Recently, with the end of the 2010s, everyone has been talking about all of the best things from the past decade. Which is completely understandable. But today, I’m looking even further back.
The aughts, a term that I think is massively underused, ran from 2000-2009. Even though my age ranged from toddler to pre-teen during that time, there were a lot of great books published then that don’t get as much attention over a decade later. So I’m going to be giving you some recommendations of backlist books published between 2000 and 2009 that I think you should read.
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale (2003)
If you’ve been following this blog for more than two seconds, you’ve probably heard me gushing about my love for this book. The Goose Girl, based on a little-known fairy tale by the same name, follows a princess named Ani who’s forced to disguise herself as a goose girl after being betrayed on her way to an arranged marriage. I’ve reread it countless times and it still holds up, with beautiful language, strong and complex female characters and female friendships, and some incredible magic thrown in.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005)
This is the kind of book that definitely deserves to stand the test of time. Following a group of children growing up at an isolated, mysterious boarding school in England as they learn to question the world around them and how they ended up where they are, it’s all about what makes us human and connects us to other people. While this is more on the literary side than what I usually enjoy, it also has elements of speculative fiction and has found its way among some of my other favorite books.
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak (2005)
I mean, if you’re a book lover and you haven’t read The Book Thief yet, what are you even doing? Set during World War II in Germany, this story follows a young girl named Liesel who steals books from Nazi book burnings, her foster family, and the Jewish man hiding in their basement. And it’s narrated by Death! I’ve read this book more times than I can count and get something new out of it every time, so if you somehow haven’t already, please go pick this one up.
The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson (2006)
Also known as Mistborn, the first in the Mistborn trilogy, this book has become somewhat a staple in fantasy in the last decade and a half. A young woman named Vin joins a ragtag group of rebels fighting against the all-powerful Lord Ruler while learning about her own abilities as a Mistborn who can extract power from metal. It has one of the most unique magic systems I’ve ever read, as well as exciting heists and spy missions and fight scenes. Truly iconic start to finish.
Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale (2007)
If we’re going to be talking about underrated books of the 2000s, this would be right at the top of the list. Told through the diary of a maid named Dashti, it chronicles her time shut up in a tower with her mistress as a seven-year punishment and their adventures after. With unique worldbuilding, a funny and endlessly entertaining voice, one of my favorite female friendships, and also one of my favorite fictional romances, this is one that I highly recommend!
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (2008)
I was definitely late to the bus on this series, but I’m so glad I picked it up a few years ago anyway because it immediately rocketed onto my list of favorites. Following a boy named Todd who lives in a society in which everyone can hear each other’s thoughts, it’s the first book in the epic Chaos Walking trilogy. Fast-paced and thrilling from start to finish, this is the kind of book that you don’t want to put down as soon as you pick it up.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (2008)
I only read this book because of the movie that came out a few years ago, but I ended up loving the book too! The whole book is told through letters, telling the story of a woman named Juliet in 1946 who visits the English island of Guernsey to write about a book club that started there during the war. Funny, romantic, charming, and a love letter to the sustaining power of literature, it’s every bit as delightful as the movie, and I recommend both!
Graceling by Kristin Cashore (2008)
This is another book that has shaped my reading taste and my writing ever since I first read it. Graceling is set in a world in which certain people are born with special abilities, called Graces. The main character, Katsa, is Graced with the ability to kill. If you think this sounds like a generic YA fantasy, you’d be wrong – it’s a gem that you shouldn’t miss out on, with beautiful writing, complex characters, and one of the best romances I’ve ever read.
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (2009)
All I should need to say is: giant whale airship vs. steam-powered robots. If that’s not enough to convince you – this is a steampunk YA novel set in an alternate universe World War I, following a Scottish girl disguised as a boy in the British Navy and the son of the assassinated Austro-Hungarian archduke. It’s just as epic as it sounds, and it’s the first in a trilogy that takes us all over the world with incredible worldbuilding, fun characters, and intense action scenes.
What books from the aughts do you love? Have you read any of these?