I love this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic, which asks you to pick the best book published in each of the last ten years. Here’s my list from 2009 to 2018, with some runners-up. I decided not to do 2019 since I haven’t read many books that have been published this year. I organized this list by the year each book was published, not the year I read the book.
I found it difficult to pick one book for each year, and some years (2013 and 2016) had a surprising number of books that I wanted to recognize. I tried to pick a book each year that stood out, that was memorable, and that had an important or unique point of view. These are books I find myself thinking back to often, and frequently recommending to others. I initially tried to describe each one, but find they are better speaking for themselves.
2009: The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
Also: The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell, One Day by David Nicholls
2010: Room by Emma Donahue
Also: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
2011: The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
Also: The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
2012: Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
Also: Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, Astray by Emma Donahue
2013: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Also: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell
2014: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Also: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, An Untamed State by Roxane Gay, Redeployment by Phil Klay
2015: The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney
Also: Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf, A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson, Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
2016: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Also: Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, News of the World by Paulette Jiles, Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood, Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
2017: The Power by Naomi Alderman
Also: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Less by Andrew Sean Greer, Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
2018: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Also: The Great Believers by Rebekka Makkai, A Place For Us by Fatima Farzeen Mirha, The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
It was fun making this list and it actually helped me share some book recommendations with colleagues at work. Which of these books do you agree with? And which ones do you disagree with? Please share!
Love your choices and would have been right there with you on several of them…Tell the Wolves I’m Home, The Power.
Overall this would be a great list for me to work through as I’m terrible at reading contemporary fiction. I did read americanah the last time I made such an effort and loved it! And Just Mercy, though that’s not fiction. Anyway I’m glad you had fun with this. I’m not sure I could even come up with one book for each of the past ten years.
I’m glad to hear you liked Americanah and Just Mercy… obviously there’s a lot I recommend on this list. I think 2016 was maybe the best year for literature on this list. Hag-Seed is one I think not enough people have read.
It’s been on my list but I just have not gotten to it yet! Maybe this year.
I have read almost none of these, unfortunately, but you’ve got a bunch of authors I’ve been meaning to try! Emma Donohue, Barbara Kingsolver, and Chimamanda Adichie. I’ll have to look up some of these others.
Those are three fantastic writers. Kingsolver can be up and down with her books, you really have to be interested in her subject matter, but she can be brilliant! And I think I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Donohue.
One Day was such a good book! I kinda forgot about it for my list!
I read that one quite a while ago, but I loved it. Thanks for commenting!
Yes, it definitely was difficult to only pick one book per year.
I’m not familiar with any of these but it’s nice to see some different recommendations!
The Power was a great book!
I find I think about that book often. It really opens your eyes to the power imbalance between men and women. Thanks for the comment!
Some great books on this list – particularly The Glorious Heresiesa
There’s so many great books on your list! I also loved An Untamed State so I’m pleased it made it 😊 I’ve also seen Just Mercy a couple of times on lists today and I’m definitely going to have to read it I think!
Untamed State was brutal but such a moving story. I’ve never gotten it out of my head. Just Mercy is a hard book to compare to most of these others, but it’s so important I think anyone in the U.S. should read it.
Untamed State was harrowing but like you say – unforgettable. I’m definitely going to read Just Mercy at some point too 🙂
Americanah, Room and The Glorious Heresies are excellent choices. We;d disagree though on The American Marriage and We are All Completely Beside Ourselves. I did think about doing this list but then discovered there were some years with large gaps where I dont seem to have read much contemporary fiction .
I’m happy to disagree! I really appreciated the subject matter of American Marriage and the way it wasn’t about a perfect relationship. I strongly considered The Great Believers for that year. A Place for Us was also excellent.
I do like healthy disagreements over books 🙂
I’ve seen Born a Crime a few times this week and I still have to read it. Room seems to be popular this week too.
I will say 2010 seemed to be a bit of a light year compared to the others, but Room is a pretty amazing work of fiction. Emma Donohue is one of my favorites. And Born a Crime is a really unique memoir – it’s really dark and funny at the same time, and it’s an inside look at South Africa, which I know so little about.
I need to read Room and Americanah. They’ve been on my TBR for a long time now. I can’t believe haven’t already read Room.
I hope you enjoy both of them and they live up to the hype! Room is such an unusual book, I didn’t want to read it for a while because you wouldn’t think the kid’s perspective would work, but it does.
So glad you loved Americanah as well! I feel like that book has hit the world by storm, and it’s so great ❤ Also, love how you listed some runner ups for each year–so many book recommendations here!
Thanks Holly! Americanah really gave me a lot to think about.
I have just finished Americanah and I am just about to start reading An American Marriage so it was great to see both of them featured here! x
I hope you like it! It looks like we have very similar reading tastes. Thanks for visiting!
Wonderful list. I’ve read some of them and completely agree! It was lovely to think of some of those books I read years ago.
It really was difficult to try to narrow it down to only one book! I heard Bryan Stevenson speak last year after reading his book and it really is just powerful
Some really strong choices here. I’ve had Lacuna and The Dovekeepers on my TBR shelf for quite a while now, I need to get to them.
So glad to see Tell the Wolves I’m Home on your list! I only read that one this year but it’s become an all-time favourite! 💜