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Mostly lists and information about award books and other interesting lists of books, color coded as follows:

RED–Read since ~2000
PINK–Read before that
BLUE–To Be Read and Added to Goodreads

NOTE: Listings may not be complete and sources aren't always quoted but I'm working on that.

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Book Montage

Catherine 's to-read book montage

The Endless Steppe: Growing Up in Siberia
The Vanishing of Katharina Linden
Only You Can Save Mankind
Nice and Mean
Cruisers Book 1
The City of Ember
Crispin: The End of Time
Lost Goat Lane
Amelia Rules! Volume 1: The Whole World's Crazy
How I, Nicky Flynn, Finally Get a Life
As Simple as It Seems
Wolf Brother
The Ogre of Oglefort
The Pickle King

Catherine 's favorite books »

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Queen Sofia Spanish Institute Translation Prize (2009)

from SA 012910

Dr. Edith Grossman has won the inaugural [2009 or 2010?] Queen Sofia Spanish Institute Translation Prize for her translation of A Manuscript of Ashes by Antonio Muñoz Molina, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2008. The award will be presented next Tuesday, February 2, at a ceremony presided over by Institute chairman Oscar de la Renta that will include a dialogue between the author and translator.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Telegraph's top new novelists for 2010

"How do you spot a rising star, that new voice in literature that will really make an impression?" asked the Telegraph, then answered the question by choosing its "top new novelists for 2010." The list includes:

The Privileges by Jonathan Dee
Chef by Jaspreet Singh
Rupture by Simon Lelic
This Bleeding City by Alex Preston
Day for Night by Frederick Reiken
Secret Son by Laila Lalami
Serious Men by Manu Joseph - can't find author or title on Goodreads 1/22/10
Cross Country Murder Song by Philip Wilding
Ruby’s Spoon by Anna Lawrence Pietroni
Children of the Sun by Max Schaefer - can't find author or title on Goodreads 1/22/10
Tiger Hills by Sarita Mandanna - can't find author or title on Goodreads 1/22/10

US Military History

US Military History from ForeignPolicy.com By Tom Ricks

These are my picks-books that I loved. Your choices may be very different. Keeping yourself to just ten, what would they be?

The American Revolution
Washington's Crossing (Pivotal Moments in American History)
By David Hackett Fischer
Hands down, Fischer is my favorite historian. I have read every book he has written, and one of them, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America, his masterpiece, twice. After this, check out his Paul Revere's Ride. I'd love to see him take on the Civil War sometime.

Civil War
Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States)
By James M. McPherson
A lively, sweeping, comprehensive history of our most important war.

Indian Wars
Son of the Morning Star
By Evan S. Connell
A great take on Custer, and also of the life of the American soldier in the taking of the West.

World War II
I think our best-written war. If you haven't, read these next two together:

Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest
by Stephen Ambrose
With a company of the 101st Airborne from D-Day to the end of World War II. I was reading this book once aboard a Marine CH-53 flying off Bosnia, and the grizzled old sergeant running the helicopter saw the book and gave me two thumbs up. By the way, I think the HBO series based on this book is the best war movie ever made.

by Joseph Heller.
The flip side of the band of brothers: Someone is trying to kill me, even though I have done nothing to him. More of a military book than many remember. "Without realizing how it had come about," Heller writes, "the combat men in the squadron discovered themselves dominated by the administrators appointed to serve them." Thus is it always.

And two from the war in the Pacific:

With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa
by E.B. Sledge.
No one passage or quotation leaps out, just the clear-eyed descriptions of mud, filth, flies and maggots by a young Marine who was amazed to be alive when the war ended ("You will survive," a mysterious voice assured him during a battle) and went on to become a professor of biology.

Thunder Below
by Eugene Fluckey.
A bad title for a sprightly memoir by a young submarine captain in the Pacific war, written by an old man looking back as a retired admiral, perhaps a bit amazed at the feats of his reckless youth. After sneaking into a harbor and shelling Japanese ships, he ran his sub into shoals, figuring correctly that no one would be crazy enough to follow him.


This Kind of War: The Classic Korean War History
by T.R. Fehrenbach.
The book to read about the Korean War, if only for one passage: "You may fly over a land forever, you may bomb it, atomize it, pulverize it and wipe it clean of life -- but if you desire to defend it, protect it and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground, the way the Roman legions did, by putting your young men into the mud." This should hang on a wall somewhere in Washington. I am always amazed at the amount of mud that military operations churn up. And how heavy it can be on your boots. In parts of Iraq, the mud is like cement-gray, heavy and very difficult to chip off.


