The end of another year inevitably brings 'best of the year lists' (like our own, which you can find here). However, December was not just the end of another year but a decade! How to narrow down 10 years of amazing writing and literature to just 10 books? It seems an impossible task but of course we had to have a go...
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
When young lovers Ifemelu and Obinze leave military-ruled Nigeria, they are confronted with the difficulties of post-9/11 America and the socially embedded racism of the West for the first time. In a novel spanning 15 years, as well as multiple continents, Adichie embeds a searing commentary of race, society and class embedded in a compelling love story. This ground-breaking portrayal of the immigrant experience is a novel about identity, culture and is at once about specific experiences as well as being completely universal.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
This seminal memoir made waves when it was released and has since even been spun into a guided journal. One of the most iconic women of the decade talks about the experiences that have shaped her from childhood, to first lady. This work of reflection is filled with wit, humour, her successes alongside her disappointments, and is a moving and inspirational account of a woman who has made a difference to thousands of lives and is a role model to so many young women today.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
The story of The Iliad is a well worn one, but Madeline Miller breathed new life into it with The Song of Achillies, winner of the Women's Prize for Fiction in 2012. She makes a story traditionally focused on war, one of love and feeling, placing emphasis on the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. Miller approaches this well known tale with an original approach which renders it a devastating love story.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
In a book which changed the face of the thriller and mystery novel, Flynn turns the gender stereotype of the missing or murdered woman on it's head. It triggered a movement of other books which followed in the same vein, as well as inspiring a blockbuster film with a star cast. The book itself is well worth the read as even if you know the story as Flynn's extra details and nuance in the story make it worth it.
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
This inventive and ambitious novel chronicles a mythic nigh of recent history in which Bob Marley's house was stormed by gunmen. It is a vast, colourful novel with a multitude of voices, spanning three decades in Jamaica. The structure and style of the novel is innovative and experimental, with five sections, titled after songs, set on five specific days. The novel was nominated for a raft of awards and won the Booker Prize that year.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Just when the western world began to close its borders, with talk of isolationism and putting up walls, Hamid opens up the world with a magical realist work of doors which take you across borders, across oceans, across the world. No book reflected the refugee crisis which defined recent years of the decade so well.
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
An exploration of who we are, where we came from and the future of humanity, this book is a comprehensive and thrilling account of the history of mankind. Rooted in biology, but extending out to culture, the book is an accessible delve into a world of knowledge typically reserved for academics, and has been lauded by the likes of Bill Gates. It was wildly popular upon its release and has since been translated into 45 languages.
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
Author and mental health campaigner Matt Haig's memoir has become a cultural phenomenon, inspiring music created with Razorlight star Andy Burrows, as well as a successful stage play. Countless people cite how this book has helped them and it proved to be a real turning point in how we talk about mental health.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
A novel which went hand in hand with the moment of Black Lives Matter, The Hate U Give was hugely important not only in its social commentary of police shootings, but as an 'Own Voice' novel. Ever since, Young Adult fiction has seen a burgeoning diversity which can very much be attributed to the success of this book.
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
The long awaited sequel to The Handmaid's Tale became more than just a book release, it has become its own cultural moment. Atwood has cleverly tied the TV franchise into her book and built a whole world out of Gilead, which has become a major reference point in political and social commentary this decade. The sequel absolutely does not disappoint, offering all of Atwood's clever literary style through the narrative of Aunt Lydia, which is embedded in a wonderfully fun espionage thriller.