The Best Books of the Decade (2010-2019): ONE VOTE

Updated: Jan 21


We culled over 180 books amongst our writers as their best of the decade. There were quite a few that only had one passionate vote, so we dedicate third and final part of our retrospective on these gems.


The list below is ordered by ascending year of release.



A singular, much-loved vote




Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin, 2010


This book made me so infuriated! But I was enraged in the best way - because I sided with one of the characters, and the other was written so well that the frustration I felt towards her was very real. (Melissa Weirick)


Buy it here.




HOW A PERSON SHOULD BE by Sheila Heti, 2010


Sheila Heti's autofiction either meshes into your brain so seamlessly that you feel like you've already read it, or it doesn't. I am the former. (Victoria Storm)


Buy it here.




The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander, 2010


A book that provocatively argues that we have not ended racial caste in America: we have simply redesigned it. I recommend this book to every person I meet. (Maggie Chidester)


Buy it here.




Orange Is The New Black by Piper Kerman, 2010


A fascinating book that led me to binge one of Netflix's first and most successful original stories. (Maggie Chidester)


Buy it here.




The Passage Trilogy by Justin Cronin, 2010


A trilogy that is under-appreciated and I can see why when it is best described as a post-apocalyptic world where vampires have taken over North America. The experience of reading this trilogy is best compared to that of The Lord of the Rings. These novels have the grand epic feel of high fantasy and a complex and intricate plot that deals with themes of ethics, the role of the military, fate, religion, friendship, and love. Set over a large time and place, this trilogy takes the reader on a journey with unforgettable characters that develop and grow across the three novels. (Michaela O'Keefe)


Buy it here.


Room by Emma Donoghue, 2010


I read this long before the movie was made, and it was truly jarring. I recommended it to my mom after I was done, and it was so intense that she couldn’t get through it. A must-read. (And a must-see. The movie is impressive.) (Melissa Weirick)


Buy it here.



Sick City by Tony O’Neill, 2010


I’m not sure exactly what is it that just completely and utterly tantalises me about O’Neill’s writing, whether it’s the use of his prose and narration or just how it reads. This is nitty gritty down right dirty writing. It is as sordid as it is sophisticated. It is dark, very dark. Brutally beautiful, repulsive, outrageous, scandalous, shameless and shocking. Get yourself a comfy armchair, a rainy day and a bottle of whiskey and go on one hell of a trip. (The Book Slut)


Buy it here.





SUPER SAD TRUE LOVE STORY by Gary Shteyngart, 2010


As prophetic as it is hilarious, this book predates Black Mirror by several months but teaches similar lessons. Retrospectively, this book prepared me more for the decade ahead more than any other. (Jessica Riches)


Buy it here.



The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson, 2010


A richly detailed history of the migration of African American citizens from America’s South to western and northern cities from 1915-1970. Wilkerson cleverly helps readers to connect with this complicated and extensive history by focusing on the personal migration stories of three individuals—Ida Mae Gladney, George Starling, and Robert Foster. This is a moving and informative work history told beautifully. (Cat Hoffman)


Buy it here.




Ayiti by Roxane Gay, 2011


A short story collection that makes your heart throb. (Maggie Chidester)


Buy it here.






Divergent by Veronica Roth, 2011


This series started it all for me. I was always a reader but this is was one of my first big bookish obsessions. (Courtney Dyer)


Buy it here.





One Day I will Write About This Place by Binyavanga Wainaina, 2011


Wainaina perfectly captures the aches and thrills of living in another country. He writes beautifully and honestly about depression. I defy anyone to not be moved by this book, it came out right at the beginning of the decade and has stayed with me. (Seonaid Weightman Murray)


Buy it here.



TEACHING MY MOTHER HOW TO GIVE BIRTH by Warsan Shire, 2011


This is a beautiful and harrowing collection of poems. I read it in 2011, and I haven't read anything like it since. (Victoria Storm)


Buy it here.



THE MAGICIAN KING by Lev Grossman, 2011


Including this because the first installment in the trilogy, The Magicians, came out just at the close of the previous decade. That, this, and the final tome (The Magician’s Land) are amongst the best fantasy to come out in recent memory; they’re bold, they’re original, and they made me feel a twinkle of that nostalgic Harry Potter magic. (Nikki Michaels)


Buy it here.


The Neopolitan Quartet by Elena Ferrante, 2011


Probably my favorite novels of all time. Ferrante creates a vivid portrait of two friends growing up in Naples, Italy. The four books span most of their lives, from their impoverished childhoods to where relationships, world events, society, and they themselves direct as they get older. A fascinating series taking on Ferrante’s signature simmering rage, and creating a masterpiece about being a woman and being a friend. (Jessica Maria Johnson)


Buy it here.

THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern, 2011


I’m pretty sure most everyone knows about The Night Circus by now — but suffice it to say that this magically rendered fantasy is just as enchanting as every review says it is. It’s also a beautiful and bewitching love story that fully deserves a spot on this ‘Best of’ list. (NM)


Buy it here.





Dare Me by Megan Abbott, 2012


It’s literally Bring It On meets Heathers… how can we deny it? (HM)


Buy it here.






Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews, 2012


A laugh out loud book that was adapted into a movie that made me SOB. (MC)


Buy it here.






Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, 2012


Who doesn’t love a tearjerker? The book is definitely way better than the movie (aren’t they always?) and it definitely tugged at my heartstrings. Especially the end. (MW)


Buy it here.




