The Decades Reading Challenge has reached the 21st century and this month we’ll be reading books set after the millennium.
You can read all about the challenge, download your free printable reading tracker, and find book lists for other decades here.
As always, we welcome you to choose any book you like that is set in the decade, but to help you get started, we’ve compiled a great list of books set between 2000 and 2009. Our recommendations include numerous memoirs and non-fiction accounts of major world events of the first decade after the millennium, as well as works of fiction that span drama, comedy, and young adult literature. Other books on our list provide an eye opening look at the stark contrast between life in America and in other parts of the world at the start of the 21st century.
The first decade of the 21st century was largely defined by the 9/11 terrorist attack and the war that followed, and, in the second half of the decade, by the largest recession since the Great Depression. Near the end of the decade, America elected its first Black president, as well as the most diverse Congress in history.
In the 2000s, our daily lives were influenced by the advent of social media, the reality TV craze, and the rapid increase in internet businesses. By the end of the decade, flip phones gave rise to iPhones and allowed us to begin carrying the power of a computer in our pockets.
Major Events of 2000 to 2009
Before recommending books from each decade, we like to provide historical context with an overview of the major events of the time, but if you’d prefer, feel free to scroll straight to our book list.
- In 2000, Vermont became the first state in the US to legalize Civil Unions for same-sex couples. Three years later, Massachusetts becomes the first state to legalize gay marriage.
- The results of the 2000 US Presidential Election were so close that it triggered an automatic recount in the State of Florida. After a machine recount, just 600 votes separated the two candidates, requiring a manual recount. When the recount was not completed in the required number of days, the case ended up in court. In December of 2000, the US Supreme Court ruled in Bush v. Gore, giving the presidency to George W. Bush. Bush was reelected to a second term in 2004.
- The first crew to live on the International Space Station – made up of one American and two Russian astronauts – arrived in November of 2000 and stayed aboard the ISS for 136 days.
- Following the success of MTV’s The Real World in the 1990s, reality TV achieved prominence and global popularity in the 2000s with the success of shows like Survivor, which premiered in May of 2000, The Amazing Race, Big Brother, and The Bachelor, and The O.C.
- Email continued to gain popularity throughout the decade, and began to replace “snail mail” as the primary form of sending letters and communications.
- Apple release iTunes in January of 2001, providing an easy way to purchase, store, and organize digital music.
- On September 11, 2001, 19 highjackers took control of four US commercial airliners. Planes crashed into the two tallest towers of the World Trade Center in NYC, causing both to collapse within hours. A third plane crashed in the Pentagon in Virgina, and the fourth plane crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania after passengers appeared to resist the hijackers. Nealy 3,000 people died on 9/11 and more than 6,000 were injured.
- In response to the 9/11 attacks, the US invaded Taliban-controlled Afghanistan in October of 2001, marking the beginning of the US “War on Terror.” The following year, President Bush created the Department of Homeland Security to fight threats of terrorism.
- Following 9/11, and the subsequent Shoe Bomb attempt several months later, much stricter screening measures are put in place at airports, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is put in place to oversee security in all modes of transportation.
- After several years of very rapid growth among new tech companies, the “Dot Com Bubble” burst in the early years of the 2000s, leaving many investors with steep losses.
- In February of 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon re-entry, killing all seven crew members.
- In March 2003, the US invaded Iraq, launching the Iraq War that lasted until the end of 2011. The purported basis of the war was the belief that dictator Saddam Hussein possessed or was building weapons of mass destruction, although none were ever found. In 2006, Saddam Hussein was found guilty of crimes against humanity by a Iraqi judge, and sentenced to death by hanging.
- The Human Genome Project was completed in 2003, with scientists from around the world identifying over 20,000 individual genes and successfully sequencing 99% of the human genome.
- Roy Horn, one half of the Siegfried & Roy illusionist duo that mesmerized Vegas audiences for decades, was mauled by his white tiger on stage in front of an audience of 1,500 at MGM’s Mirage Hotel and Casino, leaving Horn partially paralyzed.
- NASA’s Mars Spirit Rover arrived on Mars in 2004 on a mission that included searching for evidence of water on Mars and whether there were ever conditions that could have sustained life on the planet. The mission continued until contact with the Spirit Rover was lost in 2010.
- Facebook was launched as a social networking site in 2004, but was initially open only to students at Harvard. By the next year, it had over a million users around the world, which was just the beginning.
- Martha Stewart, creator of one of the most successful home and lifestyle brands, was charged with insider trading and convicted of related felonies. She served five months in prison.
- On December 26, 2004, an earthquake in the Indian Ocean measuring 9.3 on the Richter Scale stuck near Indonesia. The earthquake triggered tsunami waves that swept across the coastlines of Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, killing at least 290,000.
- In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Levees that separated Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans were breached, causing nearly 80% of the city to be flooded. Nearly 1,600 people died in Hurricane Katrina across the impacted states.
- Charles Prince of Wales, the future King of England, remarried in 2005. The Queen of England did not attend the civil ceremony between Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, but did host a reception for the couple.
- In 2007, a student went on a killing spree on the Virginia Tech campus killing more than 32 people.
- Apple introduced the first iPhone in June of 2007.
- The global financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 sparked the most severe recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Now referred to as the Great Recession, the crisis was the result of the US housing bubble bursting, combined with excessive risk-taking by banks in the years prior.
- In the 2008 US Presidential Election, Barack Obama defeated John McCain to become the 44th president and the first African American to hold the position.
- In April 2009, four pirates attempted to hijack a cargo ship off the coast of Somalia. They wee unable to take control of the ship, but took the captain hostage. US Navy SEALs rescued the captain several days later.
- Just minutes after taking off from NYC’s La Guardia Airport, a US Airways flight collided with a flock of geese causing the plane to lose both engines. In what is now known as the “Miracle on the Hudson”, the pilot, Captain Sully, was able to successfully crash land the plane in the Hudson River between Manhattan and New Jersey, saving the lives of all 155 passengers and crew.
- The death of Michael Jackson – the King of Pop – brought outpourings of grief from around the world.
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