(note - the 2011/12 category also contains stray books missed off my lists)
"Best" is obviously subjective. In many ways it comes down to how the book has stuck in my memory. I've got a lot of things bouncing around in my skull, so if a book manages to claim some lasting real-estate there long after my salad days have left me then it's clearly doing a good job.
It turns out that books that have managed to stay with me are the quirky, unusual ones. I'm not going to be listing here any titles where the hero pulls down his (or her) visor and storms the enemy lines. I like traditional fantasy A LOT, but I don't tend to LOVE it anymore.
Like a Usain Bolt race from 10 years ago I can look at this field and see one clear winner. Behind that it's a photo finished for handful of others.
On another day some other selection might have made it into this top 4. I'm a big fan of the highly divisive The Magicians and it might have featured along with The Name of the Wind had they been written this decade. Strange the Dreamer might have featured had I written this post another week.
Let's look at some of those remarkable runner ups:
The Library at Mount Char is possibly the weirdest book in the world. A strangely addictive stand alone novel that hits you with crazy until you love it.
Master Assassins is neither highly rated nor highly popular. I feel perhaps the title and cover have turned off those who would enjoy it and drawn in those less inclined towards such books. For me the writing was a literary joy. I loved the prose, the delicacy and mystery of the backstory, the art in the relationships.
The Girl With All The Gifts is a book where I can't pin down what made it so good, but the fact is that it sucked me right in and didn't let go.
Assassin's Fate is here on behalf of all the Fitz and Fool books and to stand testimony to Robin Hobb's evil cruelty. She made this old man cry. Lots.
And the best of the best?
Unsurprisingly to those of you who know me … it's the books I can't stop talking about. All three of them.
I know that not everyone loves these books as much as I do, or even likes them, but all you people are wrong. There, I've said it.
I loved Senlin Ascends for many reasons, initially and enduringly for the prose, but also for the wit, imagination, and humanity.
And there it is. My best books of the decade. You'll have to wait at least ten years to see its like again!