Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010: Not necessarily the year's best books

For you who can't resist every newspaper's or blogger's "best books of 2010" list - and for you who find such lists overwhelming and discouraging - here's a very short list of ten new books I enjoyed this year. I can't claim they're the best, because I didn't read all that many of the approximately 1,000,000 books published worldwide. I didn't even read many of the nearly 300,000 published in the United States (if 2010 figures are close to those of 2009).

To be perfectly honest, I read only one book that made it onto Publishers Weekly's and the New York Times's top ten lists, and I wasn't wild about it. Interestingly, those two lists agreed about only three titles. My list, which is even more fallible than theirs, is at least different : it doesn't include a single book they liked.

The books on my list are not scholarly or even intellectual. My favorite novels (this year and every year) are books that tell stories, that let me peek into other people's minds and hearts, and that are funny or at least upbeat enough not to leave me clinically depressed. The nonfiction books on my list either interested me in topics I knew little about or deepened my understanding of topics that already interested me. They did this through excellent journalism, human interest stories, and just the right amount of authorial involvement with the topic.

Eight of these books were first published in 2010. The other two were published in the U.S. in 2009 and came out in paperback this year. I've reviewed or commented on all of them on this blog or elsewhere. To read my review, click on the pound sign. To see what Amazon has to say about a book, click on its title.

Fiction
# Cleave, Chris: Little Bee (pb)
# Connelly, Michael: The Reversal
# Freitas, Donna: This Gorgeous Game
# Lamott, Anne: Imperfect Birds
# Tyler, Anne: Noah's Compass

Nonfiction
# Carr, Nicholas: The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains
# French, Thomas: Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives
# Kaye, Jeffrey: Moving Millions: How Coyote Capitalism Fuels Global Immigration
# Safran Foer, Jonathan: Eating Animals (pb)
# Shulevitz, Judith: The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time

My favorites? Probably Little Bee and The Sabbath World. Of course, the year isn't finished yet.

Happy New Year, and happy reading!

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