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10 x 10: The Best Books of the Decade

Best Humor and Short Story Collections

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • December 13, 2019

As we count down to 2020, we present week three of our 10 x 10 series—ten lists of the ten top books from the past ten years. Each week until the end of the year, we will publish lists for two genres together. Last week's selections (in case you missed it) were Realistic Fiction and Memoir. This week, it's Humor and Short Story Collections. (Psst, both of these genres make great gifts!) Needless to say, there were a lot to choose from and we've definitely missed many terrific options, so please let us know about your favorites in the comments below!

Humor 10 x 10

Here are some of the books that seriously gave us the lols from the past decade.

  • I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections—The last from witty, wise Nora Ephron, takes a hilarious look at the past, while simultaneously bemoaning the complexities of modern life.
  • Bossypants—Comedy genius Tina Fey shares humorous personal stories from childhood to SNL to motherhood, proving what we've all suspected: you're no one until someone calls you bossy.
  • Hark! A Vagrant—Part of a series, this graphic history lesson from New Yorker cartoonist Kate Beaton offers a madcap review of the ironic absurdities from the history and literature of the Western world.
  • Hyperbole and a Half—Compiling artwork and stories, this volume from Allie Brosh runs the gamut from depression to dogs. Her unique voice and deceptively simple drawings render both raw and riotous.
  • The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo—This is one of J. K. Rowling's favorite books! But also, it's just hysterical from start to finish. Amy Schumer delivers an unguarded and sidesplitting collection of personal essays.
  • Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman—Lindy West accomplishes the impossible in this memoir. She is simultaneously feminist and funny, brilliant, yet relatable. Now a hit Hulu show, starring Aidy Bryant.
  • Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches—Known for his satirical tongue-in-cheek humor on The Daily Show, John Hodgman opens up here and shows a more vulnerable side, though still hilarious.
  • We are Never Meeting in Real Life—A series of revelatory essays from Samantha Irby filled with her droll, deadpan observations of the world. A recurring character is her brilliantly comical cat, Helen Keller.
  • My Life as a Goddess—Stirring, touching, and very, very funny, this memoir from comedian Guy Branum offers searing insight and validation for all of us who feel underrepresented in popular culture.
  • Calypso—The legendary David Sedaris focuses his biting wit and sharp powers of observation to the subject of mortality. This may be his darkest, yet most hilarious, work to date.

Short Stories 10 x 10

The short story will always have its place in great literature. The brilliance of these collections is stunning.

  • Battleborn—In the tradition of such as Cormac McCarthy and Annie Proulx, Claire Vaye Watkins invokes the wild, majesty of the American West and utterly reimagines it with exquisite, lush prose.
  • Dear LifeAlice Munro won the Nobel Prize in literature the year after this collection was published. As always, the short story master offers quiet depth, complex characters, and surprising turns.
  • Tenth of December—An eclectic collection from George Saunders, another undisputed master of the genre. The celebrated author's startling, dreamlike stories ask big questions and cut to the core of humanity.
  • Redeployment—In this National Book Award-winner, Phil Klay portrays the complex mix of monotony, bureaucracy, comradeship, violence, and isolation of a modern-day soldier's life, both at war and back at home.
  • Night at the Fiestas—Set in New Mexico, Kristin Valdez Quade's masterful stories focus on people grappling with the weight of everyday life and exploring the deep, powerful connections that bind them.
  • The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories—Bestselling author Ken Liu offers a set of award-winning tales that examine the struggle against history and betrayal of relationships in pivotal moments. Insightful and stunning.
  • What it Means When a Man Falls from the Sky—Nigerian author Lesley Nneka Arimah blends magical realism and fable into her narratives, which explore dystopian themes and human fallibility.
  • Her Body and Other PartiesCarmen Maria Machado's provocative debut collection demolishes the boundaries between genres like horror, comedy, and fantasy, to create an entirely unique style.
  • Florida—Another collection unified by place, this one from bestselling author Lauren Groff, invites readers into a physical world that is, at once, domestic and wild. The hot sun shines, but a wild darkness lurks.
  • Everything Inside—From the acclaimed Edwidge Danticat, a collection that is at once wide in scope and intimate, exploring the forces that pull us together or drive us apart, sometimes in the same searing instant.

Too Many to Choose!

As always, these are just a handful of our favorites, but there are so many others that were barely edged out! Let us know your picks in the comments! And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for daily book suggestions, book news, and more.

Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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Comedy | BestOfTheDecade
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