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10x10: The Best Books of the Decade

Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Thriller/Mystery

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • December 20, 2019

As we count down to 2020, we present week four 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 are publishing lists for two genres together. Last week's selections were Humor and Short Story Collections. This week, it's Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Thriller/Mystery. As always, there were many, many excellent choices and we've definitely missed some great contenders, so please let us know about your favorites in the comments below!

Sci-Fi/Fantasy 10 x 10

Science Fiction and Fantasy is all about expanding one's imagination and being open to the mystery of what could be. Here are ten wild, untamed tales that rose to the tops of our lists.

  • The Way of Kings—Bestselling author Brandon Sandersonhas created an amazing magical world, packed with complex cultural details and brilliant biodiversity. The first in his epic Stormlight Archiveseries.
  • The Night Circus—Gorgeous writing, spellbinding magic, and an all-consuming romance make up this stellar debut from Ellen Morgenstern. Excellent for young adults and older.
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane—A middle-aged man returns to his hometown and confronts shadowy memories from his childhood. From master storyteller Neil Gaiman, a terrifying, elegiac fairy tale for grownups.
  • The Martian—Adapted in to a hit 2015 movie, this Andy Weir bestseller chronicles the experience of a brilliant, tenacious astronaut fighting for survival on Mars after a disastrous dust storm leaves him stranded.
  • Station Eleven—Emily St. John Mandel creates an incandescent dystopian world and charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people struggling to preserve the art and humanity that sustains them.
  • The Fifth Season—This stunner, the first in a trilogy from N. K. Jemisin, landed on so many best-of lists! Called "intricate and extraordinary" by The New York Times, it's the story of a woman who must hide her secret power to rescue her kidnapped daughter.
  • Dark Matter—Recently included in our list of unputdownable books, this gripping thriller from Blake Crouchtells the story of a Physics professor who gets caught up in an extraordinary existential crisis.
  • The Power—What would happen if women and girls all over the world suddenly developed the power to generate electricity with their fingertips? An award-winning novel from Naomi Alderman contemplates the question.
  • Circe—From Madeline Miller comes a subversive retelling of the infamous goddess's story. When her powerful family turns against her, Circe must learn how to hone her strengths and protect herself.
  • The Water Dancer—Set in the Antebellum South, this first novel from renowned journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates merges the historical slave narrative with fantasy for a suspenseful and melancholic hero's quest.

Thriller/Mystery 10 x 10

For stories that will keep you turning pages well past midnight, here are ten Thriller and Mystery standouts from the past decade.

  • Faithful Place—Tana French's Dublin detective Frank Mackey never planned to go back to where he grew up. But twenty years later, when his old girlfriend's suitcase is found stashed in a derelict house on his old street, he must return to solve the mystery of her disappearance.
  • I'd Know You Anywhere—An edgy, taut tale of psychological manipulation from the acclaimed Laura Lippman, Eliza Benedict is a woman forced to revisit the trauma of being abducted as a teen when she is contacted by her captor, now an inmate on death row.
  • Gone Girl—Adapted into an excellent 2014 movie, this devilishly dark, perfectly plotted page-turner from Gillian Flynn breaks down a marriage that has gone terribly, terribly wrong.
  • Unraveling Oliver—They look like the perfect couple, until one evening after a delightful dinner Oliver beats Alice into a coma. This one-sitting read from Liz Nugentshines as a model of psychological suspense.
  • The Life We Bury—Joe Talbert's life is upended when, as part of a college writing assignment, he interviews a convicted murderer, now living at a nearby nursing home. The first in a seriesfrom bestselling Allen Eskens.
  • Eileen—Ottessa Moshfegh's award-winning debut tells the story of an unhappy woman working at a juvenile detention center in the 1960s. A surprising friendship with a coworker draws her into participating in a shocking crime.
  • The North Water—Disgraced army surgeon Patrick Sumner has few options left when he accepts a job on a whaling ship bound for the Arctic Circle. This historical novel by Ian McGuireconjures up a brutally dark world.
  • Bluebird, Bluebird—The impressive first installment in Attica Locke's Highway 59 series introduces black Texas Ranger Darren Mathews in this explosive thriller poised at the intersection of love, race, and justice.
  • The Woman in the Window—From A. J. Finn, a twisty, powerful Hitchcockian thriller about an agoraphobic woman who believes she has witnessed a crime in a neighboring house.
  • Your House Will Pay—Steph Chatakes a violent moment in Los Angeles's troubled history and cracks it wide open in this portrait of two families bound together by a split-second decision.

More Where Those Came From!

As always, these are just a handful of our favorites, but there are so many others to consider! Let us know if you have any favorites that got left out! And follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for daily book suggestions, book news, and more.

Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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BestOfTheDecade | horror | SciFi | Mystery | Fantasy
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