Books of the year, 2010

by on November 16, 2010 at 6:54 am in Books | Permalink

Here is a meta-list of "best books of the year" lists; the selections I looked at did not thrill me, so here's my own list, in no particular order.  First tier:

Ernest Gellner: An Intellectual Biography, by John A. Hall.

Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, by Siddhartha Mukherjee.

Charles Emmerson, The Future History of the Arctic.

Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, by Diarmaid MacCulloch.

David Grossman, To the End of the Land.

State of Emergency: The Way We Were: Britain, 1970-1974, by Dominic Sandbrook.

The Penguin Book of Irish Poetry, edited by Patrick Crotty.

Winston's War: Churchill 1940-1945, by Max Hastings.

Kai Bird, Crossing Mandelbaum Gate: Coming of Age Between the Arabs and Israelis, 1956-1978.

Peter Hessler, Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory.

Joel Mokyr, The Enlightened Economy: An Economic History of Britain 1700-1850.

As toss-ins, from the second tier, there are Understanding the Book of Mormon, Philippson's Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life, The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam, Peter Watson's The German Genius, Mark Schatzger's Steak, Lydia Davis's Madame Bovary translation, Vietnam: Rising Dragon, Daniel Okrent's Last Call, Gary Gorton's The Panic of 2007, Baba Yaga Laid an Egg, W. John Kress, The Weeping Goldsmith: Discoveries in the Land of Myanmar, a few more good books here, and last but not least Cowen and Tabarrok Modern Principles

Brought to you by The Age of the Infovore.

misplaced trust co. November 16, 2010 at 3:39 am

Among the other books you've positively noted throughout the year, I'd say Red Plenty, by Francis Spufford was my favorite. Thanks as always for sharing your infovoraciousness.

Marie November 16, 2010 at 4:59 am

So there's only one fiction work on this list. I like your fiction recommendations as they tend to be things I don't normally come across. That and it's funny to tell people you're reading a novel that was recommended on an economics blog.

Anderson November 16, 2010 at 5:39 am

Yes, MacCulloch's is going to be "the" single-volume treatment for some time.

Glad to see the love for the Max Hastings, which strikes just the right balance in evaluating Churchill's wartimes strengths and weaknesses; its treatment of his relations w/ FDR and w/ the British public is very good.

Chuck November 16, 2010 at 6:54 am

Any chance of getting a 'best books out on paperpack' list?

Sean P. November 16, 2010 at 7:35 am

I bought Country Driving and The Future History of the Arctic together and really enjoyed both. The latter is particularly interesting as a follow up to Barry Lopez's Arctic Dreams 25 years later.

Too bad there's no way to filter the meta list to exclude any list naming Freedom as one of the best novels of the year.

Chuck November 16, 2010 at 11:07 am

@lemme caution: genius!

R. Pointer November 18, 2010 at 3:53 pm

I am disappointed that "Why Europe?" didn't make this list. Even though the original German came out in 2003. That book deserves another mention. Not the least that I bought it on your recommendation.

Kunta November 19, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Lily white list…

Fred November 20, 2010 at 3:12 pm

I'm sure these are fine books, but they look like a preview of the 2015 library book sale "Like-New! bookshelf.

No single author poetry books? One fiction book? Aren't we all so boring during the day that a little fiction and/or poetry isn't in order?

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