The OF Blog: 50 standalone books from 2000-2009 that I would recommend for consideration

Sunday, December 06, 2009

50 standalone books from 2000-2009 that I would recommend for consideration

Since there are quite a few people who are already beginning thinking of "books of the decade" (despite this first decade of the 21st century CE not ending until midnight on December 31, 2010), I thought I would create something a bit different and (hopefully) true to the spirit of this blog.  Below are 50 books published in English or English translation from 2000-2009 that can be read and taken as a whole without the need to read a book prior to or following that book.  There are a few books listed that share perhaps a common "universe," but each book could be read independently of the others and not depend upon those others for a complete story.

Not all of the books are novels.  Nor are all of them speculative fiction, per se.  There are likely some that I've read and enjoyed a lot that I left off, either because of my limiting this to standalones, or because I just plain didn't have them shelved when I checked through my dozen bookcases just now.  Of course, the real point of such things is to generate thought, discussion, and hopefully curiosity about the rationale(s) employed by the list generator (me) and about the books listed.  Oh, and before I forget:  this is not in a ranked order, but rather from a scribbled down notes as I did a purview of my shelves.

1.  Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell

2.  Jeffrey Ford, The Shadow Year

3.  M. John Harrison, Light

4.  Jeff VanderMeer, Shriek:  An Afterword

5.  Jeff VanderMeer, Finch

6.  Brian Evenson, Last Days

7. Cherie Priest, Boneshaker

8. Margo Lanagan, Tender Morsels

9. Kelly Link, Magic for Beginners

10. Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Wizard of the Crow

11. Umberto Eco, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana

12. Roberto Bolaño, 2666

13. Jonathan Littell, The Kindly Ones

14. David Mazzucchelli, Asterios Polyp

15. Dan Simmons, The Terror

16. Elizabeth Moon, The Speed of Dark

17. China Miéville, The Scar

18. Chris Adrian, The Children's Hospital

19. Terrence Holt, In the Valley of the Kings

20. Elizabeth Hand, Generation Loss

21. Caitlín Kiernan, The Red Tree

22. Thomas Ligotti, My Work is Not Yet Done

23. Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves

24. Ignacio Padilla, Shadow Without a Name (Amphitryon in Spanish)

25. Geoff Ryman, Air

26. Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day

27. Salvador Plascencia, People of Paper

28. Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

29. M. (Mary) Rickert, Map of Dreams

30. Bret Easton Ellis, Lunar Park

31. Ian McDonald, Brasyl

32. Zoran Živković, The Last Book

33. Milorad Pavić, Second Body

34. Roberto Bolaño, The Savage Detectives

35. Jorge Volpi, Season of Ash (No será la tierra in Spanish)

36. David Toscana, The Last Reader (El último lector in Spanish)

37. Xavier Velasco, Diablo Guardián

38. José Saramago, Death with Interruptions

39. Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin

40. Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind (La sombra del viento in Spanish)

41. Paul Auster, Invisible

42. Michael Ajvaz, The Other City

43. J.M. McDermott, Last Dragon

44. Dave Eggers, What is the What

45. Thomas Glavinic, Night Work

46. Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go

47. Elias Khoury, Yalo

48. Cormac McCarthy, The Road

49. Nalo Hopkinson, The New Moon's Daughter

50. Jesse Bullington, The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart


Anonymous said...

Great list. Although I must confess I'm a bit surprised that a novel by Bret Easton Ellis has made your list; I'd never think he was your style.

Anyway, thanks for posting this. There are a good chunk of books here I've never read, that I'll certainly add to my to-read pile.

Larry Nolen said...

I actually have enjoyed Ellis's Less Than Zero and American Psycho. You might be interested in the post I just made that references how this list was constructed, but hopefully there will be many pleasant discoveries ahead for you as a result of this list :D

Liviu said...

While I read or browsed most books here (or plan to read/am reading from in 3 or 4 cases including Pynchon and Bullington) and generally I would not have many quibbles about the sff choices except that Brasyl while with great pyrotechnics breaks down pretty badly as sfnal content goes, Light oscillates between great stuff and stuff that I had a very hard time suspending disbelief in and Last Dragon I thought a great try but not quite a full success, the main quibble I have about the list is that I would have loved a line or two about each book.

50 is a lot of work no question, but a list with some arguments about why something is there has much more added value

Larry Nolen said...

Yeah, I toyed with doing that, but I was rushed for time when I was transcribing what I had written. Perhaps I'll edit it in the next day or two with a short line or two for each book. Good suggestion and I can see your point about Brasyl - I debated whether or not to have it appear there, but since I'll likely be adding a line of defense for each, I'll just start by noting it was included in part because I think it was slightly better than River of Gods and that those two works are the more visible examples (Bacigalupi's short fiction and debut novel being other examples) of how non-Anglophone countries are becoming more and more visible in SF/F writing. Thinking about writing a bit about the BRIC powers and especially Brazil in the coming days. Reading The Quiet War right now and that made me think of those emerging powers.

Terry Weyna said...

I adore lists. I don't know why, exactly, but they almost always make me want to count up how many books on them I've read, and then how many I own, and then buy and read the ones I don't have and haven't read. It must be a form of OCD.

This happens to be a good one. Thanks, Larry.

EddieC said...

Glad to see Last Dragon on the list. I really, really enjoyed it, and hope we get some more novels out of McDermott.

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