Ten years, ten top books

It hadn’t occurred to me to make a list of my top ten books of the decade until I saw such lists popping up everywhere. Given that books, blogging and lists go together like sand and sea, it’s ridiculous that I haven’t been working on my list for months!

So, my contribution comes with a few notes – it’s not the end of the year – I never rule out the possibility of reading a life-changing book in one day; I have only included books published in the last decade (which meant excluding Richard Yates….); putting this list together was hard, and if I had provided the reasons why I included particular books (and left others off) it would have constituted far too much thinking for Boxing Day, which I traditionally spend lying down with a tin of Quality Street and a new book…

In no particular order:

01. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

02. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

03. Foal’s Bread by Gillian Mears

04. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

05. The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney

06. The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

07. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

08. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

09. Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton

10. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara




22 responses

  1. That’s an interesting list. Apart from The Natural Way of Things – which I think is an important book, rather than a particularly well written one – I have only read Commonwealth. What would be in my own top ten of books written in this decade that I have read, I can’t think, Gerald Murnane’s Border Districts certainly, Kim Scott’s That Deadman Dance, maybe, The Swan Book yes, after those …?

    • In the same way that I pick my favourites at the end of the year, I picked the books that were still speaking to me (as opposed to simply the books that I gave five stars to). Some of the books I picked for particular scenes that made such a strong impression on me. Would love to hear your thoughts on Foal’s Bread if you ever come across it.

  2. So pleased to see Kate Atkinson made the cut together with Commonwealth and The Art of Fielding. I’ve yet to read A Little Life and I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever get around to it. Here’s to another decade of excellent reading!

    • I included A Little Life on the strength of one scene that has haunted me (lots has haunted me about this book but there is a particular bit that I think about frequently and have reread dozens of times. If you ever read it, I’ll tell you which bit when you’ve finished!

  3. Interesting list; I’m not sure if restricting it to books published this year made it easier or harder….I abandoned Life after Life sorry – I found the repetition contrived. Life after Life was certainly a fascinating, painful book to read.

  4. I’m glad to see The Art of Fielding on your list, as I don’t think it has ever gotten enough love. Life After Life and A Little Life are the only others on your list that I’ve read, but also well-deserving of their place.

    • I thought The Art of Fielding was carefully and beautifully written – such a tender story and so unexpected. Apparently it took Harbach more than ten years to write – hope we’re not waiting more than ten years for the next book!

  5. I adored Life After Life and Burial Rites so I’m definitely going to have to check out the rest of these on your list.

  6. I’ve been waiting for this! I too liked Burial Rites (but The Good People more, as you know) and The Natural Way of Things. I have on my tbr, Foal’s Bread, Life After Life, and The Glorious Heresies. I’ll need to get onto these now I’ve seen them judged thus.

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  8. The Art of Fielding and Commonwealth made my top books of the decade as well. I admit: I’ve read Commonwealth five times! I also had Kate Atkinson, A God in Ruins. I do need to re-read Life After Life, though. Maybe this year!

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