My 10 Favorite Books from the Past Decade

I make no claims to objectivity here. These are simply 10 books that stand out to me from the past decade. I narrowed the list down from about 25 titles, trying not to agonize over it for too long. I’m pleased that it happens to be half female, with two POC and one work in translation. (Could be more diverse, but not too bad.)

You can see the seeds of my interest in memoirs and medical books, and the variety of fiction I love, from absurdist comedy (Auslander) to Greek-level tragedy (Vann).


In alphabetical order by author surname:

Hope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander (2012)

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler (2016)

We, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen (English translation, 2010)

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood (2017)

H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald (2014)

Want Not by Jonathan Miles (2013)

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee (2010)

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (2013)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (2010)

Caribou Island by David Vann (2010)

These selections skew early in the decade; 2010‒13 happened to be particularly memorable reading years for me. All of these are books I would like to reread, sooner rather than later.

(Five of these are repeated from the list of favorite books I drew up for my 35th birthday.)

 

Do we overlap on any favorites?

Which books of the 2010s were standouts for you?

35 responses

  1. Lovely to see Sweetbitter here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Danler has a memoir coming out next year.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Great news! Any chance that’s in the UK?

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    2. It’s called Stray and it’s about her dysfunctional parents, who are both addicts. So far I’m only seeing a U.S. release, from Knopf in May.

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      1. Ah, well. Can but hope.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh dear. Not a promising start. I’ve only read two from your list – ‘H is for Hawk’ I enjoyed, but I found it a little self-indulgent from what I can remember, and it wouldn’t make it into my ‘most-memorable’ list. I didn’t finish ‘We, the Drowned’ – but I can’t remember why not …. Clearly my memory doesn’t function as well as yours!

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    1. No worries; anyone’s list of favourites would look very different to mine! The longer I blog, the more I realize that taste is like a Venn diagram and any two people only overlap in one small area.

      I try to make a few notes about any DNF, even just a sentence or two, so I remember why I didn’t get on with a book. But I can understand the impulse to just close the cover and move on.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We had our book group last night, and reviewed the year. The two people I think of as most sharing my reading tastes differed quite wildly with each other, and with me, over certain choices this year. Fascinating stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m surprised that I’ve only read three of these. Agreed that A Tale for the Time Being is superb. H is for Hawk didn’t leave such an impression on me, and was a bit of a weird reading experience as it turned out that I’d met a couple of her friends who appear in the book. Henrietta Lacks troubled me ethically, but it did make for a great book group discussion.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. How bizarre! Cambridge folk, I guess? I think it helps that I already had a love of bereavement memoirs, and a greater than average interest in birds.

      Henrietta Lacks I read right when it first came out in the UK, so I definitely need to reread it. I found a copy in the free bookshop where I volunteer. Next year I hope to focus a lot more on backlist stuff and re-reads, so maybe I’ll find the time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes – she was in the HPS department and I once went on a big group holiday with a bunch of Cambridge philosophers, and (though I didn’t know this at the time) ended up meeting some of the people mentioned. I read the book quite shortly afterwards which made it worse!

        It seems like quite a few people are planning to focus on re-reads next year.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve only read Sweetbitter (and very much enjoyed it) but have a few of the others in my TBR stack (Hope; Priestdaddy; Henrietta).
    I’ve seen a few of these ‘best of the decade’ lists – think I should do my own!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was inspired by Eric’s list (Lonesome Reader); his twist was that he only allowed himself one book from each year of the decade.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think A Tale for the Time Being would probably be one of mine. I really want to re-read it at some stage. I feel Girl, Woman, Other would take a spot in the list. Something by Barbara Kingsolver, not sure which one. Your Pace or Mine by Lisa Jackson for what it (and she) did for my running confidence. David Kynaston’s Tales of a New Jerusalem series. I can’t find all my best-ofs or when the books were published, so this is very attenuated!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. GWO will certainly be on my Best of 2019 list. My favourite Kingsolver is from the previous decade (Poisonwood).

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve only read Henrietta! And how in the world did you narrow down your favorite books from the last DECADE??! Good on you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I started off by looking at my Best-of shelves for 2010-2019 on Goodreads, supplemented by my Absolute Favorites shelf. I picked out the books that really stood out and got to about 25 titles. From there I just eliminated until I got to the ones I couldn’t bear to say goodbye to 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s so intimidating and I’m impressed!!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m still working on my Books of the Decade post. I also enjoyed H is for Hawk, and the Ozeki; Henrietta Lacks – not so much. Thanks for sharing your list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Narrowing it down from a whole decade certainly is a challenge! I’ve meant to read more by Ozeki ever since but still haven’t.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The only one I have read is H is for Hawk, which I thought was wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I only realized afterwards that my list is very American. What can I say?! (Just the one British author and one Danish. I think Ozeki might be part Canadian?)

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  9. Sweetbitter is soooo good. One of my favorites from the year it came out. And Henrietta Lacks is still one of the best nonfiction books I’ve ever read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think Henrietta Lacks is an ideal book to get people into reading nonfiction.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve only read one of these – Want Not. But I would like to read Sweetbitter, A Tale for the Time Being, and We the Drowned.
        The thought of making a list like this feels overwhelming, but probably only because I haven’t been as organized as you about making ‘favourites’ lists. I didn’t start that until blogging. Maybe I’ll make one next decade!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I think I just commented in the wrong place – I’m on my phone at the doctor’s office. I have the best entertainment! 🙂

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    1. I’m amazed you haven’t read A Tale for the Time Being! Maybe because Ozeki is Canadian, but just in general I think it is a book you’d love. (And I thought you didn’t have a phone…)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I do now! But, as you can see, I’m still not good at having a phone. I finally gave in when the girls and I wanted to go on a camping trip alone – I have such a bad sense of direction that I decided to get a phone (the cheapest one in the store) just so I could use google maps. Haha. And now I don’t know what I’d do without it (google maps, that is).

        I can’t believe I haven’t read that book, either. I have no reason or excuse… *shrug* 🙂

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    2. Have you read anything else by Ozeki?

      Maps/directions is the thing I would find a smartphone most useful for. My husband bought himself a cheap secondhand one (£60, I think?) before our last trip to America for that very reason. Of course, he now finds it useful for all sorts of other things, like WhatsApp…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, I haven’t.

        I do, too! Like catching up on other blogs while waiting to see the doctor. 😉

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  11. Funny, I listened to Sweetbitter to about 2/3 of the way through and ditched it. Maybe it was the narrator.

    Since both Henrietta and H is for Hawk were on my list at the end of Nonfiction November, it looks like I’m in for some good reading over the next year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed, those are excellent nonfiction choices! I hope you enjoy them.

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  12. Absolutely adore A Tale For the Time Being. H Is For Hawk is also marvelous, and I’d like to read Sweetbitter and We the Drowned at some point!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m kind of amazed you haven’t read Sweetbitter! I think it’s perfect for you, in the same way as Supper Club.

      Also, Priestdaddy is not to be missed, especially for anyone who grew up in church.

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  13. Fabulous list! Some books here that I’ve had my eye on for a while. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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