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10 Notable Books Turning 25 This Year

How many have you read?

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • January 16, 2024

The popular culture of an era often says something about the character of the time it inhabits. Today, we're revisiting ten of the most notable books turning twenty-five this year. Some of these 1999 titles tapped into the cultural zeitgeist of that moment in history. Others offer something universal that speaks to us all. Whatever the reason, they still have a place on our shelves.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling

The third installment of what has become the best-selling book series in history topped the NYT Best Seller list for ten weeks straight after its release. And speaking of releases, this story introduces Sirius Black, the dangerous mass murderer who has just escaped from Azkaban and might now be coming for Harry. It was, of course, also adapted into a blockbuster film.

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

This Pulitzer Prize-winning collection charts the emotional journeys of Indians and Indian Americans who are caught between their roots and the "New World." With accomplished precision and gentle elegance, the stories trace the crosscurrents set in motion when immigrants, expatriates, and their children arrive, quite literally, at a cultural divide.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

This fantasy, illustrated by Charles Vess, is distinctive from most of Gaiman's other novels. He wrote it in the tradition of pre-Tolkien English fantasy, an homage to authors like Lord Dunsany and Hope Mirrlees. It follows the adventures of a young man from the village of Wall, which borders the magical land of Faerie. A 2007 film starred Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Robert De Niro.

Close Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx

These idiosyncratic tales from the American West feature the Pulitzer Prize-winning author's masterful language and fierce love of Wyoming. Enlivened by folk tales, flights of fancy, and details of ranch and rural work, the stories center on themes of loneliness, quick violence, and wrong kinds of love, as seen in Brokeback Mountain, adapted into an Oscar-winning film.

Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee

Set in post-apartheid South Africa, this Booker Prize-winning novel tells the story of David Lurie, a twice divorced professor. After sexually molesting a student, he finds himself jobless and friendless. With no other options, he moves to his daughter Lucy's farm, where he attempts to find meaning in his one remaining relationship. But then a shocking incident of violence forces a reckoning.

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

The first in A Series of Unfortunate Events, this middle-grade novel introduces the exceptionally unlucky Baudelaire siblings. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are intelligent, charming, and resourceful, but after their parents die in a fire, they are placed in the custody of a murderous villain. A 2004 film stars Jim Carrey and Meryl Streep and a Netflix series starring Neil Patrick Harris premiered in 2017.

White Oleander by Janet Fitch

Hailed for its rare beauty and power, this novel tells the story of Ingrid, a brilliant poet imprisoned for murder, and her twelve-year-old daughter, Astrid. Shuffled through a series of foster homes, Astrid encounters abuse and danger, but ultimately she finds redemption and self-discovery. The book, a bestseller, was adapted into a film starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Alison Lohman.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

This moving coming-of-age novel follows observant "wallflower" Charlie as he charts a course through the strange world between adolescence and adulthood. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie must learn to navigate those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up. The 2012 film adaptation stars Logan Lerman and Emma Watson.

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

When a sixteen-year-old servant girl becomes the muse for Johannes Vermeer, her life is transformed. History and fiction merge in this richly-imagined story of the young woman who inspired one of the Dutch painter's most celebrated works. The luminous novel about artistic vision and sensual awakening inspired a 2003 film starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth.

The Testament by John Grisham

With his death just hours away, Troy Phelan, a rich, angry old man rewrites his will, naming a sole surprise heir to his eleven-billion-dollar fortune and setting off a vicious legal battle that will transform dozens of lives. His new heir, Rachel Lane, is a missionary living deep in the jungles of Brazil. Nate O'Riley is the disgraced corporate attorney handpicked to go find her.

Whether these books are new to you or favorites from your past, please join us in celebrating their continued relevance and resonance after twenty-five years! How many have you read?

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