The Miseducation Of Cameron Post by Emily M Danforth, 2012


A beautiful depiction of queer girlhood, Miseducation is a coming-of-age novel following Cameron throughout her teens as she comes to terms with the death of her parents and her feelings for her best friend. A note of warning to potential readers: does depict heavy homophobia including conversion therapy and other issues such as self harm. This book shaped my adolescence, inspired my love for writing, reignited my passion for reading, and helped me reflect on my own experiences as a young LGBT person. (LW)


Buy it here.



Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore, 2012


Historical fiction (?), unlike anything you have ever read. Hilarious, beware reading it in public. (The Book Slut)


Buy it here.





Wonder by R.J. Palacio, 2012


This sweet, sweet book about a boy who has a facial deformity and starts mainstream school for the first time. Made my heart soar. (MC)


Buy it here.






FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell, 2013


Just made me feel so good while reading. I couldn’t help but wish to jump into the pages and befriend Cath for real. She was such a wholesome kind of character, who I just wanted to hug and discuss books with. (MR)


Buy it here.



A GIRL IS A HALF-FORMED THING by Eimear McBride, 2013


This book is so, so cool and SO affecting. Written in stream-of-consciousness from the point of view of the main character, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing tells the story of a sister’s relationship with her brother in a completely immersive, propulsive way that makes you feel you’re hurtling headlong through a dark tunnel. One of the most inventive and memorable books I’ve read. (NM)


Buy it here.


Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, 2013


The premise is a well-used gimmick: a woman (girl, baby!) dies and is born again and each life is lived a little longer. It was always sad to read this character dying, but gleeful in knowing she would return on the next page. I thought it might be simply a fun gimmick, but Atkinson truly creates a work of art. (JMJ)


Buy it here.


THE LUMINARIES by Eleanor Catton, 2013


Reading the massive 848-page The Luminaries is a true labor of love — but one you should absolutely undertake. There’s a reason this won the Man Booker Prize in 2013; it’s staggeringly ambitious, expertly plotted, and utterly absorbing. It’s one of those books that you’re convinced you won’t get through, only to find yourself 500 pages in, completely captivated, and flipping pages like mad. (NM)


Buy it here.


NIGHT FILM by Marisha Pessl, 2013


This book reminds me why I read—because I so enjoy seeing how authors can reimagine storytelling. AND this is an example of how aptly a writer can own the genre, in this case, scaring me while encouraging my curiosity with the book’s unique format. Very cool. (MR)


Buy it here.


The Sad Passions by Veronica Gonzalez Peña, 2013


The Sad Passions spoke to me as a Latinx woman, as someone who felt untethered from a definition of 'home' growing up, and whose lyrical, atmospheric prose and artistic observations seem uniquely contemporary. The book is about Claudia, a teenager in Mexico City who births a daughter, and then four more, with a captivating but wandering husband. Claudia and the daughters have POV chapters through the book, shining light on how they grew together and apart into adulthood. They are varying witnesses to their mother's illness and how absences have the power to affect everything. It's a bleak read (could you tell from the title?), but one I felt profoundly. Peña weaves a story between cities and deserts in Mexico and the US, with characters that sometimes feel like specters. Peña also uses photographs and artwork as part of the character Julia's chapters. (JMJ)


Buy it here.


TWO BOYS KISSING by David Levithan, 2013


A beautiful story from when five points of view merge into one. People who share one thing in common are united by two boys trying to achieve the impossible. (Brianna Addamo)


Buy it here.




Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, 2014


Yes, I am a Roxane Gay fan account basically. This book entails being a feminist while loving things that could seem at odds with feminist ideology. (MC)


Buy it here.





Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, 2014


I am not ashamed to say that I was addicted to this book. Nor am I ashamed to say that, for once, the tv show was so much better. (CD)


Buy it here.





The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez, 2014


A quietly charged and beautifully sad story tracing a family’s journey from Mexico to an apartment complex in Delaware filled with other Latinx immigrants. Henríquez's lyrical prose brought me to tears more than once. (JMJ)


Buy it here.




CAN'T AND WON'T by Lydia Davis, 2014


This book was the beginning of my adult reading journey in a lot of ways. I didn't know books could be like this. Lydia Davis's flash fiction and short stories are funny, relatable, and so very real. They'll shift the lens through which you read everything. (VS)


Buy it here.



Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin, 2014


A blistering, opaque journey into sickness and death brought on by the environment—or is it? The original Spanish title of this slim Argentinian novel translates to The Rescue Distance, and its use and concept in the book have not left my mind since first reading it. Sometimes I think of its horror during otherwise boring moments as I watch my kid play. It still gives me shivers. (JMJ)


Buy it here.


THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS by M. R. Carey, 2014


I was so caught off guard by Carey’s skill as he dropped in painterly descriptions alongside palpable emotions which contributed to strong, realistic characters despite the pandemic which has led to a worldwide zombie infestation because the book is full of science to back up how it all went down. I was terrified and rapt. (MR)


Buy it here.



Lovely, Dark, Deep by Joyce Carol Oates, 2014


Joyce Carol Oates is an icon and this collection is her at her best. (HM)


Buy it here.




The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami, 2014


This book written by Laila Lalami is a masterful work of historical fiction depicting the experience of Mustafa ibn Muhammad ibn Abdussalam al-Zamori, a Muslim slave from Morocco who journeyed with Spanish conquistadores on the fated Narvaez expedition in 1527-1528 to La Florida. Lalami has imagined al-Zamori’s history as a Muslim experience, although he has been thoroughly Hispanicized in Cabeza de Vaca’s chronicle, La Relacion published in 1542. I have read many history textbooks and historical monographs that scarcely reference the actual person as “Esteban,” the first black slave brought to the Americas, but Lalami offers a corrective, albeit a fictionalized imagined narrative of Mustafa, to that conspicuous gap in history. (MP)


Buy it here.



