Our Favourite Books of the Decade

Hey, Savvy Readers! Do you feel like the decade has flown by? I sure do! These past 10 years have been filled with so many amazing books, I’ve lost count. To celebrate the end of a wonderful decade, here are our favourite books of the decade!

Books by Emma Donoghue

Award-winning author Emma Donoghue has shared three amazing literary treasures with us over the course of the decade. Her contemporary novel Room (2011) was an OLA Evergreen Award winner and a spectacular movie. We were absolutely delighted that she shared another contemporary novel, Akin (2019), with us that had all the tenderness and psychological intensity that made us fall in love with Room to begin with. Between these two wonderful contemporary novels, Emma published The Wonder (2016) which is a magnetic novel written with all the spare and propulsive tension that made Room a bestseller and also a Giller Prize winner.

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Freedom by Jonathon Franze

In this instant #1 bestselling novel, Jonathan Franzen charts the mistakes and joys of these intensely realized characters as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world. An epic of contemporary love and marriage, Freedom (2011) is a deeply moving portrait of our time.

The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth

Divergent is a dystopian trilogy set in a futuristic Chicago that has captured the hearts of millions of teen and adult readers. This iconic trilogy includes Divergent (2011), Insurgent (2012), and Allegiant (2013). It was adapted into a film series staring Shailene Woodley.

Books by Anne Patchett

New York Times bestselling author Ann Patchett filled our shelves with beautifully rendered family dramas that we can’t stop talking about it! The first notable title is State of Wonder (2012), which was infused with the same ingenuity and emotional urgency that pervaded her acclaimed previous novels. The next is Commonwealth (2016), which is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. Finally, we have her brilliant new novel The Dutch House (2019), a dark fairy tale set over the course of five decades.

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The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Madeline Miller’s debut novel, The Song of Achilles (2012), is an action-packed adventure, an epic love story, and utterly unique retelling of the legend of Achilles and the Trojan War. A tale of gods, kings, immortal fame, and the human heart, this book is a dazzling literary feat that brilliantly reimagines Homer’s enduring masterwork, The Iliad.

Books by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s debut novel Secret Daughter (2012) explores powerfully and poignantly the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss, identity, and love through the experiences of two families—one Indian, one American—and the child that binds them together. The Golden Son (2015) is a moving novel of a young man at the crossroads of life and two friends discovering each other again. Then we have The Shape of Family (2019), which is a poignant, unforgettable novel about a family’s growing apart and coming back together in the wake of tragedy.

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Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Evoking both the fairy-tale charm of Haruki Murakami and the enthusiastic novel-of-ideas wizardry of Neal Stephenson or Umberto Eco, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave.

Books by Barbara Kingsolver

Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behaviour (2013) is a contemporary novel set in a rural Tennessee community. It tells the story of Dellarobia Turnbow, a petite, razor-sharp 29-year-old who nurtured worldly ambitions before becoming pregnant and marrying at seventeen. Then we have Unsheltered (2018), a compulsively readable story of two families, in two centuries, who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum in Vineland, New Jersey, navigating what seems to be the end of the world as they know it. It was considered the best book of 2018 for Ophra’s Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, Christian Science Monitor, and Newsweek.

Books by Esi Edugyan

Award-winning author Esi Edugyan published two literary masterpieces: Half-Blood Blues, an entrancing, electric story about jazz, race, love and loyalty, and the sacrifices we ask of ourselves—and demand of others—in the name of art, and Washington Black, an inventive, electrifying novel of slavery and freedom. Both books were nominated for several awards and were the winners of the Booker Prize, the Giller Prize, the Rogers Writers Trust Prize, and more!

Books by Matt Haig

After battling depression for a long time Matt Haig turned to writing, and he now believes that reading and writing books saved his life. The Humans (2013) is a dark comedy about human nature and the joy found in the messiness of life on Earth. Reasons to Stay Alive (2016) is the story of how he almost died by suicide, and how he learned to live with anxiety and depression. It’s also an optimistic, joyous and often funny exploration of how to live better, love better, read better and feel more. How to Stop Time (2018) is a wild, bittersweet, time-travelling story about losing and finding yourself, about the certainty of change, about the mistakes humans are doomed to repeat. Notes on a Nervous Planet (2019) shares his journey back to happiness and all of the lessons that Matt learned along the way.

