The best 8 20th Century books

The 20th century was a pivotal era that shaped the world we live in today. From world wars and scientific milestones to cultural revolutions and technological advancements, it was a century of profound change and innovation.
In this book list, we explore the key events and influential figures that defined the 20th century. Whether you're a history buff or simply interested in understanding the legacy of this transformative era, these books offer a fascinating journey through time.

The best 8 20th Century books
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1
20th Century Books: To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

To the Lighthouse

Virginia Woolf
4.3 (17 ratings)
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What's To the Lighthouse about?

To the Lighthouse (1927) places you squarely in the heart of the Ramsay family’s summer home, providing intimate insights into their complex dynamics. It weaves an intricate web of familial relationships, artistic inspiration, and philosophical musings, while contemplating the concept of time and death.

Who should read To the Lighthouse?

  • Fans of stream-of-consciousness
  • Readers exploring feminist literature
  • Enthusiasts of modernist novels

2
20th Century Books: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

James Joyce
4.3 (92 ratings)
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What's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man about?

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) explores the maturation of Stephen Dedalus, an introspective and artistically inclined young man grappling with personal and national identity, religion, and aesthetic philosophy. It frames the universally relatable struggle of growing up and self-discovery.

Who should read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man?

  • Aspiring writers
  • Fans of modernist literature
  • Anyone studying Irish history

What's The Wanderer about?

The Wanderer is a captivating novel that follows the journey of a young man who sets out on a quest to find meaning and purpose in his life. As he travels through different countries and encounters various people, he learns valuable lessons about love, friendship, and the importance of following one's own path. This thought-provoking book delves into themes of self-discovery and the universal search for fulfillment.

Who should read The Wanderer?

  • Readers who enjoy introspective journeys through personal growth and self-discovery
  • Those who appreciate beautifully written and thought-provoking literature
  • People who are interested in exploring themes of wanderlust, human connection, and the meaning of life

What's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof about?

Set in the Mississippi Delta, "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" is a powerful drama that delves into the complexities of family relationships, greed, and societal expectations. The play revolves around the wealthy Pollitt family as they gather to celebrate the birthday of patriarch Big Daddy. Tensions rise as long-buried secrets and desires come to the surface, ultimately exposing the fragile facade of their lives. Williams' masterful storytelling and rich character development make this a timeless classic.

Who should read Cat on a Hot Tin Roof?

  • Readers interested in exploring themes of family dynamics and the complexities of relationships.
  • Individuals who enjoy thought-provoking dramas with intense and compelling characters.
  • Those looking to delve into the human condition and contemplate societal norms and expectations.

What's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich about?

Set in a Soviet labor camp in the 1950s, this novel follows a day in the life of prisoner Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. Through vivid descriptions and powerful storytelling, Solzhenitsyn exposes the harsh realities of life in the gulag and the resilience of the human spirit. It offers a poignant reflection on the struggle for survival and dignity in the face of oppression.

Who should read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich?

  • Readers interested in understanding the harsh reality of life in Soviet labor camps
  • History enthusiasts wanting to gain insight into the human experience during totalitarian regimes
  • Individuals seeking thought-provoking literature that explores themes of resilience and survival

What's Death in Venice about?

Set in the early 20th century, "Death in Venice" tells the story of a renowned writer named Gustav von Aschenbach who becomes infatuated with a young boy during his stay in Venice. As his obsession grows, Aschenbach's life begins to unravel, leading to a tragic and haunting conclusion. This novella explores themes of beauty, desire, and the inevitability of death.

Who should read Death in Venice?

  • Readers who enjoy contemplative and introspective literature
  • People interested in exploring the complex human emotions and desires
  • Those who appreciate beautiful prose and vivid storytelling

What's Narcissus and Goldmund about?

Narcissus and Goldmund is a novel by Hermann Hesse that explores the contrasting lives and philosophies of two friends, Narcissus and Goldmund. Set in medieval Germany, the book delves into themes of self-discovery, spirituality, and the pursuit of meaning in life. Through their unique journeys, the characters ultimately come to understand and appreciate the different paths they have chosen. It is a thought-provoking and introspective tale that delves into the complexities of human existence.

Who should read Narcissus and Goldmund?

  • Readers who are interested in exploring the complexities of human nature
  • Individuals seeking philosophical insights and reflections on art, love, and self-discovery
  • Those who appreciate beautifully crafted storytelling and lyrical prose

What's Wide Sargasso Sea about?

Wide Sargasso Sea is a novel by Jean Rhys that serves as a prequel to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre. Set in Jamaica, it tells the story of Antoinette Cosway, a Creole woman who becomes the first wife of Mr. Rochester. The book explores themes of colonialism, racial inequality, and the oppression of women.

Who should read Wide Sargasso Sea?

  • Individuals interested in reimagined literary classics
  • Readers who appreciate complex and psychologically rich characters
  • Those who enjoy exploring themes of race, identity, and power in colonial settings

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20th Century Books
 FAQs 

What's the best 20th Century book to read?

While choosing just one book about a topic is always tough, many people regard To the Lighthouse as the ultimate read on 20th Century.

What are the Top 10 20th Century books?

Blinkist curators have picked the following:
  • To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  • A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

Who are the top 20th Century book authors?

When it comes to 20th Century, these are the authors who stand out as some of the most influential:
  • Virginia Woolf
  • James Joyce