The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert, 2014


A terrifying look into climate change and the extinction of our planet. (MC)


Buy it here.



The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan, 2014


I bought this as my first 'airplane book' - a book you buy in the airport because you forgot to pack one and read it all on your flight. It's written by Marina, a woman who graduated and wanted to be a writer and she died in a car accident and her family and professors helped publish her work posthumously. It is amazing. (MC)


Buy it here.



An Untamed State by Roxane Gay, 2014


The best book I have ever read in my entire life. A woman is kidnapped in Haiti and then must overcome her trauma back with her family who wouldn't pay her ransom and her white husband who doesn't understand her. (MC)


Buy it here.






You by Caroline Kepnes, 2014


Talk about sympathizing with the villain and LOVING it. (CD)


Buy it here.






After Birth by Elisa Albert, 2015


Glorious in its brutal, forthright language. I highlighted practically the entire thing. After Birth is an honest book about becoming a mother; I have not read a lot like this. It's hilarious, because you have to laugh when your mind and body are in that special time of postpartum crisis. It's a difficult book to recommend because there are just so many opinions and sensitivities surrounding birth and child rearing, but that's part of what the novel attempts to demystify. (JMJ)


Buy it here.



ALL MY PUNY SORROWS by Miriam Toews, 2015


One of my all-time favorite novels. It feels completely human, moving and sad but also sharp and observational. (VS)


Buy it here.





ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES by Jennifer Niven, 2015


All The Bright Places is far and away the best YA book I’ve ever read, and it’s also one of the most piercing, raw, realistic, and heartbreaking meditations on mental health I’ve come across. This book had me openly ugly-face weeping on the couch in my old boss’s office while he was at lunch and I was covering phones. An important, powerful gut-punch. (NM)


Buy it here.


BLACKOUT: REMEMBERING THE THINGS I DRANK TO FORGET by Sarah Hepola, 2015


There are many books about addiction out there… but this one stood out to me, probably for the most raw and vulnerable scenes describing her lows on the road to change. And, again, the writing itself is witty and lovely. (MR)


Buy it here.




CITY ON FIRE by Garth Risk Hallberg, 2015


This one checked all the boxes for me. It was about NYC history and it had an experimental format, collecting ephemera and zines and smashing it all together into an epic. I wish I wrote this. (MR)


Buy it here.




A Court of Thorns and Roses Series by Sarah J. Maas, 2015


This was the first fantasy series I read as an adult (other than Harry Potter). It blue me away. I was so consumed with this story I practically ignored everyone on my family holiday. As I read I was holding the book together as the glue melted and the pages separated from the spine. (CD)


Buy it here.


DID YOU EVER HAVE A FAMILY by Bill Clegg, 2015


Apparently I’m a real sucker for the weepers, because Bill Clegg’s Did You Ever Have a Family stands alongside All The Bright Places and A Little Life in the “You Will Fill Buckets with Your Tears” department. This spectacular and heartrending debut novel by literary agent Bill Clegg (who represents prodigious author Emma Cline of The Girls fame) packs a damn intense emotional punch. (NM)


Buy it here.


THE FIRST BAD MAN by Miranda July, 2015


If discomfort compels you, this is the book you need to read. I can’t say I ever enjoyed reading it, but I couldn’t put it down it’s stayed with me ever since. (JR)


Buy it here.




Hemingway in Love by A. E. Hotcher, 2015


A terrible title for a brilliant book. (The Book Slut)


Buy it here.






ILLUMINAE by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman, 2015


The best thing to come out of Australia since..? It's just the best. The first novel in a series set in space with a corrupt government, murderous AI, and people you can't trust to remain dead. (BA)


Buy it here.





Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova, 2015


I found this inside a Little Free Library and picked it up because I LOVED Still Alice. I wasn’t disappointed with this one, either. Genova knows how to get inside the inner workings of a family and make you feel like you’re reading about your own. (MW)


Buy it here.




A MANUAL FOR CLEANING WOMEN by Lucia Berlin, 2015


This is another collection of short stories that are intelligent and familiar. (VS)


Buy it here.





Purity by Jonathan Franzen, 2015


I can’t explain why this stuck with me so much as a 16-year-old, but it did. (CD)


Buy it here.



SEVENEVES by Neal Stephenson, 2015


A sci-fi epic and a masterpiece of plot, ingenuity, and craft. Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves is wholly transporting, and I genuinely felt smarter after finishing this book. (NM)


Buy it here.







Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, 2015


Everything about it is perfect. (CD)


Buy it here.




Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight, 2015


Another thriller where nothing is as it seems. The content is dark and emotional, but sometimes you need a book like that to remind you how drama-free your life really is… (MW)


Buy it here.




ANOTHER BROOKLYN by Jacqueline Woodson, 2016


Beautiful. Do you ever wish a book were longer? Woodson’s prose so captured me, bringing me fully into 1970s Brooklyn and the main character’s transition from a sheltered life into a more normal teenage existence in the city. I wanted to highlight everything and save it for later, to read over and over again. (MR)


Buy it here.



Blood in the Water by Heather Ann Thompson, 2016


This one is probably the most powerful book I read all year! Historian Heather A. Thompson’s Pulitzer-Prize winning Blood in the Water is a phenomenal history of the Attica prison uprising and its aftermath. Thompson is an astonishing historian who has written an important book that recounts the actual history that transpired at Attica, as she uncovered a trove of previously suppressed documents from the Erie County New York Courthouse. Thompson gives agency to those often missing from history, “The Attica Prison uprising of 1971 shows the nation that even the most marginalized citizens will never stop fighting to be treated as human beings. It testifies to the irrepressible demand for justice.” (MP)


Buy it here.


