I really wanted to make a list of my best books of the decade, but the thing is, that’s impossible. I was watching one of Kayla’s (booksandlala) videos where she talked about recency bias and also that as she’s gotten older, she’s started reading books that are better tailored for her. They’re also more diverse. And that’s kind of how I felt looking back at the early 2010s because (a) the books I read then were very white AND I was in college so I read a lot of free books on iBooks, (b) my tastes have changed so very much, and (c) I really think I’m reading better books now. So let’s talk about my reading journey in the last decade. Also, apologies in advance, but I’m not hyperlinking the majority of these books because it would take such a long time and I’m not feeling up to it today.
This was my first into second year of college and I know I was reading Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins and crying over that book. Aside from that, I’m not entirely sure what I was reading. I’ve always been a reader though, so I know I WAS reading. I would say there’s a good chance I was reading a lot of free romance from iBooks on my phone/laptop/iPad, but also I was reading a whole lot of articles AND children’s books for a children’s literature class I took in my one and only semester as an education major.
This was my second into final year of college and I was writing a LOT of research papers. I had summer classes this year too, so I didn’t have a ton of time for extraneous reading. But I’m pretty sure I read Divergent the year it came out, so I think I picked that one up. I think this is the year I discovered Emily Giffin, and really started to fall for her books. Otherwise…. I’m not sure. Definitely was reading free romance novels at this point though.
Ah, the year I graduated from undergrad and started grad school that Fall. I read The Fault in Our Stars and cried on the bus on the way to D.C. to visit my best friend and my tears fell into this stranger’s hair because she fell asleep on my shoulder. It was awkward. I read Fifty Shades of Grey and the whole series this year, which I vividly remember because I dragged Jaclyn to a Barnes & Noble in D.C. to get the next book. Then I picked up the very similar Syvia Day series, Crossfire. I think I also would have read Insurgent this year too. And I definitely read more free romance novels.
I read Gone Girl this year, I think, or maybe in 2012, and immediately made Jaclyn read it while I tried not to spoil the plot twist. I still think Gone Girl is one of the best plotted books I’ve ever read. I finished Allegiant this year and raged about the stupidity of that ending and felt extremely vindicated when my roommate came bursting into my room full on sobbing about how stupid it was. I read the Matched books that year because I borrowed them from my roommate. I’m pretty sure I read Fangirl the year it came out, which would have been this year because I fell hard for Rainbow Rowell’s writing pretty suddenly. But mostly what I remember was watching Downton Abbey and trying not to cry because grad school sucked.
Also known as the year my thesis almost killed me and I stupidly decided going to law school was the right thing to do. I think this might have been the year I started the Throne of Glass series because I have Heir of Fire in hard cover and the other two in paperback. If so, this is the year I fell HARD for that series and it was a gift. One of the first things I did when I got to Chapel Hill that Fall was get a library card. I think I still didn’t know about Overdrive/Libby, though it’s hard to imagine my life before those apps. Oh, I forgot to mention this whole time that I was reading The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare! And The Infernal Devices. But I was. I picked up several of the books at Wal-Mart, aka convinced my parents that $10 more dollars really wasn’t a big deal so I could have a thick book to read. That’s how I used to decide what book to buy, in case you were wondering. But City of Heavenly Fire came out in 2014 and I own it in hardcover. Oh, and perhaps the most important reading update from this year is that my cousins were in an accident and I was six hours away and utterly useless, so I did what any rational person would do and read all of the Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus books in one long series binge over the course of like 24 hours because they were my cousin’s favorite books at the time.
I know I read and loved Carry On this year, but I was doing a lot of reading from the library, especially over the summer because my job was approximately three minutes from the closest branch. It was a glorious time. I know that I picked up Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas on release day (September 1st) and then read it every spare second I could while on a girl’s weekend getaway to Myrtle Beach to celebrate Liz getting married. It’s the most memorable book memory I have from that year.
This is really the year my life changed because this is the year I learned about romance for real. One of my law school friend’s read Sarah MacLean and I then devoured literally all of her books from the library before moving onto Tessa Dare and Courtney Milan’s Brothers Sinister series. It’s also the year I finally got a Goodreads account that I actually used from what I can tell. I read the new Ally Carter books, whose books I still adore. This is the year I read A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, which remains a controversial favorite, and the year I tried to read as many romance novels with lawyer heroines as possible. I read three great nonfiction books: Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes and Yes Please by Amy Poehler and Notorious RBG. This is the year A Court of Mist and Fury came out and I still remember standing in line at Bean Traders talking to Beth and Joelle pre-release about how OF COURSE Tamlin would remain the love interest, while they were both obstinately intrigued by Rhysand. I’m so glad they were right. Also, we had started a book club (virtual) with Beth, Joelle, and two of Joelle’s pre-law school friend’s that we named Sexy Man Harems, and all of us but Sarah were able to go to Bookmarked in Winston-Salem to get Empire of Storms signed by Sarah J. Maas to “Sexy Man Harems.” It was the best. I also read the entire Lunar Chronicles series thanks to Joelle and loved it. I read one of the books while babysitting for her then boyfriend on her kindle because she’s the best kind of friend. Lol. Oh! And I tried audiobooks for the first time this year and couldn’t really seem to get into them. Oh, how things have changed.
