my favorite books of the decade

It’s that time: end of decade content. Every publication under the sun is releasing their 2010s in review coverage: books, movies, TV, big news stories, and everything else that shaped the decade.

Vox is no exception, and this week I wrote a little blurb for the forthcoming Vox staff roundup of our favorite books of the decade, which will publish soon if you want to read it! But I had an incredibly hard time narrowing it down to just one book; so many came to mind. So for the newsletter this week, I wanted to share the list of contenders I thought of, the books I read in the 2010s that stood out in my memory over the years. These are the types of books that stay with you, whose stories are unforgettable and moving.

All of them were books I couldn’t put down while reading them, and couldn’t stop thinking about long after I had finished them. Here are 10 of them, in no particular order. (And although I used Amazon links just because they’re easy for hyperlinking in a newsletter, I encourage you to support your local indie bookstore! They need your business!)

  • Modern Lovers, Emma Straub, 2016. This was a delightful novel about a group of college friends, now all married with children, living in Brooklyn and struggling with growing older and figuring out what they want in life.

  • Educated, Tara Westover, 2018. An incredible memoir by a woman who grew up in rural Idaho with parents who were suspicious of institutions — so she never went to school. The first time she set foot in a classroom was at the age of 17, yet somehow she went on to reach Harvard and Cambridge.

  • The Great Believers, Rebecca Makkai, 2018. A novel set in 1980s Chicago, about the AIDS epidemic and how it impacted the LGBT community there. This one will undoubtedly make you cry, but it’s so good you won’t forget it.

  • The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer, 2013. Another novel about a group of friends who first meet at summer camp as teenagers; this one follows their lives over the years as they grow older and figure it all out.

  • Conversations With Friends, Sally Rooney, 2017. A novel about two twentysomething female friends in Dublin, Frances and Bobbi who become friends with a slightly older married couple — and how that new friendship complicates Frances and Bobbi’s own relationship.

  • Fleishman Is In Trouble, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, 2019. I did a roundtable about this one with some of my Vox coworkers earlier this year; it’s a novel ostensibly about a divorce, but also about middle aged malaise, and about the pressures we put on women.

  • Pachinko, Min Jin Lee, 2017. An epic novel that follows a Korean family over five generations as they move from Korea to Japan, where they face discrimination and all kinds of other hurdles.

  • Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff, 2015. A novel about a marriage, told from two sides.

  • Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2013. A novel about two young lovers who leave Nigeria with big dreams but are split up — Ifemelu goes to America, where she learns to deal with racism and what it means to be black in America, while Obinze had planned to follow her to America but ends up in London instead. 15 years later, they reunite in Nigeria.

  • Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi, 2016. Another epic across many generations: this one starts with two sisters in 1800s Ghana. One is taken to America as a slave; the other stays behind. The story then follows their descendants over several generations to the present day.

What else I’m reading

Chaos at the top of the world, GQ. This will be the best 30 minutes of reading you can do this week. This is the riveting tale of the day on Mount Everest that inspired that viral photo of crowds atop the mountain.

Lovers in Auschwitz, reunited 72 years later. He had one question, New York Times. This will make you cry but is 100% worth it.

The false promise of morning routines, The Atlantic.

Emotional baggage, The Verge. On the toxic working environment at the celebrated luggage startup Away.

The persistent myth of female office rivalries, Harvard Business Review.

Sadly, I like reading books on my phone now, The Cut. Listen…. I have read quite a few books on the Kindle app on my phone and it works 🤷🏽‍♀️


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