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane (2013) is a bewitching and harrowing tale of mystery and survival, and memory and magic, makes the impossible all too real. It’s a brilliantly imaginative and poignant fairy tale from the modern master of wonder and terror. This is Neil Gaiman’s first new novel for adults since his #1 New York Times bestseller Anansi Boys.

Books by Graeme Simison

The Rosie Project (2013) is a classic screwball romance about a handsome but awkward genetics professor and the woman who is totally wrong for him. This is a romantic comedy like no other. It is arrestingly endearing and entirely unconventional, and it will make you want to drink cocktails. Then, we got its sequel, The Rosie Effect (2014), a hilarious and heart-wrenching romantic comedy.

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The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Paris, 1878. Following their father’s sudden death, the van Goethem sisters’ lives are upended. With few options for work, Marie is dispatched to the Paris Opera, where for a scant wage she is trained to enter the famous ballet. Her older sister, Antoinette, finds work—and the love of a dangerous man—as an extra in a stage adaptation of Émile Zola’s masterpiece L’Assommoir. Marie is soon modelling in the studio of Edgar Degas, who will immortalize her image forever. Antoinette, meanwhile, must make the choice between a life of honest labour and the more profitable avenues open to a willing young woman—that is, unless her perilous love derails her completely.

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Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance 

Elon Musk (2015) is both an illuminating and authorized look at the extraordinary life of one of Silicon Valley’s most exciting, unpredictable, and ambitious entrepreneurs—a real-life Tony Stark—and a fascinating exploration of the renewal of American invention and its new “makers.” This book brings to life a technology industry that is rapidly and dramatically changing by examining the life of one of its most powerful and influential titans.

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Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman (2015) imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of the late Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor, and effortless precision—a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times.

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The Illegal by Lawrence Hill

Lawrence Hill‘s critically acclaimed and commercially bestselling epic, The Book of Negroes, burst onto the scene in 2007 and became an instant Canadian classic. Next came The Illegal, a fast moving and compelling story about family, identity and the strength of the human spirit. It casts a satirical eye on people who have turned their backs on undocumented refugees struggling to survive in a nation that does not want them. It won CBC Canada Reads and was considered the best book of of the year by CBC, National Post, and the Globe and Mail in 2016.

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Birdie by Tracey Lindberg

Telling the story of Bernice, a Cree woman with a dark secret in her past, Birdie is an emotional, powerful, and often hilarious novel that follows Bernice as she sets out on a vision quest from her home in northern Alberta to Gibsons, BC. Defended by Bruce Poon Tip on Canada Reads, Birdie is a truly remarkable work of literature that emphasizes the prevalence of trauma and the possibility of hope.

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By Chance Alone (2016) by Max Eisen

More than 70 years after the Nazi camps were liberated by the Allies, By Chance Alone (2016) is a Canadian Holocaust memoir that details the rural Hungarian deportations to Auschwitz-Birkenau, back-breaking slave labour in Auschwitz I, the infamous “death march” in January 1945, the painful aftermath of liberation, a journey of physical and psychological healing. This won CBC Canada Reads as well as the RBC Taylor Prize and the Vine Awards for Canadian Jewish Literature.

Books by Heather O’Neill

A Girl Who Was Saturday Night (2014) writes of an unusual family and what binds them together and tears them apart. This story is classic, unforgettable Heather O’Neill and was a 2014 Giller Prize finalist. The Lonely Hearts Hotel (2019) is a spellbinding story about two orphans whose unusual magnetism and talent allow them to imagine a sensational future.

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The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

This is a story about the power of family, the possibilities of friendship, the ways we depend upon one another and the ways we let one another down. In this tender, entertaining, and deftly written debut, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney brings a remarkable cast of characters to life to illuminate what money does to relationships, what happens to our ambitions over the course of time, and the fraught yet unbreakable ties we share with those we love.

