Book to the Future: 2000s
Pick up your South West Reading Passport 2016: Book to the Future from your local library, read through the decades and win prizes from now until March 2017. Find out more on our Book to the Future blog post.
There are more suggestions in your passport, as well as on the South West Reading Passport website, but we’ve gathered a selection of books to get you started, either set in, or published in, the 2000s. You can also download a reading list here: 2000s
Dan Brown The Da Vinci code This is a page-turning thriller that also provides an amazing interpretation of Western history. Brown’s hero and heroine embark on a lofty and intriguing exploration of some of Western culture’s greatest mysteries–from the nature of the Mona Lisa’s smile to the secret of the Holy Grail. It has been described as “Blockbuster perfection” and was a publishing phenomenon in 2003.
Elizabeth Gilbert Eat pray love Elizabeth Gilbert was a 30-year-old successful journalist with a perfect life when she realized she was miserable. After an acrimonious divorce she travels to Rome, Italy and eventually Bali where a toothless medicine man of indeterminate age offers her a new path to peace: simply sit still and smile. And slowly happiness begins to creep up on her.
Malcolm Gladwell The tipping point In this brilliant and original book, Malcolm Gladwell explains and analyses the ‘tipping point’, that magic moment when ideas, trends and social behaviour cross a threshold, tip and spread like wildfire. Taking a look behind the surface of many familiar occurrences in our everyday world, Gladwell explains the fascinating social dynamics that cause rapid change.
Mark Haddon Curious incident of the dog in the night-time This title is a murder mystery novel like no other. The detective, and narrator Christopher is fifteen and has Asperger’s Syndrome. He knows a very great deal about maths and very little about human beings. He loves lists, patterns and the truth and hates the colours yellow and brown and being touched. He has never gone further than the end of the road on his own, but when he finds a neighbour’s dog murdered he sets out on a terrifying journey which will turn his whole world upside down.
Khaled Hosseini The kite runner Afghanistan, 1975: Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal friend Hassan promises to help him. But neither of the boys can foresee what will happen to Hassan that afternoon, an event that is to shatter their lives. After the Russians invade and the family is forced to flee to America, Amir realises that one day he must return to Afghanistan under Taliban rule to find the one thing that his new world cannot grant him: redemption.
Kazuo Ishiguro Never let me go This chilling masterpiece tells of the lives of a group of students growing up in a darkly skewered version of contemporary England. It’s a story of friendship, love and memory written in a simple yet emotive style and charged throughout with a sense of the fragility of life.
Cormac McCarthy The Road The Road is the story of a father and son walking alone through burned America, heading through the ravaged landscape to the coast. This is a stark and powerful novel revolving around the extraordinary relationship between man and boy as they travel through a post-apocalyptic world towards a devastating but life-affirming climax.
David Mitchell Cloud Atlas Shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2004 this bold and remarkable book concerns six interlocking lives and one amazing adventure. In a narrative that circles the globe and reaches from the 19th century to a post-apocalyptic future, Cloud Atlas erases the boundaries of time, genre and language to offer an enthralling vision of humanity’s will to power, and where it will lead us.
Greg Mortenson Three cups of tea In 1993, after a terrifying and disastrous attempt to climb K2, a mountaineer called Greg Mortenson drifted, cold and dehydrated, into an impoverished Pakistan village in the Karakoram Mountains. Moved by the inhabitants’ kindness, he promised to return and build a school. This is the story of that promise and its extraordinary outcome. Over the next decade Mortenson built not just one but fifty-five schools – especially for girls – in remote villages across the forbidding landscape of Pakistan and Afghanistan, just as the Taliban rose to power. His story is at once a riveting adventure and a testament to the power of the humanitarian spirit.
Joseph O’Neill Netherland ‘Netherland’ is a novel of belonging and not belonging, and the uneasy state in between. It is a novel of a marriage foundering and recuperating, and of the shallows and depths of male friendship. With it, Joseph O’Neill has taken the anxieties and uncertainties of our new century and fashioned a work of extraordinary beauty and brilliance.
Lionel Shriver We need to talk about Kevin Eva never really wanted to be a mother; certainly not the mother of the unlovable boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker and a teacher who tried to befriend him. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood and Kevin’s horrific rampage in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her absent husband, Franklyn. Uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood from the start, Eva fears that her alarming dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so nihilistically off the rails.
Zadie Smith White teeth Described as one of the most talked about fictional debuts ever, this novel covers wide-ranging themes including genetics, gender, race, class and history. The story focuses on the later lives of two wartime friends—the Bangladeshi Samad Iqbal and the Englishman Archie Jones—and their families in London and the stories of their intertwined experiences.
Kate Summerscale The suspicions of Mr Whicher This is a high-end piece of true crime writing. Mr Whicher was a celebrated Victorian detective investigating the vicious and motiveless slaughter of a young child in a quiet Wiltshire village in 1860. The case itself induced both moral panic and universal fascination in the country at large. Kate Summerscale’s investigation unravels not just the details of the murder but also the birth of the modern detective and the influence of the proceedings on writers such as Wilkie Collins and Dickens. This is documentary writing of rare quality and intelligence.