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The 100 Best books of the Decade so far?

lifeinbooks

Am I an overly harsh critic? I have admitted in the past that I can be somewhat of a book snob, but I do often agree with several top ten lists. Then I read the list of 100 best books of the past decade that was just released by Osyter.com, and either, i’ve become crankier with I age, or the literature has gotten worse. Granted we’re only in 2015, so such a list is premature, but I cringe at some of the books that made it on to this list.

To be fair, my reading lists are usually comprised of older books (I’m currently reading a book published in 1915) so I haven’t read the vast majority of the books on the list. Many of them are on my TBR. The ones I have read were, for the most part okay, but not books I’d list as my top books. My favorites on the list were both in the bottom half of the list. None were 5 star reads, although the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and Freedom were both close to 5-star reads.

You can find the full list of 100 books here. What do you think? Am I being overly judgmental? Would these books make it on to your top 10 list?

These are the books I’ve read in order of preference (highest rated to lowest rated):

Freedom by Jonathen Franzen (4.5) And, deserves to be on this list.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (4.5 stars).
The Round House by Louise Erdrich (4 stars)
A Visit from The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (3.5 stars)
Life after Life by Kate Atkinson (3.5 stars)
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob Zoet by David Mitchell (3.5 stars).
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (3.5 stars)
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (3 stars)– I’ll be posting a review on this book soon.
Bossypants by Tina Fey (3 stars)
Gone Girl by Flynn (3 stars)
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (barely 3 stars)
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (I can’t even remember how I rated this, but clearly not well enough to leave an impression).

Which books have you read, and which books do you think deserve to be on the list? 

Think you can change my mind about the list? Let me know which books you think I should be reading from the list! I will pick up to 5 books to read and review from among your suggestions.

16 Comments Post a comment
  1. Fascinating post! I will say that I didn’t think that after the top 10 that the books were in any order. I could be wrong. So even though the books you picked were physically lower, I don’t think that meant Oyster thought less of them.

    In the top 10 I read:

    Skippy Dies by Paul Murray – um, NO. Don’t read it.
    People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry – Non-fiction, dark, and I loved it. Not sure you would though to be honest. I think not based on your job stuff you’ve told me.

    Of the rest:

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – definitely deserves to be on the list. Prob in the top 10.
    Blood, Bones, and Butter – enjoyable, but best of the decade? no
    11/22/63 – very good, might make a case for it being on the list
    Swamplandia! – I liked this more than many, I think arguably it could be on the list. Again, wouldn’t recommend to you.
    Wild – I really enjoyed it, but not exactly a literary masterwork
    The Boys in the Boat – loved it, should be there
    The Goldfinch – wouldn’t be on my best of the decade list, but get others disagree
    The Interestings – very good, but best of the decade? Hmm. No.
    Behind the Beautiful Forevers – I didn’t really enjoy this one, but it’s important. I would make a place for it on the list.
    Gone Girl – Really enjoyed it. If I wasn’t a book snob, it would be on the list, but I kinda am, so no.
    Being Mortal – Should be in the Top 10! Outstanding and should be read widely.
    All the Light We Cannot See – Really loved it. It might squeak onto my list, but not sure yet. It’s not staying with me as much as I thought it would.
    The Art of Fielding – I definitely liked this one, but wouldn’t make best of the decade I don’t think.
    Far from the Tree – Fantastic, important non-fiction. Deserves to be on the list for sure.
    The Fault in Our Stars – Really liked it and can see why it’s on the list.
    Everything I Never Told You – Very well done, but best of the decade? No.
    The Girl on the Train – if I’m going to give the nod to a read like this, I’d give it to Gone Girl. A perfectly fine book, but not really memorable.
    Freedom – LOVE! And yes, it would certainly make my list!

    So, the one book I’d most like to see you read from the list (that I have read) is Being Mortal. Because I think everyone should read it. And it’s great.

    The one I’d most like to see you read overall is Open City since I am wondering if I’m missing something.

    Of the fiction titles I’ve read, I’m not sure I can really be enthused about any of them for you. Probably 11/22/63 would be the most enjoyable for you as well as the best one.

    Like

    April 9, 2015
    • wow, you’ve read quite a few. I agree that some were pretty entertaining and I enjoyed them but they wouldn’t qualify as great literature and I think the top books should be about more than just a good story.

