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Lit and Life

A Guide to the Best Books of 2010

Book Ideas for Everyone On Your List
A Guide to the Best Books of 2010
Published on December 14, 2010 : 1 comment

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As hard as it is to believe, it’s time to start thinking about that long list of holiday gifts you should have started thinking about months ago. Does the idea of fighting the crowds in the department stores, malls, and discount chains scare you? Life will be a lot easier this December if you make the bookstore your one-stop shop for all of those gifts!

Of course, you can even avoid the stores altogether by ordering online, but don’t forget that your local independent bookstore is a great place to find everything (and maybe even pick up a little something for yourself). Or consider checking out Indie Bound, where you can shop indie bookstores (like Omaha’s The Bookworm) online, and enjoy the best of both worlds!

Young Kids Books:

LEGOS Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary by Simon Beecroft – what better combination in a book could there be for a boy? I’m might even have to pick this one up for my 19-year-old!

Art + Max by David WeisnerOlivia Goes To Venice by Ian Falconer – everyone’s favorite little girl pig convinces her family to go to Venice on spring break.

The Three Little Dassies by Jan Brett and Art & Max by David Weisner - two beloved children’s author/illustrators returned this year. You can never go wrong with either of them.

It’s A Book by Lane Smith – Smith’s tribute to the written page in the digital age with his usual twist.

Older Children’s Books:

Mockingjay by Suzanne CollinsMockingjay by Suzanne Collins – if the young person on your list hasn’t started the Hunger Games trilogy yet, I recommend you get the whole set including The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. This series will appeal to readers of both sexes.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, and Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen - all would both make great gifts for the teen girl on your list.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld - combines Victorian times with mechanical inventions in a story of bio-societies at war that young men will find appealing.

Biographies and Memoirs:

Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow – for the history buff.

Lit by Mary Karr - chronicles her battle with alcoholism.

Half-Broke Horse by Jeanette Walls - her follow-up to the hugely popular The Glass Castle, except this one tells the story of her grandmother’s life.

Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert – the follow up to her best-seller Eat, Love, Pray, which would also make a terrific gift. How about pairing the set and then adding the movie adaptation starring Julia Roberts?

Frank: The Voice by James Kaplan and Life by Keith Richards - you could hardly find two bigger stars of the musical world in the past 50 years…or two that are more different!

Sports Books:

Open by Andre Agassi Open by Andre Agassi – not just for fans of tennis, the book tells the story of how Agassi was pushed to succeed by his father.

The Last Boy and the End of America’s Childhood by Jane Leavy - for baseball lovers of all ages.

Fantasy Books:

The Passage by Justin Cronin – when the military develops a virus to create the ultimate warrior, it inadvertently creates an army of vampires instead. Decades later, the remaining humans are fighting to survive.


The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest by Steig LarssonThe City and The City by China Mieville – twin European cities coexist in the same location in this police procedural.

Our Kind of Traitor by John Le Carre – as the song says, “nobody does it better.”

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest by Steig Larsson – a washed up financial journalist pairs with a tough investigator to solve a murder in the first book of this series, dubbed the Millennium Trilogy. The books were turned into a trio of Swedish films, with an American-produced film starring Daniel Craig debuting next year.

Award-winning Books:

The Finkler Question by Howard JacobsonThe Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson – winner of the 2010 Man Booker Prize, a novel of loss and friendship.

Tinkers by Paul Harding (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction), Lord of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke The World by Liaquat Ahamed (Pulitzer Prize for History), The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T. J. Stiles (Pulitzer Prize for Biography) - in these trying times of recession, books about economics and titans of industry have proved especially popular.

Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon (National Book Award for Fiction) - set in West Virginia in the early 70s, a horse racing grifter searches for redemption.

Best Sellers and Literary Fiction:

Room by Emma Donoghue – the story of a woman and her son who live in a locked room and the world she creates for him.

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen – a satirical drama about a family in turmoil.

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett – only for those who are ready for a challenge—this one is more than 1000 pages. Follett’s latest chronicles the lives of five families from the outbreak of World War I to the early 1920s.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot – the case of the woman who unknowingly donated cancer cells that have been the basis for much of the cancer research done and the ethical issues involved. That makes it sound so dull but, trust me, it’s anything but dull.

The Three Wiessmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine – two sisters come to the aid of the beloved mother.

The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli and Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes – two very different takes on the Vietnam War.

One Day by David Nicholls – a year by year look at the on-again, off-again romance between two children of the ‘80s.

Finally, a book for the person who is impossible to shop for:

Ultimate Book of Top 10 ListsTop Ten of Everything 2010: The Ultimate Book of Lists by Russell Ash – if you want to know the best, the worst, the fastest, the smallest, the most popular of anything, this is the place to find it.

There now—that should take care of just about everyone on your list and leave you time to do the baking, card sending, and partying. What books might you put on your wish list for the holidays?

mamasheppWife, mom, reader,blogger and native Nebraskan.


AnnDbugz says:

December 21, 2010 : 13 years 17 weeks ago

AnnDbugz's picture

What a great list of books! I was needing and idea for my niece. I am going to go look at the “Olivia Goes to Venice” book - I think she will like that.

Thanks for the help!