100 Best Nonfiction

Since the “100 Best” story first broke in The New York Times on Monday, July 20, 1998, all kinds of opinions about the list – and theories about the Modern Library’s purpose in concocting such a contest of sorts – emerged.

The goal of the “100 Best” project was to get people talking about great books. We succeeded beyond our wildest imaginings — more than 400,000 avid readers rushed online to cast votes for their favorite books.

The reader’s poll for the best nonfiction published in the English language since 1900 opened on April 29, 1999 and closed on September 30, 1999 with a total of 194,829 votes cast.

The readers’ poll for the best novels published in the English language since 1900 opened on July 20, 1998 and closed on October 20, 1998, with 217,520 votes cast.

To jumpstart your own, more structured discussion of the books, try using a few talking points as a guide.


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