Top 10 Fiction Books of the Decade(2010)

This is one of the 210 lists we use to generate our main The Greatest Books list.

  • A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

    "A Visit from the Goon Squad" is an interconnected collection of stories about a group of characters whose lives intersect in the music industry. The narrative spans several decades, tracing the characters' journey from their youth to middle age. It explores themes of time, change, and the impact of technology on human relationships and the music industry. The novel is known for its experimental structure, including a chapter written as a PowerPoint presentation.

  • Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

    "Life After Life" follows the story of Ursula Todd who is born and dies repeatedly in February 1910. Each time Ursula dies, her life restarts, with each successive life bringing different circumstances and decisions. The novel explores themes of fate, free will, and the infinite possibilities of existence. Through Ursula's many lives, the narrative provides different perspectives on significant historical events, including both World Wars.

  • Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

    "Exit West" is a novel that follows the journey of two young lovers, Nadia and Saeed, who are forced to leave their war-torn city through mysterious doors that transport them to different locations around the globe. The couple navigate their relationship while grappling with displacement, loss, and the challenges of adjusting to new cultures. The novel explores themes of migration, identity, love, and the concept of home.

  • The Flamethrowers: A Novel by Rachel Kushner

    Set in the 1970s, the novel follows a young woman known only as Reno, who moves to New York with dreams of becoming an artist. She becomes involved with an older, established artist who is a member of the city's avant-garde scene. The story also delves into the world of Italian motorcycle racing and radical politics, exploring themes of art, feminism, love, and betrayal. The narrative shifts between Reno's experiences in New York and Italy, and the history of a radical movement in Italy.

  • Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

    The novel explores the journey of a 13-year-old boy, his drug-addicted mother, and his baby sister as they travel through Mississippi to pick up their white father from the state penitentiary. The story is steeped in the harsh realities of poverty, racism, and struggle, and is further complicated by the presence of a ghost from the family's past. It's a haunting tale about the legacy of trauma and the power of family ties.

  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

    The novel spans five decades, telling the story of a large blended family that is forever changed when an unexpected romantic encounter occurs at a christening party. The repercussions of this event ripple through the lives of the four parents and six children involved, as secrets are revealed and relationships are forever altered. The story explores themes of love, responsibility, and the effects of a shared history.

  • Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

    "Station Eleven" is a post-apocalyptic novel that revolves around the lives of several characters before and after a devastating flu pandemic wipes out most of the world's population. The narrative jumps back and forth in time, exploring the interconnectedness of the characters' lives through their shared memories and experiences. The story also follows a traveling Shakespearean theatre company as they navigate the dangers of a collapsed civilization, emphasizing the importance of art and human connection in times of crisis.

  • Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

    "Fates and Furies" is a novel split into two parts, providing two perspectives on a single marriage. The first half of the book, "Fates," is told from the point of view of the husband, Lotto, a charismatic but failed actor turned successful playwright, who views his marriage as happy and his wife as supportive. The second half, "Furies," is told from the perspective of his wife, Mathilde, revealing her hidden past and the sacrifices and manipulations she has performed to maintain their life together. The novel explores themes of love, secrets, and the different narratives created within a relationship.

  • A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

    "A Brief History of Seven Killings" is a multi-voiced novel that explores the attempted assassination of a world-famous reggae singer and its aftermath. The narrative spans decades, starting from the turbulent 1970s in Jamaica through the crack wars in 1980s New York to the changing world of the 1990s. The story is told from the perspectives of various characters, including gangsters, journalists, and CIA agents, providing a complex and gritty insight into the violent underbelly of Jamaican politics and the far-reaching influence of the drug trade.

  • Normal People by Sally Rooney

    "Normal People" is a novel that explores the complex relationship between two high school students from different social classes in a small town in Ireland. Despite their contrasting backgrounds, they form a strong bond that continues into their university years at Trinity College. The narrative follows their journey, filled with misunderstandings, miscommunications, and emotional intimacy, as they navigate their way through love, friendship, mental health issues, and the struggles of growing up.

