Most Defining Books of the Decade

2022 marks 10 years since I started tracking my books and reading habits. I’ve always loved to read and read a lot as a child and teenager, but since I finished university I’ve had a lot more time to dedicate to reading and it has become a very important and enjoyable hobby for me. In the past decade I’ve read a whopping 670 books. I decided to look back over the past 10 years and identify the top 10 books that have defined the decade for me. These aren’t necessarily the best books I’ve read in the last 10 years (though some of them definitely are), but they are the books that I’ve returned to the most often and have influenced me the most. I can confirm I have read every book on this list more than once.

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I know, everyone loves this book and it’s been totally overhyped ever since it came out. But I read The Book Thief for the first time in 2012 and I definitely credit it as one of the books that brought me back to reading. I feel like I went through a reading drought in University and The Book Thief inspired me to create a Goodreads account and set me on a never ending quest to find the most compelling and beautifully written books. It’s one of those books that leaves you with the biggest book hangover, but sends you searching for other books that evoke such strong feelings and emotions. 

2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was another book I discovered in my early Goodreads days, shortly after I first read The Book Thief and was on my quest for beautiful prose. Both books have a heavy focus on reading and books themselves, which is a great way to appeal to a book lover. However, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was so defining for me because it was a classic that I could relate to. Unfortunately, high school English class seems to turn a lot of people off the classics and this was one of the first classics that I read and loved for myself and not because I was required to read it. I’ve since discovered other classics that I adore, like Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice, but A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was a very accessible classic that gave me an appreciation for the classics and a reminder that old stories can ring just as true as new ones.

3. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

This is one of those books that it pains me a little bit to put on the list. If this was a list of the 10 Best Books I read in the last decade, it would not have made the list, but I can’t deny that Throne of Glass was a defining book for me. This was a series that I read because of the hype and it introduced me to a whole world of fantasy and fandom. These days Throne of Glass doesn’t really get as much press time as Maas’ other series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, which is literally all over Bookstagram and Booktok, but Throne of Glass always stands out for me as the series that brought me back to fantasy. I always loved Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, and Throne of Glass defined a new era in which I was excited to participate in a fandom and able to read along with the books as they were released.

4. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Born a Crime (along with Homegoing) stands out as the best book I’ve read with my book club, which I’ve been a member of for 7.5 years. I didn’t want to read this book and then ended up being totally floored by it and have now read it both as a print book and an audiobook. I constantly recommend this book to people and it taught me that non-fiction can be just as accessible as fiction. I used to be a bit afraid of non-fiction, but this book opened up a whole new world to me and I still think about Trevor’s wonderful blend of humour and history to this day. This is how you write a funny book about something that matters.

5. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

I am obsessed with this book. When I think about it critically I can acknowledge that it has some flaws, particularly towards the end, which is overly dramatized. But The Great Alone is such a good example of how impactful setting and atmosphere can be. Kristin Hannah is a great storyteller and uses the Alaskan setting in this book to maximum effect. Everything about the remoteness of this story sings to my soul and it really highlighted for me how much I enjoy character driven, multi-generational family dramas. As you’ll see from the next 2 books on the list, my love for this book also inspired me to discover a whole litany of other stories.

6. Songs of a Sourdough by Robert W. Service

Songs of a Sourdough is a poetry collection that I was directly inspired to read from The Great Alone. Robert Service writes the most wonderful mix of funny and serious outdoor poetry, that is very much about his love and respect for the land. Despite being 100 years old, I found his poetry so accessible and this was one of my first forays into poetry, a genre that I’ve since come to love very much. 

7. The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker

The Simple Wild is another book that isn’t going to get nominated for literary awards, but a book that I keep returning to nonetheless. This is primarily a romance novel, but it offers so much more about family and finding yourself, that I found it to be one of the most fun and relatable contemporaries with an excellent cast of well-realized characters. There are books that you read for pure enjoyment to lose yourself in the story and this is definitely one of them. It’s a simple story, but honest and relatable in its storytelling.

8. Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend

Speaking of books that are pure enjoyment, there’s no better read I can think of than Nevermoor. I have not been able to stop raving about Nevermoor since I first read it in 2018 because it is the most fun and immersive world I’ve discovered since Harry Potter. It’s middle grade and has a lot of similarities, but offers something entirely different than Harry Potter. Where Nevermoor gains its strength is from the well developed plot and world building and the integration of real life issues into the storyline. The characters in this book are a joy to read about and I love to escape into this series.

9. Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Beartown is probably the book I most recommend to people of everything on this list. Fredrik Backman writes the most gorgeous prose and creates the most memorable characters. This book focuses on a small hockey town in Sweden and how one event can create ripples that echo throughout an entire community. There is nothing shocking or crazy about this book, but the way Backman crafts every single one of his characters and their relationships with one another is so real and empathetic that you can relate to each of their heartbreaks.

10. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

There is no question that Jellicoe Road is the book that has had the single most impact on me over the past decade. I’ve read this book more times than I can count, as well as every other book Marchetta has ever written. This is a YA book, which I’ve generally moved away from over the past 10 years, but I think this story will always resonate with me. It is a deeply sad coming of age tale which examines relationships, love, and the families we create for ourselves. The writing is haunting and these characters will stick with you long after you finish reading.

Every Book I Read in 2019

2019 was the first year since 2013 that I didn’t surpass my reading goal. I read 120 books in 2018 and set my reading goal for 2019 as 100 books. Sadly I only read 91 books in 2019, so I was a little bit disappointed, but I know 91 books is still an insane number of books and I had a really busy year!

Sorry if you’re not interested, but I like to publish this list for personal reasons and so that I have a record of what I read. I keep a separate page every year to track my books, so I’ll be updating it shortly for 2020 if you’re interested. In the meantime, here’s everything I read in 2019:

  1. Becoming – Michelle Obama
  2. Nine Perfect Strangers – Liane Moriarty
  3. Keeping Lucy – T. Greenwood
  4. The Tea Dragon Society – Katie O.Neill
  5. Black Enough – Ibi Zoboi
  6. Nice Try, Jane Sinner – Lianne Oelke
  7. The Island of Sea Women – Lisa See
  8. The Demon King (Seven Realms #1) – Cinda Williams Chima
  9. Heidi – Johanna Spyri
  10. The Belles (The Belles #1) – Dhonielle Clayton
  11. Even the Darkest Stars (Even the Darkest Stars #1) – Heather Fawcett
  12. Internment – Samira Ahmed
  13. I’ll be Gone in the Dark – Michelle McNamara
  14. All the Wandering Light (Even the Darkest Stars #2) – Heather Fawcett
  15. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen (DNF @ 60%)
  16. The Exiled Queen (Seven Realms #2) – Cinda Williams Chima
  17. The Gray Wolf Throne (Seven Realms #3) – Cinda Williams Chima
  18. The Crimson Crown (Seven Realms #4) – Cinda Williams Chima
  19. The Everlasting Rose (The Belles #2) – Dhonielle Clayton
  20. Don’t Call Us Dead – Danez Smith
  21. Daisy Jones & The Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid
  22. A Bend in the Stars – Rachel Barenbaum
  23. New Zealand’s 26 Best Road Trips – Lonely Planet
  24. Etta and Otto and Russell and James – Emma Hooper
  25. Songs of a Sourdough – Robert W. Service
  26. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton
  27. When They Call You a Terrorist – Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele
  28. What the Wind Knows – Amy Harmon
  29. The Stories You Tell (Roxane Weary #3) – Kristen Lepionka
  30. Queenie – Candice Carty-Williams
  31. With the Fire on High – Elizabeth Acevedo
  32. A Very Large Expanse of Sea – Tahereh Mafi
  33. The Storied Life of AJ Fikry – Gabrielle Zevin
  34. The Next Great Paulie Fink – Ali Benjamin
  35. The Simple Wild – K.A. Tucker
  36. Next Year in Havana – Chanel Cleeton
  37. Say You Still Love Me – K.A. Tucker
  38. Saving Francesca – Melina Marchetta
  39. The Turn of the Key – Ruth Ware
  40. The Great Believers – Rebecca Makkai
  41. Miracle Creek – Angie Kim
  42. The Piper’s Son – Melina Marchetta
  43. Great Small Things – Jodi Picoult
  44. The Fellowship of the Ring (Lord of the Rings #1) – JRR Tolkien
  45. The Place on Dalhousie – Melina Marchetta
  46. The Great Alone – Kristin Hannah
  47. Rhymes of a Rolling Stone – Robert Service
  48. The Two Towers (Lord of the Rings #2) – J.R.R. Tolkien
  49. No Exit – Taylor Adams
  50. The Grace Year – Kim Liggett
  51. The Blackhouse – Peter May (DNF @ 67%)
  52. Wishtree – Katherine Applegate
  53. Home Fire – Kamila Shamsie
  54. Ask Again, Yes – Mary Beth Keane
  55. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – Ocean Vuong
  56. Magic for Liars – Sarah Gailey
  57. Born a Crime – Trevor Noah
  58. Searching for Sylvie Lee – Jean Kwok
  59. My Sister, the Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaithe
  60. When All is Said – Anne Griffin
  61. A Practical Wedding – Meg Keane
  62. A Woman is No Man – Etaf Rum
  63. Heads Will Roll – Kate McKinnon
  64. The Witches are Coming – Lindy West
  65. Lands of Lost Borders – Kate Harris
  66. Book Love – Debbie Tung
  67. Chase Darkness With Me – Billy Jensen
  68. The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #1) – Philip Pullman
  69. The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials #2) – Philip Pullman
  70. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
  71. Things You Save in a Fire – Katherine Center
  72. If They Come For Us – Fatimah Asghar
  73. Return of the King (Lord of the Rings #3) – J.R.R. Tolkien
  74. Recursion – Blake Crouch
  75. Ember and the Ice Dragons – Heather Fawcett
  76. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
  77. The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials #3) – Philip Pullman
  78. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling
  79. Girls of Storm and Shadow (Girls of Paper and Fire #2) – Natasha Ngan
  80. Lord of the Butterflies – Andrea Gibson
  81. The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise – Dan Gemeinhart
  82. Educated – Tara Westover
  83. Wild Embers – Nikita Gill
  84. Verity – Colleen Hoover
  85. Grief & Loss & Love & Sex – Lara Margaret Marjerrison
  86. Dear Girls – Ali Wong
  87. Strange Planet – Nathan Pyle
  88. The Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3) – Neal Shusterman
  89. 77 Fragments of a Familiar Ruin – Thomas King
  90. The Queen of Nothing (Folk of the Air #3) – Holly Black
  91. The Cellist of Sarajevo – Steven Galloway

