The Best Books We Read in 2010

Most "best of" lists look at the books that were published in the last 12 months, but many of the memorable books that you read aren't necessarily new. Here's a list of the best books that the staff of the Leonard Lopate Show read in 2010 that were published earlier. And other folks at WNYC were kind enough to share their picks as well. 

Julia Corcoran, Assistant Producer:

Memory Wall by Anthony Doerr
“I’d never heard of the author before I read this book of short stories, and the writing and the stories were incredible and inventive, written from many different points of view, covering the present, history, even the future.”

Melissa Eagan, Executive Producer:

A Chance Acquaintance by William Dean Howells
“It’s slender book about two very different people who meet, and are forced to spend time together. The sort of novel that stays with you, long after you’ve finished it.”

Blakeney Schick, Associate Producer:

Columbine by Dave Cullen
“Published 10 years after the shooting, Dave Cullen has done many interviews and an amazing amount of research to understand why the 2 high school seniors attacked their school and how the rest of the world, led by the media, reacted. It’s both well-written and very moving."

Steven Valentino, Assistant Producer:

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay.
“Economic bubbles, the crusades, and other assorted idiocies/horrors from throughout the ages! It’s all here!


Contributing Producers and Interns

Cary Barbor:

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
“I hate to throw around the word ‘masterpiece,’ but I think this just may be one. A gorgeous, gorgeous novel.”

Barbara Cahn:

Arctic Chill by Arnuldur Indridason
“I’m a fan of his Icelandic mysteries, which give a real insight into the workings of this very isolated country.”

Virginia Dorris:

Just Kids by Patti Smith

Kim Gittleson:

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
“I’ve read almost every National Book Award winner and this is far and away my favorite selection: each sentence is better than the next, and better than the best sentence you’ve ever read.”

Matt Gurry:

Three Plays by Mae West
“Out of nowhere, I went on a Mae West kick this year and ‘discovered’ these plays...almost 90 years after everyone else did.  Each play--Sex, The Drag, and Pleasure Man--gave her legal strife (indecency! the horror!); wit and sex appeal, it seems, make dangerous bedfellows.”

Fran Jacobs:

The Man Without Qualities, Volume 2: Into the Millennium by Robert Musil

Cristina Maldonado:

There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz

Jessica Raimi:

Waterfront: A Walk Around Manhattan by Phillip Lopate
“He walked the entire circumference of the island – at a leisurely pace – and he expertly covers its vistas, history and architecture, but wears his erudition lightly.”

Dan Volpe:

Sunnyside by Glen David Gold

Karen Frillman, WNYC News Editor:

My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk
“I love Pamuk’s obsession with perspective and details, this time in the form of the miniaturists who populate the pages. Each evening I wanted to linger in the lavishly created world and the politics of color. The brilliant structure of choosing unexpected narrators as story tellers reminds me I want to finish the Pamuk canon this year and read his earliest novel, “The Black Book” and “Istanbul – Memories and the City.”

Sarah Montague, Producer of Selected Shorts:

Rita Mae Brown’s series of mysteries set in Virginia foxhunting country.
“Enchanting vivid descriptions of fox hunting with lots of detail from the perspectives of foxes, owls, horses and hounds.”

John Schaefer, host of Soundcheck and New Sounds:

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
“Life in and out of the music biz is the ostensible topic of this novel, but in fact it’s the multiple lives of the characters that’s in play here. Plus, a remarkable chapter written in PowerPoint slide and postulating, among other things, the power of a pause in music.”

To listen to Jennifer Egan on Soundcheck in October, click here.