Top 20 books of 2010

Here are the books we really loved this year

Top 20 books of 2010

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Tiger John Vaillant
A chilling page turner—complete with an astonishing denouement—about a Siberian tiger’s revenge and the dangerous subsequent hunt for the man-killer.

Future Babble Dan Gardner
A witty, lively debunking of wrong-headed predictions about the future by “experts”—and why we frequently fail to notice their spectacularly dumb mistakes.

Even Silence Has an End Ingrid Betancourt
The kidnapped Colombian politician’s gripping account of years in jungle captivity features squabbling hostages, brutish deprivation and, somehow, hope.

The Truth Shows Up Harvey Cashore
A great investigative reporter’s account of his 15-year effort to bring the Airbus affair to light, which damaged not just Brian Mulroney but the journalist himself.

Parisians Graham Robb
With tiny, perfect character sketches of everyone from Napoleon to Haussmann, an entrancing life of Paris that reads like a Balzac novel.

Against Reform John Pepall
A clever and bracing contrarian critique of proposed reforms to our political institutions—an elected Senate, fixed election dates—and why they’d fail.

The Paper Garden Molly Peacock
A juicy biography of the 18th-century mixed-media collage pioneer—a grieving widow in her 70s—and brilliant exploration of late-life creativity.

The Emperor of All Maladies Siddhartha Mukherjee
An oncologist offers a moving, informative and elegantly written history of our eternal, and most intimate, deadly enemy: cancer.

Last Call Daniel Okrent
This superb social history of the rise and fall of Prohibition, that maddest of American utopian dreams, is a cautionary tale for the current war on drugs.

Finishing the Hat Stephen Sondheim
Opinionated, entertaining essays on the art and craft of lyric writing, accompanied by stunning photographs, from the man who gave us “West Side Story.”

Let’s Take the Long Way Home Gail Caldwell
A memoir of friendship between two writers, both recovering alcoholics and dog-lovers, who sustained and completed each other until one died, too soon.

Contested Will James Shapiro
A brilliant exposition of how and why the authorship controversy evolves in tandem with our ideas of how a writer reveals himself in his works.

Room Emma Donoghue
A stringently intelligent, creepily claustrophobic tale of a mother and son imprisoned in a garden shed becomes an epic of parenthood, through a child’s eyes.

A Visit from the Goon Squad Jennifer Egan
An utterly enthralling, stylistically inventive romp through the lives of indelibly drawn characters, many connected by music—a dazzling entertainment.

By Nightfall Michael Cunningham
With nods to Henry James and Thomas Mann, this masterful, literary exploration of mid-life marriage, malaise and desire, set in the Manhattan art world, packs a quiet wallop.

My Hollywood Mona Simpson
In pitch-perfect alternating chapters, a mom and her Filipino nanny create a stunning portrait of the uneasy mutual dependency at the heart of family life.

Super Sad True Love Story Gary Shteyngart
Often hilarious, this raunchy dystopian satire, set in near-future New York, achieves heft with a May-December romance that is, yes, super sad and feels true.

The Imperfectionists Tom Rachman
At an English-language newspaper in Rome, a cast of ink-stained wretches and their eccentric bosses struggle, comically and tragically, to stay afloat.

The Snakewoman of Little Egypt Robert Hellenga
Original and riveting, this love story between an ex-con who shot her husband and an anthropologist is an ode to the beauty of learning, crammed with fascinating digressions.

The Lonely Polygamist Brady Udall
A darkly comic, mesmerizing family drama about a Mormon with four wives and 28 children who feels increasingly disconnected from his family after the death of a child.

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