Life Update #2

I know, I know, I just gave you a life update at the end of August. But things have been so busy, so it’s time for another one I think.

I couldn’t believe it when I checked my last post and saw that it was from almost a month ago! Like my last hiatus, I have still been reading, but my pace has definitely slowed down and I just haven’t been able to pump out the reviews. I had a great little boost at the beginning of October and I was so optimistic that I was finally going to get back in the swing of things, but then me and my husband bought our very first home! We live in Vancouver and it’s a pretty hot market up here. Home ownership has been a dream of ours for years, but it’s so expensive to buy into the market. But after 6 years of saving and some government intervention, housing finally took a drop over the last year and we grabbed the chance to buy in.

So that has been taking over my life since the beginning of October, but of course, it’s a very exciting change, so I just went with it. I’ve been momentarily re-inspired with the release of the Goodreads Choice Awards nominees, and I wrote a ton of reviews last night, so I’m planning to just post them over the next few weeks while we’re still busy with moving. I’d like to say things will probably go back to normal after that, but they won’t because less than 2 weeks after moving to our new house, we’re packing our bags and heading off on our honeymoon!

We decided to really go all out for the honeymoon, and since we’re going over Christmas, we decided to cross a big one off the bucket list and are heading to New Zealand for 5 weeks through December and January. I’m not planning to read a whole lot on the trip, but we are going to be driving over 3,500km on our road trip, so I’m hoping to knock out a few audiobooks along the way! I have a second adventure blog where I post about all my travels and outdoor trips, so if you’re interested, I will be blogging from that account. It’s called The Road Goes Ever On, inspired, obviously, by my love of Tolkien.

So you can likely expect of boost of posts over the next few weeks, and then another drought through Christmas. But that’s life for you! Fortunately it’s been all good things taking up my time and I am really looking forward to the next few months of adventures!

Much love,

Life Update

I know, I know, it’s been a hot minute since I last posted a review, but I have a good reason! That reason being that… I got married! If you’ve planned a wedding before, you’ll understand just how much planning goes into a wedding, if you haven’t… it’s a lot!

But I have still been reading! June was a bit of a rough month for me, but thanks to Audible I still managed to somehow read 9 books in July while putting the final touches on all my wedding plans. I got married on August 10th, so August has been a bit of a dud, but it felt great to return home and finally pick up a new book with no other obligations to bog me down.