Both these Vietnam books are as much about how war changes people as about the war itself.

Achilles In Vietnam : Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character
by Jonathan Shay.
Written by a full-time veterans' counselor. "Bad leadership is a cause of combat trauma," but good training is a preventive medicine that can reduce trauma. Even so, "prolonged combat can wreck the personality." It makes me think of Oliver Wendell Holmes' report to his mother after the battle of Cold Harbor in 1864 that he was done.

The Nightingale's Song by Robert Timberg

Obscure title, but a wonderful book about how war shaped John McCain, James Webb, Oliver North, and others schooled at the Naval Academy in the 1960s.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

2007 Fiction List from TADA

2007 Adult Fiction

Aciman, Andre. Call Me By Your Name (IngRec112108)Baker, Ellen. Keeping the house (GreatLakesAward08)bookonly@gpl&ppl
Berlinski, Mischa. Fieldwork (NBA-Nat'l Book Award finalist)
Black, Benjamin. Christine Falls (EdgarNom) book & cd GPL
Bolano, Roberto. Savage detectives (NYTtop10) PPL book only, not at GPL
Bruen, Ken. The Dramatist SHAMUS AWARD WINNER, BARRY AWARD WINNER Best British Novel
Canon, James. Tales from the town of widows (IngRec 050608) book only PPL&GPL
Bowen, Rhys. Oh Danny Boy -- Sue Feder Historical Mystery
Brooks, Geraldine. People of the Book (National Book Critics Circle)
Cartwright, Justin. The Song Before It Is Sung (BG110208)
Christensen, Kate. Great man. PEN/Faulkner award
Coetzee, J.M. Diary of a Bad Year (National Book Critics Circle)
Chabon, Michael. The Yiddish Policeman's Union (IngRec112807) book & cd at GPL
Chevalier, Tracy. Burning Bright
Davis,Lydia. Varieties of Disturbance (NBA-Nat'l Book Award finalist)
Eck, Matthew. The Farther Shore (B&N Discover Great New Writers Awards, Milkweed National Fiction prize,)
Erickson, Steve. Zeroville (National Book Critics Circle)
Ferris, Joshua. Then We Came to the End (NBA-Nat'l Book Award finalist)(B&N Discover Great New Writers Awards)
Diaz, Junot. Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (National Book Critics Circle) (IngRec112807)
French, Tana. In the woods (Edgar winner08) book&cd@gpl
Dillard, Annie. Maytrees. PEN/Faulkner award
Follett, Ken. World Without End (Pillars of the Earth (1989) is prequel).
Goodwin, Jason. Snake Stone (NPR081408)Hage, Rawi. De Niro's Game (IngBkGrp080408)
Harrison, Jim. Returning to earth. PNBA award Book only at GPL, book & cd at PPLHenkin, Joshua. Matrimony (IngBkGrp080408)
Hughes, Declan. The Wrong Kind of Blood SHAMUS AWARD BEST FIRST NOVEL
Halaby, Laila. Once in a Promised Land (ShelfAwareness 030507)
Hall, Steven. Raw shark texts. Borders Original Voices Award. book only @GPL&PPL
Kagen, Lesley. Whistling in the dark (RecbyCarolynCT)
Johnson, Denis. Tree of Smoke (NBA-Nat'l Book Award winner, PNBA award winner)
Hand, Elizabeth. Illyria. (08WorldFantasyAward) not@gplorppl
Jiles, Paulette. Stormy weather (IngRec 081808 book@GPL)McNally, T.M. Gateway. PEN/Faulkner award
Marshall, Joseph. Hundred in the hand (#1Lakota series)Marx, Patricia. Him her him again the end of him (IngRec 082008 Thurber nominee book@GPL)
Miura, Tetsuo. Shame in the blood (IngRev121107) PPL book only
Kay, Guy Gavriel. Ysabel (08WorldFantasyAward) book@gpl
Leavitt, David. Indian clerk. PEN/Faulkner award
Lippman, Laura. No Good Deeds, ANTHONY AWARD WINNER
Packer, Ann. Songs Without Words (IngBkGrp080408)
Petterson, Per. Out Stealing Horses (IngRec112807)
Pickard, Nancy. The Virgin of Small Plains MACAVITY AWARD WINNER Best Mystery Novel
Pritchett, Michael. The Melancholy Fate of Capt. Lewis (WP110407)
Rash, Ron. Chemistry and other stories. PEN/Faulkner award
Patchett, Ann. Run (2007) book & cd at GPL
Shepard, Jim. Like You’d Understand, Anyway (NBA-Nat'l Book Award finalist)
Pelecanos, George. The Night Gardener - BARRY AWARD WINNER Best Novel
Thomas, Michael. Man gone down. (NYTtop10)
Penny, Louise. Still Life - BARRY AWARD WINNER Best first Novel
Roth, Philip. Exit Ghost (IngRec112807) book & cd at GPL
Ruff, Matt. Bad monkeys PNBA award GPL&PPL book only
Stone, Nick. Mr. Clarinet MACAVITY AWARD WINNER Best First Novel
Thomson, Rupert. Death of a Murderer (IngBkGrp080408)
Vargas Llosa, Mario. Bad girl. (IngRec112007)
Vida, Vendela. Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name (B&N Discover Great New Writers Awards)
Wellington, David. 13 Bullets, a vampire tale (Unshelved 090608)
Wodicka, Tod. All shall be well (IngRec022508) PPL book only, not at GPL
Russo, Richard. Bridge of Sighs
Anderson, Kurt. Heyday (Best Hist Fic07)
Bohijalian, Chris. Double bind (DTarpley07)
Kyle, Aryn. The God of Animals PNBA winner, book & cd at GPL
O'Flynn. Catherine. What was lost (Costa First Novel Award, 2007)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Borders Original Voices (2005,2009)

