Monday, December 28, 2009

Influential Books of the Last Decade

Julia Keller with the Chicago Tribune took a look back at the decade about to end and noted what she saw as the big news and the most influential books.

She sees Kindle as causing a “huge tectonic shift within the publishing industry, one bound to shake up how authors get paid, as well as how publishing companies and booksellers make money.” She also paid tribute to “the power of a TV talk-show host to shape our collective taste in books.” (Oprah, in case you were wondering.)

She closed her article by listing the 10 most influential books of 2000 - 2009, with a brief comment about each.

"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" (2000) by J.K. Rowling.

"White Teeth" (2000) by Zadie Smith.

"Twilight" (2005) by Stephenie Meyer.

"Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation" (2003) by Lynne Truss.

"The Tipping Point" (2000) by Malcolm Gladwell.

"The Da Vinci Code" (2003) by Dan Brown.

"Be Near Me" (2006) by Andrew O'Hagan.

"The God Delusion" (2006) by Richard Dawkins.

"Wintergirls" (2009) by Laurie Halse Anderson.

"Oryx and Crake" (2003) by Margaret Atwood.

Before you link over, try to figure out about which book she said, “Lord help us.” And which one earned the comment: “Along with its evil spawn -- er, I mean sequels -- this dully written series…” And which two earned theses comments: “…cataclysmically popular and utterly enchanting….” and “Linguistically splendiferous….”

If you’ve read any of her top ten of the decade, would you agree it belongs (or they belong) on the list? Which one would you include that she didn’t?
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  1. I guessed a couple right! I've read a few of these books but there were a couple I haven't heard of so not sure how influential they were.

    I wonder who's going to shape our taste in books when Oprah is no longer on TV?

  2. Well, I guessed the dully-written series right!

    I'm surprised that Eats, Shoots, and Leaves made the list.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  3. It was all too easy to guess which book had evil spawn! But I lit up when I saw the comments about Harry Potter.

    Great list!

  4. There are probably other lists out there. This is just one person's opinion, although she got quite a few that I would have said were influential.

  5. Got two right!

    Thanks for sharing the list Helen. Goes to show how subjective writing is.

  6. Great list. I missed “Linguistically splendiferous….”

  7. I do not know how "Eat, Shoots and Leaves" made it to the list. It did not occur to me that this book could be popular among people who are not students or in the writing business.

  8. Guessed "evil spawn" and "Lord help us." Interesting.

  9. I'm surprised "Eat, Pray, Love" didn't make the list.

  10. Wow - interesting list! Some of those are a surprise, there are a few I now want to check out. :)

  11. It's not really a list of books the writer thought were the best of the decade, but of those she thought were the most influential.

  12. It appears I have some more reading to do--since I've only read three on the list. Oh, and I echo the comment on the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

  13. LOL - I have one of those - The Tipping Point.

  14. I read the Da Vinci Code and thought it was slightly above average. The prequel Angels and Demons was way better and one of the best books I ever read.

    But I can see how some people would translate the controversy from the Da Vinci Code and slap a "10 most influential books of 2000 - 2009" label on it.

    Stephen Tremp

  15. Te hee..I got the "evil spawn" right :)

    Hello Helen! It's good to be back. I hope your Christmas was wonderful! Thanks for sharing this list. There were several that made it that surprised me.

    Happy Monday,

  16. I think it's interesting that some of the books are ones that I, and others, would not consider "great" but are definitely influential. And what I would consider "great" is not necessarily what you would consider "great." To each his own. But there are some on the list that you can't deny made a change in the industry.

  17. Like them or not, these books were certainly influential. How could they not be with the amount of copies each of them sold? Thanks for sharing the list, Helen.


  18. It's really amusing how many guessed the 'Evil Spawn' correctly. The thing I love about the Twilight series though is how many young people read it who weren't enthusiastic readers before. Perhaps it taught a few of them the joys of reading and they will go on to bigger and less 'evil' things.
    There were plenty of Oprah's choices I haven't cared to read in the least no matter her praise, but I really, really would love her to have one of my books as her selection.

  19. I wonder what percentage of those books bought on Oprah's recommendation actually get read.

  20. Not only did the Twilight and the Potter series get more young people reading, they spawned a whole slew of wizard and vampire books.

    Don't know, Anton. I've bought maybe one Oprah rec and read it, but the others I passed on.

  21. It is always interesting to see what books are named as best or most influential. I have read several of these books and would hesitate to call any of them great, as in so well-written I drooled - but they are influential on a lot of levels.

  22. Influential, to me, means the book changed things. Changed the way people read or think. Changed publishing. Changed people's reading habits. Changed an industry or a part of society. In some way, the book caused a significant change. You're right, Maryann, the book is influential on some level.

  23. Best does not necessarily equal influential, and influential, it appears, is in the eye of the beholder.

  24. Quite a list she's compiled. I don't agree with them all and I've read probably two of the authors she mentions.

    I agree with Elizabeth. What is influential is what resonates with us individually.

    Hope you had a great Christmas, Helen. *Raising a glass to you, here's to a great 2010!


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