Book Suggestions, A List of Modern Day Classics

Entertainment Weekly recently put out a list of the best 100 books published between 1983 and 2008, calling them the new classics.  The book list doesn’t give any type of description, so I decided to go through the list, do some research, pick out the books that look most interesting to me (minus those I’ve already read), and provide you with a little info so you could see if they would be something you’d want to read, too.  

Here are 5 book suggestions, in no particular order.  Each of the following reviews is courtesy of

1. The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr

In this funny, razor-edged memoir, Mary Karr, a prize-winning poet and critic, looks back at her upbringing in a swampy East Texas refinery town with a volatile, defiantly loving family. She recalls her painter mother, seven times married, whose outlaw spirit could tip into psychosis; a fist-swinging father who spun tales with his cronies–dubbed the Liars’ Club; and a neighborhood rape when she was eight. An inheritance was squandered, endless bottles emptied, and guns leveled at the deserving and undeserving.

2. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Fifteen-year-old Christopher John Francis Boone is mathematically gifted and socially hopeless, raised in a working-class home by parents who can barely cope with their child’s quirks. He takes everything that he sees (or is told) at face value, and is unable to sort out the strange behavior of his elders and peers.  Late one night, Christopher comes across his neighbor’s poodle, Wellington, impaled on a garden fork. Wellington’s owner finds him cradling her dead dog in his arms, and has him arrested. After spending a night in jail, Christopher resolves–against the objection of his father and neighbors–to discover just who has murdered Wellington. He is encouraged by Siobhan, a social worker at his school, to write a book about his investigations, and the result–quirkily illustrated, with each chapter given its own prime number–is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

3. Sandman by Neil Gaiman (a graphic novel series)

Amazon customer, “T. James Book Smuggler” writes of the first book in the series:

The novel is divided up into separate stories/chapters that seemingly jump around and are unrelated at first glance, but eventually tie together nicely as the story progresses. The tale is simple, with mythological roots.It is a quest story of a lost hero, stranded from his home, who undertakes a quest to regain his power and his throne. Enslaved by greedy humans who aimed to capture his sister, Death, Dream (or Morpheus) spends years waiting for his inevitable escape, and revenge. Once freed of his prison, Dream is terrifying. More the stuff of nightmares, he is imagined beautifully in bold dark ink and burning red eyes.

4. Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc

Politicians rail about welfare queens, crack babies and deadbeat dads, but what do they know about the real struggle it takes to survive being poor? Journalist LeBlanc spent some 10 years researching and interviewing one extended family-mother Lourdes, daughter Jessica, daughter-in-law Coco and all their boyfriends, children and in-laws-from the Bronx to Troy, N.Y., in and out of public housing, emergency rooms, prisons and courtrooms. LeBlanc’s close listening produced this extraordinary book, a rare look at the world from the subjects’ point of view.

5. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

At the age of 22, Eggers became both an orphan and a “single mother” when his parents died within five months of one another of unrelated cancers. In the ensuing sibling division of labor, Dave is appointed unofficial guardian of his 8-year-old brother, Christopher. The two live together in semi-squalor, decaying food and sports equipment scattered about, while Eggers worries obsessively about child-welfare authorities, molesting babysitters, and his own health. His child-rearing strategy swings between making his brother’s upbringing manically fun and performing bizarre developmental experiments on him. (Case in point: his idea of suitable bedtime reading is John Hersey’sHiroshima.)