20 Books That Will Turn 20 In 2017
Each year bookworms and bibliophiles have a number of anniversaries to celebrate — last February it was the 50th anniversary of the publication of To Kill A Mocking Bird, then in March we recognized the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s Emma, later in April readers everywhere honored the 100th anniversary of the birth of beloved children’s book author Beverly Cleary, as well as the 200th anniversary of the birth of the one and only Charlotte Brontë — and the list goes on. But for book lovers around the world, 2017 marks one bookish anniversary that might just exceed all the others combined: Monday, June 26, 2017 will be the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. That’s right, our BFFs from the wizarding world have been with us for two decades. (I know, I couldn’t believe it either.)
But while Harry Potter might be the most globally-honored book anniversary of 2017, there are tons of other great, iconic books that turn 20 in 2017. And from adored YA classics to the novels that first introduced us to some of our favorite authors, I’ve compiled a list of 20 of them for you here.
Here are 20 books that turn 20 in 2017.
1'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' by J. K. Rowling
First published in the U.K. as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling’s breakout bestseller turns 20 this year — can you believe we’ve been in love with our friends from the wizarding world for two decades?! Monday, June 26 marks the 20th anniversary of the original publication, and there are tons (I repeat: TONS) of events scheduled around the U.S. and the world. Get excited, Potterheads.
2'Ella Enchanted' by Gail Carson Levine
Oh, Scholastic Books — was there ever anything better in 1997? One of my absolute faves from back in my early reading days, Gail Carson Levine’s YA novel Ella Enchanted is a powerful retelling of the traditional Cinderella story; one that critiques stereotypical female roles in fairy tales and gives Ella complete power over her own destiny.
3'The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle' by Haruki Murakami
First published in Japan in 1994, the English translation of Haruki Murakami’s celebrated novel (or, technically three novels: The Thieving Magpie, Bird as Prophet, and The Birdcatcher) hit bookstore shelves three years later, making 2017 the 20th anniversary of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle’s English-language appearance (and we've been obsessed with him ever since.) The novel takes readers into a Tokyo-based detective story, where Toru Okada’s search for his wife's missing cat quickly turns into a search for his missing wife.
4'Sex and the City' by Candace Bushnell
As the book — and subsequent television series — that practically got me through the first half of my twenties, it’s hard to believe there was ever a time before Sex and the City existed. Originally published on August 1, 1997, Candace Bushnell’s essay collection, drawn from her column in the New York Observer and based on the lives of her and her friends, is filled with hilarious, horrifying, and still-relatable stories about living and loving — and, of course, friendship.
5'Naked' by David Sedaris
Another title to celebrate two centuries on readers’ shelves, David Sedaris' Naked is laugh-out-loud hilarious from beginning to end. This memoir is filled bizarre and surprising personal anecdotes about everything from Sedaris’ childhood and family, weddings and funerals, to fruit-packing factories and (yup) paroled prostitutes, and so much more.
6'The Magician's Assistant' by Ann Patchett
An Ann Patchett classic, The Magician's Assistant follows the story of Sabine, a woman recently widowed from her magician husband who discovers he was living under a false identity and had another family — all named as heirs in his will. As Sabine works to uncover her former-husband’s secrets, his unknown family members weave their way into her life, taking her on a journey across the United States, and changing her forever.
7'Paradise' by Toni Morrison
The novel that completes author Toni Morrison’s (unofficial) trilogy that began with Beloved and continued with Jazz, Paradise is signature Morrison, both challenging and shocking readers as she transports you into the heart of a violent and hostile landscape, via a morally righteous small town called Ruby that was founded and is inhabited by the descendants of freed slaves. Blending folklore and mythology with history, this novel is haunting, jarring, and at times surprisingly beautiful.
8'A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments' by David Foster Wallace
Though the late David Foster Wallace was most celebrated for his novels — and the epic, 1000-plus page Infinite Jest in particular — it was his essays and nonfiction work that really showcased the writer’s talent, IMO. The 1997 essay collection, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, features seven essays on relatively inconsequential topics (tennis, the Illinois State Fair, postmodernism) which Wallace somehow elevates to masterful, hilarious, and exhilarating storytelling.
9'Tuesdays with Morrie' by Mitch Albom
Tuesdays with Morrie is another title that seems like it has been around forever — so it’s hard to believe it was only 20 years ago that Mitch Albom’s memoir about the last moments in the life of his former college mentor, Morrie, landed on bookstore shelves. Albom and Morrie, who was suffering from ALS, met every Tuesday for months, and this memoir bears witness to the wisdom and life lessons the mentor shared with his former student as his own life was coming to an end.