Our wedding was seriously the best day of our lives though and as much as I hated planning it (can’t lie, it was not fun), it was totally all worth it! I do want to give a plug here for one wedding book that helped us out in case any of you fellow readers have a wedding on the horizon. My friend got married a year ahead of me and raved about A Practical Wedding, by Meg Keene, and loaned us her copy.

I read the first half of the book early in my engagement when I was feeling overwhelmed by all the decisions and the budget (weddings are crazy expensive) and it helped me re-focus on what’s really important when you’re planning a wedding and how to balance so many different expectations about what your wedding will be from all the people who feel invested in it (i.e., parents).

I didn’t fully read the second half of the book, but we did revisit it as a reference throughout the rest of the wedding planning and again when we were writing our vows. So I never read it cover to cover, but overall I did read most of the book and found it to be a great reference throughout the planning process. I decided to give it 4 stars and would absolutely recommend if you’re planning your wedding. It really gets to the root of what matters!

Anyways, like I said, I have been reading, even though I haven’t been posting. I do have a backlog of about 5 books that I would like to write reviews for, so look for those coming soon! Hopefully I can still remember the books well enough to write meaningful reviews!

I’ll leave you with this photo of me and my husband right after we were pronounced married!

Much love,

Books I Can’t Wait to Read in 2019


The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware – Sep. 5, 2019
I’ve read every book Ruth Ware has written and I will be reading this one too! I don’t think Ware is the best mystery writer out there, but I find her books so compulsively readable that I’m always thrilled to pick up a new one! Especially because this one sounds SO GOOD! It’s about a woman who takes a live-in Nanny job in the Scottish highlands, which she thinks is going to be a dream job and ends up being a nightmare that lands her in prison for a murder she didn’t commit! This sounds so intriguing and I can’t wait to read it! Goodreads says this book is coming out in early Sep, but Edelweiss is listing the release date as Aug. 6, so we’ll just have to wait and see!

I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney – May 16, 2019
Alice Feeney only has one other book, Sometimes I Lie, but I read it last year with my book club and we all loved it! I was really impressed with it as a debut novel and it had so many twists that I did not see coming at all! I know Who You Are is about actress Aimee Sinclair. She has a fight with her husband one day and then comes home to find him missing. The next day, she goes to the bank to find $10,000 missing from her account – the kicker is that she is the person who supposedly emptied the account. Suddenly her life is turned upside down and nothing is as it seems.

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager – Jul. 2, 2019
Last year and read and enjoyed Riley Sager’s second thriller novel, The Last Time I Lied. I haven’t read his debut novel yet, but I’m planning to read both Final Girls and his new book, Lock Every Door. Lock Every Door is about Jules Larson, who takes a job apartment-sitting at the mysterious Bartholomew building. At first, Jules likes the job, but when her fellow apartment-sitter disappears and she learns about Bartholomew’s dark, hidden secrets, she must race to uncover the buildings hidden past and save her friend!

Historical Fiction

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See – Mar. 5, 2019
I’m cheating a bit on this book because I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC and I have already read it, but I’m including it anyways because it releases in March and fans of Lisa See will not be disappointed! The Island of Sea Women is set on Jeju Island in South Korea and takes us through 70 years of history – from the 1930’s to the 2000’s. Jeju Island’s culture is focused around women – where they are the core providers for their families and the men stay home and take care of the home and children. It tells the story of Young-sook and her friend Mi-ja, who are both part of the Haenyeo collective of divers who make a living diving for sealife in the fridgid sea.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid – Mar. 5, 2019
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo took Booktube by storm last year! I read it back in 2017 with my book club and also loved it – so I’m so excited to pick this one up later this year. Daisy Jones and the Six is about solo singer Daisy Jones and popular band, The Six. I’m not totally clear on the plot of the novel, but it’s set in the 70’s and is guaranteed to include all of the drama of sex, drugs, and rock & roll. I loved how diverse Evelyn Hugo and how good of a story teller Taylor Jenkins Reid is, so I can’t wait to read this one too!

The Murmur of Bees by Sofia Segovia – Apr. 16, 2019
This is a lesser promoted novel that I stumbled upon on Netgalley and became immediately intrigued with. It’s by a Mexican author and has actually been published since 2015, but the English translation is being released in April. It’s about an abandoned baby that was found under a bridge and the impact he has on the small village. It’s set during the Mexican Revolution and the outbreak of the spanish influenza in 1918 and this setting is what really intrigued me about the book. I already have a copy of this from Netgalley and I’m looking forward to learning more about this period of Mexican history.


