I saw this post on Imyril and Aquavenatus’s blogs and couldn’t help joining in too, especially since it’s like a book tag (btw, for a similar book tag, there’s the 10-Year Challenge Book Tag). But apparently this is a meme that began on BookTok and was carried over here by Caitlin at Realms of My Mind. Basically, you list your favorite books of the past 10 years. So, here are mine:
In the Garden of Spite by Camilla Bruce
I learned of this one from Mogsy and Tammy and was happy for it because despite how gruesome and uncomfortable it sometimes got, it was a great read that had me hooked the entire time. It’s a historical thriller based on the life of a real person — a female serial killer in the late 1800s. The story is slow-paced, character-focused, and told from the perspective of the serial killer, but is very gripping and intriguing. I highly recommend it.
Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett
It’s the third book in the Witches subseries of the Discworld books, fantasy stories that take place on a flat world that lies atop the backs of four elephants standing upon the shell of a giant turtle that’s flying through space. Witches Abroad is about the Lancre witches — Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick — travelling “abroad” to stop a girl from marrying a prince, and other things. It’s a fun, entertaining read and is my favorite of the Discworld books I’ve read so far.
The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair
I loved this book. It’s a nonfiction book all about color and their various shades and hues. I learned much from this book because it makes us look at history from the POV of color: For example, cochineal is made from an insect and has “made and felled kings and empires, and helped shape history” and back in 1893, pink was considered a color for boys while blue was for girls (things have changed much in the intervening years). The book is an interesting read and covers about 75 colors, shades, and hues. It’s worth checking out. (For a similar book for kids, there’s The Colors of History: How Colors Shaped the World by Clive Gifford, illus. by Marc-Étienne Peintre. It’s a picture book.)
The Shape of Water by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus, illus. by James Jean
I loved the movie and quickly bought and read the book when it was published. It’s historical fiction, with a touch of magical realism, about the romance that blossoms between a woman who’s mute and an amphibious man kept captive in a government facility. The story takes place in 1962 Baltimore. I fell in love with the story when I saw the movie, but with the book, I fell in love with the prose. I loved every minute I spent reading it. I recommend it, whether or not you’ve seen the movie.
(A quick break to remark on the many historical-fiction books I’ve mentioned so far. I didn’t expect this. I thought I’d mention fantasy book after fantasy book. I don’t even read historical fiction that often!)
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
I love this book SO much and consider it a modern classic. I also feel as if I was one of the last people to read it because I held out on doing so out of pure stubbornness because EVERYONE kept recommending and talking about it. It’s historical fiction that begins in 18th century Ghana and follows the descendants of two half sisters, one who was sold into slavery and one who married an English man. Through the experiences of their descendants, we readers encounter the history and experiences of many in the African diaspora. Homegoing is a family saga succinctly told in just 300 pages. It’s a great read that I always highly recommend.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Ah, 2016 was the year I discovered the magic in Morgenstern’s Night Circus. I easily fell in love with this one because of the writing and, of course, the circus at the heart of the story. It’s a bit of a historical fiction (I’ve forgotten the whens and wheres it’s set) about a rivalry between two magicians to see who can train the best magician, and the circus is the stage upon which they compete. There’s a romance that the plot centers on, but the characters and writing, and especially the circus, will easily distract you from it. It’s a great read, and the audiobook is wonderful too.
You by Caroline Kepnes
I had such a great time reading this book. It’s a thriller mostly told in second-person from the perspective of a man stalking a woman. It’s creepy, but the voice of the protagonist, Joe, and the author’s writing work so well for this book that you can’t help being hooked and hanging on every word. I haven’t yet seen the TV-show adaptation, and I’m not yet sure if I will. I’ve been procrastinating because I love the book too much (although I’ve heard the show is good). It’s one I’d recommend too, and the audiobook is great as well. The narrator does a stupendous job capturing Joe’s voice.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
This is one of my favorite classics. I fell in love with the prose from the first sentence and fell for the story a few pages in. It’s one I’d like to reread since it’s been almost 10 years since I last read it, and some details have faded from memory. This magical-realism novel is also a bit of a family saga. It’s set in a fictional village in Columbia and follows the members of the Buendía family. As we read about the Buendía family, we also read about Macondo, the village, and by extension, Columbia. It’s a great read, well written, can be confusing to some but worth sticking with, and a wonderful story. I highly recommend it.
However, if you’ve already read it, I HIGHLY recommend Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi. I read it in 2018. It’s historical fiction with some magical realism mixed in, and “begins” in 1750 Uganda following the descendants of Kintu Kidda. Parts of the story’s structure as well as the reuse of certain family names reminds me of One Hundred Years of Solitude.
(So far, I was able to check a yearly roundup post of my reads that helpfully lists my favorites of the year. But I started doing that in 2014. So for the next two years, I’ll have to puzzle out my favorites from Goodreads.)
Everyone raved about this book when it came out, which made me eager to read it, and when I did, I raved about it too. I was like, “Finally, someone who understands!” Quiet is a nonfiction book about the introverted personality type. I read it at a time when I was really into psychology and self-help books. But of course, I’ve forgotten much about it, except that I felt great reading it and felt understood in some ways.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
This was a difficult year to figure out the top book for. I couldn’t decide between King’s book and Why is the Penis Shaped Like That?: And Other Reflections on Being Human by Jesse Bering, a nonfiction book on a variety of evolutionary psychology topics. I had fun reading both, but since I was really big into creative writing back then and developing my craft and all, I went with King’s book.
King’s memoir is part memoir and part writing-instruction book, I found. I like how King broke down finding inspiration for his stories and how he went about writing them. But the book also reads like a novel, so sometimes you get caught up in the story of his life rather than the tips he’s dropping about writing. It’s an inspiring read.