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Book Chat > Best Year for Books in the 1990s

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message 1: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1842 comments Mod
I'm going to create a few of these threads for the last few decades, because I'm curious what we think are the best years for books within each of those decades.

My reason for doing this is because I love film as well, and it's quite easy to look at some years in film (2007, being the most recent example, with 2011 being quite good as well) and see that in some years something was in the water. The year's output featured so many great films it was simply a great year for film. Of course, great movies -- maybe even better movies -- are made in other years, but here I'm looking at the concentration of greatness.

So I'm wanting to do something similar for books, where I don't think it's quite as apparent (perhaps because it's a silly exercise, not that that has stopped me before).

Here is the thread for the years 1990-1999.

Let's try to look at the year of first publication for this. If a book was published in the UK in 1995 but in the US in 1998 (or never), then it is a 1995 book. If a book was written in German in 1990 but published in English in 1992, then it is a 1990 book.

Will this result in anything interesting? I'm not sure! Let's try though.


message 2: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1842 comments Mod
I'll use this post to keep track of the years 1990-1994. If you mention a book in one of these years, I'll put it here.

1990:

1991:

1992:

1993:

1994:


message 3: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1842 comments Mod
I'll use this post to keep track of the years 1995-1999. If you mention a book in one of these years, I'll put it here.

1995:

1996:

1997:

1998:

1999:


message 4: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments My answers for these things are 1994 for music and 1966 for film, but never considered a best year for books before. Will be interesting to do one per decade not just over all.
I think it would be good to include non-fiction in the discussion too. And in the late 00s and 2010s creative non-fiction has become more a part of literature


message 5: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3164 comments Mod
I need to try and analyse my shelves before I attempt to answer these...


message 6: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1842 comments Mod
I agree. All types of books should be considered.


message 7: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1842 comments Mod
Hugh, please let us be a part of the analysis too—as much as you can! No need to have a conclusion yet.


message 8: by Marcus (new)

Marcus Hobson | 48 comments Here are three of my favourites from the '90s.

1992 for Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman and also The Secret History by Donna Tartt
1997 for Enduring Love by Ian McEwan - still my favourite of his, although I know not everyone agrees.


message 9: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1651 comments Trevor wrote: "I'm going to create a few of these threads for the last few decades, because I'm curious what we think are the best years for books within each of those decades.

My reason for doing this is becaus..."


Just to clarify. We are assigning books to their place by the date of their first publication whatever the country of origin. Including US and Commonwealth nations?


message 10: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1842 comments Mod
That’s right. First year of publication, regardless of where. in the 2000s thread you’ll see Paul has quite a good list for 2004, though several of those books weren’t available in English for a few years.


message 11: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1651 comments May I suggest that books of a planned series default to the year of the first publication of the first book and perhaps be represented by that first book? We don't want too many Potter's cluttering up the list.


message 12: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1842 comments Mod
Hmmm. Not sure my feelings on that. I’d rather have books stand alone but go ahead and make cases as you see fit!


message 13: by Hugh (last edited Apr 02, 2019 12:49AM) (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3164 comments Mod
1995 has 9 5-star reads on my list (including A Fine Balance, Blindness, The Blue Flower, Morality Play, Le Testament Francais, To the Wedding, The Ghost Road), 1996 is next with 7


message 14: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1842 comments Mod
1995 does look like the year to beat at this time. I'm anxious to see which other years look strong.


message 15: by Antonomasia (last edited Apr 01, 2019 01:15PM) (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments Will have to do this in more detail later, but here are some of my 5* ratings and a handful of important 4*. I haven't rated a lot of books from the 90s as there are very few books I read before joining GR which I've rated. I assume it's okay to add more later?

1992: The Secret History (seconded); Never Mind by Edward St Aubyn (inception of the Patrick Melrose sequence); Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson

1997: Mason & Dixon; Black and Blue by Ian Rankin - strongest book in one of Britain's strongest recent crime fiction series; Dukla by Andrzej Stasiuk (beautiful writing later translated from Polish)

1995: Galatea 2.2 by Richard Powers; Landscape and Memory by Simon Schama (history); Microserfs by Douglas Coupland (this is a major personal reference point and I read it loads of times, but appreciate it probably means less to other group members); The Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald; Tales of Galicia by Andrzej Stasiuk

1990: Possession by A.S. Byatt; The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi

Infinite Jest (1996) surely has to be mentioned on a list of major novels of the 90s. And there should be some Murakami, though which ones, his fans need to choose.


message 16: by Ang (new)

Ang | 1685 comments Disgrace by JM Coetzee.1999


message 17: by Ang (new)

Ang | 1685 comments Independence Day - Richard Ford - 1995


message 18: by Ang (new)

Ang | 1685 comments The Hours - Michael Cunningham - 1998


message 22: by Ang (new)

Ang | 1685 comments I second Never Mind, Amongst Women, and Ghostwritten.

