I’m sharing my best books of the decade for learning in today’s post and joining in with some special book bloggers to do so. I got the idea from Allison at Mind Joggle who partnered with her book blogging buddy, Rachel at Never Enough Novels, to link together a bunch of great book lists for the 2010s.
You’ll find some fabulous books on both of their lists. They present all fiction options; my list has some nonfiction as well. Rachel shares her favorites by genre. Allison went by year, and I adopted her approach, choosing three books from each year. Before I describe my process for choosing, here are the links to their lists, so be sure to check them out!
My Process for Choosing
I took Allison’s approach and found—like she did—that it wasn’t always easy to find three per year. Some years, it was hard to find three that stood out. Others, I had a difficult time keeping it to only three. What I discovered along the way was how the books I’ve read over the past decade have influenced me as a writer and driven my publication choices. You will quickly see that my Best Books of the Decade were not necessarily written in this decade.
I chose my top books of each year based on the ones that either became favorites or continue to linger in my mind or changed me in some way—personally, professionally or with my family. You’ll find a couple books on here that have influenced the way I homeschool my children. You’ll also find a few that pushed my own writing career forward.
My Decade of Growth and Learning … through books
It was in this past decade that I fell back into reading. Actually, according to my lovely Goodreads records, I began dipping my toes into the literary pool again in 2008, but 2010 was when I finally submerged myself. College’s extensive required reading rolled into beginning a consuming career, which twirled into marriage and led not long after to motherhood and the daze newborns bring. Once I finally rediscovered sleep after my second child, I found myself longing … for something.
For something I used to love. Someone I used to be.
That someone reemerged with that something, which was the written word.
I started a book club in my home with some other ladies, also young moms. I found Goodreads and glimpsed the enormity of the international book community. In 2010, I started my pursuit of publication. Those first steps were shaky and found no confident footing to continue, but those steps were not in vain. They led me down some rows where I planted a few seeds that needed time to mature.
During this decade I began homeschooling my children, learned more about who I am and what’s most important and discovered I didn’t have to fit everyone else’s expectations of me. I picked up some more tools—confidence, faith and trust—and revisited the seeds that were ready to sprout. Those grew into my first three published works.
Through this progression of books, you will see each of these experiences.
If you have ever wondered about any aspect of life as a nun—why a woman would choose this path, if she could ever get out or just what exactly DO they wear under those gowns—then you should DEFINITELY pick up a copy today!
Handle With Care was compelling and extremely well-written while covering some weighty and intense topics.
The book itself was well-written, engaging—a real page-turner. … Alligator Bayou, while a fictional work, is based on a true story in Tallulah, La., in 1899.
Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature outlines the life of a woman whose interests and passions were diverse. … I never knew just how much Beatrix Potter contributed to England and the world beyond Peter Rabbit and her other endearing characters.
(I had to break my three book limit here, but I think you’ll find it worth it. These are four fantastic books!)
Shaffer manages to present a beautiful story full of history, whimsy, sorrow, joy and lovable living characters by way of a series of letters. And, she does with great coherence and flow.
The Silmarillion will leave fans of Tolkien and of Middle-earth in awe, completely satisfied and yet in search of more.
Lisa See presents a compelling story about two women growing up in nineteenth-century China while facing all the horrors and unfairness of the traditions and customs imposed upon them.
Faulkner’s genius in this work cannot be denied. For many reasons, this is a remarkable piece of literature; and I am glad that I stuck with it to the end.
Genesis Unbound is well-written, engaging and clear with its presentation of a historical and linguistic look at the book of Genesis, the first book in the Bible.
Alpha Centauri follows an unlikely hero on her quest to save a mighty race of creatures. It is a story of good and evil; courage and fear; wisdom and foolishness; selflessness and selfishness.
Stieg Larsson’s parting gift to the world is a well-written, captivating story that snags the reader from page 1 of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and whisks him along in a frenzy of highs, lows and gasps all the way to page 563 of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest … a part three that defies the odds and becomes the best installment of the lot.
David McFadden whisks readers along on a conversational tour of Scotland in An Innocent in Scotland. I loved the way he spun his tales in a big arc around the entire country, painting vibrant scenes and landscapes along the way.
J.R.R. Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf makes for a literary feast! Tolkien’s passion for Old English and his thoroughness of study comes through in his notes, lectures, letters and each translation version that his son, Christopher, compiled for lit lovers in this volume ….
Philip and Carol Zaleski brilliantly and quite thoroughly follow the personal and literary lives of four Inklings and the ways they intersected one another to weave a tapestry of logos & mythos that changed (and continues to change) the landscape of literature, academia, philosophy and the Church.
Wang examines the thoughts, motives, desires, misconceptions and prejudices of slaves, slave owners, abolitionists, patriots, farmers, rich people, poor people, soldiers, deserters, spies, men, women and everyone in between.
Christopher Tolkien has once again gifted the world with a glimpse at his father’s literary genius. A pivotal piece in the creation of The Silmarillion, the “Tale of Beren and Lúthien” showers readers with adventure, magic, original creatures and a love story for the ages.
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle filled my imagination tank to full [as a child] and kept it that way. Looking back on my reading choices and writing leanings over the year, I see this tale’s influence throughout it all.
In All the Crooked Saints, Maggie Stiefvater weaves a tale of legend, fantasy, magic and belief with hints of a literary style that made me put it down with the greatest of reluctance.
This book reads worthy of the title “classic.” Ahead of its time in some ways, predictive of the future in others and a fascinating psychological study to boot, Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley leaves readers with much to ponder.
What are your Best Books of the Decade?
Can you look back at your reading over the past decade and see some lessons those books have taught you? Do you see your personal growth through your reading choices?
What books do you look forward to reading in the coming decade? Do you like to read new books, classics or a combination of both? Do you try to mix up fiction and nonfiction or do you prefer one over the other?