Monday, January 3, 2011

My Favorite Books - 2010

Here are my picks for the top three books read in 2010, all of which are described briefly below along with other favorites, under the categories of Fiction, Non-Fiction and Published Prior to 2010. I would love to know your favorites for 2010, so please comment:

#1 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

#2 Full Dark – No Stars by Stephen King

#3 The Woman Behind The New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR'S Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience by Kristin Downey (published in 2009)

Full Dark – No Stars by Stephen King
Four detestably satisfying tales of human depravity set in the context of everyday people. I haven’t read Stephen King in years, and perhaps that is why I relished this book. It is right up there with King's The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, but jucier - if you know what I mean!

Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson
Joshilyn Jackson had me at “"It was an airport gypsy who told me I had to kill my husband." Backseat Saints, as well as all of Jackson’s books, are full of southern characters and culture (minus the caricatures), and plenty-o-plot, red herrings and suspense.

Little Bee: A Novel by Chris Cleave
Beautifully written story of a young girl from Nigeria (Little Bee), whose life, under horrifying circumstance, becomes entangled with those of an English couple visiting Nigeria on holiday.

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
A coming of age story, but the context in which it is told, the enormous cultural crevasse between China and America, makes it exceptional. If Jean Kwok can write beyond the reflection of her own history (she, like her main character Kimberly immigrated from China to Manhattan), we’re in store for more wonderful stories!

House Rules by Jodi Picoult
Picoult always takes on controversial topics, and presents them interestingly. She also writes lots of books, but it seems they’re always just a baby-step away from fabulous. House Rules is about autism and murder.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Story about a poor black woman whose cancerous cell samples were taken without her consent shortly before she died of cervical cancer in 1951, and were eventually grown in massive vats, leading to a cure for polio, breakthroughs in gene mapping and a multi-billion dollar industry.
Click on Read More Below...

At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson tracks the etymology of various features and contents of his home, a former Church of England rectory built in the 19th century. In the process we learn useless yet fascinating minutia such as why cabinet refers both to the advisors to a President and a box full of medicine and cosmetics on the wall of a bathroom, and why toilet water refers both to perfume and the contents of the commode.

Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky
Contributing editor to Rolling Stone provides an insightful and provocative verbatim five-day interview with brilliant but suicidal author, David Foster Wallace.

Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
A gossipy, behind-the-scenes look at the 2008 presidential race, revealing the candidates as we rarely see them, people just like us – sometimes stupid, sometimes smart, capable of fear, insecurity, profanity, love, pain and plain ole' meanness.

Life by Keith Richards
Life is Richards’ engrossing portraiture of the birth and evolution of the music and image of the Rolling Stones, and his bottomless, shameless, yet surprisingly seductive heroin addiction.

The Woman Behind The New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR'S Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience by Kristin Downey (2009)
Story of the first woman appointed to a Presidential Cabinet, serving as Secretary of Labor for 13 years under Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Although virtually unknown now, Francis (Fanny) Coralie Perkins was the instigator of Social Security, Workers’ Compensation, the Fair Labor Standards Act and many fire codes and worker safety features.

American Ground Unbuilding the World Trade Center by William Langewiesche (2003)
How the debris from the 9/11 tragedy was dealt with, and an engrossing homage to the people that took an intensely delicate and horrible mess apart and took it away, with dignity.

Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America by Barbara Ehrenreich (2009)
A diatribe against the relentless pursuit of American positiveness, from breast cancer to 9/11.


  1. What a good idea to make your own list of favorites! I agree with Henrietta Lacks - unbelievable story. Have read some of the others also and have plans to read others. Thanks for the tips! My favorite fiction was Freedom by Jonathan Franzen and I am reading a non-fiction you would love as we speak - As Always, Julia - Letters of Julia Child and Avis Devoto. Wonderfully written letters about cooking and everything else. None of this -hw r u? whassup? - lol - haaaaha! Keep reading, writing - and making lists! Charlena

  2. I've been thinking of reading "Freedom," so now I will!

    Always appreciate your comments and encouragement. Thanks Charlena.