Reading the Top 10 Books of the Year lists

I cannot resist a Top 10 Book List, which can be sort of a time suck because just about every publication, website and book blogger has a “Best of 2010” list going right about now. I like to see how many I’ve read (often less than half; okay, sometimes just one or two) and see if I agree.

This year is extra special because I look at each list wondering if finally there will be one that doesn’t include Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. (Three Franzen-free lists: The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Slate). I look at The New York Times 100 Notable Books list and lose interest after a while (100!) and so switch to its Top 10. I check out lists in Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal, as well as Kirkus magazine’s Top 25 each for fiction (ah! No Franzen here, either), nonfiction and mysteries.  I quickly scan the lists to see if two of my favorite novels of the year (The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman and The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall) have made it; I nod approvingly each time I see The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (even though I haven’t read it — yet).

But the lists that get me most excited are from readers – not reviewers. Readers in one of our Library book groups, Let’s Talk About Books, will share Top 10 lists at our first meeting in January.  This will be our fourth year doing it, and it’s pure pleasure for us to have spent the year sharing books we’ve liked, and then see which ones rose to the top. We have readers from out of town (and out of the country!) who send in their Top 10 lists; we have readers who start talking mid-summer about how “this one is a strong contender for my Top 10” and we have readers who will thank other readers for suggesting books that became favorites.

My co-workers and I also exchange Top 10 lists each year, and although I see them almost daily, it’s always a wonderful surprise to see the wide array of books that end up on our lists.

 Care to share any of your favorites from 2010?

One thought on “Reading the Top 10 Books of the Year lists”

  1. One of my very favourite books I’ve read this year was “The Passage” by Justin Cronin. This is not the kind of book I usually read: a post-apocalyptic story featuring vampirish creatures and yadayadayada. However, it does feature several likable and interesting characters and it is a page-turner to rival “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”

    Another thing of interest for those who appreciate a bit of back story is that this book came about because of a conversation the author had with his daughter, who suggested that he write a story about a girl who saves the world (see his interview with Nancy Pearl here: Nancy Pearl interview ). Given that context, “The Passage” can also be read as an homage of sorts to the relationship between fathers and daughters, although that’s just my interpretation.

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