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Goodreads 21st Century Literature Group - Most Important Books of the 21st Century

To assist with the nomination process, a list of the most "important" works of literature written 2000-Present. These works are fiction, must have been written within those years, and to some extent be "proven" to hold some importance as literature.
1

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3.98 avg rating — 800,216 ratings
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2

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3.84 avg rating — 576,177 ratings
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3

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 234,957 ratings
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4

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4.18 avg rating — 193,918 ratings
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5

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3.93 avg rating — 233,610 ratings
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6

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4.02 avg rating — 613,298 ratings
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7

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3.68 avg rating — 194,187 ratings
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8

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4.14 avg rating — 385,152 ratings
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9

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3.92 avg rating — 480,789 ratings
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10

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3.93 avg rating — 1,487,250 ratings
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11

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3.81 avg rating — 170,652 ratings
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12

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4.01 avg rating — 245,613 ratings
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13

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4.32 avg rating — 2,783,097 ratings
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14

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3.89 avg rating — 248,415 ratings
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15

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3.96 avg rating — 147,098 ratings
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16

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3.96 avg rating — 16,676 ratings
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17

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4.12 avg rating — 172,136 ratings
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18

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3.89 avg rating — 1,348,030 ratings
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19

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4.17 avg rating — 37,580 ratings
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20

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3.84 avg rating — 220,639 ratings
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21

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3.89 avg rating — 191,959 ratings
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22

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3.73 avg rating — 165,884 ratings
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23

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3.89 avg rating — 173,783 ratings
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24

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4.40 avg rating — 835,121 ratings
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25

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3.93 avg rating — 818,990 ratings
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26

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4.32 avg rating — 134,890 ratings
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27

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3.79 avg rating — 142,279 ratings
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28

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4.07 avg rating — 149,875 ratings
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29

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3.93 avg rating — 261,890 ratings
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30

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4.25 avg rating — 88,440 ratings
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31

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4.07 avg rating — 769,969 ratings
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32

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4.15 avg rating — 2,915,507 ratings
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33

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4.46 avg rating — 2,459,860 ratings
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34

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3.92 avg rating — 2,960,620 ratings
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35

by
3.97 avg rating — 19,805 ratings
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36

by
3.84 avg rating — 99,587 ratings
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37

by
3.47 avg rating — 59,138 ratings
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38

by
really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 261,430 ratings
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39

by
4.32 avg rating — 1,306,376 ratings
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40

by
3.92 avg rating — 117,876 ratings
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41

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4.05 avg rating — 117,479 ratings
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42

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3.61 avg rating — 44,925 ratings
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43

by
3.94 avg rating — 102,056 ratings
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44

by
3.97 avg rating — 404,024 ratings
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45

by
3.98 avg rating — 111,284 ratings
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46

by
3.73 avg rating — 134,240 ratings
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47

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4.12 avg rating — 83,511 ratings
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48

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3.75 avg rating — 61,668 ratings
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49

by
3.71 avg rating — 74,852 ratings
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50

by
4.28 avg rating — 551,796 ratings
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51

by
3.84 avg rating — 9,756 ratings
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52

by
3.94 avg rating — 12,935 ratings
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53

by
3.59 avg rating — 86,166 ratings
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54

by
4.47 avg rating — 264,889 ratings
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55

by
3.73 avg rating — 26,858 ratings
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56

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4.11 avg rating — 89,861 ratings
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57

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3.99 avg rating — 38,244 ratings
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58

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3.60 avg rating — 17,712 ratings
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59

by
3.63 avg rating — 68,167 ratings
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60

by
3.58 avg rating — 13,725 ratings
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61

by
3.74 avg rating — 5,193 ratings
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62

by
4.33 avg rating — 357,775 ratings
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63

by
4.32 avg rating — 116,822 ratings
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64

by
3.89 avg rating — 13,507 ratings
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65

by
3.52 avg rating — 34,053 ratings
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66

by
3.83 avg rating — 14,435 ratings
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67

by
3.81 avg rating — 40,426 ratings
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68

by
3.43 avg rating — 8,419 ratings
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69

