10 Books to Fuel Your Y2K Nostalgia

By Brandon Miller

Party like it’s 1999 with these lively reads.

They say everything old becomes new again — and that’s certainly the case with the late-1990s and early-2000s revival. If you’re looking to satisfy your Y2K nostalgia with a great new read, we’ve got you covered. Below are 10 books set at the turn of the 21st century that add some throwback vibes to your reading list.

Book cover of "Honey: A Novel" by Isabel Banta. The background is pink with two CDs placed horizontally in the middle. At the top, a quote by Emma Straub reads, "A sexy swagger of a debut." The author’s name is in white at the bottom.

Honey

By Isabel Banta

Isabel Banta’s Honey is sure to satisfy your excitement for the Y2K resurgence. The buzzy new novel follows Amber Young, a singer in 1997 who escapes her small town to join the girl group Cloud9. Amber rubs elbows with the other up-and-coming performers on her journey to the big stage, such as singer-dancer Gwen Morris and boy band heartthrob Wes Kingston. Soon enough, she finds herself at the height of music stardom — which you can bet comes at a cost. Part coming-of-age story and part social critique of the media’s treatment of women performers and celebrities in the late-1990s and early-2000s, Honey is a “sexy swagger of a debut” (author Emma Straub).

This Time Tomorrow

By Emma Straub

Emma Straub’s New York Times bestselling novel This Time Tomorrow is a fun and delightful time-travel tale with a contemporary twist. The book follows Alice, who’s about to turn 40 and is taking stock of her life. While she has plenty to be thankful for, Alice still grapples with an ailing father and a sense that something’s missing. When she wakes up on the morning of her birthday not as a 40-year-old woman but as a 16-year-old girl, she must figure out how and why she ended up back in 1996. Armed with an adult understanding of what’s to come, a teenage Alice has the chance to do what so many wish they could — set the past to rights.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation

By Ottessa Moshfegh

Vogue calls Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation “darkly hilarious,” and we have to agree with the description. Set in 2000, Moshfegh’s critically acclaimed black comedy centers on an unnamed narrator with everything a young person could want in pre-9/11 New York City — good looks, a cool job at a gallery, an inheritance, and an apartment on the Upper East Side. And yet, unhappiness lingers on the periphery. The narrator’s parents are gone, her relationships are dysfunctional, and she can’t find a way to fill the emptiness inside. So, with the help of a questionable psychiatrist and a slew of pills, she goes into hibernation to figure things out. This allows us to get to know the narrator, who may not always be likable but whose pain, bitterness, and self-absorption deliver a relatable dose of humor and discomfort at the dawn of the 21st century.

The Idiot

By Elif Batuman

Elif Batuman’s The Idiot is a fun and energetic read that we cannot recommend enough. Set in 1995, when the Web was in its infancy and our digital future still looked bright, Batuman’s coming-of-age book follows Selin, a Harvard student and the daughter of Turkish immigrants. Selin begins corresponding with Ivan, an older Hungarian math major. At the end of the year, Ivan heads to Budapest, while Selin heads to Paris with her roommate Svetlana and then to the Hungarian countryside to teach English. Along the way, she must navigate love, heartbreak, and the tricky transition into adulthood. 

Little Fires Everywhere

By Celeste Ng

When the book-to-screen adaptation of Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere hit Hulu a few years ago, the 1990s touches were nicely done. We’re pleased to report that Ng’s book evokes an equally rich atmosphere of late-’90s suburban America. The novel focuses on two families, the Richardsons and the Warrens. Elena Richardson is a by-the-book wife and mother who leads an easy-breezy life until she rents a property to Mia Warren and her daughter, Pearl. Artist Mia has a mysterious past, and things get messy when she and Pearl upend the Richardson family’s domestic stability.

Big Girl

By Mecca Jamilah Sullivan

Mecca Jamilah Sullivan’s Big Girl is a beautiful coming-of-age story set in a gentrifying 1990s Harlem. The acclaimed novel centers on Malaya Clondon, a young woman striving to follow her passions while being forced into a box by her mother and grandmother. Her mother, Nyela, a pre-tenure professor at a prestigious university, makes Malaya go to WeightWatchers meetings. At the same time, her grandmother demands the youngster learn how to be a proper lady. But Mayala would much rather be painting, listening to rap music, or hanging out with her dad than worrying about her weight. Sullivan brings Mayala’s inner and outer worlds to vibrant life in her debut novel, adding plenty of ’90s NYC nostalgia.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

By Gabrielle Zevin

Gabrielle Zevin’s book is called Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, but you should read it today, today, today. The New York Times bestseller follows college friends Sam Masur and Sadie Green across a 30-year span. The two creative spirits have known each other since childhood, and they reunite as young adults to create their first blockbuster video game. But their drive and desires complicate the wealth and status they accrue. Zevin skillfully invokes the late-’90s video game era in this dazzling story about human connection, love, creativity, and collaboration.

The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes

By Elissa R. Sloan

Elissa R. Sloan’s The Unraveling of Cassidy Homes is another book that explores the promise and peril of pop stardom in the Y2K era. The novel centers on Cassidy Holmes, who was a member of a Spice Girls–esque girl group called Gloss. Gloss was one of the biggest musical acts in the world until the group imploded in 2002. Fifteen years later, Cassidy and the others reunite to reckon with the suicide of one of the group members.

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires

By Grady Hendrix

Grady Hendrix knows how to conjure an enticing title: How do you say no to The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires? Luckily, Hendrix also knows how to craft a deliciously twisted narrative full of frights and laughs. Set in Charleston, South Carolina, in the 1990s, the novel centers on Patricia Campbell, who finds refuge in reading; her true crime book club keeps her grounded in a personal life that’s spinning out of control. When Patricia crosses paths with James Harris, her neighbor’s attractive and mysterious nephew, she’s smitten. But is James the handsome angel he appears to be — or something far more nefarious? And why do the kids on the other side of town keep disappearing? Hendrix’s novel “transports you back to all the best parts of the 1990s while throwing more than enough thrill and chill into the mix” (Country Living). 

Writers & Lovers

By Lily King

Lily King’s Writers & Lovers is set in Massachusetts in the summer of 1997. Casey Peabody is renting a tiny room and waiting tables while she works on a novel she’s been writing for many years. Casey struggles in other ways, too, because of the sudden death of her mother and the debt collectors who are at her heels. Her life gets extremely messy when she falls for two men at once, further complicating her quest to live a creative life while balancing the demands of reality. At 31, Casey is no child, but she’s still figuring things out, as so many of us are. King deftly navigates grief, romance, and the pressures of adulthood in her novel, tackling it all with a dash of optimism and plenty of late-’90s nostalgia.

Share with your friends

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest

Related Articles

Some of the most exciting stories unfold through the eyes of multiple characters, allowing the author to build tension, mystery, nuance, and depth through a rich tapestry of narrative voices and points of view.
Complex, compelling, and spanning the full spectrum of life, these outstanding books about female friendship explore the many ways that women connect with and support each other.
From cinematic love stories to clever twists on beloved themes, the sizzling and sassy rom-com books below will have you smiling and awwing with delight.

Celadon delivered

Subscribe to get articles about writing, adding to your TBR pile, and simply content we feel is worth sharing. And yes, also sign up to be the first to hear about giveaways, our acquisitions, and exclusives!

Two compact discs (CDs) with shiny, reflective surfaces are overlapping each other on a white background. The discs display a spectrum of colors due to the light reflection, creating a rainbow-like effect.

"*" indicates required fields

Step 1 of 8

Who would you rather spend time with?*

Connect with

Celadon

Sign up for our newsletter to see book giveaways, news, and more!