Archive for the ‘Best Books 2010’ Category

Favorites of the Year

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Best books lists can be stuffy, requiring all that dispassionate justification of “quality.” It’s often more fun to hear what people simply loved.

The UK’s Guardian asked various writers and other public figures to recommend their favorites of 2010. Their responses are strikingly different from the often dry annotations on best books lists. For instance, a book that has received plenty of admiring attention breathes new life from this passionate recommendation,

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell is as enjoyable as a Patrick O’Brian novel and much better written. It’s a brilliantly imagined journey through 17th-century Japan and Holland which is moving, thoughtful and unexpectedly funny.

Curtis Sittenfeld (author of American Wife) recommends Stiltsville, an EarlyWord favorite. Now that she’s won us over with that example of impeccible taste, we’re ready to give her second recommendation a try.

I fell in love with two American first novels. Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel (Harper) is the gorgeously written story of a marriage over several decades, and it takes place in Miami, Florida, a place so vividly depicted you feel like you’ve travelled there while reading. If You Follow Me by Malena Watrous (HarperPerennial) is about a college graduate who goes to teach English in Japan, thinking she’ll end up in Tokyo and instead landing in a rural nuclear power plant town. It’s funny in a sharp, dark, painfully true way.

So, please, help us create a “Librarian’s Favorites” list; tell us what you loved this year, complete with your heartfelt recommendation.

NYT Best Illustrated Childrens Books

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Picture books were dissed by the daily NYT recently (“Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children“), but the NYT Book Review clearly still believes in their importance. The 48th annual “Best Illustrated Children’s Book of 2010” is featured in the current issue. Many other picture books get attention in the special Children’s Books section (including a piece by EarlyWord Kid’s writer, Lisa Von Drasek on “Absurd Picture Books“).

Commenting on the Best Illustrated selections, Lisa says,

I am pleased, delighted and surprised that Bink And Golly by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee is on the list. I can’t remember an easy-to-read book making the list before. By definition, these books usually have very literal illustrations that do not reach “best illustrated” heights. I have adored that book since I first read it standing in a booth at ALA. The art, by Tony Fucile, is sweet, stunning and as the kids say…”the pictures go with the words” It is this kind of easy-to-read book all publishers should strive for…a limited language book that respects kids. It presents big ideas about friendship with art that not only illuminates the story but goes further (check out the one that shows Fred, the goldfish, in a barely visible in a frozen pond).

The book is also reviewed in the issue.

Bink and Gollie (Junior Library Guild Selection)
Kate DiCamillo, Alison McGhee
Retail Price: $15.99
Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: Candlewick – (2010-09-14)
ISBN / EAN: 076363266X / 9780763632663

Top Ten Final

Monday, November 8th, 2010

A Woman in the Top Ten

Publishers Weekly‘s selection of 2010’s Top Ten books arrives today, joining Library Journal‘s and the Amazon editors’ lists announced last week.

Unlike last year, when PW‘s Top Ten did not include a single woman, half of the titles this year are by women.

As we have come to expect, there is very little consensus. Just three titles appear on all three lists. Moreover, only one of the National Book Award finalists made these lists; the title by PW’s cover author, Patti Smith.

Below are the titles, followed by links to EarlyWord stories about them.


  • Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) — #6 on Amazon, also on LJ, PW FREEDOM IS #1





MORE Best Books Top Ten

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Publishers Weekly inaugurated their Top Ten Best Books list last year (a selection of the best of the best from their long list of best of the year). No-longer-sister-publication Library Journal follows suit with their own Top Ten list today.

Amazon also announced a Top Ten list today. LJ’s list is in alpha order. For comparison, we’ve arranged the titles by where they appear on Amazon’s Top 100.

  • Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) — #6 on Amazon
  • The Passage by Justin Cronin (Ballantine) — #16 on Amazon
  • The Tiger by John Vaillant (Knopf) — #34 on Amazon
  • Room by Emma Donoghue (Little, Brown) — #35 on Amazon
  • By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) — #36 on Amazon

IMMORTAL LIFE Leads Amazon’s Top 100

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

The Amazon editors have spoken; The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, Crown, is their top book of 2010 (the covers of the top four are shown above).

The only forthcoming title in the Top Ten is Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, Random House, at #4 and due out 11/16.

Franzen’s Freedom, FSG, makes the cut; it’s at #6.

In addition to Unbroken, three more forthcoming titles make in the Top 100,

  • Decoded, Jay-Z, ( Spiegel & Grau, 11/16), #98

Best Book-a-thon

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Just yesterday, we said that Publishers Weekly would be the first to publish a Best Books of 2010 list.