by
4.09 avg rating — 115 ratings
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70

by
4.23 avg rating — 176 ratings
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71

by
3.61 avg rating — 411 ratings
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72

by
3.83 avg rating — 21,259 ratings
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73

by
4.44 avg rating — 82,294 ratings
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74

by
3.65 avg rating — 2,225 ratings
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75

by
4.22 avg rating — 41,378 ratings
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76

by
4.31 avg rating — 30,692 ratings
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77

by
4.08 avg rating — 37,986 ratings
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78

by
really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 62,435 ratings
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79

by
4.04 avg rating — 76,811 ratings
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80

by
3.41 avg rating — 97,634 ratings
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81

by
4.31 avg rating — 326,883 ratings
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82

by
3.61 avg rating — 18,174 ratings
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83

by
4.01 avg rating — 32,890 ratings
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84

by
3.80 avg rating — 48,949 ratings
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85

by
4.31 avg rating — 331,146 ratings
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86

by
3.98 avg rating — 148,996 ratings
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87

by
4.10 avg rating — 8,767 ratings
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88

by
3.90 avg rating — 62,934 ratings
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89

by
4.01 avg rating — 4,842 ratings
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90

by
3.36 avg rating — 11,599 ratings
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91

by
4.20 avg rating — 4,239 ratings
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92

by
3.40 avg rating — 31,880 ratings
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93

by
4.03 avg rating — 101,080 ratings
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94

by
3.48 avg rating — 8,416 ratings
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95

by
3.95 avg rating — 9,861 ratings
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96

by
3.47 avg rating — 37,294 ratings
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97

by
3.72 avg rating — 17,269 ratings
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98

by
3.68 avg rating — 178,072 ratings
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99

by
3.77 avg rating — 6,668 ratings
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100

by
3.99 avg rating — 2,760 ratings
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180 books · 217 voters · list created February 24th, 2012 by William Mego (votes) .
119 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


William 4209 books
102 friends
Cees 86 books
0 friends
Sophia 2488 books
372 friends
Thing Two 6212 books
126 friends
Deborah 662 books
105 friends
Gigi 822 books
52 friends
Ellie 10768 books
686 friends
Meredith 3776 books
164 friends

More voters…


Comments Showing 1-26 of 26 (26 new)

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message 1: by William (new)

William Mego Please only vote for books that are:
A. written in the 21st Century.
B. Considered important books (award winners, book lists...AUTHORS, SPAMMING YOUR BOOK IS NOT APPROPRIATE.

You do not have to be a member of the group to vote, but we would certainly enjoy having you!


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads You want anything removed, Will, just tell me.


message 3: by Hanne (new)

Hanne what a surprise to find the zombie room so high in this list... *sigh*


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Such a shocker!


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) I think as per Will's comment in message no. 1, GR librarians should feel entitled to remove anything OBVIOUSLY not within this list's parameters ...


message 6: by Wanda (last edited Oct 07, 2012 03:45PM) (new)

Wanda Please will a librarian remove Nos. 13 and 17. This is a badly behaving author who suffers from spamming. Won't someone please?


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Wanda wrote: "Please will a librarian remove Nos. 13 and 17. This is a badly behaving author who suffers from spamming. Won't someone please?"

Having found no evidence that The Elephant Tree and The Zombie Room can legitimately claim any literary importance whatsoever (as in having won literary awards, or being contained in book lists -- see explanation given by Will in message 1), I've taken the liberty to remove them.

I'd ask Will to provide some guidance on Angels and Demons, however: Does bestseller status make a book "important" for purposes of this list?


message 8: by Wanda (new)

Wanda Huzzah TA. Many thanks. Hopefully you receive clarification re A & D.


message 9: by William (new)

William Mego Uh, just saw this now. It was only notifying me that people were liking this list, clearly there's been some adding I didn't know about. I'll check everything in the morning and remove bad ones.


message 10: by Ben (new)

Ben Whoops. Someone put Infinite Jest on here. Very important book, but wrong century! I'll delete it.


message 11: by Ben (new)

Ben I like the idea of this list, but IMHO deciding what books are "important" can only be done when enough time has past to see how enduring and influential the work is.

