Six Wonderful Novels Published Before 2002

I love reading fiction. It fills my soul in a way that no other reading can quite match. When I find a good novel I feel like a whole other world has opened up to me. Nora Ephron (in her book I Feel Bad About My Neck) talked about the state of rapture that she experiences when she is in the midst of a good book, and that is exactly how I feel too.

I decided to restrict my recommendations for this post to before 2002 because a) Peace Like a River was published in 2001 and I really wanted to include it and b) I worry that great novels of the past often get overlooked with the buzz that new books get every year. These six novels have stood the test of time and are truly amazing reads, and I have read most of them more than once because I love them so.

1. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
This romantic thriller is set in 1930s England and tells the story of a young woman who marries an older man with a dark past surrounding his late wife. The plot twists and turns as the protagonist finds out the truth about Rebecca and the man she married. I often felt myself slightly holding my breath while reading some of the more intense parts- it is just that good.

2. The Chosen by Chaim Potok
This wonderful book tells the story of two boys from different Jewish sects both growing up in Brooklyn. Their friendship highlights their similarities and differences and makes you think about relationships between God and His children and between fathers and sons.

3. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
There are few books that make me absolutely giddy to talk about and this is one of them. The Red Tent tells the story of Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob (from the Bible). It’s all about womanhood and its ancient rites and customs, and ultimately about family and love. I could read this book once a year for the rest of my life and never get tired of it.

4. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
A truly sweeping novel, Angle of Repose is about one family's story over three generations. It takes place in proper East Coast homes as well as log cabins in the Wild West, and a ranch house in California. It delves deep into the question of what makes or breaks a marriage, and how those marriages affect future generations. It is long but so wonderful.

5. Kindred by Octavia Butler
While many (including my library) classify Kindred as science fiction, that genre doesn’t provide a good enough description for what this book actually is. It tells a story of a black woman in the 1970s who time travels to a plantation in the pre-Civil War era along with her white husband. It is an incredibly fascinating story that provides a modern view on a horrific institution.

6. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
Peace Like a River is a novel that is hard to summarize. Its narrator, Reuben, is an 11 year-old boy who is on a journey from Minnesota to the Badlands with his father (a deeply spiritual minister who Reuben is convinced has worked miracles) and sister while looking for Reuben's brother. The story has so many components: love, romance, good, evil, and lots of winter. It is thought-provoking and engaging.


  1. Oh great list! Chosen is the only one I've read but it's one of my favorite too. Since you've put these books in a numbered list, does the numbering indicate anything?


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