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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

10 Best Books You Forgot to Read in 2010

**Please note that the books chosen and the words "spoken," so to speak, are Laura's entirely, and I changed absolutely nothing.**

Laura Trutna is a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog and writes on Online Universities for Guide to Online Schools.

In the midst of our busy lives, we often miss the chance to read simply for pleasure. Whether we are interested in short fiction, nonfiction, epics, romances, or guilty pleasures, there's something great waiting to be opened. Here is a short list of the best, oft over-looked, page-turners from 2010. - reader_1400052173

1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot

This investigative nonfiction novel tells the famous yet unknown story of Henrietta Lacks. In 1951, Henrietta died of cervical cancer and cells from her tumor were taken, without consent, to a lab in Johns Hopkins. There, the cells were reproduced over and over—50 million metric tons worldwide. They led to scientific breakthroughs like the polio vaccine and helped pioneer the cloning process. They've even been to space. But what of the woman herself? This book investigates the nature of science, the mysteries of biology and biography, and the ethics of a medical establishment that has made billions off of treatments that Henrietta's family themselves could never afford.

2. The Big Short, by Michael Lewis

A very topical book for 2010, The Big Short examines the global financial crisis of 2008, its continued fallout, and the few farsighted individuals who saw through the flawed mathematical models of Wall Street to profit from its shortcomings. Lewis's dry, conversational writing portrays the actions of a few men, like Steve Eisman, who bet against the grain and made millions on the hope that many Americans would soon go bankrupt. Steven Pearlstein assessed it as, at times, "a modern-day farce" but one that, in the end and like its characters, vindicates itself and "manages to give us the truest picture yet of what went wrong on Wall Street—and why."

3. A Visit From the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan

Told through the lens of the modern-day music scene, this composite of writing structure and technique explores the trials of the Boomer generation growing old in a society changed and eroded by technology. The book draws to a close in 2020, in a world reshaped by the war on terror. Ron Charles, in his Washington Post review, credits Eagan as she "transcends slick boomer nostalgia and offers a testament to the redemptive power of raw emotion in an age of synthetic sound and glossy avatars."

4. Room, by Emma Donoghue

A haunting story of hope and survival, Room follows the daily life of its 5-year-old narrator Jack, who lives with his Ma in the isolation of a single 11x11 room which they never leave. Their prison is breached only at night by the mysterious and sinister Old Nick, until one day Jack learns there's a world outside Room. His fear of the unknown, his delight in simplicity, knows nothing of his mother's imprisonment and abuse. The result is extremely evocative.

5. Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang, by Chelsea Handler

Many would hesitate to pick up this guilty pleasure read. However, Handler's writing is witty and without pretense, balancing well between irreverent comedy, memoir, and complete fiction. Her stories about her mother and father, embarrassing one-night stands, and drunken shenanigans-all laced with extreme hyperbole—will have you laughing out loud... and recognizing a bit of yourself.

6. Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers

Eggers tells the true story of Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a painting contractor who found himself defending his property in the face of Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans' shattered levees. Eventually taking to his canoe and rescuing people from the waters, he is thanked by an armed squad who arrests him, accuses him of Al Qaeda involvement, and imprisons him. The book, through Zeitoun's private thoughts and experiences, becomes a searing examination of the Bush administration and the human tragedy in New Orleans.

7. Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace, by David Lipsky

A sort of literary "Almost Famous," Lipsky—who began the novel as a piece for Rolling Stone— joined Wallace at the end of his promotional tour for Infinite Jest in 1996. The article was cancelled, but the resulting voice recordings—five days of ramblings, musing, thoughts, history, and philosophy from the writer (who committed suicide in 2008)—gave way to a novel full of honesty and earnestness; a glimpse into a deeply troubled, but gifted, psyche.

8. Nox, by Anne Carson

Not so much a novel as an epitaph, scrapbook, poem, and reconstruction, Carson's Nox is a story of a man, her brother, who ran away from home in 1978, died in unexpectedly in 2000, and who she barely knew. The story takes shape in folded, accordian-like pages which include photos, handwriting, stamps, stains, and old letters—a faithful reproduction of her own notebook and her attempt to remember and mourn her brother.

9. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

Collin's adventure takes place in a post-apocalyptic North America, ruled over by a totalitarian capitol which lives in extreme wealth while checking the lesser, once rebellious, provinces in check with poverty and a Gladiator-style sacrificial rite known only as the Hunger Games. Technically classified as Teen fiction, this novel surprises with its stark representation of survival and its implied critique of the human fascination with pain, power, and aesthetics.

10. Beatrice & Virgil, by Yann Martel

From the author of Life of Pi comes another anthropomorphized epic about nature, survival, and the true nature of evil and the human spirit. The main characters are the narrator, Henry, and a taxidermist who writes a play about a donkey named Beatrice and a howler monkey named Virgil. Their experiences stranded in the desert and the horrors they overcome (torture, sadism, murder) are exercises in survival. The taxidermist, who records it, represents preservation while the reader bears witness. The result is a representation of the Holocaust, of collective memory, and of the meaning of what it is to be human.

Thanks so much to Laura and My Dog Ate My Blog for guest posting today! I have to say these books sounds super-interesting. I, myself, will have to go and get a few. Happy Reading everyone! :D


Andrea said...

This is a great list! I guess I did forget to read them in 2010, because the only book I've read on there is the Hunger Games. :)

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