2010 is a decade that’s still clearly visible in the rearview mirror.

Black background that is smoky lite in the center. White flecks are floating down the image. In large bold rusty metal is 2010 sitting in sand? The 2010 is 3D and at a diagonal.

Not enough time has passed to give us a well-defined sense of the significance of this decade. That kind of understanding comes only with space and perspective. What we can say is that the 20-teens did have a character all their own. By any measure, the economy was rough and struggled to recover meaningfully from the economic collapse at the end of the prior decade. As a result, politics were—messy. (No fear. We’re not going to go there.) How do we know things were chaotic? Because we all posted our thoughts and opinions about it on social media using our mobile devices, a phenomenon that gained traction in this decade.

Our mobile devices changed other things as well. Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu rose to prominence, changing the production and consumption of entertainment and information forever. Our smartphones and tablets propelled the #MeToo movement, gave rise to the cancel culture, and exponentially grew the internet of things.

Elsewhere, other important issues took center stage. Electric and hybrid cars appeared, and plastic straws disappeared. The LGBTQ community won a major victory with the legalization of gay marriage. Black Lives Matter forced a conversation about continuing issues with racial inequality. It was a decade that gave many marginalized voices a platform to advocate for change.

In the 2010s, aging Baby Boomers began to retire in large numbers, kids wore silly bands, Marvel movies took over the big screen, and people of all ages played Angry Birds. They’re also the last decade in our reading challenge. Are you ready to relive the last ten years? These books will take you back.


Tina Fey, 2011

Image of Tina Fey book cover from Bossypants. It features Tina Fey in a white button up shirt with tie and black mens hat. The arms coming out of the sleeves are large, hairy man arms with the right hand on her face and the left holding the right arm and wearing a watch.

It seems a bit silly to say it, but women rose to prominence in the 2010s. More women were found in colleges and universities, in the “C” suite, and behind the comedy mic in this decade than ever before.

One such woman is Tina Fey. Why is it that bossy men are revered as strong leaders, but bossy women are, well, not? Ms. Fey’s book is a funny, personal memoir about what she’s learned about “having it all” as a professional woman working in an industry that still tends to value beauty over brains when it comes to women. Reading this book will give you an appreciation for how much things have changed for women, especially during the last decade.  

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Susan Cain, 2012

Book cover for Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking. The whole subtitle is in while font centered in the Q for Quiet. Quiet is written in large red font. The background is splotchy gray.

Quiet is a book about introverts on our list of the defining books of a decade? To be honest, the main reason is this is truly a fascinating book. But beyond the quality of the writing and the material, this topic is salient to the time.

A strong, positive theme of the decade was inclusion and the idea that our culture and society benefit from a wide variety of perspectives and ideas. Ms. Cain argues that setting up extroversion as the ideal discounts the incredible power of introverts. If you’ve ever been told you need to be perkier or “get out there more,” this book is for you.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

Katherine Boo, 2012

Katherine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers book cover. Top is light yellow and contains author's name and book title. Below is an image of a child crotched down near a filthy pond? with shabby town behind. The child's eyes are closed with face toward the sun.

The Occupy Wall Street protests of 2011 were intended to draw attention to widening economic disparities between the haves and have-nots. Ms. Boo’s book about the garbage collectors in Mumbai tells a similar tale of unequal societies. This is a fascinating work of investigative journalism that reads like great fiction; in fact, the story is so remarkable, you’ll find yourself asking if it could be true.

But true it is. Ms. Boo spent forty months reporting among in the Annawadi slum where 3,000 people live in 335 huts. She uses public records and personal interviews to paint a picture of a community that you have to read about to believe.  

I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb, 2013

I Am Malala book cover is light blue with an image of Malala in bright pink head dress with yellow trim.

The war on terror continued into the 20-teens, and far-off places such as Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan remained front-page news. I Am Malala is a first-hand account of how global terrorism affected one family and one 15-year-old girl.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head at point-blank range as a result of her efforts to fight for her right to an education. This book is her story. In light of recent events in Afghanistan and continued efforts to restrict women’s rights in the region, this book is especially relevant.  


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2013

Americanah book cover. It is a basic white cover with woven rope moving side to side with the title written in blue font in the center. Other details written in red.

