Our Best Books of 2010

Leonard Lopate talks to a lot of authors on his show and like many of our listeners, the staff often ends up reading them too. Here's a list of the books that were published in 2010 that stood out to the staff of the Lopate Show and to other folks at New York Public Radio.

Julia Corcoran, Assistant Producer:

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis
"Michael Lewis offers a clear analysis of what caused the financial crash by telling the stories of the people involved, what they did, and why."

Melissa Eagan, Executive Producer:

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
“This came out in paperback this year and while it’s a novel, the interconnected chapters are told through different characters’ viewpoints. It’s very moving, and tender, and funny – and I especially enjoyed how opinions you’d made about people are suddenly turned upside down.”

Blakeney Schick, Associate Producer:

Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes by Stephen Sondheim
“I’ve loved his musicals for years, but this book is more than a memoir. It’s like a master class on how lyrics work, how you can improve them, and how they can help make a musical become magical.”

Steven Valentino, Assistant Producer:

The Whale by Philip Hoare
“Every page of this book contains at least one fascinating fact related to whales; from the real life history behind Moby Dick to NASA’s use of sperm whale oil as a lubricant for delicate machinery on rocket ships.”


Contributing Producers and Interns

Cary Barbor:

Dogfight: A Love Story by Matt Burgess
“The story takes place over one weekend in Queens but Burgess’s characterizations manage to incorporate nearly the whole world. I read a lot of it on the subway and the story was gripping enough to make me miss my stop more than once.”

Max Bass:

The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hip by Dan Charnas
“The stories of the people who transformed a street art into a billion dollar industry.  Charnas examines the different eras of hip-hop from a business perspective, highlighting the vices and virtues of both the industry and the music.”

Barbara Cahn:

Just Kids by Patti Smith
“I felt that she really brought to life an era of NYC history, and an artistic scene, that I’ve always wished I could have been a part of.”

Virginia Dorris:

Just Kids by Patti Smith

Kim Gittleson:

The Big Short by Michael Lewis
“We’re only beginning to figure out what exactly caused the financial collapse. This book, along with 'Too Big to Fail' by Andrew Ross Sorkin, paints the most vivid, coherent, comprehensible picture of just what exactly happened on Wall Street and, more importantly, why it happened.”

Matt Gurry:

Packing for Mars by Mary Roach
“Her latest book was the first of hers I read, and it's what introduced me to a now-favorite author.  I've enjoyed her back catalog of books and magazine articles, picking up great science facts for cocktail parties about ghosts, sex, and corpses.”

Fran Jacobs:

Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff

Cristina Maldonado:

A Rope and a Prayer by David Rohde and Kristen Mulvihill

Jessica Raimi:

The Line by Olga Grushin
“In a city much like Moscow, a kiosk appears on the street one day. No one knows what’s being sold there, and the window is closed, but people up outside it just the same, in case something good will be offered. A fascinating portrait of Russians coping with scarcity.”

Dan Volpe:

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

Karen Frillman, WNYC News Editor:

By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham
“The specificity of the world Cunningham created was a big part of the pleasure for me. It takes place in Manhattan and Connecticut so the roads are familiar and it’s interesting to travel them with Cunningham. I read it in two sittings. The story is intimate and to my ear, Cunningham’s writing is like a Bach cantata – elegant and introspective.”

Sarah Montague, Producer of Selected Shorts:

Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia by Michael Korda

John Schaefer, host of Soundcheck and New Sounds:

Life by Keith Richards
“Even the blurb on the inside of the front cover is entertaining – yeah, believe it or not, I do remember it all, says Keith. A wild ride that somehow strains credulity even as it is utterly convincing.”