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  • Writer's pictureShira

100 Best Novels (21-40)

The second installment of our 100 Best Novels list. The books featured are in no particular order.

21. Frankenstein (1818) by Mary Shelley

One of the first science fiction books written by a woman, this famous text tells the story of Dr. Victor Frankenstein's scientific experiment gone wrong.

22. Room (2010)

by Emma Donoghue

Jack, a five-year-old boy, was born in captivity. His mother has been imprisoned by Old Nick for seven years and, while the room is the only home Jack knows, Ma is desperately planning an escape from their prison.

23. The Monsters of Templeton (2008)

by Lauren Groff

When Willie Upton returns to her family's home in small town Templeton, New York, she's looking for a place to recover from the end to her affair with a married professor. However, when a monster's corpse rises to the surface of Lake Glimmerglass, Willie ends up digging into old family secrets and the mystery of her father's identity.

24. The Goldfinch (2013)

by Donna Tartt

Theo Decker's pleasant trip to an art museum with his mother becomes a nightmare when a terrorist attack causes a deadly explosion. Although Theo survives, he becomes an orphan. His split-second decision to steal a painting from the rubble, as a reminder of his mother, will change his life forever.

25. Where the Crawdads Sing (2018)

by Delia Owens

In 1969, Kya Clark goes from being the wild outcast of Barkley Cove, a small fishing village, to a suspect in the murder of Chase Andrews. When Kya attracts the attention of two young men in town, her life as a loner naturalist begins to change.

26. The Blind Assassin (2000)

by Margaret Atwood

Iris' sister Laura drove off a bridge in 1945. Her death was ruled an accident, but years later, Iris tells her, and Laura's, life story. Her tale is interrupted by a novel-within-a-novel, a science fiction story of two lovers.

27. The Tattooed Girl (2003)

by Joyce Carol Oates

When Joshua Seigl, a reclusive author, hires Alma Busch, a young woman covered in tattoos, as his assistant, his life becomes more dangerous than he could have ever imagined.

28. The Song of Achilles (2011)

by Madeline Miller

Beginning in his youth and ending with the Trojan War, this beautiful novel, retells the myths of Achilles through the eyes of his life-long companion, and eventual lover, Patroclus.

29. A Discovery of Witches (2011)

by Deborah Harkness

When Diana Bishop, a descendent of an old line of witches, finds a bewitched alchemical text in Oxford's Bodleian Library, she accidentally unleashes demons, witches, and vampires from their fantastical underworld.

30. Uprooted (2015)

by Naomi Novik

Agnieszka's quiet village borders the dangerous and viscous Wood. A wizard, known as the Dragon, can keep the Wood's powers from overtaking the town, but only in exchange for the service of one young woman to serve him every ten years. Being chosen is believed to be a terrible fate and, unfortunately, Agnieszka is going to find out why.

31. The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers (1986)

by Margaret George

George's unique first person style is on display in this novelized autobiography of Henry VIII, famous for his six wives and his decision to split Britain from the Catholic Church.

32. Boy, Snow, Bird (2014)

by Helen Oyeyemi

At the age of twenty, Boy Novak, decides to start a new life in Flax Hill, Massachusetts. There she meets Arturo Whitman and his daughter Snow. When Boy gives birth to Snow's sister, Bird, she learns that Arturo's family isn't quite what it seemed.

33. Normal People (2018)

by Sally Rooney

At school, Connell, a popular soccer star, and Marianne, a loner, don't know each other. When they meet outside of school, they form a special connection. A year later at Trinity College, their roles have reversed. Marianne has an active social life, while Connell is shy and lonely. Although the pair grows apart, they always seems to find their way back to each other. However, when Marianne becomes self-destructive and Connell drifts further away, will they each be able, and willing, to save the other?

34. Starfish (2017)

by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Kiko Himura, a teen with Japanese heritage, is counting on getting into art school so she can escape her narcissistic mother. However, when Kiko is rejected and her abusive uncle moves back in, she jumps at the chance to visit west-coast art schools with a childhood friend, despite the fears that have always held her back.

35. The Sparrow (1996)

by Mary Doria Russell

In 2019 a listening post in Puerto Rico picks up proof of alien life. While the United Nations debates how to make contact, eight Jesuits form a team of their own and find a world that forces them to reevaluate their understanding of humanity.

36. Chronicle of a Death Foretold (1981)

by Gabriel García Márquez

Twenty-seven years ago, the Vicario twins murdered Santiago Nasar for dishonoring their sister. Now, an unnamed man has returned to the town to uncover the truth of the crime.

37. Waiting (1999)

by Ha Jin

Lin Kong has been in love with Manna Wu, a modern woman, for over seventeen years. Unfortunately, his traditional and loyal wife back in his home village and a strict society where adultery can ruin your life, prevents Lin from acting on his feelings. Every summer Lin returns home to ask his wife for a divorce. She always agrees and then backs out, but Lin is convinced that this summer will be different.

38. Americanah (2013)

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Ifemelu and Obinze, two young lovers, plan to leave military-controlled Nigeria for the Western world. While Ifemelu struggles with her racial identity in America, Obinze is stuck living as an undocumented immigrant in London, unable to join her after 9/11 closes his path to the US. Fifteen years later, the pair meet in democratic Nigeria and fall in love all over again.

39. Giovanni's Room (1956)

by James Baldwin

In 1950's Paris, an American man attempts to lead a "conventional" (heterosexual) life. However, after proposing to a young woman, he enters a long affair with a male Italian bartender.

40. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1994)

by Haruki Murakami

Toru Okada goes out to search for his wife's cat, but ends up searching for his wife in a hidden netherworld that lies below Tokyo.

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