  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

    Set during the turmoil of World War II, the novel follows the intersecting lives of a blind French girl and a German boy. The girl, living in occupied France, seeks solace in the world of books and the imagination, while the boy, a member of Hitler Youth, is a radio operator for the German forces. Their paths cross in the walled city of Saint-Malo, with the narrative exploring themes of survival, morality, and the human spirit.

  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    The novel follows a young Nigerian woman who emigrates to the United States for a university education. While there, she experiences racism and begins blogging about her experiences as an African woman in America. Meanwhile, her high school sweetheart faces his own struggles in England and Nigeria. The story is a powerful exploration of race, immigration, and the complex nature of identity, love, and belonging.

  • Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

    "Anything is Possible" is a collection of interconnected stories exploring the lives and struggles of various residents in a small town in Illinois. The stories delve into the characters' pasts, revealing their secrets, regrets, and the complexities of their relationships. The book explores themes of poverty, trauma, and the human capacity for change, demonstrating that despite hardships and heartbreak, anything is possible.

  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

    The book follows the life of a young boy who survives a terrorist bombing at an art museum, which kills his mother. In the confusion following the explosion, he steals a priceless Dutch painting, The Goldfinch, which becomes his secret treasure and eventually draws him into the criminal underworld. The narrative explores themes of loss, survival, and the power of art to shape human destiny.

  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

    This thrilling novel revolves around the sudden disappearance of a woman on her fifth wedding anniversary. As the investigation unfolds, all evidence points to her husband as the prime suspect. However, the story takes a twist as the wife's diary entries reveal a darker side to their seemingly perfect marriage. The narrative alternates between the husband's present-day perspective and the wife's diary entries, leaving readers in suspense about what truly happened. The book explores themes of deceit, media influence, and the complexities of marriage.

  • The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

    "The Interestings" follows a group of six talented friends who meet at a summer camp for the arts in 1974. The novel spans over three decades, exploring their friendships, relationships, successes, and failures as they navigate adulthood. The story delves into themes of talent, envy, money, art, power, and the meaning of success as it examines how these friends' lives diverge and intersect over the years.

  • LaRose by Louise Erdrich

    In this emotionally charged novel, a man accidentally kills his neighbor's son while hunting and, in an act of ancient tribal tradition, offers his own son, LaRose, as compensation. The narrative explores the complexities of grief, justice, and cultural identity, as both families grapple with the loss of their sons and the impact of this decision. The story is set against the backdrop of the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota, and the intertwining of the two families leads to unexpected relationships and the healing power of shared sorrow.

  • My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

    The novel follows the life of a young, beautiful, and wealthy woman living in New York City who decides to enter a year of drug-induced sleep to escape her disillusionment with life and the world around her. Encouraged by her eccentric, unethical psychiatrist, she spends most of her time sleeping, waking only to eat, watch movies, and occasionally socialize with her best friend. The book explores themes of depression, alienation, and the search for meaning in a modern, materialistic society.

  • The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

    Set in the 1960s, this book follows the story of two African-American boys, Elwood and Turner, who are sent to a brutal reform school, the Nickel Academy, in Florida. The narrative explores their struggle to maintain their humanity in the face of physical and emotional abuse, systemic racism, and injustice. The book is a searing indictment of the horrific realities of racism and the long-lasting effects of trauma and dehumanization, based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for 111 years and warped the lives of thousands of children.

  • Tenth of December by George Saunders

    "Tenth of December" is a collection of short stories that explore themes of class, love, loss, and the struggle of human existence in contemporary America. The stories range from a young boy's confrontation with a pedophile, to a middle-class woman's encounter with a drug-addicted veteran, to a futuristic tale about neuropharmacology. The collection is known for its dark humor, social criticism, and exploration of the human condition.

About this list

Entertainment Weekly, 20 Books

To celebrate the end of the 2010s, Entertainment Weekly’s Must List is looking back at the best pop culture of the decade that changed movies, TV, music, and more (catch up on our list so far, which includes the MCU’s big Snap, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s history-making hit Hamilton, and Beyonce’s iconic Coachella set). Today, we look back on our favorite fiction books of the past 10 years.

Added over 4 years ago.

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