DOUG JOHNSON: In December, many American newspapers publish a list of the best books of the year. Mario Ritter tells us about some of the favorite books of two thousand ten.
Books of 2010
MARIO RITTER: “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen is one of the most repeatedly praised books on this year’s lists of favorites. It tells about the ups and downs of the Berglund family over many years. Mr. Franzen fills the book with sharp observations about American politics, culture and society.
Jennifer Egan’s book “A Visit from the Goon Squad” takes place in thirteen chapters over forty years. The story moves back and forth in time, from different viewpoints. One main character is former rock musician Bennie Salazar who works for a record company. The other main character is a troubled young woman named Sasha who works for Bennie. The reader learns about their pasts and those of their friends.
The main character in “The Imperfectionists” by Tom Rachman is a failing English language newspaper published in Rome, Italy. Each chapter of the book tells about a reporter or editor working for this paper. Their stories are filled with intelligence and great personality.
“Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” by Helen Simonson takes place in a small town in England. Retired British army officer Ernest Pettigrew feels lonely after the death of his wife. He becomes friends with Mrs. Ali. She is a Pakistani-born shop owner living in the same town who has lost her husband. The two must decide between their feelings for each other and the opinions of friends and family about their relationship.
Two of the most popular non-fiction books of two thousand ten were about rock and roll stars. “Just Kids” is by rock singer Patti Smith. It tells about her friendship with the artist Robert Mapplethorpe in the nineteen sixties and seventies before they became famous.
“Life” is the autobiography of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. It is an honest and exciting look at the development of rock and roll and the wild times this famous band has experienced.
“Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand tells about a man named Louis Zamperini. She tells about his extraordinary survival story after his plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean during World War Two.
Stacy Schiff has received great praise for her book “Cleopatra: A Life.” It tells about one of the most misrepresented and famous women in history, Cleopatra. She ruled ancient Egypt about two thousand years ago. One critic said Ms. Schiff has brought Cleopatra to life again by unearthing her story from centuries of lies.