a 30-something year old woman, struggles with her weight, smoking, and alcohol consumption, all while trying to navigate her love life and career. The story is told through her personal diary entries, which include her daily calorie counts, number of cigarettes smoked, and other personal anecdotes. It's a modern take on romantic relationships and self-improvement, with a healthy dose of comedy.

    The 752nd Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. 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 869th Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. Oranges are not the only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

    This novel follows the coming-of-age story of a young girl adopted by a religious fanatic, who believes her daughter is destined to become a missionary. As the protagonist grows up, she begins to question her mother's strict religious beliefs and discovers her own sexuality. The book explores themes of identity, love, and religion, as the protagonist grapples with her place in the world and her evolving understanding of herself.

    The 894th Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. London Fields by Martin Amis

    The novel is a darkly comic, murder mystery set in London at the end of the 20th century. The story follows three main characters: a terminally ill American writer, a petty criminal, and a beautiful but doomed woman who predicts her own murder but not the murderer. The narrative is filled with satirical social commentary, exploring themes of love, lust, greed, and deception.

    The 971st Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi

    "The Buddha of Suburbia" is a coming-of-age novel that explores themes of race, class, and sexuality in 1970s London. The story follows the life of the protagonist, a young man of mixed English and Pakistani heritage, as he navigates his identity in the backdrop of suburban London. His father, a self-proclaimed guru, adds a layer of complexity to his journey. The novel is a darkly humorous critique of British society and its attitudes towards race and class.

    The 1159th Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. What a Carve Up! by Jonathan Coe

    This satirical novel follows the story of the Winshaw family, a wealthy and corrupt British family who have a significant influence on British society in fields such as politics, business, media, and the arts. The narrative is presented through the eyes of a commissioned biographer who is trying to make sense of the family's history and their impact on society. As he delves deeper into the family's affairs, he uncovers dark secrets and becomes entangled in a complex web of deceit and murder.

    The 1198th Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner

    The novel follows the story of a romance novelist, who, after a love affair with a married man, is sent by her friends to a Swiss hotel to recover. At the hotel, she meets various eccentric characters, including a wealthy woman and her daughter, a mysterious, wealthy man, and a couple on their honeymoon. As she observes and interacts with these characters, she is forced to examine her own life and choices, ultimately deciding whether to accept a marriage proposal from a man she doesn't love or to continue living independently.

    The 1350th Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro

    The book follows a renowned pianist who arrives in a Central European city to give a concert. However, his time there becomes increasingly surreal and disjointed as he is pulled in different directions by the demands of the locals, his own past, and his responsibilities. The narrative explores themes of memory, time, and self-delusion, creating a dream-like atmosphere that blurs the lines between reality and illusion.

    The 1351st Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. The Swimming-Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst

    The novel follows a young, privileged, and carefree gay man living in London. His life of leisure is interrupted when he saves the life of an elderly man, who in return asks him to write his biography. As he delves into the man's past, he uncovers a hidden history of gay life that is much darker and less accepted than the one he is used to, challenging his understanding of personal and societal progress.

    The 1379th Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. Never Mind by Edward St Aubyn

    "Never Mind" is a darkly humorous and deeply disturbing narrative about an aristocratic English family. The story primarily focuses on a five-year-old boy who is the victim of his sadistic and sexually abusive father, while his mother, an alcoholic, ignores the situation. The narrative also provides a scathing critique of the British upper class through its exploration of the family's decadent lifestyle and morally corrupt behavior.

    The 1390th Greatest Book of All Time
  17. 17. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

    This novel revolves around a middle-aged man, Tony Webster, who is forced to reevaluate his understanding of his past when he unexpectedly receives a lawyer's letter that drags him back into his complex history with his university friends, Adrian and Veronica. The book explores themes of memory, history, and time, showing how our understanding of the past can be distorted by our own perceptions and emotions. As Tony delves into his past, he realizes that his memories may not be as accurate as he once believed, leading to a surprising revelation.