If you asked people in 1912 to identify the "most important" books of the 20th century, they would likely have identified many books that are now irrelevant, or even out of print.


message 12: by William (new)

William Mego I get your point, but as the title of the list implies, it's related to a group, the 21st Century Literature Group, the idea of which is that some of us might not wish to wait for 80 more years to figure out what was worth reading the year it came out. If you check out the normal GR 21st century list, it's hunger games, harry potter, and twilight. I'm sorry, but the people in our group just don't agree. The challenge, and what makes the group difficult, is that we try to use a public process to nominate, poll, and elect books monthly while still holding to some standards, in a valiant attempt (at which we DO occasionally succeed, despite how essentially impossible the goal, as you point out)

So you've actually identified the overwhelming task, trying to figure out what's worth it LONG before it's really possible. But I think we've managed to find a few of them so far. I'll admit we've also managed to miss some, and read others that didn't deserve it. But for me personally, I've read at least 5 books this year that I found amazing that I wouldn't have otherwise thought to read, so the misses are worth it. This list is a reminder for us, mostly. GR really didn't send me notices that people were doing things to it though, so it's only now I'm able to sit down and look at it after months.


message 13: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Oct 08, 2012 03:34PM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads They don't send you updates when people vote on lists, that I've ever experienced. You just have to remember to check it periodically.

ETA: That's how I caught Thomas Hardy on "Best Books About Tudor England"!


message 14: by William (new)

William Mego Ok, I've removed TWO books, and wanted to remove a third...I'll explain...

I looked at every book I didn't know for sure was fiction written after 2000, and found only two books (unless I missed something) that were actually published pre-2000, Once upon the River Love and Interpreter of Maladies, both of which are probably fine, fine books, just published before 2000.

I WANTED to remove Angels and Demons, which I've read, and made me so mad at how bad it was I actually yelled out loud...in public...on an airplane...a SMALL airplane...at 2am..in a storm, flying to Seattle. I'm glad I didn't get kicked off the flight. I don't consider it literature, I don't consider it good, and but it's fiction, published in May 2000, and believe me I tried everything I could think of to disqualify this book, checking first edition dates, etc etc. But Goodreads is very very clear. Thou Shalt Not Remove Books Other Than Totally Non-Conforming to List Concept. The book is fiction, published after 1/1/2000, and two people like it enough to cause it to be ranked ahead of Roth, Atwood, Coetzee, Chabon, and Rushdie. I think the book is horrid drivel. It's dreck, it's an insult to readers, and no, I don't really care if you differ in opinion. Sometimes something is such unredeemable dumpster juice that your interest in defending it simply cannot measure up to even "agree to disagree". That's right...It's dumpster juice. I said it. However, rules are rules, and though I very much wish it were not the case, the rules are very clear. Now that said, Goodreads, that's a stupid rule. I should be allowed to make a list and edit it, or to create a special curated list if I want to. Call it something else if you like.

By the way, why have a list at all, you lovers of literature so unworthy of human eyes I would go back in time and swap every copy of it with the REAL books the Nazis burned, and thus cause a massive karma shift and probably cure cancer in doing so? Because having the input of others is important. That's why. While checking the dates of some of these books added recently I was unfamiliar with, I ended up adding 3-4 of them to my to-read list. I might never have heard of them otherwise. Maybe one will change my life. Probably not, but that's the point, you never know...just like we'll never know if I would have cured cancer by going back in time and swapping every Nazi burned book with a copy of Angels and Demons for them to burn. Some things will always be a mystery.


message 15: by William (new)

William Mego P.S., to directly answer a question above, the idea is for this to help identify SERIOUS FICTION writing. Sales and awards are perhaps an indication, but NOT proof of such by itself. It must TRY to be a great book. I highly approve of the removal of the books mentioned earlier. I just don't feel the rules permit ME as a librarian to do so.


message 16: by Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) (last edited Oct 09, 2012 07:06AM) (new)

Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Will wrote: "Ok, I've removed TWO books, and wanted to remove a third...I'll explain...

I looked at every book I didn't know for sure was fiction written after 2000, and found only two books (unless I missed s..."


