This month’s Monthly Recommendations topic is Oldies, or books published before 2010. It hit me as I started going through some of my more recent reads that 2010 was actually a long time ago! It’s been more than seven years since I graduated high school. How is that possible?!
Anyways, I actually had a bit of a hard time with this list. As I started going through the books I’ve read in the last few years, I realized that most of them have been published within the last five years or so. But thinking back more towards what I was reading in high school made me realize that I’m not sure I can still recommend those books without rereading them.
Leaving out some of the classic series (which will get an honorable mention at the end of this list), here are some of my favorite books that were published before 2010. Keep in mind, a lot of them only had the first book in the series published during or before 2010, so this might be cheating a bit since I generally considered the whole series when deciding to include them on this list.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I’m sorry if this is too easy of a choice to start my list with, but I had to! I genuinely love Pride and Prejudice and reread it regularly. I collect all of the pretty copies (of both Pride and Prejudice and Jane Austen’s other books) and am even a nerd enough that I own the Norton Critical edition. It’s one of my favorite books of all time and has been since I was in high school, and I anticipate it being a book that I will continue to enjoy for years to come.
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
I know, I know. I just wrote a review about this book and it’s starting to feel like it’s plastered all over my blog. But I reread it recently enough that I feel comfortable calling it one of my favorite books and I have to recommend it. So go read it already!
For those who haven’t seen Graceling pop up yet on my blog, it follows the story of Katsa, a so-called Graceling who is skilled at killing people. Used as the strong-arm for her uncle, King Randa, Katsa starts questioning her role in the king’s court and the powers of her Grace after meeting Po, a Graced fighter and prince from another country who is searching for his missing grandfather and challenges Katsa in ways that no one else has before.
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Ah, Outliers. I was assigned this book for my freshman writing course in college, and it started an obsession with Malcom Gladwell (who, in hindsight, could also be included on my auto read authors list). Outliers tells the story of success and how there’s a lot more to it than simply hard work, as American culture might have you believe. Gladwell looks closely at a number of people, including Bill Gates and the Beatles, to show how oft-overlooked factors contributed to their success.
I feel like some of the thoughts in this book, like the 1,000-hour rule, have been widely challenged since it first came out, so I’m not sure it reads the same these days. But that doesn’t take away from what a masterful storyteller Gladwell is or how this book challenges you to reevaluate the world around you. I must say, I think we’re well overdue for a new Gladwell book.
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
This is another overlap from my July list that I just had to include again. Poison Study follows the story of Yelena, who is given the chance to escape her impending execution if she agrees to become the Commander of Ixia’s food taster. Now at the heart of Ixia’s government, Yelena can’t help but get caught up in Ixia’s political intrigue while also dealing with newly developed magical powers that could cost her her life if discovered.
I actually haven’t reread this book in a long time and really need to pick it up again, but I recently read the new Study trilogy, which makes me comfortable in still recommending the original Poison Study trilogy. Snyder just created such a rich world with characters that you can’t help but love, so I still highly recommend this book.
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
Hype about the musical aside, I genuinely enjoyed this biography. Alexander Hamilton is a comprehensive look at the life of Alexander Hamilton, an oft-overlooked Founding Father who helped write the Constitution, found America’s financial system, and establish a strong federal government. It gives you an intimate look at the brilliant young politician who helped shape the United States as we know it today before dying in a duel at age 49.
I won’t lie, Hamilton’s a long book and it takes a while to get through, but Chernow is such a good writer that it stays engaging throughout. Plus Hamilton is such a fascinating person, you need all 800 pages to get a thorough understanding of him. If you’re interested at all in American history, you won’t regret picking this one up.
Finnikin of the Rock by Melissa Marchetta
I only discovered this series a couple of years ago, and it totally blew me away. Finnikin of the Rock follows the story of a boy whose country was taken over by an imposter and then cursed so that no one could come or go through its borders. Trapped on the outside, Finnikin joins forces with a girl who claims her dreams can help break the curse and save their people.
This series was…amazing. I wasn’t expecting it to be so good, so it really caught me off guard and sucked me right in. It’s so different from anything else I’ve read. It was such a dark series, but it felt so real and really showed the impact of war between countries. Marchetta created a very intricate and detailed world and flawed characters who did their best to make it a better place, and I became very invested in their stories. The whole trilogy was really well done and I highly recommend it.
Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
I try very hard to be vocal about my love of romance, or at least not to hide the fact that I enjoy them despite the stigma, but I have to call these my guilty pleasure. There’s not even that much romance in them, especially in the first few books, but I just find the covers so cringeworthy!
Moon Called follows the story of Mercy Thompson, a shapeshifting coyote and mechanic living next door to a pack of werewolves. Careful to avoid the pack, Mercy gets caught up in werewolf business when a newly turned werewolf shows up at her shop and she is forced to turn to the Alpha of the pack for help, starting off a chain of events that upend Mercy’s life.
Paranormal and urban fantasy, romance or otherwise, isn’t my preferred genre. I picked up the first book for a recent book club and really didn’t expect to like it much. Imagine my surprise when I became hooked! They’re just such fast reads, and at first I kept reading because I wanted to see how Mercy’s love triangle resolved (even though I generally hate love triangles), but then I just fell in love with all of the characters, and I love how Briggs effortlessly brings back threads from early books to make them the main narrative in a later book. This has quickly become one of my favorite series and I definitely recommend them!
Honorable mentions: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling; Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce; Sabriel by Garth Nix; The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan; The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman; and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.
There you have it! Some of my favorite books published before 2010. What oldies would you count among your favorites? Let me know in the comments!