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Top book picks for 2010

The experts tell us what they are excited about reading in 2010.

By Katie Ward / January 4, 2010

A new year means a fresh set of goals. That’s why so many of us – in addition to promising to exercise more and spend less time on Facebook – are also resolving to read lots of books in 2010. “The new year is about renewed energy and all the things you can accomplish,” says Daniel Goldin, owner of the Boswell Book Company in Milwaukee. “The pile of books that you think you’ll never get through in November becomes a possibility” in January.

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Maybe. But as we all know, February can be a cruel month, littered with the debris of broken resolutions. So to help would-be readers chart successful courses for an actively bookish 2010, the Monitor asked the experts – booksellers, authors, and other “bookistas” in the know – what they are most excited about reading in the new year and why.

Goldin says he’s kicking the year off with both an author he’s never read before (James Hynes and his 2000 political thriller, “The Wild Colonial Boy”) and an old favorite (Sinclair Lewis’s 1927 satire on religion, “Elmer Gantry”).

And to make sure that he actually finishes “Gantry,” he says, “I’ve chosen it for the in-store book club that I lead.”

Both Goldin and senior Wash­ington Post book editor Ron Charles say they plan to read “Noah’s Com­pass” by Anne Tyler (to be published in January 2010 by Knopf).

“I’ve loved all [Tyler’s] books, but sometimes felt some of them were merely recast versions of each other,” Charles says. “Still, her previous novel, ‘Digging to America,’ showed that she’s still capable of fresh, moving work, and I’m hopeful that ‘Noah’s Compass’ is another surprising, funny, heartbreaking story.”

Charles also has his eye on a new novel by Chang-rae Lee. “Chang-rae Lee’s ‘Aloft’ is one of my favorite novels, so I’m eager to read his (very long!) ‘The Surrendered,’ [March, Riverhead] which begins during the Korean War.” In addition, he’s looking forward to Jerome Charyn’s “The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson” (February, W.W. Norton), which he says “promises to spice up the Belle of Amherst considerably!”

Elizabeth Kostova’s historical fiction “The Swan Thieves” (January, Little, Brown) also made it onto Charles’s list, along with Rebecca Newberger’s novel “36 Arguments for the Existence of God” (January, Pantheon). “[36 Arguments] sounds like a wonderful academic satire,” Charles explains, “wrapped around a provocative exploration of our attitudes about religion and metaphysics.”


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