Adding Martin Amis Times Arrow 1991 and The Information 1995.


message 23: by Neil (new)

Neil | 1884 comments Here is my list:

1990: Possession
1991: The Gold Bug Variations, Mao II
1992: Jesus' Son, The Secret HistoryAll the Pretty Horses
1993: The Night Manager
1994: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Death of a River Guide, The Crossing
1995: Galatea 2.2, The Unconsoled
1996: Reader’s Block, Infinite Jest
1997: Underworld, Mason & Dixon
1998: Cities of the Plain
1999: Ghostwritten

Hard pushed to pick a favourite year based on that list. Jesus' Son is just about my favourite book ever, so perhaps 1992. But Markson's Reader's Block is incredible, so perhaps 1996. I don't know!


message 24: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments Good Omens (1990) should also be on mine


message 25: by Ang (new)

Ang | 1685 comments Colm Toibin - The Story of the Night 1996 and The Blackwater Lightship 1999.


message 26: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3164 comments Mod
Ang wrote: "Colm Toibin - The Story of the Night 1996 and The Blackwater Lightship 1999."
This is showing me a few sore thumbs in my ratings! Some of my favourites appear to have 4 stars...


message 27: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3164 comments Mod
Can we do 80s, 70s and 60s too?


message 28: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments Hugh wrote: "Can we do 80s, 70s and 60s too?"

That might be easier as works are filtered more, the older they are.


message 29: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments Amused that the "Goodreads is hiring" ad displays on the page for Microserfs but not other books I've looked at. Targeted job advertising.


message 30: by Ang (last edited Apr 02, 2019 04:46AM) (new)

Ang | 1685 comments Boyhood - JM Coetzee - 1998
Martin Dressler - Stephen Millhauser - 1996


message 31: by Ella (new)

Ella (ellamc) | 1018 comments Mod
I only rate books I read before joining GR if I actually trip over them somehow (though I did spend a fair amount of time last year trying to catch up on my books) but as a Murakami fan, I'll third The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (it's my favorite Murakami) and I'll also second Infinite Jest. These lists remind me of some great reading when I was younger and my eyes were better!


message 33: by carissa (new)

carissa | 98 comments I just went through the 1990's, what an interesting exercise.
The standouts are:

1990-Possession, Vertigo

1991-A Thousand Acres, American Psycho , Cloudstreet, Faceless Killers, Gold Bug Variations. Sweet Hereafter

1992-A Heart so White, All the Pretty Horses, Along Came a Spider, Bastard out of Carolina, Black Water, Children of Men, Eintein's Dream, English Patient, Fatherland, I Tituba, Sacred Country, Secret History, She's Come Undone, SnowCrash, The Emigrants, Tree of Life, Vox

1993-The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll, A Suitable boy, Foxfire, Land of Green Plums, Night Manager, Operation Shylock, Remembering Babylon, Road to Wellville, Robber Bride. Shipping News, Stone Diaries. The Club Dumas, Ties that Bind, Trainspotting, Virgin Suicides

1994-Felicia's Journey, How Late It Was, How Late, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Of Love and Other Demons, The Ice Storm, What a Carve Up, Wind Up Bird Chronicle

1995-Blindness, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, A Fine Balance, Blue Flower, High Fidelity, Moo, Morvern Callar, My Education: A Book of Dreams, Practical Magic, Snow Falling on Cedars, The Stranger Next Door, The Body Farm, The Moor's Last Sigh, The Reader, The Unconsoled, Tortilla Curtain, Where the Heart Is, Wonder Boys

1996-Alias Grace, Bridget Jones's Diary, Cocaine Nights, End of Alice, Fightclub, Game of Thrones, Infinite Jest, Self, The Giant’s House, The Sparrow, Year of Lesser

1997- American Pastoral, Audition, Enduring Love, God of Small Things, Great Apes, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Midwives, Night Train, Out ,The Actual, The Magician's Wife, The Red Tent, The Underpainter, Underworld , Weight of Water

1998-About a Boy, Autobiography of Red, Breakfast on Pluto, Children of god, Death in summer, Elementary particles, Girlfriend in a Coma, House gun. Master Georgie, Patchwork Planet, Pilot's Wife, Poisonwood Bible, Rum Diary. The Hours, Tipping the Velvet, Widow for one Year

1999-The Blackwater Lightship, 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear,Affinity, Chocolat, Disgrace, Ghostwritten, Girl with a pearl earring, House of Sand and Fog, My century, Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy,Survivor, The Intuitionist, Thumbsucker, White oleander

It seems 1995 is the standout in my memory; with close runner's-up in 1992, 1996, 1997, 1998...haha....so, I guess most years are good reading years. 1993 is my personal fav.


message 34: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1842 comments Mod
Thanks all for some great lists. I'm going to try to find some time over the weekend to tally the books and see what we have so far. I'll then be very curious which years really stand out as candidates for the best of any decade . . . and hopefully this will also lead to some conversations about what was in the water in any year/decade.


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