Winners of Borders Group's 2009 Original Voices Awards, recognizing "original and compelling works by new authors," are:

The Calligrapher's Daughter by Eugenia Kim (Holt). The selection committee called this "a thought-provoking novel that will stick with you after reading it because of its atmosphere, life lessons and historical perspective."

Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work by Matthew Crawford (Penguin Press). The committee commented: "Crawford's blending of philosophical analysis and personal narrative makes for a wonderfully thought-provoking--and at times very humorous--read. It's very timely as well, given the evolution of our economy."

Children/Young Adult
After by Amy Efaw (Viking). The committee said, "By all of today's standards, Davenport should be a despicable character, though through airtight storytelling, Efaw pulls readers into the thought process of the character and allows them to actually sympathize with her."

Each winner receives $5,000, and their titles will be featured in the company's stores.

Borders's 2005 Original Voices awards, "for outstanding achievement in crafting creative, original books and music," have been announced:
  • Fiction: The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (Norton). The author was commended for "a masterful job of interweaving many story lines, bringing them all together in a moving and meaningful way, and the ending is pitch-perfect, down to the last line."
  • Nonfiction: Finding George Orwell in Burma by Emma Larkin (Penguin Press). Larkin's account of traveling around Burma was cited for "an interesting perspective on how intellect survives the worst of humanity while still retaining a high standard of dignity. It is an eloquent and poetic blend of travel narrative, literary criticism and political commentary."
  • Children's picture book: Russell the Sheep written and illustrated by Rob Scotton (HarperCollins). The story about a sheep that can't sleep is "a playful, unique take on traditional bedtime and counting books and Russell is just plain darling."
  • Young adult: Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin (FSG). This book about life after death offers "a fascinating concept of the afterlife and is ultimately a novel full of hope."
  • Music: Careless Love by Madeleine Peyroux (Rounder Records Group). Peyroux's voice "first catches your ear, but it is her beautiful, laid back, melodic jazz treatments of everything from Leonard Cohen to Bob Dylan to Hank Williams that keeps you listening."

The six nominees in each category were chosen by Borders store and corporate employees. Winners were selected by a panel of judges at the main office. Each winner receives $5,000 and will be honored at BEA.

