A book list featuring the best books of the decade: fiction edition!
Ten years ago I was still in college, reading accounting textbooks, talking to friends on AIM, and working on my desktop computer. I remember thinking my days were unbelievably full between classes, tennis practice, and after school jobs. How hilarious! Now I’ve got a real job, an eight month old, volunteer work, and an endless list of things to do around the house. One thing that hasn’t changed though is making time to read for fun. Putting together my list of the best fiction of the decade was a memorable trip back through my reading life.
I wish I kept some sort of reading journal or discovered Goodreads (if it even existed in 2010?) to track what I was reading during college and my young adult years. I know I had a penchant for John Grisham and Michael Crichton in high school, but started to branch out soon after. To help put together my best fiction books of the decade list, I had to review which books even came out that long ago! Take note, I left out any books that were included on my best books of 2019 post, so head over there if you’re interested in this year’s selections!
A few other best books of the decade lists picked one book from each year, but I decided to categorize my favorites by genre. Since college, I’m consistently drawn to books that are purely fun to read. So, I end up picking up a ton of general fiction, historical fiction, chick lit/romance, young adult and fantasy books. My selections may not be those receiving prestigious awards or rave reviews from literary publications, but I have no doubt you’ll enjoy reading them. Some will bring you to tears, most will make you smile, and a few may even change the way you think about the world.
Join Our Best Books of the Decade Linkup!
Since this is such a subjective subject, I’m curious what other readers will pick as their best books of the decade! Therefore, Allison of Mind Joggle and I are hosting a Best Books of the Decade linkup!! Add your blog post or bookstagram post to the linkup at the end of my list. Or, add your favorite books of the decade in the comments! Let us know how your reading habits have changed and whether we share any picks!
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Best Books of the Decade: The 2010s
Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
Be prepared for sob fest! This is a unique, sweet, and heart breaking tale about a woman who becomes a caretaker for a disabled man. Louisa is exactly the type of character you root for and her character development is so satisfying. I love the natural development of the relationship between these two and the attention on unbelievably difficult, ethical decisions.
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
Another novel full of complicated, ethical questions. Off the coast of Australia, a lighthouse keeper and his wife are astonished when a boat washes on shore with a live baby inside. They have struggled to have kids and ultimately decide to keep the baby without telling anyone. On the mainland, a mother grieves the loss of both her husband and baby. It’s easy to understand the decisions that both mothers make and the nuance and incredible writing turn this a captivating story.
The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
It’s been years since I read this and I don’t remember exact details off the top of my head, but I remember all the good feelings it brought up. This is one of those amazing books for book lovers. A.J. Fikry owns a failing bookshop but is given a rare opportunity to make over his life. You’ll find fascinating glimpses into the ins and outs of running a bookstore as well as a sweet redemption story.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Liane Moriarty is one of my auto-buy authors and it’s extremely difficult picking just one of her books for this list. Admittedly, my favorite is probably What Alice Forgot but that was published in 2009 🙂 So, here we are with Big Little Lies. It is very worthy of this honor. Full of school mom drama, murder, cover-ups, and so much more. Moriarty’s stories have intricate story lines and terrific characters that keep you turning pages as fast as possible. If you love a good adaptation, the HBO television series is also phenomenal.
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
This is a strong candidate for my favorite book of all-time. I’m a serious Backman fan due to his unmatched ability to write realistic characters and situations. In Beartown, he adds certain writing styles that feel almost poetic in nature to create a masterpiece. The basic story is about a town’s hockey team and how the community takes sides when a player is accused of sexually assaulting a girl. All the major players get a say and we intimately get to know the girl, her parents, the boy, his teammates, and various other town members. I can’t recommend it enough!
The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
This novel has so much going on that it’s rather hard to describe. Southern setting, racism, nerd culture, single motherhood, family secrets, murder. You honestly can find it all in here and I know you’re skeptical about how it all fits together. Trust me, there’s a place for everything and in total it’s a captivating novel.
Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
Ken Follett’s books aren’t for the faint of heart, at least due to their rather high page count. I promise you won’t notice though, because you’ll be riveted by the events taking place within. In Fall of Giants, Follett uses fictional families from various countries and social classes to show how the world was impacted by the events of World War I. Real events sere as the backdrop and real people are interspersed throughout to lend authenticity to this tome. Both history buffs and general historical fiction fans should pick this one up! Then you can continue the trilogy through World War II and the Cold War.
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
Kate Morton is well known for her novels that cross multiple generations and The Secret Keeper is no different. If you enjoy books that jump back and forth between time periods, The Secret Keeper is for you.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
You can find an endless number of historical fiction books about World War II these days, but this is my favorite. It follows two sisters living in German-occupied France. One sister actively helps the Resistance by leading foreign soldiers over the border into safer territory. The other stays home, struggling against the horrors in her own way. I couldn’t put this down. It showcased life under German occupation in a way I’d never read before. The sisters were completely different yet each of their stories was utterly captivating.
Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
You’d expect Nicholas Sparks to show up in the romance section of a best books list, but the hard part is picking which one. Safe Haven is my favorite due to the main character’s mysterious background, small town charm, and riveting conclusion. I adored watching Katie grow more comfortable in her new home and open up to Alex and his kids.
Meet Me At The Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan
Jenny Colgan is my go-to author when I need a perfect chick-lit escape from reality. Her novels are witty, charming, and often feature some type of bakery, dessert shop, or candy store! What more could you want??
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
A classic enemies to lovers romance with the added bonus that they’re coworkers fighting for the same position. This one is full of witty banner and delicious tension. It’s one of the first contemporary romances that I’ve read and it got me completely hooked on the genre.
The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller
If you prefer the romance to take more of a backseat, you’ll love The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living. Olivia flees to her best friend’s rural hometown after causing a huge problem at the exclusive club where she’s probably not still employed. She reluctantly accepts a job as the pastry chef of a local inn and takes up residence in a small house on the property. This novel is mostly about discovering the joys of small town living as Olivia learns what she wants most out of her life. I ate it up!
Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center
Another contemporary romance where the developing relationship is just one part of an all-around excellent story. Cassie is an excellent firefighter and adores her life in Texas at her current firehouse. So, it is with great reluctance that she decides to uproot her entire life to move to Boston to help her ailing, estranged mother. On top of their strained relationship, she’s now dealing with a new crew who clearly don’t believe women can or should be members of their team. Cassie attempts to prove her worth as a firefighter, deal with her mother, and try not to get distracted by the hot rookie who started the same time as her!
Young Adult/ YA Fantasy
The Selection by Keira Cass
I was late to the game on this series and only picked it up once most of the books were written. Thankfully it worked out that way because I binge read them one after the other! In this world, girls long to participate in the Selection, a chance to compete for the heart of the prince. America Singer is chosen to participate, but it would mean leaving behind her secret love, a boy in a caste below her own. When she meets the prince, she realizes his world isn’t quite as she imagined.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
This might be one of the most well-written young adult novels I’ve ever come across. It’s part college love story, part fantasy book, and part finding your place in the world. Cath is a megafan of the Simon Snow fantasy series and is well-known for her popular fan fic. When she goes to college, she’s not sure how to leave her computer behind and interact with real people her age.
Divergent by Veronica Roth
It’s a tough choice between the Divergent series and The Hunger Game series for a best fiction of the decade list. While I enjoyed the overall Hunger Game series more, Divergent is still my favorite single book. I remember reading it the first time and then immediately rereading it because I loved it so much. The dystopian future is split into different factions, each with special skills. Teenagers are forced to choose one faction, which becomes their new family. I thought the faction system and the training regimen was really interesting.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Start to finish this trilogy is excellent. The dynamic between the three sisters and their dad is so cute and Laura Jean is the sweetest protagonist. You’re rooting for her the entire time. Over the years, Laura Jean has written secret letters to all the boys she loved, assuming they’ll never see the light of day. Younger sisters tend to cause problems though, and one day those letters are delivered to each boy. Now, she’s got to deal with the embarrassing fallout.
Fantasy / Science Fiction
The Wise Man’s Fear (Kingkiller Chronicles #2) by Patrick Rothfuss
Obviously you’ll want to start with the first book in the series, The Name of the Wind. But this is a rare case where the sequel lives up to the original. The Wise Man’s Fear continues the story of Kvothe, who is seeking out the tribe that killed his family. This was one of the first epic fantasies I read and I couldn’t get enough of the fast-paced plot and worldbuilding. I’ve since read the series two more times!
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Calling all geeks, nerds, 80’s enthusiasts, and video game lovers. This book is a tribute to you. Although probably 60% of the references went over my head, I still immensely enjoyed the culture it is celebrating. In the future, virtual reality essentially takes the place of the real world. When the creator dies, he leaves behind a virtual treasure hunt with a massive prize. The challenges require a depth of nerd knowledge that is beyond anything I can comprehend. Even still, I couldn’t get enough of the race for the treasure!
The Martian by Andy Weir
After reading this book, you’ll be Googling whether or not man has actually traveled to Mars. When Mark Watney is stranded on the Red Planet, he uses his biology skills to stay alive until the next mission arrives. It’s full of legitimate (or at least what appears to be legitimate) scientific methods that make travel to Mars seem possible. Plus, Weir injects a healthy dose of sarcasm and dry humor so I was laughing throughout the entire novel!
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Set in the deep woods of Russia, Vasya, is forbidden from honoring the household spirits that protect their home. However, her ability to see and interact with them makes her realize the village is at risk because they are being ignored. With the threat of the evil demons from the forest looming, Vasya must call on her abilities and even take a chance on the unpredictable winter demon to save everyone. Even if it means she’s ostracized from her own family and friends. This folklore fantasy is mesmerizing and a perfect read for the chilly winter months. Plus I enjoyed reading about Russian fairy tale lore instead of the familiar European fairy tales.
Now it’s your turn!! Add links to your Best Books of the Decade blog posts or bookstagram posts. Or share your thoughts in the comments!