New York Times Book Review: 100 Notable Books of 2010
Nice to see the under-rated Antonya Nelson on the fiction list (for Bound). Per Petterson's I Curse the River of Time (see my video review here) and How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu also get worthy nods. The list also reminds me that I want to read Tatjana Soli's The Lotus Eaters, as well as Louise Erdrich's Shadow Tag. But Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest also gets a coveted spot on the list? Really? In nonfiction, political works dominate. The kickass Rebecca Traister gets props for Big Girls Don't Cry. Elif Batuman's The Possessed and Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks continue their star-studded paths. Zadie Smith's book of essays is an obvious listing, as are the other Big Names (Eric Foner, Stephen Sondheim, Christopher Hitchens, Nathan Philbrick, Oliver Sacks, Ian Frazier, David Remnick, even Keith Richards). One wishes for more surprises here. Overall, the 100 Notable Books features almost no titles from independent publishers, and a mere four translations. Weirdly, unlike the other translated books on this list, Stieg Larsson's translator, Reg Keeland, goes uncredited. See the Times' Paper Cuts blog for the story on how the notable books were chosen.
O Magazine: Top Ten Books of 2010
The multi-genre rundown is an eclectic list that includes Jennifer's Egan's A Visit From the Goon Squad, Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story, and, of course, Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. The nonfiction titles tilt towards science (Siddartha Muhkerjee's biography of cancer, Rebecca Skloot's Henrietta Lacks book). Gail Caldwell's Let's Take the Long Way Home, which I read part of and found rather charming in a melancholic way, also makes the list. No independent publishers represented, and no translated titles. The magazine's website, sadly, seems to be deathly slow with loading.
Publisher's Weekly: Best Books of 2010
While the magazine comes off as a little defensive--boasting featured female writers after last's year's much-decried all-male list, putting Patti Smith on the cover--this is a pretty good list. More love comes for books by Jennifer Egan, Rebecca Skloot, and Jonathan Franzen--and Smith, of course. Isabel Wilkerson's book about the Great Migration is also featured (as it was on the Oprah and New York Times lists). I chafed a little to see Martin Amis' The Pregnant Widow spotlighted--though, to be fair, it isn't because I've read the book, but because of Amis's weird feminist-baiting in the press. The PW list includes several independent press titles, including Andrew Ervin's trio of linked novellas, Extraordinary Renditions (Coffee House), and Agaat by Marlene van Niekerk, translated from the Afrikaans by Michiel Hegus (Tin House). Agaat is one of the two translations named as a "best book," despite the magazine's claim that this year's list is "all over the globe." One of the few end-of-the-year lists to have a unique section for poetry, PW also names Anne Carson's Nox and Matthew Zapruder's Come On All You Ghosts among its favorites.
ALA Notable Books For Adults List, 2010
This is a strange list in that it seems to be indiscriminate about publishing parameters--many of these titles were published last year, but only had their paperback editions released in 2010, like, say, David Small's Stitches, which appears in the nonfiction part of this list. In fiction, the ALA's most interesting inclusions are The Convalescent by Jessica Anthony (first published by McSweeney's in 2009, then by Grove Press in 2010) and Spooner by Pete Dexter (Grand Central). Otherwise, it's fairly traditional literary luminaries that dominate--including Don Chaon, whose novel Await Your Reply still sits tantalyzingly on my TBR pile. Only two poetry titles are featured: Sherman Alexie's Face (Hanging Loose Press) and Stephen Dunn's What Goes On: Selected and New Poems 1995–2009. Overall, a decent selection of independent press titles.
Image Credit: The New York Times Book Review.