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Books that Span Multiple Decades

Whether you are participating in the final month of the Decades Reading Challenge or found this booklist searching for multigenerational novels that span decades, we know you’re sure to love these expansive stories. Rather than providing just a snapshot in time, the fiction and non-fiction titles we recommend below provide a panoramic view of life in the 20th century and early 21st century.

Three angled book covers in dark tones. The center book is black with while title reading The Immortalists.

You can read all about the Decades Reading Challenge, download your free printable reading tracker, and find book lists for each decades from 1880s-2010s here.

We’ve heard from many of you that, throughout the challenge, you’ve loved diving into specific decades. This in-depth reading has allowed us all to discover fascinating historical events that we didn’t learn about in school. There’s also a lot to learn by reading long-view novels, non-fiction, or memoir that spans multiple decades or multiple generations. Some of the recommended books are expansive stories that span years. These books allow us to observe how things change over time. Others are books set in two different time periods, allowing us to compare the decades side by side.

As always, you’re welcome to read any book you’d like for the Decades Challenge. But to get you started, we’ve compiled a list of non-fiction titles and some best novels that span decades from the 1880s through the 2010s.

Novels that Span Decades: From the 1910s to the 2020s

Books Spanning the Years From the 1910s to 2020

THANK YOU again for reading with us this year. We’ve learned so much about the past and present from fresh points of view. We hope you’ve had the same positive experience!

Don’t worry if you’re not ready to be done reading the decades! You aren’t alone. We’re also planning to read our way through the years once again in 2023. We made some exciting changes to this challenge for 2023, and you can read all about them here > 2023 Decades Reading Challenge.



Angela & Melissa

The Book Girls are best friends who jointly read over 200 books per year. We started Book Girls' Guide in 2019 to help others de-stress and find joy through the power of a great book. We do in-depth research on thousands of novels and non-fiction titles each year to provide curated book lists covering a variety of genres.

Monica S.

Friday 18th of November 2022

I’m excited for what is coming next year! This is one of my favorite challenges. I’ve done it for the past 3 years.

Melissa George

Tuesday 22nd of November 2022

We're so excited to have you join us for a 4th year and can't wait to share the fun little change for Decades in 2023!!!

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Looking for your next great read? Try one of the highly-rated titles from our curated book lists.