At its heart, this book is a love story. But it’s also a story about America, what it means to be American, and about what it means to be black in America. Additionally, the characters experience what it means to be Nigerian and Nigerians who once lived in America.

The main character, a young woman named Ifemelu, immigrates to America to study but finds that the U.S. is not all she hoped it would be. She encounters racism and disappointment and, as a result, eventually returns to Nigeria, only to find that she is considered to be Americanah, which essentially means Nigerians view her as tainted by her American experience.

How did living in America change Ifemelu? Is there anything about her experiences that resonate with you? You’ll find much to consider in this exceptional novel.

Gone Girl

Gillian Flynn, 2014

Gone Girl book cover. It is all black with the title and author written in red. White squiggly lines on left side of book.

If you’re looking for a page-turning thriller, this is the book for you. This book was impossible to ignore during the 2010s; it was on every bookshelf, discussed in every book club, and even on every screen when it was made into a movie.

It’s a flawlessly plotted murder mystery set in Missouri. There’s a handsome husband, an enigmatic wife, and a crime that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

A Man Called Ove

Fredrik Backman, 2015

A Man Called Ove book cover - blue skies with white fluffy clouds and an old man standing center on small strip of green grass showing at bottom. A cat is circling his legs.

What’s not to love about a book about a grumpy old Swedish man? Nothing – you’ll love everything about this amazing book. When a busy young family moves in next door, grieving Ove gets a second chance at life.

The story is laugh-out-loud funny, heartwarming, and contains all the ingredients of a perfect book. The world in the 2010s began to be full of aging baby boomers, so much so that many of us likely have an Ove or two as neighbors. You’ll find a new appreciation for the seniors in your life as you savor this novel.

One of Us: The Story of a Massacre in Norway — and Its Aftermath

Åsne Seierstad, 2016

The entire title is written in block format down left side of book cover. The authors name also.. It is all n blue font. Then down right side is orange rectangles with thinner blue rectangles cascading down.

Sadly, gun violence and mass shootings seemed to be a regular occurrence during this decade. One such event was the 2011 massacre of 77 people in Norway.

Ms. Seierstad tells the story of this tragic event in gut-wrenching detail. But she also delves deeply into the motivations of the terrorist, the failures of the Norwegian government, and the radicalization of white nationalists. Ultimately, this is not a crime story. It’s a story about hope for the future.  

Imagine Me Gone

Adam Haslett, 2016

White book cover with black font. The N in Imagine is missing and the O in Gone is missing.

Many, including the prominent and famous, found the ability to speak openly about mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression during the 2010s. Struggles that were previously considered taboo or somehow shameful were brought into the light, allowing millions of people the ability to freely speak about their challenges and seek the help they needed.

Mr. Haslett’s novel is the story of a family that battles depression. Mr. Haslett unravels this family with empathy and understanding. As a result, it’s a beautiful book that will stay with you long after you close the final page. 

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

John Carreyrou, 2018

Black book cover with bold red font spelling Bad Blood and the subtitle is in smaller white font.

In 2015, Forbes named Elizabeth Holmes America’s Richest Self-Made Woman. She was hailed as a female Steve Jobs and, at one time, had a personal net worth of $4.5 billion. Her company, Theranos, possessed innovative blood-testing technology that was poised to change health care forever. She was backed by prominent investors and hailed by one and all as a master businesswoman.

And then everything fell apart. Theranos was a giant scam, and everything was a lie. Carreyrou, a reporter from the Wall Street Journal, was the first to break the story. In this book, a thriller by any measure, Carreyrou spins a tale of intrigue, deception, and suspense to rival any fictional cloak-and-dagger story. 

Take the 2010s Reading Challenge.

This reading list hits many of the defining events of the decade. We’re confident you’ll find a title or two here that sheds light on the recent past and maybe becomes a new favorite. As you read these books from the 2010s, you’ll be entertained and enlightened.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the Discover Books reading through the decades reading challenge. We’ve shared 100 years of books that defined the decades. If you’ve read along, you’ve discovered talented authors and remarkable stories. Next month, we’ll share a bonus challenge, so be sure to stay tuned.

At Discover Books, you’ll find these favorites from the ’10s as well as millions of gently used books starting at $3.85 at Discoverbooks.com. Shop now and discover something new! Now selling new books too.

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