We were wrong, Amazon is going to beat them. The Amazon blog Omnivoracious, began tweeting the Amazon Editors’ Top 100, title by title yesterday. At 10 a.m. EST today, they will announce their Top Ten (on the Amazon site and on Twitter, #AmazonTop100).

PW‘s list, including their Top Ten, comes out on Monday. Meanwhile, their editors are blogging about their personal favorites.

Will Franzen make both lists? The world is waiting to hear.

There is agreement on at least one book; a cookbook from an EarlyWord neighborhood restaurant, Frankies Sputino (it’s #70 on Amazon and a one of the PW Editors’ personal picks).
The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual
Frank Falcinelli, Frank Castronovo, Peter Meehan
Retail Price: $24.95
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Artisan – (2010-06-14)
ISBN / EAN: 1579654150 / 9781579654153

Best Books Countdown

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Soon, we will be drowning in Best Books lists. The first of 2010, (unless you count Amazon’s Best of 2010…So Far; Jan thru June), is Publishers Weekly’s, arriving next week.

If you want a sneak peek, the PW editors are blogging about their favorites (with the exception of the Top Ten, which will be kept under wraps until next week. We’ll be interested to see if, like last year, no women authors will make the Top Ten).

Next Week: Tasty Nonfiction by Women

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Next week brings three female authors with fresh takes on topical subjects.

Big commercial expectations accompany The Wave: In Pursuit of Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean, by O magazine editor-in-chief Susan Casey, about rogue waves exacerbated by global warming (the largest was taller than the Empire State Building) and the extreme surfers who chase them. It is listed in USA Today’s fall books roundup. A review is scheduled for the upcoming NYT BR and it will be featured on Good Morning America on Monday, followed by The Daily Show the next evening.

The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean
Susan Casey
Retail Price: $27.95
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Doubleday – (2010-09-14)
ISBN / EAN: 0767928849 / 9780767928847

Promise Me: How a Sister’s Love Launched the Global Movement to End Breast Cancer by Nancy Brinker, is a memoir by the woman who founded Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which has raised more than a billion dollars for breast-cancer research.  Kirkus finds it “touching and inspring.” Library holds are growing, and it has been rising on Amazon too.

Promise Me: How a Sister’s Love Launched the Global Movement to End Breast Cancer
Nancy G. Brinker
Retail Price: $25.99
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Crown Archetype – (2010-09-14)
ISBN / EAN: 0307718123 / 9780307718129

Big Girls Don’t Cry by staff writer Rebecca Traister is a nuanced look back at the election of 2008, arguing that it changed the role of women in national politics. She spoke to librarians earlier in the year at the S&S editors’ Fall books presentation (the next one is Fri., Sept 24 from 9 to 12:30 at the S&S offices in NYC; email Michelle Fadlalla to RSVP or for more information). Traister is thoughtful, dynamic and passionate; sure to be on many talk shows.

PW says that “Traister does a fine job in showing that progress does not proceed in straight lines, and, sometimes, it’s the unlikeliest of individuals who initiate real change.”

Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women
Rebecca Traister
Retail Price: $26.00
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Free Press – (2010-09-14)
ISBN / EAN: 1439150281 / 9781439150283

Other Notable Nonfiction on Sale Next Week

Pinheads & Patriots: Where You Stand in the Age of Obama by Bill O’Reilly (Morrow) is another round of liberal bashing from the Fox News pundit.

Power Thoughts: 12 Strategies to Win the Battle of the Mind by Joyce Meyer (Faithwords) is the TV preacher’s followup to her bestseller Battlefield of the Mind. PW says “critics of Meyer will say she sounds like an infomercial (‘You will see amazing results’). Yet her many fans will continue to appreciate her upbeat attitude and her ability to offer practical tips on the toughest topics.”

Never Too Early

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Amazon just released their list of the Best Books of 2010.

That is, the Best of 2010…So Far.

It consists of four lists; the overall Editors’ Top Ten, plus the top ten in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Kids and Teens, of the books published from January through June.

Many on the Editor’s Top Ten list are already familiar titles (The Passage leads the pack), but there are some unexpected picks. The one with the lowest Amazon sale ranking is Country Driving, which is described by the editors this way,

Peter Hessler has observed the past 15 years of change in China with the patience and perspective–and necessary good humor–of an outsider who expects to be there for a while. He takes to the roads, as so many Chinese are doing now for the first time, driving on dirt tracks to the desert edges of the ancient empire and on brand-new highways to the mushrooming factory towns of the globalized boom. He’s an utterly enjoyable guide, with a humane and empathetic eye for the ambitions, the failures, and the comedy of a country in which everybody, it seems, is on the move.

Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory
Peter Hessler
Retail Price: $27.99
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Harper – (2010-02-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0061804096 / 9780061804090