Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. Each week, bloggers come together to build a list on pre-selected topics. If you’d like to join in, check out That Artsy Reader Girl’s post for more info!
Today’s prompt is a look back at the books published in the last decade. Join me on this journey back through time!
2018 – Home and Away by Candice Montgomery
I was lucky enough to be sent an ARC of this last fall—don’t ask how I was on someone’s list—and I absolutely loved this debut YA contemporary. The story follows Tasia, an 18-year-old who discovers that her family isn’t everything she thought it was, that her identity isn’t necessarily as cut-and-dried as she thought. Despite the heavy amount of teen angst, I really appreciated Tasia’s journey and I think this book deserves a lot more hype.
2017 – Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali
This book absolutely blew me away. On the surface, it’s a story about a Muslim teen just trying to find her place in her American world. Underneath that, though, there are themes of what it means to be openly yourself, and what it means to put on a front. This book deals with attempted rape in such a poignant and understated way that really packs a punch. I’m also dying to read Ali’s new book, Love from A to Z!
2016 – Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnson
This is a beautiful, quiet YA that focuses on the aftermath of sexual assault. I’m a sucker for books about cheerleaders (don’t ask me why, that’s another story), especially where the cheerleaders are given respect for the athletes they are. I really loved the way Johnson shows the importance of female friendship in the healing process after sexual assault.
2015 – A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith
I really want more people to read this book. It’s another quiet YA (I’m sensing a theme here) where it’s not so much about what happens as it is about the character’s emotional journey. I really loved this story about a girl who lives in the shadow of her best friend, and how she eventually learns to embrace who she is. TW: abortion.
2014 – Far From You by Tess Sharpe
This book holds a very special place in my heart for one main reason in particular: at the age of 24, roughly three years after figuring out that I am not necessarily completely straight, this was the first book I read with a character who uses the word “bisexual” as an identifier. There are too many instances of characters referring to “bicurious” folks in a negative, mocking way, so this book was really special to me. It’s also a brilliant mystery story that’s told in present and past tense chapters that alternate through time. It also is the only book I’ve read with a character who lives with chronic pain, although it does also contain elements of drug abuse. It’s not an easy book to read, but well worth it.
2013 – Want Not by Jonathan Miles
I honestly can’t remember who recommended this book to me, but I picked it up back in 2014 when I was living in New York City. The book follows three sets of characters: a middle-aged professor who’s wife has just left him, a sketchy and uber-rich businessman, and a couple who squat in abandoned apartments in Manhattan. This is another book that’s not about the plot, but about the characters and their reactions to their circumstances. Ultimately, it’s a story about what desire does to humanity.
2012 – The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
This was one of the first queer YA books I ever encountered, but it was also one of the first YA books I read that made me realize just how literary and beautiful YA can be. The story of a teen lesbian who gets sent to a gay conversion camp, this is a heart-breaking story woven with intricate descriptions of 90s Montana that blew me away.
2011 – A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
I actually read this one pretty recently, despite the fact that it’s been out for a while. Although I’d like to think I’m not a sucker for vampire fiction, this book proves me wrong. I love the way Harkness explores prejudice through the use of vampires, witches, and daemons. Another thing I loved about this was the slow-burn romance that includes a discussion of sex that doesn’t revolve around penetration! Yay!
2010 – Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
I bought this book for the title, and it sat on my self for six years, following me from Oklahoma, to Philly, to New York, and then back to Pennsylvania. When I finally read it, I couldn’t figure out why I’d put it off so long. This darkly comedic tale about a pretty pathetic guy who just wants to find love is really about so much more than that. Shteyngart constructs a future world where China owns everything and an individual’s worth is defined by their social media presence. It was horrifyingly funny to read, and definitely still relevant after all these years.
2009 – Holding Still for As Long As Possible by Zoe Whittall
Set in Toronto, this book follows a chaotic group of queer twenty-somethings as they struggle to figure out what the hell they’re doing in life. I read this one when I was living in NYC as well, and the portrayal of city life in your twenties is so spot on. I loved the explorations of queerness, the confusing love triangle/square, and the forays into life as a paramedic. Although this book is obviously limited, it still strikes me as being incredibly ground-breaking for the times.