Great Reads! The Best Books of 2010

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2010 has come to a close and it was quite a year in reading adventures. We were swept away to the Revolutionary War, a Home Ec class, the waning world of newspapers, the deadly Hunger Games, the complex world of marriage, finding our own strengths and much more! Using the resources of our own staff, Oprah, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Publisher’s Weekly and the New York Times, we have complied the definitive list of the year. So we proudly present, in no particular order, the Top Books of 2010:


Matterhorn

By Karl Marlantes

Set in Vietnam in 1969 over the course of three months, It is the timeless story of a young Marine lieutenant, Waino Mellas, and his comrades in Bravo Company, who are dropped into the mountain jungle of Vietnam as boys and forced to fight their way into manhood. Buy This Book

The Imperfectionists

By Tom Rachman

Fifty years and many changes have ensued since the paper was founded by an enigmatic millionaire, and now, amid the stained carpeting and dingy office furniture, the staff’s personal dramas seem far more important than the daily headlines. As the era of print news gives way to the Internet age and this imperfect crew stumbles toward an uncertain future, the paper’s rich history is revealed, including the surprising truth about its founder’s intentions. Buy This Book

The Passage

By Justin Cronin

A post-apocalyptic tale about a government-produced virus that turns virtually everyone into a vampire, and imagines the catastrophic possibilities of a vampiric bat virus unleashed upon the world. Discovered by the U.S. Military in South America, the virus is transported to a laboratory in the Colorado mountains where it is engineered to create a more invincible soldier. The virus’ potential benefits are profound: it has the power to make human beings immortal and indestructible. Buy This Book


A Visit From the Goon Squad

By Jennifer Egan

Jennifer Egan’s spellbinding interlocking narratives circle the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other’s pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa. Buy This Book

Freedom

By Jonathan Franzen

Readers will recognize the strains of suburban tragedy afflicting St. Paul, Minn.’s Walter and Patty Berglund, once-gleaming gentrifiers now marred in the eyes of the community by Patty’s increasingly erratic war on the right-wing neighbors with whom her eerily independent and sexually precocious teenage son, Joey, is besot, and, later, “greener than Greenpeace” Walter’s well-publicized dealings with the coal industry’s efforts to demolish a West Virginia mountaintop. Buy This Book

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

By Helen Simonson

In her charming debut novel, Simonson tells the tale of Maj. Ernest Pettigrew, an honor-bound Englishman and widower, and the very embodiment of duty and pride. As the novel opens, the major is mourning the loss of his younger brother, Bertie, and attempting to get his hands on Bertie’s antique Churchill shotgun—part of a set that the boys’ father split between them, but which Bertie’s widow doesn’t want to hand over. While the major is eager to reunite the pair for tradition’s sake, his son, Roger, has plans to sell the heirloom set to a collector for a tidy sum. As he frets over the guns, the major’s friendship with Jasmina Ali—the Pakistani widow of the local food shop owner—takes a turn unexpected by the major (but not by readers). Buy This Book

Super Sad True Love Story

By Gary Shteyngart

Mired in protracted adolescence, middle-aged Lenny Abramov is obsessed with living forever (he works for an Indefinite Life Extension company), his books (an anachronism of this indeterminate future), and Eunice Park, a 20-something Korean-American. Eunice, though reluctant and often cruel, finds in Lenny a loving but needy fellow soul and a refuge from her overbearing immigrant parents. Buy This Book


Someone Knows My Name

By Lawrence Hill

Abducted from Africa as a child and enslaved in South Carolina, Aminata Diallo thinks only of freedom—and of the knowledge she needs to get home. Sold to an indigo trader who recognizes her intelligence, Aminata is torn from her husband and child and thrown into the chaos of the Revolutionary War. Buy This Book

Mockingjay

By Suzanne Collins

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss? And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Buy This Book

The Irresistible Henry House

By Lisa Grunwald

It is the middle of the 20th Century, and in a home economics program at a prominent university, real babies are being used to teach mothering skills to young women. For a young man raised in these unlikely circumstances, finding real love and learning to trust will prove to be the work of a lifetime. Buy This Book


The Big Short

By Michael Lewis

A brilliant account—character-rich and darkly humorous—of how the U.S. economy was driven over the cliff. Much of what caused the recent financial crisis is buried in complicated financial transactions and shady accounting practices. This book does an outstanding job of demystifying the schemes that led to the meltdown. As such, it’s an accessible history of the period from 2005 to 2008, when the housing market imploded. Buy This Book

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

By Rebecca Skloot

The history of Henrietta Lacks, a poor Southern farmer whose cervical cancer cells were taken, without her knowledge, for scientific experimentation. A detective story that’s at once mythically large and painfully intimate. The book ultimately channels its journey of discovery though Henrietta’s youngest daughter, Deborah, who never knew her mother, and who dreamt of one day being a scientist. Buy This Book

Strengths Finder 2.0

By Tom Rath

Overcoming deficits is an essential part of the fabric of our culture. Our books, movies, and folklore are filled with stories of the underdog who beats one-in-a-million odds. And this leads us to celebrate those who triumph over their lack of natural ability even more than we recognize those who capitalize on their innate talents. As a result, millions of people see these heroes as being the epitome of the American Dream and set their sights on conquering major challenges. Unfortunately, this is taking the path of most resistance. Buy This Book

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