Happy New Year, Indie Albany!
A new year is the time for reflection, so I begin 2011 by looking back at the books that I read and enjoyed during 2010. One of the benefits of having a Kindle is that you can easily assemble such a list. Here are my top ten books in reverse order that I read them (some of the books were published earlier but I did not read them until 2010):
1. A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan. This is a multi-character study that shows how the choices that people make when they are young reverberate throughout their lives. Good reading for college-aged children.
2. Freedom – A Novel, by Jonathan Franzen. This is an obvious choice for me. The main characters are about my age and lived in St. Paul, Minnesota during the 1980’s. I enjoy reading about things I know (and did) from another perspective. In my neighborhood, the University of Minnesota was where the smart kids went, and not a “mediocre state school” that you chose to get away from your parents.
3. Room, by Emma Donoghue. I did a prior post on this book. I still find myself thinking about the characters and how she captured the child’s voice so well.
4. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot. If you worked with HeLa cells, you should read this book to learn about the woman who generated them. If you have never heard of HeLa cells, then you should read this book to find out what a huge impact these cells had on health care and science.
5. The Philosopher’s Apprentice, by James Morrow. This novel presents an interesting and disturbing ethical conundrum, whether you are pro-choice or pro-life. Reading Morrow’s books is like taking a college-level course in philosophy, only you don’t have to slog through the original texts and can understand what the professor is saying.
6. The Girl Who . . ., by Stieg Larsson. I read all three of these books this year. I devoured them like popcorn. They are an entertaining read.
7. Too Big to Fail, by Andrew Ross Sorkin. This is an insider’s view of the financial meltdown that occurred in September 2008. It’s scary to learn how close we were to a complete collapse. Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner are my heroes. If you don’t understand the need for government regulation of the financial markets after reading this book, you are not paying attention.
8. That Old Cape Magic, by Richard Russo. A study of two marriages and how easily they can get off-track. He writes interesting characters and has a keen sense of place.
9. Financial Lives of Poets, by Jess Walter. Another view of the financial crisis, but from the perspective of someone who was impacted by it and is trying to put his life back in order without losing his wife and his house. Funny, witty and heartbreaking.
10. A Gate at the Stairs, by Lorrie Moore. I loved her descriptions of how Midwesterners think and interact with others. Did you know “sounds good” is the Midwestern girl’s reply to everything? Sounds good. Another good book for college-aged children.