Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Best of 2010, Update 26

It's been ten books since my last update and, since the end of September comes in just a two of days, this will represent my Top 10 lists exactly three-quarters of the way through 2010.

To be considered this time are six novels and four nonfiction titles: Crying Tree (Naseem Rahka), The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai (Ruiyan Xu), The Hanging Tree (Bryan Gruley), "S" Is for Silence (Sue Grafton), Land of Ghosts (E.V. Seymour), Todos Santos (Deborah Clearman), The Gettysburg Approach to Writing and Speaking Like a Professional (Philip A. Yaffe), Tammy Wynette: Tragic Country Queen (Jimmy McDonough), Born Standing Up (Steve Martin) and A World without Islam (Graham E. Fuller).

With only three months to go, it is really getting difficult for a new title to crack either list.  This week shows just how tough, with only one of the ten titles gaining a ranking.  So, of 68 fiction titles, these remain my 10 favorites:

1. Cutting for Stone - Abraham Verghese (novel)
2. Matterhorn - Karl Marlantes (Vietnam War novel)
3. The Calligrapher's Daughter - Eugenia Kim (novel)
4. The White Garden - Stephanie Barron (literary alternate history)
5. Shadow of the Swords - Kamran Pasha (novel about the Third Crusade)
6. Remarkable Creatures - Tracy Chevalier (historical fiction)
7. Drood - Dan Simmons (historical fiction)
8. Beatrice and Virgil - Yann Martel (novel with a punch)
9. The Secret Speech - Tom Rob Smith (historical thriller)
10. Far Cry - John Harvey (police procedural)

And the nonfiction list, from a total of 26 read, changes just a bit with Tammy Wynette: Tragic Country Queen moving into what should prove to be a secure number 4 slot.

1. Lies My Mother Never Told Me - Kaylie Jones (memoir)
2. War - Sebastian Junger (about the daily lives of our soldiers in Afghanistan)
3. Man of Constant Sorrow - Ralph Stanley & Eddie Dean (biography)
4. Tammy Wynette: Tragic Country Queen - Jimmy McDonough (biography)
5. Losing My Cool - Thomas Chatterton Williams (memoir)
6. Roger Maris: Baseball's Reluctant Hero (biography)
7. Jane's Fame - Claire Harman (on the evolution of Jane Austen's reputation)
8. Composed: A Memoir - Rosanne Cash (memoir)
9. The Opposite Field - Jesse Katz - (memoir)
10. The Tennis Partner - Abraham Verghese (1998 memoir)

And there you have the best 20 books of the 94 I've read so far this year - with only three months to go, the list is starting to look pretty solid.


  1. Hard to believe you read so much,,your mind must be a wonderland of stories and frankly, your mind needs to be saved for mankind..thanks for all the reviews you do and you save the rest of us mortals from reading as much as you and still able to enjoy the books..

  2. My mind is more like in one ear and out the other, Mark. That's precisely why I started writing book reviews of what I read. I read enough that it was getting impossible for me to recall much about many of the books I read in prior years. This way, I have a 500-word reminder ready to help me recall some of the details and why I liked or did not like a particular book.