10'Memoirs of a Geisha' by Arthur Golden
Arthur Golden’s 1997 debut novel and bestseller, Memoirs of a Geisha, is bittersweet and mesmerizing, introducing readers to a vivid cast of characters and a wholly unfamiliar world — that of the Japanese geisha culture, one veiled in mystery, complexity, submission, eroticism, and complex gender politics.
11'Cold Mountain' by Charles Frazier
Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain takes readers into near post-Civil War America, following the journey of one Confederate soldier, Inman, as he walks home across a devastated south, eager to return to his prewar love, Ada. But in the wake of a war that changed the landscape of the United States forever, both Ada and Inman discover that they’ll never be able to return to their lives, or the people they were, before the war.
12'Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster' by Svetlana Alexievich
Recent Nobel Prize winning author Svetlana Alexievich is known for her own brand of journalism — gathering intimate, personal interviews and oral histories and compiling them in order to tell a larger, often-untold story. In Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster, Alexievich chronicles the worst nuclear reactor accident in history, sharing hundreds of stories, from those of innocent citizens to firefighters to the workers tasked with cleaning up the disaster.
13'The God of Small Things' by Arundhati Roy
Winner of the 1997 Booker Prize, Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things ventures back to India, circa 1969, introducing readers to fraternal twins Rahel and Estha, and their extended family, who are all grappling with the death of their cousin Sophie Moll. Woven throughout Roy’s novel is a complex discussion of India’s caste system, the economic and political divisions of the country, and the role of women in modern Indian life.
14'Brokeback Mountain' by Annie Proulx
Mesmerizing and unforgettable, Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain has been opening readers’ eyes and breaking readers’ hearts for two decades. Arguably Proulx’s best work of fiction to-date, Brokeback Mountain dives headfirst into the hearts and souls of two ranch hands, Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist, who fall in forbidden love over the course of one summer spent working together — a romance that will change their lives irreversibly and forever.
15'Tangerine' by Edward Bloor
A middle grade title that turns 20 this year, Edward Bloor’s Tangerine tells the story of legally-blind, glasses-wearing, soccer-playing Paul Fisher, a boy who has just moved to Tangerine, Florida with his family and is about to have his entire world turned upside down. In addition to noticing some very strange things about his new hometown, he’s also about to get to the bottom of his blindness — the result of an injury his family has been lying to him about for his entire life.
16'The Perfect Storm' by Sebastian Junger
A bestseller followed by a blockbusting film, Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm tells the story of the Andrea Gail, a fishing vessel manned by a crew of six, which disappeared in the midst of an epic storm off the coast of Nova Scotia on October 28, 1991. After one radio call to shore, notifying listeners of the impending storm, the ship was never heard from again — vanishing into the ocean and taking each member of its small crew with it. The Perfect Storm explores the lives of these six men before their deaths, and portrays in extensive and terrifying detail the power of nature against man.
17'Out of the Dust' by Karen Hesse
Another Scholastic Book that takes me back 20 years, Karen Hesse’s middle grade, historical novel Out of the Dust tells one of the most moving stories I read in my young life. Set in Depression-era Oklahoma, Out of the Dust features 14-year-old Billie Jo’s struggle to survive, thrive, and maintain hope throughout her family’s economic desperation in the midst of the American dust bowl. A definite must-read of 1997. (And now.)
18'American Pastoral' by Philip Roth
Recently adapted for film and winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize, Philip Roth's American Pastoral takes readers to a 45th high school reunion and into the recently-ended life of Swede Levov, a once-successful businessman and former star athlete whose entire life was dismantled by the social and political upheaval of the American 1960s and a personal illness.
19'Enduring Love' by Ian McEwan
Jed Parry suffers from de Clerambault's Syndrome, a disorder causing him to believe random strangers are in love with him — and this most recent stranger is 47-year-old, married Joe Rose, a man Jed makes brief eye contact with in a park, and whose life is about to be utterly complicated and devastated by Jed's delusional — and at times dangerous — obsession.
20'The Red Tent' by Anita Diamant
Offering readers a feminist perspective on Biblical history, Anita Diamant's The Red Tent tells the story of Dinah, a young woman who appears just briefly in the Book of Genesis, but who has a much larger story to tell. Beginning with the lives of Dinah's four mothers: Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah, all wives of Jacob, The Red Tent offers readers a vivid depiction of ancient womanhood — one that has been removed from most Biblical, and historical texts.