Modern, Postmodern, and Contemporary Fiction

Recommended books of the 20th and 21st Centuries

Modern Library's 100 Best English-Language Novels of the 20th Century (Random House): Two lists of titles and authors, ordered by rating -- one is the Modern Library panel's selections, the others were chosen by readers. Modern Library also presents its list of the 100 Best English-Language Non-Fiction Books of the 20th Century.

100 Most Meaningful Books of All Time (Harris County PL, TX): These books were selected by writers from 54 countries in a poll organized by the Norwegian Book Clubs in Oslo. Author, title, summary for each. In alphabetical order by author.

The Radcliffe 100 (Modern Library): List of the 100 best novels as determined by students in the Radcliffe Publishing Course, who are tomorrow's publishing industry leaders. More children's books and more 20th-century books on this list than on the Modern Library 100.

100 Most Influential Books of the Century (Boston Public Library): Author, title, publication year. In author order. Includes fiction and non-.

Cyril Connolly's 100 Key Books of the Modern Movement: Author, title, and publication year of 100 books from 1880 (Gustave Flaubert's Bouvard et Pecuchet) to 1949 (George Orwell's 1984). List compiled in 1965 and limited to French, English, and American literature.

Greatest Novels of the 20th Century (Patrons of the Skokie Public Library, IL): Lists the top 10, plus another 110, in order, as chosen by patrons of this library. Titles and authors only. See also their list of favorite novels of the 20th century.

21st Century American Notable Fiction (Auburn Hills PL, MI): Author and title only for about 210 novels. Compiled May 2007.

21st Century English Notable Fiction (Auburn Hills PL, MI): Author and title only for about 75 novels. Compiled May 2007.

Madison's Top 100 List of Novels (Madison Public Library, WI): The top 100 modern novels as voted on by Madisonians. Title, author, and publication year. Followed by the list of books chosen by the Modern Library Board.

Fiction Bestsellers: 1881-2005 (Madison Public Library, WI): Author and title of the top book of each year, with webcat link for most.

Pulitzer Prize Winning Fiction (Mesa Library, AZ): Author and title for books that have won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction from 1917-2006.

Hungry Mind Review's Best 100 American Books of the 20th Century: Author, title, and year listed. Brief introductory text.

99 Novels: The Best in English Since 1939 (Robert Teeter): Chosen by Anthony Burgess. Listed by year, with title and author.

Thought-Provoking Novels (AART, Rolling Meadows Library, IL): 'These contemporary novels wrestle with moral and social issues that and are thought-provoking, powerful and maybe even disturbing.' Author, title, publication year, page count, and summary for about 40 titles, from Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits to Kate Wilhelm's Huysman's Pets. Compiled 1991; updated Nov. 2002.

Oprah's Book Club Books: List of all books chosen by Oprah from 1996-present, with cover image and link for each.

Postmodern Fiction

'Contemporary fiction that uses irony, playfulness, and literary borrowing to explore themes of city life, pop culture, technology, and, often, the writing of fiction itself' (per Johnson County Library, Kansas).

Slipstream Fiction (Portland Public Library): 'Writing which simply makes you feel very strange.' Author and title only for about 25 novels, from Kobo Abe's The Woman in the Dunes to Colson Whitehead's The Intuitionist.

If you liked The Road by Cormac McCarthy: Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Novels (Tompkins County PL, Ithaca NY): Author, title, pub. info, cover image, summary for about 15 books; quite a variety from Blindness by Jose Saramago, to Cell by Stephen King, to Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth's Last Days by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins!

Weird Words (Albany PL, NY): 'Unusual fiction inspired by Weird Wednesday Movies.' Author, title, webcat link for about 40 books, from Willful Creatures by Aimee Bender to Filth (et al.) by Irvine Welsh. Compiled July 2006.

If You Like Kurt Vonnegut (Wake County PL, NC): 'Quirky, post-modern or counter-culture novels.' Author, title, webcat link, and summary for a dozen books, by John Kennedy Toole, Tom Robbins, Dave Eggers, Christopher Moore, Andrei Codrescu, and others.

Postmodern Fiction (Timberland Regional Library, western WA): Author, title, webcat link, cover image for about 35 titles, by Acker, Auster, Barthelme, De Botton, Eggers, Gaddis, Houellebecq, Ishiguro, Jelinek, Murakami, Rushdie, Zadie Smith, et al.

Illicit Fiction (Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA): Author, title, webcat link, cover image for 'transgressive fiction beyond Palahniuk, Burroughs and Bukowski.' 8 books listed.

Magical Realism

'A style of literature in which fantastic and often unsettling images or events are depicted in a sharply detailed, realistic manner' (per Auburn Hills Public Library).

Magical Realism (Wake County PL, NC): Author, title, webcat link, and summary for about 20 novels, from The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende to Waiting for June by Joyce Sweeney.

Magic of the Everyday: Magical Realism Fiction (Timberland Regional Library, western WA): Author, title, webcat link for about 25 titles, by Rushdie, DeLint, Irving, Murakami, Allende, Grass, Divakaruni, et al.

Magical Realism (Kitchner PL, Ontario, CN): Author and title only for about 175 novels, by authors including Kobo Abe, Virginia Woolf, Alice Munro, Steven Millhauser, William Kotzwinkle, Doris Lessing, Tess Uriza Holthe, Yasunari Kawabata, Franz Kafka, Timothy Findley, et al.

Magical Realism (Auburn Hills PL, MI): Author and title only for about 25 novels, from Isabel Allende's Daughter of Fortune to Daniel Wallace's The Watermelon King. Compiled May 2007.