Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Best of the Aughts: Top 10 books

(Note: Books listed in chronological order)

"Me Talk Pretty One Day," David Sedaris (2000)
No one tells a better personal anecdote than David Sedaris. Perhaps that's because he has so many outrageous personal anecdotes to tell -- from tales of his midget guitar teacher to his often strange places of employment and ultimately his move to Paris and struggle to learn French. The only thing better than reading the book is listening to the audiobook, narrated by Sedaris in his distinctively funny voice (as often heard on NPR).

"The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference," Malcolm Gladwell (2000)
Gladwell examines the idea of "social epidemics," i.e. how fashion trends start or how new products grow in popularity. It begs the question: Are you a connector, a maven or a salesman? (I'm a maven, FYI.) It's not just a book for business-minded folk, it's a fascinating look at how we interact with each other to make the world go 'round.

"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," J.K. Rowling (2000)
The fourth book completely changed the game for the Harry Potter series. Clocking in almost 300 pages longer than "Prisoner of Azkaban," it is also much darker -- the boy wizard is dealing with Death Eaters and witnessing a murder -- and provides more character depth than its predecessors. With "Goblet of Fire," the series officially made the transition from being called "children's books" to just "books."

"The DaVinci Code," Dan Brown (2003)
Say what you will about the subject matter, but this novel is a freaking page-turner. And it captivated the world while spending more than two years on the New York Times best-seller list. I'm not embarrassed to say that I own one of the 80 million copies sold.

"The Kite Runner," Khaled Hosseini (2003)
"You will cry," my friend told me when she lent me this book. I made it all the way to the end of this heart-wrenching novel about boyhood friends from two different social classes in Kabul without a tear. But when I finished it, I closed the book and sobbed for about 10 minutes (on a plane, no less). It's an educational account of Afghanistan's political turmoil, but it's also a story of regret, of redemption and of hope, with characters so real that sometimes it's easy to forget that it's a work of fiction.

"Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs," Chuck Klosterman (2003)
I kneel at the church of pop culture, and Chuck Klosterman is my messiah. Whether he's breaking down Zack Morris' relationship with Kelly Kapowski or Pamela Anderson's relationship with America, Klosterman's witty, engaging style will keep you laughing and thinking. And whether or not you agree with his take on Lloyd Dobler, you will most certainly agree that it's a blast to even have a take on Lloyd Dobler.

"America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction," Jon Stewart (2004)
The fake-news brains behind "The Daily Show" brought us this fake text book, complete with discussion questions and classroom activities aimed at skewering American politics. It hits solidly below the belt with its spot-on irreverence and cheekiness. Here's hoping they put together "America: The Sequel."

"The Road," Cormac McCarthy (2006)
Grim, dark and stripped down in both its subject matter and writing style, this is a post-apocalyptic tale of a man's journey with his son over a desecrated landscape. If you're looking for a happy ending, look elsewhere. If you're looking for a book to help you change the way you think about the future and about mankind, read "The Road."

"One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding," Rebecca Mead (2007)
The American wedding is a multi-billion dollar industry. Why? And how did it get that way? Rebecca Mead examines it by going far and wide -- to a dress factory in China, to a wedding planner conference in New York, to the wedding capitol of the south (Gatlinburg, Tenn.) -- to find some answers. What she discovers is astounding. My husband actually gave me this book after we got engaged and told me to read it while planning our wedding. It helped shape some of the things we did and didn't do for our "one perfect day." It's a must-read for anyone who is getting married.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," J.K. Rowling (2007)
I literally cannot remember being so excited to read a book. The final installment of Rowling's literary masterpiece (seriously, won't there be college courses dedicated to it?) ties everything together in a most satisfactory way. It lived up to the hype, which itself is an incredible feat.

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