Will, I think we all appreciate the time and care you put into this lists -- and your comments thereon!

Both books that you removed were mine; apologies, I wrongly had them down mentally as "year 2000 books," but negligently failed to check whether my memory was correct before adding them. (Interpreter of Maladies because it won the 2000 Pulitzer, Once upon the River Love because I read it in 2000 or thereafter, certainly not earlier -- which however, of course, I should have remembered, is NO reliable clue as to its actual publication date in the first place! :) )

I share your pain as to Dan Brown ... not having read Angels and Demons, I can't pronounce on this specific book, but The Da Vinci Code persuaded me not to rush to read another book by this author any time soon. Yet, your much more eloquently-stated reasons were, in essence, the same why I hesitated to remove Angels and Demons myself as well. And of course, the list creator's intentions should prevail first and foremost!

ETA: Given this list's title, though, Susanna is probably right that you may want to keep an eye on it, because this is the kind of list title that has been attracting the (self-)promotion efforts of self-published authors and their sock puppet friends of late. Which is what made me remove the two books that I did remove earlier in the first place ... (and which is also why Wanda called attention to them).


message 17: by William (new)

William Mego Well I certainly will, though as I said, before I had assumed I'd see more notice from GR about it, since whenever someone comments or likes the list I get a notice. I'll be sure to regularly check it, but it's still largely as a tool for the 21st Century Lit group.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads That would probably be too much strain on the servers, Will.


message 19: by Corey (last edited Jan 17, 2013 07:24PM) (new)

Corey Regardless of the public's opinion of Franzen, The Corrections should absolutely be number one on the list. Any novelist who gets his face on the cover of TIME magazine, bringing the social novel back to some degree of social relevance, in this day and age? That's totally unheard of and totally unexpected, and in my opinion, it gave the novel an extension on its cultural lifespan. Not to mention it's a fantastic freakin' book.

Also, one John Green book should be somewhere up on the list. I'm no huge fan of him, but everyone else around my age (18 years old), seems to love his books. He's indoctrinating the next generation in a literary tradition, and I think that's one of the most important things a writer can do.


message 20: by Antonomasia (last edited May 29, 2013 05:53AM) (new)

Antonomasia Bonfire of the Vanities? That's a book from - and very much about - the 1980's.
And The Secret History is from the 90's.


message 21: by William (new)

William Mego I'm afraid that the list, along with the rankings, along with the opinions, along (finally) with the group itself have somewhat slackened their grasp of the literate. Content thineself that 50 shades of Harry Vampire aren't #1. I no longer claim control or responsibility for this list. GR doesn't provide tools to maintain lists well, and apparently just considers it an empty feature to list on a page for prospective investors.


message 22: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia Ah, okay. That sort of explains the Dan Brown ... commercially and in terms of reader numbers he can't be denied as significant but it's just odd that someone added Angels & Demons rather than The Da Vinci Code itself.


message 23: by William (new)

William Mego #1: your complaints are largely that with the entire listopia function with GR, perhaps it would be more constructive on the GR Feedback forum.

#2: This is a list for a group I'm no longer involved in, and claims could be made that that group no longer does due diligence in reading challenging works of modern lit anyway (I'm sure I'll get abuse for that)

#3: If you read previous comments to this list, you'll see previous complaints, answers, including my statement that I no longer claim ANY responsibility for maintaining it. Once you've made a list, it seems, it hangs upon your neck til the end of time. You really cannot effectively edit it except as a librarian, and they threaten that you'll lose your librarian status if you make a wrong move in editing lists.

#4: So, nothing is going to happen here. I suggest ignoring this, and probably most lists.

#5: either way, heaping abuse on others isn't a constructive approach, though perhaps cathartic, though I'd suggest not.


message 24: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Removed some obvious author spam.


message 25: by Aaron (new)

Aaron Andrews Is no one watching this list anymore? With the 21st century almost 1/5th done, I think 21st century Top 100 lists will get notice this year.

That said, Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (#89) was written in 1980. It needs to be removed.


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

Wonderful list, will bookmark for the future.


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