Original Voices Award Fiction Finalists (2005)


  • Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
  • Finding George Orwell in Burma by Emma Larkin
  • Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell
  • Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America and American in Iran by Azadeh Moaveni
  • Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey--The Sweet Liquid Gold that Seduced the World by Holley Bishop
  • The Tender Bar: A Memoir by J.R. Moehringer

Children's Picture Books

  • Flight of the Dodo by Peter Brown
  • The Flower Man by Mark Ludy
  • A Froggy Fable by John Lechner
  • Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel, illustrated by David Catrow
  • Russell the Sheep by Rob Scotton
  • There's a Frog Trapped in the Bathroom by Susan Snyder, edited by Susan McCabe, illustrated by Anna Johanson

Original Voices Award Intermediate/Young Adult Books Finalist (2005)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Times Literary Supplement Translation Award (2009)

Noting that "the art--or craft--of translation is in good shape," if underappreciated, the Times Literary Supplement honored seven translators with awards for their work in 2009. The winners are:

Anthea Bell: Schlegel-Tieck Prize for Burning Secret by Stefan Zweig
Thomas Teal: Bernard Shaw Prize for Fair Play by Tove Jansson
Polly McLean: Scott Moncrieff Prize for Gross Margin by Laurent Quintreau
Samah Selim: Saif Ghobash-Banipal Prize for The Collar and the Bracelet by Yahya Taher Abdullah
Margaret Jull Costa, Premio Valle Inclán Prize for The Accordionist's Son by Bernardo Atxaga
Peter Bush: Calouste-Gulbenkian Foundation Prize for Equator by Miguel Sousa Tavares
Sam Garrett: Vondel Prize for Ararat by Frank Westerman

Monday, January 11, 2010

Shelf Awareness Top 10 lists (2009)

Our Top Ten Lists 2009, Part One
We asked some Shelf Awareness people for their 10 (or so) favorite books of the past year. Most of these titles were published in 2009, but not all, since we wanted to know what gave them reading pleasure no matter the pub date.

Debra Ginsberg

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer and The Face on Your Plate by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (Little, Brown). Both of these important, compelling books address the horrors of factory farming and the need for us to change our dietary choices, but each approaches the topic from a different angle. They are must-reads.
Life Sentences by Laura Lippman (Morrow). A brilliant, expertly nuanced psychological thriller from the prodigiously talented Laura Lippman.

Blame by Michelle Huneven (FSG). A rich and beautifully written novel about the nature of loss and redemption.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. A stunning YA novel which tackles an old subject--eating disorders--with new insight and grace.

The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown). He's baaaaack.... Unputdownable. (My list includes The Black Echo and The Poet.)

The Addict: One Patient, One Doctor, One Year by Michael Stein (Morrow). A searing portrait of prescription drug addiction from a physician who takes a new approach to treating it.

Box 21 by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellström (FSG). A pitch-dark Scandinavian thriller involving sex slavery, mafia bosses and bitter policemen--and that's just the beginning. It will keep you up at night.

The Last Resort by Douglas Rogers (Harmony). A warm, funny and often tragic memoir of the author's native Zimbabwe.

The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker (Simon & Schuster). This smart, funny and always entertaining paean to poetry is Baker at his best; a real gem of a novel.

Episodes: My Life As I See It by Blaze Ginsberg (Roaring Brook). Yes, I know, and you can have all the disclaimers you want--but this is still the best book I've read all year. Bar none.

Blood's a Rover by James Ellroy (Knopf). Nobody does noir like Ellroy. He is a master and this book is not to be missed.

Harvey Freedenberg

Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon (Ballantine). Far more than an absorbing mystery, in this complex and psychologically astute story Chaon puts on a virtuosic display of his considerable talent. It's a thrilling example of the best of modern literary fiction.

Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi by Geoff Dyer (Pantheon). Strikingly contemporary and utterly timeless, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi is an intense, vivid trip to a pair of exotic cities and an equally provocative journey into the twisted passageways of the human soul.

Homer and Langley by E.L. Doctorow (Random House). Doctorow has moved Homer and Langley Collyer from the sideshow of American history to center stage. Strange as their story may be, he makes us feel privileged, if perhaps in an odd way, to share it.

The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker (Simon & Schuster). It's hard to know what to expect next from Baker, but in his new novel he's delivered a charming, if undeniably quirky, extended love letter to the art of poetry.

Love and Summer by William Trevor (Viking). Trevor's genius lies in his uncanny ability to expose, with sensitivity and insight, the complexity of even the most mundane lives. That he does so in prose that's a model of elegant compression makes his achievement even more impressive.

Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving (Random House). Irving's 12th novel is a shaggy, shambling, lovable bear of a book. It is vintage Irving, stuffed to overflowing with a cast of memorable characters, dark humor, a surfeit of tragedy and loss and enough love, sex and death to fill at least two or three less ambitious novels.