      I guess it’s not too surprising that the ones you mentioned as liking the most are the ones that are also on my TBR. I just bought a copy of Being Mortal and own the audio of the Stephen King book. I also own All the Light We Cannot See. I don’t read too much non-fiction but The Boys in the Boat may make my list to read this year.

      I am adding
      Open City & Being Mortal to my list of possibilities. Will see what others suggest before picking my 5. Probably Open City will make it just for curiosity’s sake.

      Like

      April 9, 2015
      • I can’t wait to see which five make the cut and what you think. I think Being Mortal is important so I am very glad you bought it.

        Like

        April 9, 2015
  2. Couldn’t agree more with Freedom. That book is a masterpiece. Thanks for sharing the wonderful list! If you’re ever interested in some other awesome book reviews and musings, be sure to follow! Thanks!

    Like

    April 9, 2015
    • yes, I thought Freedom was brilliant. Thanks for the follow and I did follow you back. You write very nice reviews and we have some significant overlap in our book tastes. I completely agree with you about the Goldfinch.

      Liked by 1 person

      April 9, 2015
      • Thanks for following! I look forward to reading your stuff!

        Like

        April 9, 2015
      • Ok, now I might have to follow too just to see The Goldfinch review. Since I think that one was kinda overrated.

        Like

        April 9, 2015
  3. Nicole Del Sesto #

    Have read or attempted 28 on the list.

    Life After Life – I loved it and I get why it’s on the list
    The Tigers Wife – no.
    A Visit from the Good Squad – abandoned (people act like connected stories are so revolutionary)
    People Who Eat Darkness – good but not sure it deserves to be on the list
    Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain – no
    Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell – Please … Here’s some dialog from the book “OK” … “OK…” “OK” … No!
    The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman – no, finished it, was not wowed, and so overrated
    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot – Yes
    The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell – attempted, abandoned, will attempt again
    11/22/1963 by Stephen King – agree with this one
    Swamplandia! by Karen Russell – no
    Bark by Lorrie Moore – this felt like a hard drive dump, well written and all but dated and not relevant. Should NOT be on the list, and I love Lorrie Moore
    The Son by Philipp Meyer – I can see it
    Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – you know, this was good, but there’s a lot of good dystopia out there. Just not sure why all the hullaballo – because of the iPhone museum?
    The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – over wrought, over everything, over it. No
    Bossypants by Tina Fey – Tina, my idol, No … sorry!
    The Middlesteins – HELL no .. oh brother
    Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel – attempted, abandoned
    Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – no
    All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – on the fence, I think I gave a higher rating on this book feeling a sense of peer pressure, which we know isn’t like me. I definitely liked it.
    The Magician King by Lev Grossman – No, good I enjoyed the series, but not original
    Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan – perhaps
    The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – Yes
    C – Tom McCarthy – good, but overrated literary blather
    Everything I Never Told You – maybe
    The Girl on the Train – no
    Every Day – missed this one on first count, um, no
    Freedom – YES

    on TBR:

    Just Kids
    A Hologram for the King
    The Interestings
    Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
    We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
    The Buried Giant
    The Round House
    Just added Open City

    Like

    April 9, 2015
    • Love your synopses.

      I was disappointed in the Mitchell book. I loved Cloud Atlas and was let down by Thousand Autumns. BW (my co-blogger) is my book twin and also rated this book the lowest of all his books. She likes his other books so I am hoping the next one I read is better.

      Like

      April 9, 2015
      • Jen you really need to read the Bone Clocks its Mitchell right back on form

        Like

        April 10, 2015
    • The only clear miss I have from your list is Life After Life? I think. I own The Son so maybe sometime I will read it. Otherwise I think you’ve either warned me off, or we’ve both read and agreed. Although I think I agree more with People Who Eat Darkness than you do. It wouldn’t make my top TEN. Come on. But it would be on my list.

      Like

      April 9, 2015
    • Nicole Del Sesto #

      re: Life After Life, the reason I said “I get why it’s on the list” is because of the structure.

      Like

      April 9, 2015
  4. Lynsey #

    I of course have way more of these on my tbr than i’ve actually read. I have only read 7 off this list and most of them were good solid reads but no 5 star reads. All the Light We Cannot See came the closest to 5 stars for me but the ending was too neatly tied up for my liking. And Freedom?!!! Don’t get me started. I understand why it’s on the list but I hated that book.

