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Our second hour Monday featured two critics and a buyer from an independent bookstore on their picks for the best books of 2010. Throughout the show, by phone and on the Web, we heard from listeners on their top choices as well.
Here are some listener recommendations:
Rebecca wrote that Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom" was great, but her #1 was "Solar," by Ian McEwan. She was also moved by Chang-rae Lee's "The Surrendered." Chang-rae Lee joined us for a show back in March.
Claire, from Montpelier, VT, called to recommend “A Visit from the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan, which also appeared on guest Laura Miller's list. She said many people don't know how brilliant and original Egan's writing is.
Tina, in East Lansing, Mich., really enjoyed "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot, also on Laura Miller's list. She recommended it for anyone who loves science. She added that she did NOT enjoy Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom," despite it being a choice of her book club.
Cale, in Spokane, Wash., asked if any of our panel had read the anything from the "Honor Harrington" sci-fi series by David Weber, pointng it out as a good example of a male author writing a strong female lead. None of them had, but Cale's word is good enough for us.
Alan, in Boston, read all three Stieg Larsson novels this year. He said they were all a great read despite worrying that it might be a little "base" for our listening audience. The third, out this year, is "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest." On Point had a good panel discussion earlier this year on Larsson's books.
Jane from Hopkinton, MA, recommends two books one nonfiction, the other fiction. The nonfiction book is “The Other Wes Moore,” by Wes Moore. It’s a story of a young man growing up in inner-city Baltimore with no father who ended up being a Rhodes Scholar. The day he finds out about the scholarship he reads in the paper about another Wes Moore from the same area who had just been sentenced to life in prison. He started corresponding with the “other Wes Moore” and writes about their parallel lives. Jane's fiction recommendation was “Cutting for Stone,” by Abraham Verghese. Jane says that everyone in her book club loved it.
Rob from Lexington, VA, said he loved “The Lonely Polygamist” by Brady Udall. Rob said he found the book because he was working part-time in an independent bookstore and saw it on a list of bestsellers for independent bookstores. “It was story-telling at its best,” Rob said.
Sue called from North Creek, NY, to recommend a book of nonfiction “The Berlin Baghdad Express” by Sean McMeekin. (In full disclosure, Sue said she’s related to the author.) Sue said it’s about all the things Americans don’t know about World War I: how the Middle East got involved andwhat goes on today.
Ellen from Boston called to recommend “The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet” by David Mitchell, one of the finalists for The Booker Prize. It’s set in 18th century Japan at the Dutch East Indies Company trading post Dejima in the harbor of Nagasaki.
Linda from Virginia Beach, VA, called to recommend “Eaarth,” by environmentalist Bill McKibben. Linda said she bought 10 or 15 copies to hand out to her children with the hope that they will “wisen up” and teach her grandchildren that we need to be conservationists. (You can listen back to the conversation we had with Bill McKibben about “Eaarth” in April.)
Lenore called from Nashville, TN, to recommend a 2009 book she loved -- “Hotel On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” by Jamie Ford. It's Ford’s debut novel.
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