The Times (no, not that Times, this Times) just published its 100 Best Books of the Decade. Since I’ve only read about six of those, I was inspired to add a few of their suggestions to my (ever expanding) reading list (in descending order of best-ness):
98 Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2007) The Biafran War of the late 1960s is seen through the eyes of Ugwu, a 13-year-old peasant houseboy, and the beautiful, passionate twin sisters Olanna and Kainene. This stunning piece of writing won the 2007 Orange Prize.
89 The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie (2008) She is a mysterious, beautiful woman in Renaissance Florence, believed to possess magical powers. Large in scale, epic in tone, Rushdie’s rich story also features Machiavelli and the Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great.
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.
69 My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk (2001) Pamuk won global stardom with this seething portrait of 16th-century Turkey, centre of the Ottoman Empire as it starts to decay. It’s a love story, and a murder mystery, while ripples from the European Renaissance question the old traditions.
65 Peeling the Onion by Günter Grass (2007) The conscience of postwar German letters describes his early years, during which he joined the Hitler Youth and fought with the Waffen SS. Some could not forgive him, while others applauded his honesty; no one questioned his literary stature.
63 The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker (2002) No science writer can match Pinker for verve and wide-ranging erudition. In The Blank Slate he brings those gifts to bear on the nature v nurture debate, providing an exhilarating demolition of ideologically blinkered theories.
1 The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006) Cormac McCarthy’s gripping, shattering novel walks in a long line of tradition. Mary Shelley tried her hand at the literature of post-apocalypse with The Last Man, published in 1826; Russell Hoban’s 1980 novel, Riddley Walker, sets the aftermath of doom in Canterbury. The Road’s wilderness — coming to the cinema in January — is an American one: blasted, ruined, destroyed by an unnamed calamity that has scorched the Earth with biblical fury and lit McCarthy’s prose with holy fire. In this awful landscape walk a father and his young son, treading towards a future where it would seem there could be none…
Also on my list (but not part of the 100):
- Prescription for a Healthy Nation: A New Approach to Improving Our Lives by Fixing Our Everyday World, by Tom Farley and Deborah Cohen
- The World Without Us, by Alan Weissman
- Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell
- In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan
- A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini
- The Reader, by Bernhard Schlink
How about you? What’s on your list?