Best ‘brainy’ books of this decade | Books | The GuardianAs we celebrated our 10th Anniversary , we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to look back over this past decade and that books that have helped shape that time for us. We wanted to include the titles our booksellers read and loved and couldn't wait to share, books whose authors we supported and celebrated, and books that helped redefine their genres or created something entirely new. As you can imagine, as we thought back over the past ten years, that list got longer and longer! Though it wasn't easy to narrow them down to just ten, we managed it in the end, creating a list that's a fitting tribute to our first ten years. Want to make the next decade the best years of reading you've ever had? Try Brilliant Books Monthly, our flagship subscription service!
The 20 best books of the decade
Actually, constructing a canon of any kind is a little weird at the moment, when so much of how we measure cultural value is in flux. Its supposed permanence became the subject of more recent battles, back in the 20th century, between those who defended it as the foundation of Western civilization and those who attacked it as exclusive or even racist. But what if you could start a canon from scratch? We thought it might be fun to speculate very prematurely on what a canon of the 21st century might look like right now. We asked each of them to name several books that belong among the most important works of fiction, memoir, poetry, and essays since and tallied the results. The purpose was not to build a fixed library but to take a blurry selfie of a cultural moment. Any project like this is arbitrary, and ours is no exception.
It is impressively intersectional in its approach, talking about class and gender as well as reframing the conversation to be Britain-focused. The title alone is arresting, and can sort out those who judge a book by its cover from those willing to interrogate and investigate their own privilege. Sapiens has been highly praised by the gurus of Silicon Valley, and read by geeks whose culture usually centres on fantasy movies, computer games, etc — even though Harari himself is far from that world.
the fall of the roman empire book
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Some books are flashes in the pan, read for entertainment and then left on a bus seat for the next lucky person to pick up and enjoy, forgotten by most after their season has passed. Others stick around, are read and re-read, are taught and discussed. Of course, hindsight can also distort the senses; the canon looms and obscures. Though the books on these lists need not be American in origin, I am looking for books that evoke some aspect of American life, actual or intellectual, in each decade—a global lens would require a much longer list. Rowling owned the s. Sure, almost half of the Harry Potter books were published in the 90s—the first one came out in —but was the year that the fandom and the marketing teams really kicked into high gear.