One of the most exciting things about being a bookseller at the end of the decade is looking at how much has changed in the book world in the past 10 years. The 20-teens were whirlwind years in the world of bookselling and publishing, as we were faced with questions like “Will e-books kill the printed word?” (spoiler alert: they did not) and “Can a self-published book of erotic Twilight fanfiction spawn a whole new trend in publishing?” (it did!).
Movements like #weneeddiversebooks have changed the face of youth literature, while self-care trends like hygge and the Konmari method, and thought-provoking memoirs and histories have dominated the adult bestseller lists.
At Inklings, we’ve seen some of these trends play out in a microcosm, while others more or less passed us by. Our list of the top 10 most-sold books of the decade differs greatly from the national list (“Fifty Shades of Grey,” which topped the national list, doesn’t even make our top 50), but it does represent what people in Yakima are reading, and why.
So without further ado, here are Inklings top 10 bestsellers of the decade.
No. 10: “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
An eternal bestseller, Fitzgerald’s 1925 classic about love, lies, opulence and despair in the roaring ’20s is required reading every year for high-schoolers around the Yakima Valley. If you weren’t forced to read and dissect it in school, you might give it a read just for fun. After nearly 100 years, it still stands up as a gorgeous, heartbreaking story.
No. 9 “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins
This is the ONLY title that appears on both Inklings’ list and the national list. It was originally published in 2008, but with sequels appearing in 2009 and 2010, as well as a movie franchise that began in 2012, this dystopian parable has managed to hold our collective interest long enough that it has almost reached the hallowed ranks of the Harry Potter series in terms of sales.
And its popularity looks to reach into the 2020s: a prequel novel, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” is due to be published in May, inviting a whole new generation of readers into the frightening world of Panem.
No. 8 “Long Walk To Water” by Linda Sue Park
Based on a true story, this lovely novel for young readers interweaves the lives of two young people in Sudan: Salva, who, in 1985, at age 11, becomes one of Sudan’s Lost Boys, and Nya, an 11-year-old in 2008, who ultimately benefits from Salva’s efforts to dig wells in Sudanese villages. This book makes our list because it’s often assigned as a required read, but is also a story that belongs on every young person’s book shelf.
No. 7 “House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros
Cisneros’ 1983 novel revolves around a young Mexican-American girl coming of age in Chicago, but its themes are timeless and universal. It captures everything crucial about growing up. Cisneros has visited the Yakima Valley several times during the past decade (most recently, this past April), and her power to inspire others through her words hasn’t waned at all in the almost 27 years since this book was published.
No. 6 “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck
Like “The Great Gatsby,” this book has been a required read in local schools for countless years. Published in 1937, this Depression-era tale of the struggles faced by two migrant farmhands is still relevant and significant today.
No. 5 “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury
Bradbury’s 1953 dystopian novel about censorship in a world where all books are banned remains as haunting today as it ever was. If you didn’t read it in school, you should read it for your own edification (but you can probably skip the 2018 made-for-HBO movie).
No. 4 “Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book 1: The Lightning Thief” by Rick Riordan
This captivating middle-grade series revolves around a 12-year-old boy who discovers that his struggles with ADHD and dyslexia spring from the fact that he is a demi-god, the son of the Greek god Poseidon. The series has been a phenomenal hit with young readers, with numerous spinoffs. It has inspired countless young people to learn more about Greek mythology, and has even led to the Rick Riordan Presents imprint, which publishes fantasy books for young readers, based on the mythologies of various cultures
No. 3 “The Girl Who Wrote in Silk” by Kelli Estes
I’m so delighted that this debut novel by local author Kelli Estes makes our list! The story of a young Chinese woman who flees from racial violence in early 20th century Seattle, this book was featured as a Yakima Valley Libraries Valley Reads selection several years ago. And Kelli’s new novel, “Today We Go Home,” was one of our top 10 bestsellers of 2019.
No. 2 “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown
Brown’s 2013 nonfiction epic about how the University of Washington’s rowing team made it to the 1936 Berlin Olympics stayed on the PNW Bestseller list for no less than three years, continuously, and still reappears on the list several times a year.
No. 1 “Night” by Elie Wiesel
Wiesel’s memoir about his time in a Nazi death camp is required reading in local high schools, and with good reason. We should all read it, probably more than once, lest we forget the horrors and beauty that humanity is capable of.
And there you have it: the top 10 books that your fellow readers in Yakima purchased in the past decade. I can’t wait to see which books will shine brightest in the next decade.