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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

10 Best Books of the Year? You decide

John Singer Sargeat, Man Reading, undated
Posted by Staff

The New York Times recently put out it's list of the 100 Notable Books of the Year.  They further culled the list to the top 10 - five fiction picks and five non-fiction.  Descriptions that follow are paraphrased from the NYT book reviews.

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
At a small college on the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan, the baseball team sees its fortunes rise and then rise some more with the arrival of a supremely gifted shortstop.

11/22/63 by Stephen King
Throughout his career, King has explored fresh ways to blend the ordinary and the supernatural. This new novel imagines a time portal in a Maine diner that lets an English teacher go back to 1958 in an effort to stop Lee Harvey Oswald and ...also allows King to reflect on questions of memory, fate and free will as he richly evokes midcentury America.

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
An alligator theme park, a ghost lover, a Styx-like journey through an Everglades mangrove jungle: Russell’s first novel, about a girl’s bold effort to preserve her grieving family’s way of life, is suffused with humor and gothic whimsy.

Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson
Henderson’s fierce, elegiac novel, her first, follows a group of friends, lovers, parents and children through the straight-edge music scene and the early days of the AIDS epidemic.

The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obrecht
As war returns to the Balkans, a young doctor inflects her grandfather’s folk tales with stories of her own coming of age, creating a vibrant collage of historical testimony that has neither date nor dateline.

Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens
Our intellectual omnivore’s latest collection could be his last (he’s dying of esophageal cancer). The book is almost 800 pages, contains more than 100 essays and addresses a ridiculously wide range of topics, including Afghanistan, Harry Potter, Thomas Jefferson, waterboarding, Henry VIII, Saul Bellow and the Ten Commandments, which Hitchens helpfully revises.

The Boy in the Moon: A Father's Journey to Understand His Extraordinary Son by Ian Brown.
A feature writer at The Globe and Mail in Toronto, Brown combines a reporter’s curiosity with a novelist’s instinctive feel for the unknowable in this exquisite book, an account ... of his son, Walker, who was born with a rare genetic mutation that has deprived him of even the most rudimentary capacities.

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable.
From petty criminal to drug user to prisoner to minister to separatist to humanist to martyr. Marable, who worked for more than a decade on the book and died earlier this year, offers a more complete and unvarnished portrait of Malcolm X than the one found in his autobiography. The story remains inspiring.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
We overestimate the importance of whatever it is we’re thinking about. We misremember the past and misjudge what will make us happy. In this comprehensive presentation of a life’s work, the world’s most influential psychologist demonstrates that irrationality is in our bones, and we are not necessarily the worse for it.

A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in America's Civil War by Amanda Foreman.
Which side would Great Britain support during the Civil War? Foreman gives us an enormous cast of characters and a wealth of vivid description in her lavish examination of a second battle between North and South, the trans-Atlantic one waged for British hearts and minds. 

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