Take a Stroll Down Memory Lane: the 2010s

Tracking some of the major literary and entertainment trends of the decade

We asked a group of our librarians to reflect on some of the major developments over the past decade to identify which topics and technologies had the greatest impact. Here are the highlights:

One of the major trends that came up was the film and television adaptations of popular books. The George R.R. Martin book series A Game of Thrones became a successful television show on HBO. Other popular programs based on books are Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale, which is still airing on Hulu, and Piper Kerman’s memoir, Orange is the New Black, which was featured on Netflix.

On the big screen, several sci-fi novels became successful films, including Andy Weir’s The Martian and Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. Adaptations with strong female leads also dominated theaters, starting with The Hunger Games and its subsequent sequels, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and 50 Shades of Gray by E.L. James. Our librarians also saw a rise in female superheroes, like DC Comics’ Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel by Marvel Comics. We also saw the first female Dr. Who! Keeping with the theme of entertainment, several plays became hugely popular in the 2010s, including The Book of Mormon, Hamilton and Frozen.

Technology also advanced, with tablets, smartphones, and gaming consoles becoming more easily accessible. There are many educational apps and services available and the Library offers eBooks, Audiobooks, music and movies that can be accessed online. A few very entertaining games really stand out and made the list of top trends. The first is Minecraft, a sandbox video game that lets users build their own worlds and interact with others. The Library carries dozens of how-to guides for players. Fortnite is another free online multi-player video game that has grown in popularity. And finally, a free app that is enjoyed by people of all ages is Pokémon GO, based on the popular books and TV series.

Of course, a number of major events happened in the 2010s. The deadly Haiti earthquake struck in January 2010, followed by the Deepwater Horizon oilrig disaster in April. The Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010, marking the most significant expansion of coverage in decades. We also saw a great deal of protest and opposition over concerns about economic inequality, particularly the 2011 Occupy Wall Street protests, which started in New York City and soon spread across the country. Also in 2011, Osama bin Laden, the man responsible for the 9/11 attacks, was finally located and neutralized. Hurricane Sandy was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, hitting the entire eastern seaboard.

In 2014, the world watched as rescue crews searched tirelessly for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which remains an unsolved mystery to this day. Marriage equality made the headlines in 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Obergefell v. Hodges that all states must recognize same-sex marriages. 2016 was a major election year with Donald Trump becoming the 45th President, and that’s also when the Paris Agreement took effect, in an effort to combat climate change. The U.S.’s participation in that treaty is in question today. California saw a multi-year drought, but now the state faces a bigger threat with more frequent wildfires. Newspapers locally and around the world covered these topics extensively. Look through the archives of the Mercury News or The New York Times using your library account.

Finally, the 2010s had some short-lived trends. Some of the biggest fads include man buns, Gangnam Style and Rainbow Loom bracelets. Others have aimed to do good, such as the Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised awareness about ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Meanwhile, Marie Kondo has helped people simplify and organize their homes and lives with the KonMari method.

There’s your look back of the 2010s. Let us know what you think the big trends of the 2020s will be by engaging with us on Facebook. You can also read BookBub’s list of the best books of the decade.