A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore (Knopf). Bubbling with intelligence and lacerating humor and showcasing Moore's uncanny ability to capture the free-floating anxiety that undoubtedly qualifies as the psychic disorder of our age, A Gate at the Stairs is a tightly focused snapshot of our unsettled world.

Cheever: A Life by Blake Bailey (Knopf). In this comprehensive, unsparing work, Bailey has produced a biography every bit as absorbing as the life of its complex and tortured subject.

Strength in What Remains: A Journey of Remembrance and Forgiveness by Tracy Kidder (Random House). The latest work from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tracy Kidder is a stirring account of one man's remarkable flight from genocidal terror in his homeland of Burundi to the U.S. and then back home to confront the burdens of memory and reconciliation.

Closing Time: A Memoir by Joe Queenan (Viking). Queenan's book is a painfully honest, savagely funny, wise and ultimately moving story of growing up in Philadelphia in the 1950s and '60s while outgrowing life in the home of a brutal, alcoholic father.

John McFarland

Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada, translated by Michael Hofmann (Melville House). A gritty "you are there" feel pervades this brilliant and harrowing saga of a German couple fighting for their dignity in the face of unrelenting Nazi oppression and sadism in Berlin in 1941.

Translation Is a Love Affair by Jacques Poulin, translated by Sheila Fischman (Archipelago Books). A short novel set in contemporary Quebec that is brimming with satisfying tales of friendship, hope and love between two unlikely and enchanting characters.

I Am Not Sidney Poitier by Percival Everett (Graywolf). A comic romp in the beloved traditions of Mark Twain, Terry Southern and Kurt Vonnegut that smartly ponders questions of racism, classism and celebrity in America today.

That Mad Ache: A Novel by Françoise Sagan, translated by Douglas Hofstadter (Basic Books). Sagan's 1965 La Chamade, about a scampering Parisienne torn between respect and affection for an older, rich protector and uncontrolled passion with a handsome, impoverished young editor, takes on thrilling romantic urgency in a new translation by the author of Gödel, Escher, Bach.

City Boy: My Life in New York During the 1960s and '70s by Edmund White (Bloomsbury). A thoughtful, ardent memoir that captures New York City at an auspicious time for White to define his themes and come into his own as a raconteur, friend and sexy devil (in the best sense).

Life as We Show It: Writing on Film, edited by Brian Pera and Masha Tupitsyn (City Lights Books). Twenty-five writers discuss attachments they formed for certain movies--ET, Shane and Rosemary's Baby acquire new significance and resonance after reading these inspired pieces of narrative nonfiction.

i sold Andy Warhol (too soon) by Richard Polsky (Other Press). A sardonic guide with lots of sassy style takes readers on a dizzying, dishy and fascinating tour of the recently crazy market for contemporary art.

Twentieth-Century German Poetry: An Anthology, edited by Michael Hofmann (FSG, 2006). A bracing collection that stands celebrities like Rilke and Brecht beside lesser-known but no-less-brilliant poets like Hans Magnus Enzensberger and Durs Grünbein to show us a poetry with a range of possibilities larger than what British and American readers have become accustomed to.

The Dedalus Book of Spanish Fantasy, edited and translated by Margaret Jull Costa and Annella McDermott (Dedalus Books, 1999). Doppelgangers, chairs acquiring souls and people metamorphosing into animals populate an anthology rich in imagination, storytelling and raw material for wild, wild dreams.

Mary Stuart by Friedrich von Schiller, translated by Jeremy Sams (Nick Hern Books, 1996). The epic battle between Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart bristles with theatrical energy in Schiller's version of the classic tale of political sibling rivalry.

Cafe Society: The Wrong Place for the Right People by Barney Josephson et al. (University of Illinois Press). Reminiscences (and captivating photographs) capture the key place Barney Josephson occupies in our cultural history and make you wish you had been there to see/hear Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Alberta Hunter and Mary Lou Williams and others electrify the place.

Marilyn Dahl

Faces of the Gone by Brad Parks (Minotaur). A debut mystery about a Newark reporter covering some gruesome murders; a solid plot mixed with sardonic wit. I'm eager for a sequel.

Little Bee by Chris Cleave (Simon). This story of a young Nigerian refugee in an English detention center will amaze and delight you--and break your heart. It's one of the finest books I've read in years, from its lyrical opening lines to its surprising end.

