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Happy 20th Anniversary to Us!

20 great books that are also turning 20 this year

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • June 20, 2023

As we ring in our milestone anniversary here at Thriftbooks, we are enjoying looking back at our early days and reflecting on how much we've grown over the years. We're honored to take part in helping our customers connect with good literature. As a part of our celebration, here are twenty terrific titles, spanning a variety of genres, that also turn twenty this year.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling 

The fifth installment in this beloved series finds Harry having a particularly bad summer holiday. The Dursleys, of course, are making his life a misery, but even his best friends, Ron and Hermione, seem to be neglecting him. Then the holiday comes to an end in a very dramatic fashion.

All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror by Stephen Kinzer

Selected as one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post and The Economist, this national bestseller brings to life the 1953 CIA coup in Iran that ushered in a quarter-century of brutal rule under the Shah, and stimulated the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and anti-Americanism in the Middle East.

Giving Up the Ghost by Hilary Mantel

"The story of my own childhood is a complicated sentence that I am always trying to finish, to finish and put behind me." This memoir from the two-time winner of the Man Booker Prize was selected by the New York Times as one of the 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years. Mantel passed away in September 2022. 

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri 

Meet the Ganguli family, new arrivals from Calcutta, trying their best to become Americans even as they pine for home. The name they bestow on their firstborn, Gogol, betrays all the conflicts of honoring tradition in a new world—conflicts that will haunt Gogol on his own winding path.

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis 

Enjoyed by baseball fans and nonfans alike, this nonfiction account of the unlikely 2002 winning streak of the Oakland Athletics has been called "the single most influential baseball book ever." The book inspired an Oscar-nominated 2011 film starring Brad Pitt as the team's general manager, Billy Beane.

Where I Was From by Joan Didion 

The late great essayist (and native Californian) examines her home state's ethic of ruthless self-sufficiency against its often tenuous relationship to reality. Combining history and reportage, memoir and literary criticism, Didion is an unparalleled observer, and this book is at once intellectually provocative and deeply personal.

The Known World by Edward P. Jones

An ambitious, courageous, luminously written masterwork, this historical novel seamlessly weaves the lives of the freed and the enslaved—allowing all of us a deeper understanding of the enduring multidimensional world created by the institution of slavery.

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

Set in England during the early part of the twentieth century, this is the first installment in a series of mysteries about a delightfully quirky private investigator building her business in the aftermath of the First World War. Her very first case involves suspected infidelity but reveals something very different.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Few who have experienced this acclaimed graphic memoir will ever forget its unique and striking power. Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, it depicts Satrapi's coming-of-age in Iran during the Islamic Revolution and offers an incisive reminder of the human cost of war and political repression.

Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum 

The winner of the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction, this magisterial and acclaimed history offers the first fully documented portrait of the Gulag, from its origins in the Russian Revolution to its collapse in the era of glasnost. The book was immediately recognized as a landmark work of scholarship.

The Colossus of New York by Colson Whitehead

Before going on to win two Pulitzer Prizes for The Underground Railroad (2016) and The Nickel Boys (2019), Whitehead composed this literary love song to New York City. His dazzling collection of vignettes, meditations, and personal memories captures the city's inner and outer landscapes. 

The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich

What happens when a trained killer discovers, in the aftermath of war, that his true vocation is love? Fidelis is a German WWI veteran who, with his family, settles in Argus, North Dakota, where he meets Delphine. This momentous encounter informs the trajectory of this enchanting novel.

The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

This award-winning cookbook comprises 150 meticulous, foolproof recipes from ciabatta, semolina, rye, and sourdough breads to bagels, biscuits, crumpets, and pizza dough. In simple readable language Beranbaum imparts a complete education in the art of baking for home cooks and professional bakers alike.

Lost In a Good Book by Jasper Fforde

The second installment in the fantastical, time travel adventures of the fearless literary sleuth Thursday Next. In an alternate reality of literature-obsessed England, Thursday hops through the worlds of various classic works of fiction as she investigates the disappearance of Landen, the love of her life.

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer

This debut short story collection introduced an arresting and unforgettable voice in fiction. With penetrating insight, these vignettes shine a light on the crisis of belonging that many Black Americans face. Packer's brilliant storytelling delights with startling turns and indelible images.

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Science has never been more involving or entertaining. Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson applies his trademark wit to understanding—and, if possible, answering—the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

The first volume in the internationally acclaimed MaddAddam trilogy is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future. The series draws on Atwood's deep-rooted interests in science, exploring themes around scientific ethics, genetic experimentation, and environmental collapse.

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson

This colorful and intimate narrative follows Franklin's life from Boston to Philadelphia to London and Paris and back, chronicling his adventures in helping to forge the American national identity and explaining why he has a particular resonance in the twenty-first century.

Love by Toni Morrison

This is the eighth novel from the acclaimed Nobel Prize winner, who died in 2019. Written in Morrison's lyrical, nonlinear style, it's a spellbinding symphony of passion and hatred, power and perversity, color and class that spans three generations of Black women in a fading beach town.

All Over Creation by Ruth Ozeki

Yumi Fuller hasn't set foot in her hometown of Liberty Falls, Idaho—heart of the potato-farming industry—since she ran away at age fifteen. Twenty-five years later, the prodigal daughter returns to confront her dying parents, her best friend, and her conflicted past, and finds herself caught up in an altogether new drama.

Wow! So many great books were born the same year as us! Help us celebrate our milestone birthday by checking out some of these enduring literary treasures.

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Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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