I participated in my first readathons, I moved twice in a year, I passed the bar, I got sworn in, I worked in two jobs, and I started this blog. 2017 was such an impactful year for me and I’m still so grateful to have had it. I read more nonfiction in 2017 than I think I had at any time prior in my life. I learned about white privilege and I started really reading more diversely. I was all over the place in terms of genre and age group and I think this was when I discovered Book Tube. I learned that romance is always there for you when life is hard and feels like it’s falling apart, which is why I read a whole bunch of Sarina Bowen, Courtney Milan, Alisha Rai, Julia Quinn, Lisa Kleypas, Tessa Dare, Lorraine Heath, and many others. I learned to listen to audiobooks with fantasy (Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom, The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man’s Fear, and The Diviners) and celebrity memoirs (Why Not Me? by Mindy Kailing, Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick, Bossypants by Tina Fey, Hungry Hearts by Jennifer Weiner, and a few others), as well as Hunger by Roxane Gay, one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. I signed up for the RITA reviews thing that Smart Bitches used to do and wrote my first book reviews for Once and For All by Cheryl Etchinson and APB: Baby by Julie Miller. I read graphic novels for the first time in my life and thought they were fun.
I also read some of my all time favorite books, including Hold Me by Courtney Milan and Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai. I read Alyssa Cole for the first time and learned that historical romance can be so much more than Regency England. I read Simon vs. and The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli, which was the first time I really felt like I saw myself represented in a YA novel. It taught me so much about my own anxiety. One of my favorite series of all time gave me the finale, which I read (A Court of Wings and Ruin) while waiting to get on a cruise ship to celebrate graduation with my sister who also graduated (but from undergrad). I read and loved Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney Stevens thanks to Kayla from booksandlala and winning an arc in a giveaway. I read and loved Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge and Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo. I read Far From the Tree by Robin Benway and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and learned more about what YA can be. I read The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison and marveled over the world, the characters, the writing, the everything. And that was 2017.
In 2018, I took what I had learned about myself and really decided to hone in on what I thought I needed to make my reading life better. I started to branch out in what I read as audiobooks now that I knew what was working and saw my audiobook consumption skyrocket. My reading was still varied in terms of genre when the year started, but I began a new job in March and you can tell that it was a struggle because my reading dramatically shifted to only romance. But the move to a new city and a new job also brought me to new used bookstores that respect romance and have a huge selection. This was also the year I discovered Nalini Singh (with Cherish Hard, which is odd given that I don’t really know how I heard about it. The blessings though) and read Rock Hard and Kiss of Snow and Silver Silence for the first time. What a year. It’s also the year I read Hidden Legacy for the first through third times. The year I read Scoring Off the Field by Naima Simone and started a lending library in my office. It’s the year A Duke by Default came out and landed in my top three romances of ALL time, the year I read so much more Talia Hibbert and she landed in my favorite authors of all time. The year I listened and loved Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton so much, it’s on my favorites of all time list. That I listened to The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo and discovered what poetry has the potential to be. I reread the entire Throne of Glass series because A Kingdom of Ash released. I discovered Kristen Callihan’s contemporary romances and fell head over heels. Fated Mates started and I finally picked up Immortals After Dark again. And I read my first Kate Clayborn. What a year of reading. It was such a great, fantastic year.
2019 is the year that I wasn’t looking for anything really to change in my life, other than I knew I needed a new car and that I would move out of my apartment. Instead of no changes, I accepted a new job that started last April, did get a new car, and did move out of my apartment. The new job meant that the steps I was starting to take back toward reading a variety of genres kind of stalled out, but I remain optimistic. I read more books than ever before in 2019 and the highlight was obviously Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, which became my favorite book of all time. It’s also the year I discovered Kennedy Ryan. I also went to Kiss Con and got to meet Dani and Melinda in person (!!), meet and gush about how much I love Livvy and Portia to Alisha Rai and Alyssa Cole, say hi to Sarah MacLean and so many other authors, and just enjoy the coolest convention I’ve ever been to. I can’t wait to go back. I got to reread the entire Psy-Changeling series as part of a readalong and get Dani’s reactions as she read the books for the first time. I read so many books that I loved, discovered a fondness for romantic suspense and urban fantasy, and got to talk about books a whole, whole bunch on the internet. It was a great way to round off the decade and I am so excited to see what the next ten years bring!