Can You Hear Me? by Elena Varvello, 2016


Equal parts dreamy and disturbing. Unapologetically original in its lyrical prose which was so lovingly translated by Alex Valente. It takes you back in time to a rural town in Northern Italy in the late 1970's. Seen through the eyes of an alcoholic schizophrenic father, a hormonal teenager and a victim of a horrific crime. (The Book Slut)


Buy it here.





CHRISTODORA by Tim Murphy, 2016


In the same vein as A Little Life (or, more recently, The House of Impossible Beauties), Murphy took on the iconic East Village in the height of the AIDS epidemic, giving voice to the addicts and the families who lived through the worst, and made it out the other side. (MR)


Buy it here.



THE FIFTH AVENUE ARTISTS SOCIETY by Joy Calloway, 2016


A beautiful story about the underground artists societies in the Victorian era, full of romance, deception and successful females. I also cried at this one. (BA)


Buy it here.



Forty Rooms by Olga Grushin, 2016


This book was criminally under-read upon its release and is still a book I revisit every few months. It’s beautiful and delicate. (HM)



Buy it here.



HILLBILLY ELEGY: A MEMOIR OF A FAMILY AND CULTURE IN CRISIS by J.D. Vance, 2016


I don’t read a lot of nonfiction, but HILLBILLY ELEGY is important, and it made me cry on a plane. This memoir explores what it means to grow up poor in America, neatly charting a path from Appalachia to Yale and attempting to explain the rise of the U.S.’s current political climate in the process. (NM)


Buy it here.



Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, 2016


This epic spans generations that come after two sisters born and separated in Ghana. One family line grows in Africa, the other in the United States. Gyasi explores so much history in this novel, and the traumas that can span centuries in one family. A remarkable debut. (JMJ)


Buy it here.




A Life Discarded by Alexander Masters, 2016


148 diaries are found by chance in a skip. From there Alexander Masters attempts to piece together the life of the original owner. (The Book Slut)


Buy it here.





LITTLE LABORS by Rivka Galchen, 2016


This book is the strangest and most wonderful depiction of motherhood, and I don't think nearly enough people have read it. If I could push one book on a whole bunch of people, it'd be this one. (VS)


Buy it here.





MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON by Elizabeth Strout, 2016


Fabulous in its simplicity and its focus on the mundane realness of an average woman just trying to make something of her life. (MR)


Buy it here.




Only Ever You by Rebecca Drake, 2016


I’ve been a nanny for four years, so when authors write kids as unrealistically angelic, it always sticks out. That wasn’t the case with this piece, which involved a three-year-old getting kidnapped. It kept me on the edge of my seat and played with my emotions in the sense that I wasn’t sure who to sympathize with. That’s the mark of a strong writer! (MW)


Buy it here.



THE POWER by Naomi Alderman, 2016


The most vivid portrait of destroying the patriarchy out there. Not sure this was meant to be a fantasy, but I check my collar bone every day, just in case it comes true. (JR)


Buy it here.





Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick, 2016


There’s seriously nothing that Anna Kendrick can’t do. Her book had me laughing out loud, and I loved it so much that I downloaded the audiobook version and went through it again - this time with her reading it to me! (MW)


Buy it here.



Scythe by Neal Shusterman, 2016


I really thought I was going to hate this book, ended up loving it and recommend it to everyone. This concept is so unique I am in awe of the world Shusterman has created. (CD)


Buy it here.





The Secret by Katerina Diamond, 2016


Good crime fiction can be so formulaic, Diamond creates unguessable plots that have you squirming in your seat. (CD)


Buy it here.





Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman by Lindy West, 2016


Sharp commentary on reproductive rights, politics, fatphobia, and pop culture. (MC)


Buy it here.





Swing Time by Zadie Smith, 2016


The book, which on the surface is about a fractured friendship, is Smith at her best delving into racial identity, cultural appropriation, and class struggles of two mixed race black northwest Londoners. I love how whip smart Smith is in recounting the complexities of racial identity. Some have panned Smith for writing in the first-person narrative but I thought it lent to the storytelling well. (MP)


Buy it here.



When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, 2016


Listened to this on audio and it is a stark reminder to live every

day like tomorrow will not come. Have tissues. (MC)


Buy it here.







WHEN IN FRENCH by Lauren Collins, 2016


This is a memoir, but it's also an examination of French and American culture and language. I found it fascinating. (VS)



Buy it here.





WHEN THE AIR HITS YOUR BRAIN by Frank T Versosick Jr., 2016


Simply an incredible collection of real cases experienced by the doctor author during his neurosurgical residency. (MR)


Buy it here.



All Our Wrongs Today by Elan Mastai, 2017


Imagine a world we’re all those beauty pageant contestants got their wish. There is world peace, all of Earth’s problems have been solved by technology. You wake up to a world with no poverty, no violence, everything is as it should be. Even the avocados will always be perfectly ripe. But like most things in life, perfection is sometimes not what you want. Especially if the piece of perfection you most desire feels out of your reach.Now enter Tom. Tom isn’t happy. The girl of his dreams is gone, so naturally, he wants to move heaven and earth to get her back... or go back in time. Luckily he has access to a time machine. Queue the chaos and conundrums. (The Book Slut)


Buy it here.



THE ATLAS OF FORGOTTEN PLACES by Jenny D. Williams, 2017


An absolutely stunning debut. The backstories of the German, Ugandan, American, and Swiss characters are incredibly enmeshed. There were several shocking moments along the way and I rooted for them all to make it out of the bush together, and alive. (MR)


Buy it here.



Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough, 2017


One of the craziest endings I’ve ever read. Not only in this decade, but in my entire life. I can’t even begin to explain it. You just have to read it for yourself. (MW)


Buy it here.