Romanov by Nadine Brandes – May 7, 2019
Romanov is a historical fantasy novel about Anastasia Romanov. It re-imagines history where instead of Anastasia dying, she was tasked with smuggling out a spell on her way to Siberia that might be the only thing that could save her condemned family. I don’t really know much more about the story, but I’ve always been a little obsessed with Anastasia and I pretty much only had to hear the words “Anastasia” and “fantasy” and I was in. In discovering this book, I also discovered that Brandes has another historical fantasy novel about Guy Fawkes plot to blow up the British government, Fawkes, which I must now also add to my TBR because that also sounds amazing!

Sherwood by Meaghan Spooner – Mar. 19, 2019
This is another book where I read a really short description of the book and was immediately like, “I have to read this.” Sherwood is basically a gender-bent retelling of Robin Hood. In this version, Robin Hood is dead and his betrothed, Maid Marion is bereft. The people of Nottingham are greatly suffering, especially with the loss of their hero. In her desire to help her people, she dons Robin’s green cloak and is mistaken to be him. The people are desperate for a saviour and Marion decides to do her best to help them.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi – Jan. 15, 2019
This one comes out today, so we don’t even have to wait for it anymore! I am totally shocked at myself for including The Gilded Wolves on this list because I strongly disliked Chokshi’s other book, The Star-Touched Queen, but the plot just sounds so good that I’ve decided to give her another try! The Gilded Wolves is set in Paris in the late 1800’s and is being compared to Six of Crows, which I absolutely loved! It’s about a rag-tag group of people who assemble to hunt a lost artifact for an all-powerful society through the street of Paris. It’s received really good early reviews and I’m definitely intrigued to read it!

Young Adult

With Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo – May 7, 2019
As with many of the books on this list, I’m excited to read this upcoming release because I read Acevedo’s novel, The Poet X, last year and loved it! Along with the story, I really liked that the Poet X was written in prose. There’s no indication on the synopsis of With Fire on High that it will also be written in prose, but it still sounds really good. It’s about a teen mom who loves to cook but struggles to make ends meet and care for her abuela. She dreams of taking her school’s culinary class, going on the class trip to Spain, and one day working in a real kitchen. Can she turn any of these dreams into reality?

Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan – Feb 12, 2019
I stumbled upon this new release on Netgalley as well and while I wasn’t approved for an ARC on this one, I’m really excited to read it when it comes out in February. It’s about two high school students who are frustrated with the status quo at their school and start a Women’s Rights Club. They get a lot of positive support when they start the club, but they are eventually targeted by online trolls who threaten their club and their voices. I’m here for any and all YA books on feminism so I can’t wait to read this. What makes me more excited is that the two girls on the cover are black and white, so I’m hoping this will be a more intersectional, feminist read than some other similarly plotted books that I’ve read in the past.

Internment by Samira Ahmed – Mar. 19, 2019
This is another book I’m a little surprised to include on the list because I read Ahmed’s debut novel, Love, Hate, and Other Filters, last year and did not like it. But I don’t want to judge an author by one book, especially their debut, so I’m excited to give this one a try, which sounds WAY different than her first novel. Internment is a dystopian novel about teenager Layla Amin, whose family is forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens. Do I really need to say more? It’s set in the near-future and I think we can all agree that with the current president, anything is really possible, so I’m intrigued what social commentary Ahmed is going to make about the current political climate. I actually just received an ARC for this one, so I’m planning to read it soon.


The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West – May 7, 2019
This is a bit of a longer list than I usually make, but there’s just so many good books coming out this year! Lindy West’s new book OBVIOUSLY has to be on this list because just everything about it screams something I must read. I really like Lindy’s writing (along with Jessica Valenti and Laurie Penny) and I’m a here for a book about how the “patriarchy, intolerance, and misogyny have conquered not just politics but American culture itself.” It sounds like this book is going to cover a lot of topics, from the 2016 election to the #MeToo movement, I can’t wait to read West’s observations and critiques.

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson – Mar. 12, 2019
Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak was published 20 years ago and was monumental in discussing the impacts of rape and sexual assault. She has published many other books since then, although I’ll admit, Speak is the only one of her books I’ve read. Shout is going to be a memoir collection of poems and essays about sexual assault, the progress we’ve made, and some personal anecdotes from the author’s personal life. It sounds like a really great anthology and I’m interested to see what the author has to say 20 years after the publication of her ground-breaking novel.