Two very different perspectives of the world are represented in these novels as Margaret Atwood’s vision of a dystopian future goes up against Yann Martel’s story of wonder and magical animals.
The Alchemist vs. Between the World and Me
Paulo Coelho’s tale of a young Spanish shepherd’s journey to Egypt is an international sensation, selling more than 150 million copies in over 70 languages. This is heavily contrasted with Coates’ personal, localized memoir about the reality of being Black in the United States.
The Kite Runner vs. The Road
These are very similar novels, both emphasizing a father-son bond and themes of perseverance and redemption amid catastrophic situations. While The Road centers on a fictional vision of a post-apocalyptic world, The Kite Runner details real-life events such as the rise of the Taliban and the exodus of refugees to Pakistan and the United States.
Interpreter of Maladies vs. The Book Thief
This multicultural matchup features two authors born outside of the United States writing about such issues as immigration, community, war, and personal transformation. The show the depths of resolve and courage in the human spirit amid shaky social and political times.
Portnoy’s Complaint vs. The Goldfinch
These novels focus on the intersection of love and alienation, showcasing young male protagonists desperately trying to connect romantically.
Gone Girl vs The Glass Castle
Jeannette Walls’ tale of growing up in a dismal West Virginia mining town is filled with heartbreak and tenacity, highlighting themes of abuse and addiction. Gone Girl appears to have a similar focus, until its twist reveals hidden agendas and ulterior motives.
The Martian vs. 11/22/63
This matchup features two of the best contemporary American authors at the height of their literary prowess. Without ever digging too deep into genre conventions, these novels smartly utilize on some of the best elements of science fiction, such as outer-space missions and time travel.
All the Light We Cannot See vs. Slaughter-House Five
These novels contain wonderfully varied examinations of World War II as Doerr’s dramatic depiction of young love set against the horrors of war competes with Vonnegut’s tale of a man who is abducted by aliens and becomes unstuck in time.