Best of 2010 book lists

"Best books of 2010" – here come the lists, earlier than ever this year.

George Burns/AP
Oprah holds a copy of Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom," the novel appearing at the top of many "best of 2010" book lists.

Halloween hadn’t even ended this year before Christmas decorations made their appearance. Not even that progressive holiday creep-back, though, prepared me to see lists of the year’s best books start coming through in early November, with no apologies to those few unfortunate authors with books scheduled for release in the final sixth of the year.

The Seattle Times took on the task of “mushing together” the gate-jumpers. Book editor Mary Ann Gwinn picked out titles that showed up on each of the three “Best of 2010” list she’s received so far, from Publishers Weekly,, and – assembling a best-of list for the first time, Library Journal.

“May I just say that librarians think differently from retailers?” Gwinn wrote of the Library Journal list.

Three books made all three lists, she noted: One was “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen (a book of which Monitor critic Yvonne Zipp was less than enamored; she wrote that brilliant writing and caustic wit couldn’t save it from “a film of disdain so thick it almost comes off on your hands”). The second was Isabel Wilkerson’s “The Warmth of Other Suns,” and the third was “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot, a hit with Monitor readers as well as critics.

I find it interesting to add one other comparison: Amazon lined up its editors' recommendations against its top “customer favorites,” judging the latter by sales instead of starred reviews. The top 10 bestseller list includes four of the 10 books that had also been among the editors' top picks. That’s more synchronicity than we saw on the professional lists above. (Amazon’s “customer” and editorial crossovers included Franzen and Skloot once again, plus Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest” and “The Big Short” by Michael Lewis.)

If it’s any consolation, timelines have jumped the gun on Franzen before. Zipp wrote in her review of “Freedom”: "It’s been called the book of the century … even though we’re only 10 years into it."

What’s on your list of “The Best Books of The First Five-Sixths Of 2010”?

Rebekah Denn blogs at

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