The Best We Could Do by

Thi Bui, 2017


In this beautifully illustrated graphic novel, Bui recounts her family history from the Indo China War in Vietnam to her immigration following the fall of Saigon. Bui’s black and white drawings also feature a palette of stunning orange-toned water colors. This one is an insightful memoir about Vietnam and a poignant refugee narrative. I’m not usually a reader of graphic novels but this one is a superb one to pick up. (MP)


Buy it here.


Blue Money by Janet Capron, 2017


A memoir about Janet Capron’s life as a prostitute in downtown NYC before AIDS and the War on Drugs. An NYC that was at once bright and full of life, but had a dark fog cast over it. I was so taken and intrigued with Capron’s life that when I closed the book I spent hours after reading everything I could about her and her family. And to me is the sign of a great book—if it makes you seek out more information about the characters and/or the author even after you’ve finished reading. (KM)


Buy it here.


BORNE by Jeff Vandermeer, 2017


Oh, to be a fly on the walls of Jeff Vandermeer’s brain! The iconic sci-fi author comes up with the strangest, most original concepts and stories (for reference, read his Southern Reach trilogy or watch Alex Garland’s adaptation of the first novel Annihilation on Netflix) — and BORNE is no different. Hard, cerebral science fiction with high stakes. (NM)


Buy it here.



THE BRIGHT HOUR: A MEMOIR OF LIVING AND DYING by Nina Riggs, 2017


I was in awe of her prose and I’m sad to have finished it, knowing that the author herself had died months before the book was published. I am crushed with the emotion unleashed but so happy to have heard her story. (MR)


Buy it here.


Chemistry by Weike Wang, 2017


I really loved this small, intimate book about a woman who keeps most people at an arm's length. I didn't relate to a lot (I'm no chemist), but I liked how she intertwined scientific perspective with her personal struggles. I did relate a lot to having an immigrant parent: "Even now, people still talk to her in loud voices, as if speaking English poorly is the same as being deaf. People still laugh, as if it is the same as being very funny." (JMJ)


Buy it here.



THE DARK DARK by Samantha Hunt, 2017


Samantha Hunt is the best kind of weird. (VS)


Buy it here.





GET WELL SOON: HISTORY’S WORST PLAGUES AND THE HEROES WHO FOUGHT THEM by Jennifer Wright, 2017


I learned so much about ineffective “cures” of the times and how, like during the Spanish flu and at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, national morale was seen as a priority despite high fatality rates. Wright inserted her fabulous sense of humor to add modern day notes and asides laced with sarcasm to make the worrisome statistics go down much easier. (MR)


Buy it here.



How To Stop Time by Matt Haig, 2017


I give and recommended this book to everyone. Seems fitting that

I should recommend it to you sluts too. (The Book Slut)



Buy it here.





HUM IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE WORDS by Bianca Marais, 2017


One of my all-time favorites, this is also one of the most insightful books I’ve ever read about something I knew so little of. The mix of excellent pacing and viscerally visual descriptions do all the work necessary to engage and entertain. The characters here too are so complementary and play off each other in the best way… I scratched up my copy making notes and underlining all the best quotes. (MR)


Buy it here.



Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay, 2017


A book about what it's like to live in a big, unruly body. (MC)



Buy it here.





THE IDIOT by Elif Batuman, 2017


This is one of those books that get very popular, but they still feel like they very much belong to you. I don't even like talking about this book, it's personal. (VS)


Buy it here.




I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death by Maggie O’Farrell, 2017


Seventeen discrete encounters with Maggie at different ages, in different locations, reveal a whole life in a series of tense, visceral snapshots. In taut prose that vibrates with electricity and restrained emotion, O'Farrell captures the perils running just beneath the surface, and illuminates the preciousness, beauty, and mysteries of life itself. In writing this memoir Maggie O’Farrell hasn’t just stripped off her clothing; baring her flesh and soul to the audience. She has self-skinned. Painfully exposing every part of herself. She has sliced and peeled back the layers of her soul with the sharpest of razor blades. A devastating yet life-affirming read.

(The Book Slut)


Buy it here.


In the Distance by Hernan Diaz, 2017


In the Distance is a meditation on loneliness and solitude in the form of a journey. First, we meet Håkan, our protagonist, (our dear Håkan!) as an old, towering Swede emerging from a hole in a frozen-over sea. And then he begins to tell his life's tale, one that found him on opposite sides of the country from his brother when he was just a boy, over a century ago, and we travel with him, and see him learn, and love, and lose—truly staggering losses, felt keenly by the reader. There is something dazzling about Diaz's sentences and how he beautifully renders the plot from Håkan's perspective. He reveals the horror and ugliness of humanity, but still makes a quiet hero of Håkan. The bond that Diaz creates between reader and protagonist is rare; especially for me, in a man. (JMJ)


Buy it here.



Into the Water by Paula Hawkins, 2017


I actually liked this one much better than The Girl on the Train. It gives off the same sullen and mysterious vibe, but with characters that I connected with on a deeper level. (MW)


Buy it here.




Johnny Ruin by Dan Dalton, 2017


One of my favourite books of all time. Poetic, trippy. A man attempts suicide by taking an overdose of ketamine. He ends up going on a road trip from Cali to New York with Bon Jon Jovi as his unwanted side-kick. Imagine Shrek and Donkey with a sprinkling of Gonzo directed by Tarantino. Fucking epic. (The Book Slut)


Buy it here.




MEAN by Myriam Gurba, 2017


I don’t think I’ve ever been so uncomfortable, enraged, and yet so enthused and sometimes giggly at a memoir as dark as this one. Written in an often poetic style in fits and bursts of brutality and nostalgia, this book is meant to make you FEEL. Her cheeky style is memorable. (MR)


Buy it here.




Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens, 2017


This one had so many twists and turns; I loved that I never knew what was coming next. If a book can make me audibly gasp, then it’s done its job! (MW)


Buy it here.



PLAYING WITH FIRE: THE 1968 ELECTION AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF AMERICAN POLITICS by Lawrence O’Donnell, 2017


I’d never been so engaged by a historical nonfiction as I was reading O’Donnell’s in-depth analysis of the many players on all sides of the 1968 election (and beyond). I wept after the assassinations and wanted to throw the book out the window when the corruption and racism were revealed. It’s a wondrous read which I cherished specifically because I’m too young to have lived through the events. (MR)


Buy it here.



PRIESTDADDY by Patricia Lockwood, 2017


This was definitely the funniest book I read this decade. Anything Patricia Lockwood writes, I read. (VS)


Buy it here.






The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple by Jeff Guinn, 2017


I’m going to blame my background in anthropology for my abiding interest in cults; I blame Jeff Guinn for feeding this fascination. The Road to Jonestown is a meticulously researched book about the history of Jim Jones and Peoples Temple—from Jones’ time as a young boy to the massacre of over 900 Temple members in 1978. (CH)


Buy it here.


STAY WITH ME by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀, 2017


Adébáyọ̀ has a way of painting emotions into a brutal presentation. I was totally enthralled with the language and the relationship at the center of this story. Delving into a different culture was a joy because she made it as accessible as it was entertaining. There’s a big surprise at the end with totally cemented this book as a great one. (MR)


Buy it here.



THE THINGS WE PROMISE by

J.C Burke, 2017


A novel that educated me on the discrimination and lives of an

AIDS sufferer from the point of view of a family member. (BA)



Buy it here.




Unaccompanied by Javier Zamora, 2017


This slim volume of poetry has a powerful punch. Zamora, a Salvadoran poet, writes in spare, straightforward language about his migration experience at age nine unaccompanied. It’s a powerful testament to the resiliency of migrants’ journeys to the U.S. As powerful now, if not more than when he wrote it. (MP)


Buy it here.



White Tears by Hari Kunzru, 2017


Started reading this book shrugging: okay, so two dudes meet in college and really love vinyl records. Nerdy music geeks, fine. Then...other things started happening and I found I could not put the book down. It turns into a tale of horror, one that I was not expecting, and I was thoroughly put into a trance by it. I feel I could read this 10 times and still discover details I missed. Kunzru layers many themes into a sharp tale about cultural appropriation and racism, and I can't stop thinking about it. (JMJ)


Buy it here.



THE WRONG WAY TO SAVE YOUR LIFE by Megan Stielstra, 2017


Hilarious and stunning, Steilstra made me laugh until I cried and then I cried until my heart shattered. I found this just so utterly relatable and well-crafted. Despite a rather involved and slightly gross intro on dissecting deer hearts, she still won me over quickly.

I underlined much of the print copy I own, which I ultimately bought so I could treasure her words after already listening to the audiobook. (MR)


Buy it here.



America is Not The Heart by Elaine Castillo, 2018


There are many descriptors one could use for this expansive novel; not all of them would entice a reader, but Castillo's debut was so blindingly beautiful and dauntless, that I would encourage you to read it even though it may at times seem slow, use sporadic second person, or be structurally uneven. I loved all these qualities about it, especially in tandem with the elements of its character depth, subtly interwoven historical commentary, discerning cultural perspective, and all-encompassing humanity. I’ll stop here and you can read the rest of my lengthy review! (JMJ)


Buy it here.


An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, 2018


The characters are believable and the premise is heartbreaking but also all too possible (read Just Mercy to confirm) in the American South still. The false charges foisted upon Roy and the eventual unspooling of an American marriage between Roy and Celestial is emotionally shattering. The book addresses the collateral damage precipitated by incarceration, which is exponentially compounded by the sentencing of an innocent man. I’m not playing “Team Roy,” “Team Andre,” or “Team Celestial” with this read. Is it possible to feel so many emotions in one book simultaneously? (MP)


Buy it here.


ANY MAN by Amber Tamblyn, 2018


With a satirical bent and a similar attitude and role reversal as Naomi Alderman’s The Power, Tamblyn’s poetic debut novel proved to be a cutting commentary on society’s present approach to female victims of sexual assault. The whole thing reads like a biting critique on our ridiculous victim-blaming culture. And, the play with format lent itself well to the story as it zooms in and out of each man’s life, including chat room dialogue, tweets, emails, and transcripts from a tv show. So smart. (MR)


Buy it here.


ASYMMETRY by Lisa Halliday, 2018


I'm always wary of contemporary, buzzy fiction because there's no worse feeling than being underwhelmed and being able to buy one less hardcover this year. You never know which books are going to stick. It's been a year, and I physically haven't been able to stop thinking about this. How's that for sticking? (VS)


Buy it here.




Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou, 2018


I screamed no less than 17 times reading this book on the

Theranos fraud controversy. (MC)


Buy it here.





Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak, 2018


Aussie, heartwarming, heartbreaking. I had around 20 pages to go, I was tearing up but I had to go onto a lecture on Russian Nationalism before I could race home and finish it. I will always read whatever Markus Zusak has to give to this world. (CD)


Buy it here.


Eating NAFTA: Trade, Food Policies, and the Destruction of Mexico by Alyshia Galvez, 2018


Galvez, a cultural anthropologist has written a groundbreaking book that examines the underbelly of NAFTA and the way it has negatively impacted the traditional foodways in Mexico. The milpa-based diet of ground corn and fresh vegetables eroded with the trade agreement of the early 1990s. Diabetes and other health problems have begun to skyrocket in Mexico as a result. This one blew my mind as I’d only considered the economics of free trade and not the dire health and food-related consequences. (MP)


Buy it here.