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

To call The Hate U Give anything short of a literary phenomenon would be to sell just how important this book is short. The story of a young black girl who witnesses the murder of her friend at the hands of the police was just as timely in 2017 as it is now, and has spawned critical acclaim, commercial success, a brilliantly made film, and backlash.

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Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel 

It is really hard to pin down exactly what this book is, aside from the fact that it’s brilliant. Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame and the beauty of the world as we know it. Winning numerous awards and rocketing up the bestsellers charts, Station Eleven is an audacious, darkly glittering novel about art, fame, and ambition, set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse.

Books by Kate Quinn

In the commercially successful and critically acclaimed novel The Alice Network (2017), Kate Quinn tells the story of two women – a spy and an American socialite – who are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption. Two years later, Kate Quinn returned with another wartime story called The Huntress, this time following a battle-haunted English journalist and a Russian female bomber pilot who join forces to track down a Nazi war criminal gone to ground in America.

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An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward–with hope and pain–into the future.

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 Educated by Tara Westover

Tara Westover was seventeen when she first set foot in a classroom. Instead of traditional lessons, she grew up learning how to stew herbs into medicine, scavenging in the family scrap yard and helping her family prepare for the apocalypse. She had no birth certificate and no medical records and had never been enrolled in school. Westover’s mother proved a marvel at concocting folk remedies for many ailments. As Tara developed her own coping mechanisms, little by little, she started to realize that what her family was offering didn’t have to be her only education. Her first day of university was her first day in school—ever—and she would eventually win an esteemed fellowship from Cambridge and graduate with a PhD in intellectual history and political thought. One of the best selling books in Canada this year, Educated is a must-read.

 Books by Daniel Silva

The Other Woman (2018) is a modern masterpiece of espionage, love, and betrayal. This book is fast as a bullet, hauntingly beautiful, and filled with stunning double-crosses and twists of plot. It was the #1 bestseller for New York Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal. The New Girl (2019) is bota thrilling, page-turning tale of entertainment and a sophisticated study of political alliances and great-power rivalries in a dangerous world. It’s filled with dark humor, breathtaking twists of plot, and an unforgettable cast of characters.

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Heartbreaker by Claudia Dey

Seventeen years after falling from a stolen car into a remote northern town, Billie Jean Fontaine is still an outsider. She may follow the stifling rules of this odd place, but no one will forget that she came from elsewhere. When Billie Jean vanishes one cold October night in her bare feet and track suit with only her truck keys, those closest to her begin a frantic search. Her daughter, Pony, a girl struggling against being a teen in the middle of nowhere; her killer dog to whom she cannot tell a lie; her husband, The Heavy, a man haunted by his past; and the charismatic Supernatural, a teenage boy longing only to be average. Each holding a different piece of the puzzle, they must come together to understand the darkest secrets of their beloved, and lay bare the mysteries of the human heart.

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The Rise and Fall of Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte

In this captivating narrative, Steve Brusatte masterfully tells the complete, surprising, and new history of the dinosaurs, drawing on cutting-edge science to dramatically bring to life their lost world and illuminate their enigmatic origins, spectacular flourishing, astonishing diversity, cataclysmic extinction, and startling living legacy. Captivating and revelatory, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is a book for the ages.

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The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman

Philomena meets Orphan Train in this suspenseful, provocative novel filled with love, secrets, and deceit—the story of a young unwed mother who is forcibly separated from her daughter at birth and the lengths to which they go to find each other.

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The Gown by Jennifer Robson

With The Gown, Jennifer Robson takes us inside the workrooms where one of the most famous wedding gowns in history was created. Balancing behind-the-scenes details with a sweeping portrait of a society left reeling by the calamitous costs of victory, she introduces readers to three unforgettable heroines, their points of view alternating and intersecting throughout its pages, whose lives are woven together by the pain of survival, the bonds of friendship, and the redemptive power of love.

That’s it, Savvy Readers! What were your favourites from this list? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @savvyreader!

Never stop reading.

Brianna

Follow me on Twitter @briannafbenton!

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