In my last post I shared with you 11 of my favorite classic novels. This was a list made up of novels published 1960 and before and was in honor of the Great American Read program I saw on PBS. It seemed only natural to then give you my favorite modern novels and then non-fiction, memoirs etc. On one hand this list was much easier to put together and another it was harder. I don’t read a lot of modern novels and I find even fewer that I love so it was easy to narrow it down but even coming up with 11 was difficult! But these are 11 pretty good books that I really enjoyed and I hope you will enjoy them as well.
I am going to give an honorable mention to A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman which I loved!
11. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (2003)-
I first read the Kite Runner when the Iraq War was in full swing and 9/11 was still fresh and it had a tremendous impact on me. I was completely absorbed in the story of 2 Afghani boys, one Pahstun and one Hazara, and how an act of violence draws them apart. It was devastating and yet powerful at the same time. I wept throughout but thought it was a very rewarding experience. The only reason I have it so low is because I haven’t reread it in a long time and rewatching the movie last year it wasn’t as good as I remembered it so maybe the book might not hold up? Have any of you reread it and what was your experience? Either way it wasn’t just dark and depressing at the time but an empowering character journey.
10. The Martian by Andy Weir (2012)-
My review of the movie is here
Enjoying The Martian will depend a lot on if you find Mark Watney charming, and I did. He was smart, scrappy and very funny. Plus, his actions felt authentic to what a person with his skillset would do stranded on mars. It was so entertaining to see him come up with one solution after another and have good times and bad times. When he is finally rescued I wanted to cheer out loud. It was very rewarding. The movie is really good too but the book is the best.
9. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (2011)-
My comparison between the book and movie is here
I know the internet has decreed this to be the worst book to ever exist but this is my list and I loved this book. I LOVED following Wade as he put the pieces together to solve Halliday’s puzzles. The steps are way harder than in the movie and the pop culture references aren’t just there for fun but part of the mystery that Wade puts together. Wade is a very positive character and see’s the good in those around him and I appreciate that. The Oasis is a brilliant creation and more of a cautionary tale from Halliday himself than in the movie. For Wade it was never about the Oasis but about changing his life when he won the big prize. Everything else was just part of the puzzle.
8. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella (2015)-
As someone who has a podcast on Hallmark it is probably no surprise that I love a good romantic novel, and one of the best ‘chick lit’ writers is Sophie Kinsella. She does such a good job combining important topics of the day with witty dialogue and likable romantic heroines we can all relate with. Finding Audrey was her first teen oriented book and I LOVED it. It was so funny and yet truthful at the same time. Audrey’s struggles with severe social anxiety felt true to me and the family dynamic was easy to relate to and hilarious. It’s perhaps too flight and fluffy to get higher on my list but it was such a hoot to read.
7. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (2004)-
Typically when I hear a book has won the Pulitzer Prize it is a sign I will hate it. I just don’t tend to like the winners and find them cynical and a real chore to get through. However, Gilead is an exception. It’s a beautiful book about a priest who is writing to his 4 year old son about his life and giving him some advice to live by. It in many ways reminds me of Willa Cather’s writing in its humanism and heart. All of the plot happens within the mind of our writer and it explores a man of God and his ability to love, forgive and grow old with grace. He has regrets and his dying wish is that his son will remember him fondly. Beautiful.
6. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (1963)-
My review of the recent movie adaptation is here.
What’s interesting about this book is I didn’t really enjoy it as a child but then we read it for book club about 5 years ago and I fell in love with it. Some people probably love all the world building of Camazotz and the other planets but I love Meg’s internal journey. This is what the movie got so wrong. Meg doesn’t need anyone to tell her how to be a good person. She learns for herself the value of the human soul and she decides to save Charles Wallace because she loves him that much. She loves her Dad that much and it is this love that is the true message of the book. Love allows Meg to be brave against It but it allows her to do the even harder task of forgiving her Dad.
5. Watership Down by Richard Adams (1972)-
To listen to my podcast on Watership Down movie click here
I read this novel first in high school and couldn’t get into it much but as an adult I like it very much. It’s not just about bunnies people! It’s about interesting characters that are trying to find a home and where they belong. I love Fiver. He’s such a sincere character and you feel for the group with all their personalities. I love Hazel, Bigwig, Bluebell, and Holly. They are all great and I love the societies they meet along the way of their journey. The mythology and lore of the rabbits all works and is easy to relate with even if it is rabbits- maybe because it is rabbits LOL
4. Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson (2012)-
This is such a dishy novel. It’s honestly one of the best romances I’ve ever read with Marianne and Phillip’s relationship growing in a natural and believable way. The chemistry is palpable and it draws the reader in. I think men and women will like this book because it has some scenes of kidnapping and revenge mixed in with all the romance. It also has some fantastic kissing scenes and the romantic tension is so well done. So fun!