    The 1455th Greatest Book of All Time
  18. 18. On Beauty by Zadie Smith

    This novel is a contemporary, multicultural exploration of family life, love, and identity. It follows the lives of two mixed-race families, the Belseys and the Kipps, who are linked by their shared professions in academia and a complex web of marital and extramarital relationships. The story is set against the backdrop of Wellington, a fictional New England town, and explores themes of race, class, and cultural clash. It also delves into the world of academia, examining the politics and conflicts that arise in that environment.

    The 1473rd Greatest Book of All Time
  19. 19. Outline by Rachel Cusk

    "Outline" is a novel that follows the story of a woman who travels to Athens to teach a writing seminar and engages in a series of conversations with various people she encounters. These include fellow authors, students, and locals, each of whom share intimate details of their lives, allowing the protagonist to reflect on her own experiences and emotions. The book explores themes of identity, storytelling, and the complexities of human relationships.

    The 1553rd Greatest Book of All Time
  20. 20. NW: A Novel by Zadie Smith

    This novel follows the lives of four Londoners - Leah, Natalie, Felix, and Nathan - as they navigate adulthood in the diverse, vibrant, and sometimes volatile neighborhood where they grew up. The narrative explores themes of identity, class, friendship, and the complex nature of urban life, intertwining the characters' stories in a way that reflects the interconnectedness and fragmentation of city living.

    The 1626th Greatest Book of All Time
  21. 21. A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro

    "A Pale View of Hills" is a novel about a Japanese woman named Etsuko, who, after the suicide of her eldest daughter, reflects on her past in post-war Nagasaki. She recalls her friendship with Sachiko, a woman who plans to escape her miserable life by moving to America with her daughter Mariko. The narrative subtly explores themes of memory, guilt, and cultural dislocation while unveiling the complexities of human relationships and the haunting effects of the past on the present.

    The 1888th Greatest Book of All Time
  22. 22. Bad News by Edward St Aubyn

    "Bad News" is the second novel in a series that follows the life of Patrick Melrose, a man from a wealthy but deeply troubled family. In this installment, Patrick, now 22, must travel to New York to collect his father's ashes. As he navigates the city, he struggles with his addiction to drugs and alcohol, and grapples with the traumatic memories of his abusive father. The narrative provides a darkly comic and deeply poignant exploration of addiction, trauma, and the struggle for redemption.

    The 2174th Greatest Book of All Time
  23. 23. The Crow Road by Iain Banks

    "The Crow Road" is a darkly humorous and complex tale of a Scottish family, told through the eyes of a young man who is trying to make sense of his life and the mysterious disappearance of his uncle. The protagonist's journey takes him through various experiences including love, death, and the discovery of a novel written by his missing uncle. The narrative is a fascinating blend of family saga, coming-of-age story, and mystery thriller, all set against the backdrop of Scotland's landscapes and culture.

    The 2190th Greatest Book of All Time
  24. 24. Hideous Kinky by Esther Freud

    A young woman travels to Morocco with her two daughters in search of a more fulfilling and adventurous life. The novel explores the experiences of the two young girls as they navigate this new and unfamiliar culture, their mother's search for spiritual enlightenment, and their struggles with poverty. The narrative is a poignant exploration of childhood innocence, the complexities of motherhood, and the clash of cultures.

    The 2190th Greatest Book of All Time
  25. 25. Some Hope by Edward St Aubyn

    "Some Hope" is a darkly humorous novel that delves into the life of a man who struggles to overcome his traumatic past and drug addiction. He is invited to a lavish party filled with Britain's aristocracy, where he must confront his past and deal with the pretentious and shallow society he is part of. The narrative explores themes of abuse, recovery, and the struggle to find redemption and hope amidst despair.

    The 2252nd Greatest Book of All Time

Reading Statistics

Click the button below to see how many of these books you've read!

Download

If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.

Download