City of Thieves by David Benioff (Plume). The story of two young men in Leningrad during the World War II siege, who are forced to find a dozen eggs for a colonel or be executed, blew me away with its mix of tragedy and comedy--the absurdity of war brilliantly rendered.

A Final Arc of the Sky by Jennifer Culkin (Beacon Press). An eloquent and compelling memoir by a critical care flight nurse, that soars with tragedy and tenderness. A sense of fragility, and well as resiliency and strength, permeate Culkin's life and calling.

Larry's Kidney by Daniel Asa Rose (Morrow). A hilarious story about two cousins in China, one searching for a kidney and true love, the other aiding and abetting. Rose's writing is by turns hyperbolic and hallucinatory as he deals with the outlandish situation and his wacky cousin. Sometimes slapstick, sometimes caustic, Larry's Kidney is also sweet and thoughtful as Daniel finds himself improbably falling in love with China.

A Hell of Mercy: A Meditation on Depression and the Dark Night of the Soul by Tim Farrington (HarperOne). Novelist Tim Farrington has written a candid memoir about his lifelong struggle with depression. He's not a scholar, not a therapist, not a theologian; "I'm more like a veteran, I suppose: a guy whose ass has been on the line, [with] some stories from the front." It's written with wisdom and wit, by an author who sees his dark night of the soul as a gift from God.

Dogged Pursuit by Robert Rodi (Hudson Street Press). The hilarious and truly moving story of Rodi's quest to train Dusty, "a scrawny little twist of a pipe cleaner" dog, and himself, in the demanding art of canine agility competition. Heartbreaks and heroics, defeats and victories line the path to success in unexpected ways. He comes to see his dog's Dusty-ness and his dignity and experiences some true moments of grace.

Before I Forget by Leonard Pitts Jr. (Bolden/Agate). A powerful novel about regrets, second chances, forgiveness and responsibility and what it means to be a man. A father's grief and anger, his struggles with his son and his own father, combine with love in a crucible of hope and transformation. This is a beautiful, tragic and riveting work.

Border Songs by Jim Lynch (Knopf). In Border Songs, Jim Lynch does for birds and the northwestern border what he did for sea creatures and south Puget Sound in his lovely The Highest Tide; he has an equal affinity for showing us the beauty and humor of humanity. The illusory security of the border reminds us that our lives are also fragile, but Lynch has crafted a story of love, redemption and acceptance that reminds us of what is true and strong.

A Quiet Belief in Angels by R.J. Ellory (Overlook Press). As life reaches its closing chapter for Joseph Vaughn, he begins to relate his story, and waits for judgment on who he is and what he has done, beginning in Georgia in 1939. The mystery is compelling; just as insistent is the pull of Ellory's prose, with a deceptively leisurely pace that heightens the suspense. He has crafted a dazzling tale.

Spoon by Robert Greer (Fulcrum Publishing). In Montana, a drifter rescues a family and their way of life before he moves on. It starts in late summer, it ends the following autumn, and the sweetness and melancholy of the seasons perfectly complement this classic tale of a cowboy, ranchers and big business, told with sweet humor and Western elegance.

An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor (HarperOne). Taylor is one of my favorite writers, in part for her ability to see the sacred in the everyday, and in her latest book she concentrates on finding holiness in simple things like walking in the dark, hanging laundry and making eye contact with a clerk. A book to inspire and challenge.

Our Top Ten Lists 2009, Part Two
We asked Shelf Awareness people for their 10 (or so) favorite books of the past year. Most of these titles were published in 2009, but not all, since we wanted to know what gave them reading pleasure no matter the pub date.

John Mutter

Stardust by Joe Kanon (Atria). Set in 1945 in Los Angeles, this book is all about the movie business, the beginnings of the Red Scare, German emigres (Bertolt Brecht has a few lines, Thomas Mann keeps his distance), a murder mystery, the dreamworld of Hollywood and the dreamworld of real life. Great book, great ending, can't wait for the movie.

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson, translated by Reg Keeland (Knopf). Who'd have thought the second volume of this Swedish mystery would be even better than the first book in the series?!

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest by Stieg Larsson (Quercus). Who'd have thought the author could top volume two?! We were lucky enough to get a copy of the third volume in the series in Frankfurt since it's been out in the U.K. for many months; Knopf won't release it here until May. While finishing it, we mourned the author's death all the more.

