Books of the 2000s include many about fear of the real world and dreams about other worlds, whether the historical past, the un-reachable future or a supernatural present.
The record-setting “Harry Potter” fantasy series by J.K. Rowling defied and de-fined the times. It stunned cynics by unearthing millions of young readers who only needed the right book to get them started.
It scorned the digital market by remaining unavailable in electronic form.
And, with millions of Potter readers 21 or older, it revealed a generation that didn’t — and doesn’t — want to grow up.
After Rowling rested, in 2007, the masses turned to romance and vampires with the “Twilight” series by Stephenie Meyer.
“The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown, became a met-aphor for escape and word of mouth, for history as conspiracy and wish fulfillment, for world travel and the monster under your bed, for success as a symbol of success.
Here are some other standout works of the decade:
• “Founding Brothers,” Joseph Ellis. Released in 2000, the lively history book helped set off a long run of popular works about the American Revolution.
The quest intensified after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Ellis’ book is about some key moments in the birth of the country, about the debate over the goals of the United States and the words used to achieve them.
• “The Audacity of Hope,” Barack Obama. The lively, evenhanded memoir-policy book was written by a senator who had ideas about running the United States and a notion that words might help him achieve them. Maybe it worked, since he became president.
• “A Million Little Pieces,” James Frey. This memoir served as a metaphor — for real life not being strange enough; for the innocence of publishers and of Oprah Winfrey; for a need so undying to believe in redemption that the book kept on selling well after Frey’s facade had been torn down.
• “Threatening Storm,” Kenneth Pollack, and “A Disorder Peculiar to the Country,” Ken Kalfus.
The first is a call for war in Iraq that found it “unimaginable that the United States would have to contribute hundreds of billions of dollars.”
The second is a 9/11 novel that imagined what would have happened if the war had turned as Pollack and others thought it would. The first book is unintentional tra-gedy; the second. intentional farce.