    Like

    April 10, 2015
    • Well here is my measly list of the ones I have read;

      Goon Squad – Really enjoyed – deserves its place
      Henrietta Lacks – Everyone in the entire should read this book now – deserves its place
      Jacob de Zoet – A let down for me – Chuck this out add Bone Clocks
      Swamplandia – Didn’t really do it for me – ambiguous about its place on list
      Gone Girl – This was a good read but really it was just a thriller – Remove
      Fault in our Stars – If you read this without crying you are not human – not sure about being on the list though

      I have a few more on my TBR but not a huge amount

      Like

      April 10, 2015
  5. Tracy #

    Ok, here goes (this is in the order they were listed, not in order of my favorites)

    The Tiger’s Wife- I remember liking this one quite a bit, it seemed to have good insight for such a young writer
    A Visit From the Goon Squad- eh. It was ok. Her book Look at Me was better.
    Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk- Well done for the difficult subject matter.
    This is How You Lose Her- Good, but didn’t blow me away.
    Salvage the Bones- I don’t remember a lot about this, but I did like it quite a bit.
    Eleanor and Park- It was good, but not great- handled an interracial relationship in the 80s pretty well.
    The Imperfectionists- I have no idea why so many people thought this was good.
    Henrietta Lacks- Loved this one- mainly because so much of the medicine practiced today is owed to this remarkable woman; her story, and her family’s story needed to be told.
    Tenth of December- Silly me, I thought this couldn’t be worse than Pastoralia. I was wrong.
    Swamplandia- again, not sure why the buzz. It fell flat for me.
    Station Eleven- It was good. Not great. But good.
    Before I Fall- Good for young adult audience. Better than Divergent.
    Behind the Beautiful Forevers- I really liked the writing, and the information. This was a fascinating read for me.
    The Middlesteins- I remember reading it. Must not have been that great, or it would have stuck better, I guess.
    Home (Toni Morrison)- I read and liked it, but it’s been a while.
    Gone Girl- I really liked this one a lot. Every so often a pop book comes out that is good, and this qualifies.
    Freedom- Had to put this one below Gone Girl- I loved this book, for much the same reason I liked GG- not one of the characters had any redeeming qualities. Sometimes, when a book is well done, that is a wonderful thing.
    We Were Liars- eh. Not anywhere near as good as people said it was.
    Art of Fielding- I remember liking this one because of the baseball. And the story was all right, too.
    The Flamethrowers- Another one that I must have missed the greatness on. It was ok.
    Mr. Penumbra…- This was ok. Didn’t blow me away.
    The Round House- I loved this one. A mystery, along with Native American culture and issues, definitely a worthwhile read.
    The Drunken Botanist- As a pharmacist and a gardener, I really like Amy Stewart’s work. My favorites are Wicked Plants and Wicked Bugs. Fascinating stuff.
    The Fault in Our Stars- Too many people pooh-pooh this book as a teenager’s tear fest. I read this from the point of view of someone who works with cancer and hospice patients. I feel that John Green treated this subject with respect and honesty. He gave the characters what everyone associated with hospice tries to: Wonderful last days, and integrity.

    There are still quite a few of these in my Ipad or on my shelves to be read. I hope they live up to their new hype!

    Like

    April 11, 2015
  6. My opinions on those I’ve read:
    Life After Life – yes
    The Tiger’s Wife – no, its been a while but don’t remember being impressed
    The Emperor of All Maladies – yes
    A Visit From the Goon Squad – yes
    Eleanor & Park – pleasant read but no
    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – yes
    The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet – yes
    Swamplandia – yes, I also loved her short story collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove
    Bad Feminist – enjoyed it but no
    Station Eleven – yes
    The Goldfinch – yes
    The Good Lord Bird – on the fence qualified yes, it was quirky enough to stand out
    Behind the Beautiful Forevers – yes
    Gone Girl – maybe, not a book that I could ever foresee rereading, so much relies on the suspense, not much depth
    All the Light We Cannot See – yes
    Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hr Bookstore – yes
    The Fault in Our Stars – no
    The Round House – yes
    The Girl on the Train – maybe, same as Gone Girl

    TBR – Open City, Skippy Dies, Bring Up the Bodies, Salvage the Bones, The Boys in the Boat, The Drunken Botanist

    Books I believe should be there which are not:
    Bone Clocks
    A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
    And the Mountains Echoed
    The Orphan Master’s Son
    Ready Player One

    Like

    April 15, 2015

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