Thursday, October 21, 2010

Best of 2010, Update 27

I think I'm at a logical spot to update my Best of 2010 list for this month.  It's been three weeks since the last update and I have six new books for consideration (four novels and two nonfiction titles): Arctic Chill (Arnaldur Indridason), Dark Road to Darjeeling (Deanna Raybourn), The Paris Vendetta (Steve Berry), Two of the Deadliest (Elizabeth George, editor), At Home: A Short History of Private Life (Bill Bryson), and  George Washington: A Life (DeRon Chernow).

With just over two months to go in the year, I'm seeing fewer and fewer changes to the lists, especially on the fiction side.  This week the only two changes will be on the nonfiction list.  So, of 72 fiction titles read, 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)

But the nonfiction list, from a total of 28 read, changes way up at the top with both George Washington: A Life and At Home: A Short History of Private Life moving onto the list at numbers 1 and 5, respectively:

1. George Washington: A Life - Ron Chernow (biography)

2. Lies My Mother Never Told Me - Kaylie Jones (memoir)

3. War - Sebastian Junger (about the daily lives of our soldiers in Afghanistan)

4. Man of Constant Sorrow - Ralph Stanley & Eddie Dean (biography)

5. At Home: A Short History of Private Life - Bill Bryson (Sociology)

6. Tammy Wynette: Tragic Country Queen - Jimmy McDonough (biography)

7. Losing My Cool - Thomas Chatterton Williams (memoir)

8. Roger Maris: Baseball's Reluctant Hero (biography)

9. Jane's Fame - Claire Harman (on the evolution of Jane Austen's reputation)

10. Composed: A Memoir - Rosanne Cash (memoir)

And there you have the best 20 books of the 100 I've read so far this year - with only ten weeks to go.


  1. I found Roseanne Cash's memoir really self-congratulatory and not very interesting. I love Johnny Cash and really respect Roseanne Cash's music but was disappointed with this book.

    She didn't need to air dirty laundry but she addressed so little and left out so much and it seemed to mostly focus on how creative and different she is.

  2. Abby, I know what you're saying but it didn't bother me very much, I suppose, because I already know so much about John and his personal life. Going into the book, I was much more hoping to learn about Rosanne's relationship to her father and how she got into the business (other than capitalizing on her surname).

    I do wish there had been more detail about her marriage to Rodney Crowell and about the lives of her sisters. I've always wondered, for instance, how much musical talent they might have and whether or not they ever tried to get into the business, too.

    I enjoyed the book despite its flaws, though, and that's why it ranks at number 10 for the moment. If one more good nonfiction book comes my way, it will drop off the list but will remain one of my better reads for the year. It's all relative...

  3. I find myself watching your nonfiction list more closely than your fiction. The NF feels more exciting...maybe it's just me.

  4. I was really surprised to have two new ones crack my top 5 this late in the year, Susan. Shows that picking up any new book is an adventure. You just never know.