ELOQUENT RAGE: A BLACK FEMINIST DISCOVERS HER SUPERPOWER by Brittney Cooper, 2018


Hands down one of my favorite feminist reads. I was absolutely floored in the first chapter by not just her sheer grace and resolute delivery of difficult subjects, but also by her lack of tolerance for intolerance that is based in blind racial loyalty. Her words effortlessly weave personal essay with sociological evaluation of current/past events and the presentation is flawless. (MR)


Buy it here.



The Ensemble by Aja Gabel, 2018


My most recent read! The way Gabel incorporated music into the plot not only on the surface, but woven into her prose and characterization was truly masterful. (MW)


Buy it here.




Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi, 2018


Freshwater is a game changer in fiction on several levels. The concept is novel and compelling, the tone and voice like nothing I've read before, and Emezi opens the door of the experience that is navigating life identifying as non-binary in a gendered world while also hearkening back to her Igbo roots. I still can't get this novel put of my head months after having read it. (MO)


Buy it here.



The Friend by Sigrid Nunez, 2018


Nunez's protagonist writes about a friend (not the dog) that does not deal well with change; having been a privileged participant yesterday, and a kind of relic in the new era. There is an idea of him that is dying or dead; and there is also him, physically, that is dead (or is he?). I loved Nunez's pointed perspective, observing details that others are missing, and debating with her friend, but also internally (like many people are these days). The fact that this book won the National Book Award makes me feel like the industry may be listening. (JMJ)


Buy it here.




Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot, 2018


A tiny book that packs a punch on the trauma and pain experienced as an Indigenous woman. (MC)


Buy it here.




How to Be Alone: If You Want To, and Even If You Don't by Lane Moore, 2018


Lane Moore's collection of autobiographical essays offers a frank perspective on what it feels like to spend most of your life, well, alone. Her dark sarcasm and hopeless romanticism illuminate tales of bad relationships, absent family members, stranger luck, and a lifelong devotion to art, music, comedy, and writing. She writes beautifully and passionately about queerness, about having to fend for herself in an unkind world, and about her life-saving chihuahua puppy, Lights. Her chapter on being alone during the holidays is especially worth re-reading during difficult times of year. (AM)


Buy it here.



I HAD SUCH FRIENDS by Meg Gatland-VEness, 2018


This book was not what I expected but everything I needed to read. It is so full of raw emotion, making me bawl my eyes out unlike I'd ever done with any novel before. (BA)


Buy it here.






I Love You Too Much by Alicia Drake, 2018


Stunning. (The Book Slut)


Buy it here.





I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara, 2018


The book that originally introduced me to a true crime obsession, one that leads with empathy above all else. (MC)


Buy it here.




I’M JUST HAPPY TO BE HERE: A MEMOIR OF RENEGADE MOTHERING by Janelle Hanchett, 2018


Bouncing between bouts of sobriety and inebriation but always depressed, Janelle is always loud and equally honest. She did a great job crafting a self-deprecating memoir focusing on mistakes made while growing up, struggling under postpartum grief, and holding onto oneself (or not) while becoming and being a mother. (MR)


Buy it here.


A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne, 2018


While many people (myself included) sing the praises of The Heart's Invisible Furies I was even more blown away by Boyne's next novel, A Ladder to the Sky. Boyne creates the most unlikeable and yet most compelling character I have encountered. I was engaged from the beginning and so outraged at the actions of this character that I threw the book across the room, and yet loved every second of it. Writing can have such a strong emotional and physical reaction is masterful and I still find myself thinking about this book. (MO)


Buy it here.


THE MAP OF SALT AND STARS by Zeyn Joukhadar, 2018


This one was a surprise but it stuck with me. The writing was so exemplar that I wanted to take my time with it, savoring each chapter. The main character’s father dies and the family is forced to leave him behind in the only home she knew, in New York, in order to return to Syria in 2011, just at the beginning of the war. (MR)


Buy it here.


The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley, 2018


A beautiful and bloodthirsty retelling of Beowulf (some alliteration here as a nod to the original). In a modern setting, The Mere Wife is told from the perspective of two very different mothers—one a suburban housewife, the other a war veteran. This novel is beautiful, haunting and dangerous; an untangling of privilege, monstrosities and mother-son relationships. (CH)


Buy it here.



Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture by Roxane Gay, 2018


Any book that analyzes rape culture and provide real-life stories is

a top book for me. (MC)


Buy it here.





QUEEN OF AIR AND DARKNESS by Cassandra Clare, 2018


The latest and most recent (in terms of timeline) installment in the Shadowhunter Chronicles was the best. I love seeing the way Cassandra Clare's writing progresses throughout her novels and

this one is no different. (BA)


Buy it here.



Severance by Ling Ma, 2018


It sometimes feels like it meanders, but I was completely captivated. And then it shocks with moments of action and intensity, but also with the stark clarity that Ma's prose provides on the effects of late stage capitalism. To put all these ideas into a pre- and post-apocalyptic narrative in which the world's people are struck by a swift-moving illness would seem tricky, but Ma nails it brilliantly. It's thoughtful and funny and satirical and devastating and tender and surprising. (JMJ)


Buy it here.



A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult, 2018


I was really into Jodi Picoult in high school, but took a long break because her plots got a little formulaic. When I picked up A Spark of Light, it was refreshing to see that it was unlike anything I’d ever read of Picoult’s before. The entire book takes place over the course of one day, and the subject matter is a hot topic in today’s political climate. I could not put this one down. (MW)


Buy it here.