Berlin Noir by Philip Kerr (Penguin, 1989, 1990 and 1991). These three titles collected in one volume feature detective Bernie Gunther, who must have been a cousin of Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade. March Violets and The Pale Criminal are set in 1930s Berlin, where Gunther, who loathes the Third Reich, gets involves in cases that lead him to bump up against powerful Nazi figures--and wind up with him involuntarily rejoining the criminal police. A German Requiem is set in the postwar period, and despite the name, most of the action takes place in Vienna. Amusing, sharp, intriguing and so very sad all at once.

Bikeman: An Epic Poem by Thomas F. Flynn (Andrews McMeel, 2008). A tender, appropriate way to remember September 11 by the CBS reporter who rode his bicycle to the Twin Towers and nearly died when he was trapped in the cloud of debris in a parking garage whose one exit was blocked.

Blue Suburbia: Almost a Memoir by Laurie Lico Albanese (Harper Perennial, 2004). Another epic autobiographical poem, one that tells the author's story, which by turns is heartbreaking and delightful. Coincidentally Blue Suburbia was included this past weekend in USA Today's "5 Unique Finds for Book Lovers."

The Best Game Ever: Pirates vs. Yankees, October 13, 1960 by Jim Reisler (Da Capo). Arguably it's good background to have been a child living in Pittsburgh that day and remember the spontaneous block party that broke out after Bill Mazeroski's legendary home run. Still anyone with some interest in baseball can appreciate this artfully done book that intersperses inning-by-inning action with a history of the teams and their colorful players, the season to that point and the contrasts between the Big Apple and Iron City.

China: Empire of Living Symbols by Cecilia Lindqvist, translated by Joan Tate (Da Capo, 2008). For those of us fascinated by Chinese, this offers detailed histories of many basic characters, showing their earliest forms, which often were representational, and their stylized modern versions. The author also traces how characters grew out of daily life and reflect old norms--the difference in the meaning of compound characters involving the characters for man and for women, for example!

Drink, Play, F@#k: One Man's Search for Anything Across Ireland, Vegas, and Thailand by Andrew Gottlieb (Black Cat/Grove/Atlantic). This gives amusing balance to Eat, Pray, Love--the title alone is worth the price of admission.

Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener (1946). The classic first work by Michener, the basis for the musical, holds up nicely.

Shannon McKenna Schmidt

American Fuji by Sara Backer (Berkley). I was intrigued to read this novel, the story of two Americans whose lives intersect in Japan, after writing about it for Shelf Awareness [September 14] and talking with bookseller Marilyn Lustig. Word of mouth works!

The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World's Largest Unsolved Art Theft by Ulrich Boser (Smithsonian). A fascinating foray into the art underworld as journalist Ulrich Boser cracks a cold case--the $50 million robbery of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1989.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson (Vintage). A riveting (addictive!) thriller. I'm looking forward to following along with quirky, unpredictable Lisbeth Salander in The Girl Who Played with Fire.

The Lion's Eye: Seeing in the Wild by Joanna Greenfield (Little, Brown). Greenfield offers a lyrical and vivid account of her time spent observing chimpanzees in the rain forests of Uganda and the personal obstacles she overcame to get there.

Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance by Gyles Brandreth (Touchstone). Flamboyant playwright Wilde taps into his powers of deduction to solve crimes in Victorian London. His latest adventure is Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man's Smile.

Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal by Julie Metz (Voice). After the sudden death of her husband, Julie Metz discovered that he had been cheating on her for years. In this remarkably honest and inspiring memoir, she shares the story of how she put her life back together.

The Sound of Water by Sanjay Bahadur (Atria). A harrowing, thought-provoking, beautifully written novel based on a real-life incident, a mining disaster in a remote region of India and told from three perspectives: the trapped men, their family members and company officials.

Swan Dive by Michael Burke (Caravel). Set in a New England factory town, this gritty, witty and risque crime novel stars a down-on-his-luck detective and is loosely based on the myth of Leda and the Swan.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (Delacorte Press). At her family's ramshackle estate in the English countryside, 11-year-old Flavia de Luce spars with her older sisters, concocts poisons and solves a murder. Atmospheric and fun.

This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa's First Woman President by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Harper). Tough, smart and funny, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf recalls how she came to lead once war-torn Liberia and details the centuries-old ties between her country and the U.S.

Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor (Viking). In this eloquent memoir, Sue Monk Kidd and her daughter, Ann, recall their travels together in Greece and France as well as their emotional and spiritual journeys. Along the way, Kidd shares how she came to write her debut novel, The Secret Life of Bees.

Robert Gray

Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada (Melville House, translated by Michael Hofmann). Easily my favorite book of the year, this beautifully crafted novel of working class people trying to take a stand in Nazi Berlin was praised by the New York Times as a "signal literary event of 2009."

In the First Circle: A Novel (The Restored Text) by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (HarperCollins, translated by H.T. Willetts). It was a thrill to revisit this uncensored edition of what I've long considered one of the most important books published in my lifetime.

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. Sure he won the National Book Award and everybody's reading him now, but I've been a fan of McCann's work for more than a decade. The elegant, intelligent grittiness of this New York novel is precisely what I've come to expect from one of our best writers.

Memories of the Future by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (NYRB Classics, translated by Joanne Turnbull). Speculative fiction from Russia, this collection subtly twists perceived reality with intelligence and starting imagination. I loved "The Bookmark," and lines like "the bookmark looked affronted and slightly grumpy."

31 Hours by Masha Hamilton (Unbridled Books). An exploration of post-9/11 New York from multiple perspectives, this was a brilliant and irresistible, provocative and evocative literary thrill ride that probed the deeply human causes and consequences of terrorism.

Beauty Salon by Mario Bellatín (City Lights Books, translated by Kurt Hollander). Imagine a salon that becomes "the Terminal," a surreal yet all too real refuge for strangers "who have nowhere else to die." I'm still haunted by the narrative voice and the aquariums. (You'll have to read it to find out about them.)

The Pig Comes to Dinner by Joseph Caldwell (HarperCollins). Yes, you can read Caldwell just for the fun of it. If you are a fan of smart, biting Irish humor, this second volume of Caldwell's trilogy (after the delightful The Pig Did It) continues my favorite porcine misadventures.

Dread: How Fear and Fantasy Have Fueled Epidemics from the Black Death to Avian Flu by Philip Alcabes (PublicAffairs). One of the best explorations of our strange, instinctive need to overreact to often misperceived threats like epidemic scares. A clearheaded look at our instinctive human fondness for mass anxiety and panic.

The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution by Denis Dutton (Bloomsbury Press). Does my taste in art reflect evolutionary traits shaped by Darwinian selection? I thought so before reading Dutton's book, and found that he makes an intriguing and enlightening case for the possibility that my instinct was correct.

Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk (HarperStudio). Anyone who wants to understand how the alchemy of passion and knowledge can produce gold (whatever your gold may be) in business and life should pay attention to Gary Vaynerchuk. His presentation at BEA was an impressive tasting; his book is insightful, inspiring and even a little intoxicating.

Scott O'Dell Historical Fiction Award (1984-2010)

List from wikipedia accessed 1/10/10

2010 Matt Phelan The Storm in the Barn
2009 Laurie Halse Anderson Chains
2008 Christopher Paul Curtis Elijah of Buxton
2007 Ellen Klages The Green Glass Sea
2006 Louise Erdrich The Game of Silence
2005 A LaFaye Worth
2004 Richard Peck The River Between Us
2003 Shelley Pearsall Trouble Don't Last
2002 Mildred D. Taylor The Land
2001 Janet Taylor Lisle The Art of Keeping Cool
2000 Miriam Bat-Ami Two Suns in the Sky
1999 Harriette Robinet Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule
1998 Karen Hesse Out of the Dust
1997 Katherine Paterson Jip, His Story
1996 Theodore Taylor The Bomb
1995 Graham Salisbury Under the Blood Red Sun
1994 Paul Fleischman Bull Run
1993 Michael Dorris Morning Girl
1992 Mary Downing Hahn Stepping on the Cracks
1991 Pieter Van Raven A Time of Troubles
1990 Carolyn Reeder Shades of Grey Macmillan
1989 Lyll Becerra de Jenkins The Honorable Prison
1988 Patricia Beatty Charley Skedaddle
1987 Scott O'Dell Streams to the River, River to the Sea
1986 Patricia MacLachlan Sarah, Plain and Tall
1985 Avi The Fighting Ground
1984 Elizabeth George Speare The Sign of the Beaver