Thursday, December 16, 2010

The New York Times Book Review Best of 2010: Non-Fiction

Continuing from my last post, here are the New York Times Book Review selection s for the best non-fiction books of 2010

Apollo's Angels: A History of Ballet

by Jennifer Homans

While I can't say I'm a huge fan of ballet, I am a fan of the arts in general.  I mostly like the music that has been written for ballets but this could be a fascinating read. 

Cleopatra: A life

by Stacy Schiff

This also sounds interesting.  Biography is a genre I don't usually read, but I could always make an exception.

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
By Siddhartha Mukherjee.

Here's a different kind of biography, one about a disease.  It sounds pretty comprehensive and it's a subject I don't know much about even though I have had family members who have had cancer.

Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) With Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, ­Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes
By Stephen Sondheim.

I know he's really famous and talented, but I'm just not all that interested.  Can I just watch Sweeney Todd again instead?

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration
By Isabel Wilkerson.

Here's another book whose subject I know nothing about.  Could be informative.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The New York Times Book Review Best of 2010: Fiction

Every year around this time, I look forward to seeing what books were selected by the New York Times Book Review as the best of the year.  I've read several books in the past that made the list and enjoyed all of them.  A few examples are the novels A Mercy by Toni Morrison and Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl and the non-fiction books The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross and The Bounty by Caroline Alexander.  I'm not sying I completely agree with the opinions of the NYTBR panel, but it is a good source for finding books to read.  Here are my thoughs on this year's selections for fiction. 

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

This is the book that everyone was talking about this year.   I read the opening of Franzen's earlier book The Corrections and liked it.  I'm definitely curious about Freedom

The New Yorker Stories by Ann Beattie

I am not familiar with this author. 

Room by Emma Donoghue

The premise of this one is intriguing.  The story concerns a 5-year old boy and his mother who are trapped in a single room.  The story is narrated by the boy.  It's hard to imagine how an entire novel can be sustaiined by the narrative voice of a child but apparently it works. 

Selected Stories by William Trevor

Like the Beattie book, I am not familiar with this author. 

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

I really enjoyed Egan's previous book The Keep so I'm looking forward to this one.  It has an unusual narrative technique; it seems like a collection of short stories but it is really part of one big story.  One of the stories is told through a Power Point presentation.