THE TERRIBLE by Yrsa Daley-Ward, 2018


In a style that transitions between traditional prose and modified verse as well as first, second AND third person, Yrsa tells the story of her mother’s troubles following a young pregnancy and later her own life as she grew up without her. All throughout I felt expertly manipulated by Yrsa’s writing. (MR)


Buy it here.




WHAT THE WOODS KEEP by Katya De Becerra, 2018


A perfect thriller for those who don't really like thrillers. Captivating and breathtaking, leaving you holding on to every word. (BA)


Buy it here.





White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo, 2018


A great educational book that gives you new vocabulary and

insight to discuss racism with your white family members, friends, and colleagues. (MC)


Buy it here.


ALL THE RAGE: MOTHERS, FATHERS, AND THE MYTH OF EQUAL PARTNERSHIP by Darcy Lockman, 2019


This is a study of gender inequality in parenting that digs deep.

I can't recommend it enough. (VS)


Buy it here.




ASK AGAIN, YES by Mary Beth Keane, 2019


Keane has crafted a near-perfect emotional family epic spanning years from the early 70s through to present day, she artfully styled sentences that provided bits and pieces of her characters, summarizing whole seasons or years even in a few words, while allowing the reader more insight than might have been accomplished in hundreds. Every meandering sentence or paragraph made me sigh/gasp/tear up and left me desperate for more of Keane’s excellence, but really desperate for more of the story. (MR)


Buy it here.


Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James, 2019


Marlon James obliterates the traditional idea of fantasy with the first book of a violent, queer African epic. The depth and scope of this trilogy is ambitious and the writing is delicious and meaty, so substantial that goring on it is impossible, instead one must savour each page and digest it fully before progressing. I'm already pining for book two. (MO)


Buy it here.



FLEISHMAN IS IN TROUBLE by Taffy Brodesser-Akner, 2019


Can a book that only came out a few months ago make a ‘best of the decade’ list? When the final pages had you physically weeping, and you bought it for everyone you know, definitely yes. (JR)


Buy it here.





Good Talk by Mira Jacob, 2019


Jacob’s wonderful graphic memoir traverses topics of modern-day living as she tries to honestly answer questions asked by her six-year-old son. She relays anecdotes and conversations from her years as a child to current day. How she grew up Indian in America with parents who are in an arranged marriage, her sexuality, dating, her own eventual marriage, racism, colorism—and the whole spectrum of her identity as the world and political landscape continues to change. It's funny, poignant, and insightful. (JMJ)


Buy it here.



Indelible in the Hippocampus: Writings from the MeToo Movement, edited by Shelly Oria, 2019


My copy of this has so many sticky notes in it. I’ve read a lot of non-fiction that is focused on women’s issues and rights and a lot about the MeToo movement, but this is the first book I’ve read that focuses solely on the stories from writers that are Black, Latino, Asian, queer, and transgender. I found myself becoming upset, angry, saddened with every page I read. The stories that I found within the pages of this book were ones that I didn’t think would ever be compiled into a book, but I’m so happy they have been. They are the ones that you rarely ever hear about, but are so important to read. (KM)


Buy it here.



The Light Years by Chris Rush, 2019


One of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. (HM)



Buy it here.






Lost Child by Torey Hayden, 2019


I actually just discovered Torey Hayden and can’t wait to read more of her. She’s a child psychologist who documents her cases - and this specific case was so intriguing. Being that I also work with kids, I felt a lot of her same frustrations but was in awe of how she was able to get through to her young clients. (MW)


Buy it here.




Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli, 2019


The intricate writing is at times pensive and meditative, full of questioning about how one can create art based on difficult subjects. Then, the writing is frantic and feverish, nearly nightmarish. The first half of my copy is thick with dog-ears and the underlined sentences that made me pause to consider. The second half has less, as the change in perspective brings a change in pace, and there was no time to stop: I was worried about the children. It's difficult to spend just a handful of words on a massive text. It's hard to get across how much it affected me. (JMJ)


Buy it here.




ONCE & FUTURE by Amy Rose Carpetta and Cori Mcarthy, 2019


The best book of the decade in my opinion. A gender-bent retelling of the Authurian Legend, not dismissing all the genocide and rape that occurred in the original story. It is queer, set in space and YA! What more could you want? (BA)


Buy it here.



Paris Savages by Katherine Johnson, 2019


Australian history brought to life by an Australian intellectual. It taught me something new about the experience of Aboriginal Australians, so insightful. (CD)


Buy it here.




Trust Exercise by Susan Choi, 2019


Maroon yourself with Choi's teenagers in a Houston-area performing arts high school. Wade through their morally murky activities among themselves and with the adults in their lives. You'll cringe more than once; you may laugh, too. The words have a way of cutting. The narrative will contort until you're not sure what's what. In some aspects, Trust Exercise is an absolute absurdist book, and yet the truth that teems from the absurdity is recognizable to any one who understands power dynamics. More than anything,

you won't be able to let go of this book; it'll leave you stranded at the end, with an itch to start it again, parched and seeking anyone who can help you parse the truth from fiction within a fiction that might even walk that tightrope of autobiographical, but who's to say? (JMJ)


Buy it here.



THE UNPASSING by Chia-Chia Lin, 2019


I bestow the title of most beautiful prose of the decade to this book. I mean it. It's breathtaking. (VS)


Buy it here.






The Warming by Craig Ensor, 2019


Ensor romanticizes the dark reality we are on our way to facing with climate change. He creates a beacon of light, through love, in a dark and perishing world. Quite a masterful story. Yay for Aussie authors (CD)


Buy it here.



And what, dear friends,

did we forget?