3. The Giver by Lois Lowry (1993)-
To read my review of The Giver movie click here.
I am not normally a fan of dystopian literature. Most of it is so cynical and depressing for me and I find the arcs of the protagonists to be very predictable and dull. The Giver is an exception. I love reading about Jonas and his progression into realizing what a full life looks like. As The Giver gives him memories his mind is opened to both pain and pleasure and it is both devastating and hope-filled. I love how with each revelation he sees the world in a new way until he can’t take the faceless obedience any more and revolts. The ending is ambiguously perfect. It might sound strange but I find The Giver very inspirational reading.
2. The Chosen by Chaim Potok (1967)-
What’s special about The Chosen is I have read it in each era of my life and it is always meant something different to me each time. In my teens it was about teenage rebellion against traditional parenting. In my 20s it was about how warped and twisted parents could be towards their kids. In my 30s it was about how devastating it is when family members leave their faith. I went from despising characters to empathizing with them and I think that’s how you can tell it is a truly great novel. You don’t have to be Jewish to relate to Danny and Rueben’s struggles. You just have to be human who has a family and traditions that they believe in. It’s so moving and beautifully written.
1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2006)-
This is not a surprise to any of my regular readers as I have raved about this book for years. I love everything about this book. I love all the characters. I love how rich and deep it is with small characters getting a whole story that I care about. I love its themes of family, politics, propaganda, literature and the power of words. There are so many scenes that are inspiring and devastating sometimes at the same time. I love Liesel, Max, Rudy and Hans so much. Rosa and Elsa should be one note characters but they are full of texture and layers. Death as the narrator is completely brilliant as it keeps things personal yet with a certain level of detachment. It is also completely refreshing to have it set in Germany and from a German perspective. I love that there are books within the book and sections I am still pondering after reading it 7 times. Like what is he trying to say with the Word Shaker? I have some ideas but every time I read it I get a little closer to figuring it out. I just think it is completely brilliant.
So there you have it. My top 11 modern novels. What do you think? Let me know what your favorites are. Next up I will do non-fiction and memoirs so get ready!
5 thoughts on “My Top 11 Favorite Modern Novels”
Cool list! I haven’t read The Kite Runner or seen the movie but I know some people weren’t as into the movie so maybe the book will hold up better for you. I don’t know if I waited too long on the Wrinkle In Time front but it fell a little flat to me, felt more like just a string of random encounters and characters that talked in a way that was a bit too unrelatable to me, plus I appreciated certain elements of the ending like the forgiveness aspect you talked about (though even then, perhaps from only reading it just now I had definitely seen that explored before so it didn’t hit me as strong) I found the last chapter or so a bit rushed, though I much prefer it to the movie. Ready Player One kinda dragged for me in the middle making it a bit of a one-time read for me but I still really enjoyed it and it should be noted I read it before getting into Twitter and YouTube and stuff before I learned that apparently I’m supposed to hate nostalgia or whatever but I hate to tell people but I could care less about that kinda crap and I even went and enjoyed the movie! lol The Giver was one of the few books we were MADE to read in school that I actually liked. I hate the way people act about the open-ended ending that also drew complaints in the movie. I had a friend who saw the movie and was like ‘They HAVE to make a sequel’ and I was thinking ‘you totally missed the point of the ending!’ lol The Book Thief is a really good #1 pick, even if I totally knew it was coming! lol I also think my mom has read some Sophie Kinsella stuff, but I can’t remember.
My top 11 Books are Probably:
1. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
2. The Melancholy Death Of Oyster Boy and Other Stories by Tim Burton
3. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
4. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
5. Simon Vs. The Homo-Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
6. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
7. Perelandra by C.S. Lewis
8. They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera
9. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
10. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
11. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
I’ve heard so many people say that about The Giver. I think you can tell it’s a good book if people like it and they read it in school
Watership Down and The Martian would probably be in my own top ten, and Ready Player One in the top twenty at least. I read The Book Thief a while ago and remember enjoying it. I read A Wrinkle In Time just this year but I didn’t really like it to be honest; some of the character relationships felt unbelievable, some things weren’t well explained, and I didn’t get what the deal was with Charles Wallace being an infant with the mind of an adult.
The Harry Potter books will always be top of the list for me, but my other favourite modern novels include (in no particular order):
Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
The Stand by Stephen King
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres
There are a lot in your list I havent read so thanks for the suggestions
Reblogged this on Personal Musings: and commented:
I enjoyed reading the Kite Runner in high school, I even found a graphic novel version of it. A Wrinkle in Time inspired me to become a writer at age 12. You should definitely check out Confessions of a Shopaholic also by Sophie Kinsella. I’ve heard of Watership Down however the movie scares me. I’ve read a little of Ready Player One, I got a bored with the plot so I just looked for pop culture references I recognized in the book.