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10 Underrated 2010s Books To Read To Ring In 2020

2020 is fast approaching, so it’s time to tally up the books-to-read count! But before you do, it’s not too late to get in some of the great reads that this whole decade had to offer by the time the 2020s begin…

Keep in mind that many, if not all of the books on this list are ones that are underrated in terms of spanning large enough audiences to keep on their shelves and adore for years to come, so they may be ones that you haven’t heard of before, but all of that is about to change! Here are ten books from the 2010s that you should’ve read yesterday…



1. Hollow Heart – Viola Di Grado (pub. 2015; tr. Antony Shugaar)


Hollow Heart book cover

Image via Amazon


To start off this list, we have very unconventional novel, to say the least. You would expect your typical novel to be narrated by a live person, right? Well, that is not the case with this book, as it follows Dorotea Giglio (her body, that is) after her suicide, going through the notions of a decomposing dead person.

If you want a strangely unique read that has a bit of a comedic feel to it (with a little help from Shuggar translating her work into English), then check this one out!


2. The Hired Man – Aminatta Forna (pub. 2013)


The Hired Man book cover

Image via Amazon


I know, I know, I wanted to get this book just from looking at the cover too… But aside from that, the summary of this story is a far cry from the very cute cover. While it has the premise of a British woman buying a house in the small village of Gost in Croatia, it gets very complex when the titular “hired man,” with haunting flashbacks of the Civil War from just twenty years before, comes into the picture and helps the woman with some house repairs.

This book really is the epitome of the old adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” because even this book with the innocent-looking cover has a lot going on underneath, including the exploration of the innocent and the ignorant.



3. Everything Here Is Beautiful – Mira T. Lee (pub. 2017)


Everything Here Is Beautiful book cover

Image via Amazon


Similarly to the previous book on this list, do not take the cover and title of this book at face value! If you want a novel that tackles mental illness, immigration, and cultural displacement that makes you feel so many things at once, then you’re the special hybrid for this hybrid of a book.


4. Where Reasons End – Yiyun Li (pub. 2019)


Where Reasons End book cover

Image via Amazon


It is about a mother who had recently lost her teenage son to suicide and imagines having a conversation with him as if he were alive. That’s it. The book is about that conversation, completely imagined. Anyone reading this would think to call it bleak, but for a mother, the love that this particular mother shares with her son shines through.

So, no matter who you are, parent or child, personally struggling or not, read this, as the universal truth of the need to communicate and understand one another will set you free.



5. Cities I’ve Never Lived In – Sra Majka (pub. 2016)


Cities I've Never Lived In book cover

Image via Amazon


Calling all introverts: you might be into any of Majka’s works, or if you aren’t, get on that! (I know I need to…) In the case of this book though, according to Dina Nayeri, it is “[i]ntensely felt, ghostly, beautifully strange snapshots of love and loss and desperation—but so different from what you’ve read.”

So, make that what you will… If you want to read something different this time around, then this would be the book to do just that! And not-so-normal introverts… you’re welcome.


6. Little Nothing – Marisa Silver (pub. 2016)


Little Nothing original book cover

Image via Penguin Random House


You want to talk about hybrid books? Well, this is the hybrid of all hybrids on this list!

It has fantasy, magical realism, and even comes across as a novel written by Charles Dickens himself! In a world where a girl is a dwarf one second, then a wolf the next, anything can happen if Silver so chooses. Again, a Dickensian novel?!

Whatever this book is, it’s a book with transformations – and not just physical – love, war, and plenty of adventure, both odd and deep through and through, it is one you surely won’t forget.



7. The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir – Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich (pub. 2017)


The Fact of a Body book cover

Image via Amazon


Yes, like the last one, and others on this list, there’s a lot going on under the surface. As you can tell by the title, there’s a murder, but don’t take this story away from just the headlines: look in-between the lines (not literally, of course).

The questions that this book will bring up for you while you read it are as follows… What is good? What is evil? Who really embodies these traits, and who are the powerful and powerless? Well, forget about all of those, because this author will subvert these preconceived notions in you so hard, you wouldn’t even think about them and would only think: if you don’t get to claim your history, then who does?Read it and find out…


8. The Affairs of the Falcóns – Melissa Rivero (pub. 2019)


The Affair of the Falcons book cover

Image via Amazon


You want a life-changing read? This just might do it for you.

This one is about a young undocumented woman and her family living in 1990s New York City. Suffice to say that any immigrant story is a life-changing one for the immigrants in question, and the ones observing what is happening to them.

It makes you think about the connection between the world around you and the world that’s depicted in this books’ pages. You get into one of these characters’ heads, head-on as they fight to survive and stay in the States. How is that not life-changing?!

Prepare to have your world changed, if just for a little while…



9. Fever Dream – Samantha Schweblin (pub. 2017)


Fever Dream book cover

Image via Amazon


I know the cover looks bizarre, and guess what? It is bizarre. Finally, here’s a book that actually fits how its cover looks!

Let’s just say that if you grew up both bewildered and dazzled by Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, then this book would be perfect for you, because it would be just as bewildering for you in your adult years…


10. Spider in a Tree – Susan Stinson (pub. 2013)


Spider in a Tree book cover

Image via Amazon


If you’re wondering if the spiders are literal or metaphorical or if you have arachnophobia, then you are not safe here. (Just kidding: they’re just in the pages, so they can’t hurt you…) And in this book, not only are the humans complex enough to be fully explored in and out, but so are the spiders! This book proves that Charlotte’s Web can’t be the only book where the spider gets a spotlight on their inner thoughts and desires!

Aside from that, it revolves around a theologian Jonathan Edwards in the 18th century and talks about faith the way that it explores its characters: with research and with personal care…

(Also, who else thought that the cover looks old-fashioned enough to pass off for a book straight out of the 18th or 19th century? Also, why a courtroom and nothing with a spider? What is up with all of these covers?)



Lastly, an honorable mention

The Emerald Light in the Air – Donald Antrim (pub. 2014)


The Emerald Light in the Air book cover

Image via Amazon


As much as I wanted to put this one on the list, considering that Antrim is known as a “modern classic” author, I can only fit ten on this list.

A bit about this book, it’s Antrim’s only collection of short stories, which includes what Benjamin Moser considers the “best story written in this century so far” called “Another Manhattan.” That’s all I’m gonna say about it.

So, which of these books from this past decade do you want to read? I may still line up a few for the rest of this year, but I want to start on at least one of these!


Featured Image via Unsplash


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