HCPL Staff Pick Best of 2010

Staff PicksWe polled our staff on what their best reads of 2010 were.  It's a mix of fiction, nonfiction, young adult, and children's. Like everyone else, we read both current titles and older titles, which you'll see reflected in the list.  What were your favorite reads last year?  View all titles...

Fiction

 
The Darling Dahlias and the cucumber tree / Susan Wittig Albert.
Susan Wittig Albert. The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree(2010)
First in a new series from author of China Bayles mystery series & Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter. It is set in the 1930s South.
A Nose for Justice: A Novel
Rita Mae Brown. A Nose for Justice: A Novel (2010) 
First in new mystery series - canine-centered in Arizona!  Again the animals involved in solving the mystery.  Similar to her series featuring Mrs. Murphy (cat). 
Changes
Jim Butcher. Changes (2010) 
A favorite series offers an unbelievable number of changes and still manages to remain a favorite.
Spellwright
Blake Charlton. Spellwright (2010) 
Fabulous magic system that is complex and reasoned, a well rounded history, and exciting action.
Marked Man
Barbara Hamilton. A Marked Man (An Abigail Adams Mystery) (2010) 
Abigail Adams as the historical sleuth - historically accurate and entertaining!  Makes reader as though they are in pre-Revolutionary War Boston. Better than the first (The Ninth Daughter: An Abigail Adams Mystery- 2009)!  Abigail Adams as the historical sleuth - historically accurate and entertaining!  Makes reader as though they are in pre-Revolutionary War Boston. Plot more believable and characters better developed.
Imperfectionists
Tom Rachman. The Imperfectionists (2010) 
Follows the staff (one by one) of an English language newspaper in Rome as they struggle to survive in uncertain times.
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
Helen Simonson. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand (2010) 
A story about a retired Englishman and his neighbor, a Pakistani widow, that is completely charming.
Soulless
Gail Carriger. Soulless (2009)
A fun mix of history, paranormal romance, adventure, and steampunk.
Bloody Good
Georgia Evans. Bloody Good (2009)
Set in rural world war II England. Tired of Vampires being misunderstood good guys? These are books are for you. Nazi vampire spies are defeated by local British pixies, dragons, sprites, weres, and elves hiding in plain sight.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Jamie Ford. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (2009)
Wonderful story which takes place during the time of Japanese-American internment.
The Hellp
Kathryn Stockett. The Help (2009)
Half Broke Horses
Jeanette Wells. Half Broke Horses (2009)
The life of an adventurous and unique woman who lived in the early 20th century, as told by her granddaughter. Terrific slice of Americana with an indomitable heroine.
Tunneling to the Center of the Earth
Kevin Wilson. Tunneling to the Center of the Earth (2009)
The Hour I First Believed
Wally Lamb. The Hour I First Believed (2008)
I love the complexity of the plot, the family history, and the characters. I kept reading to find out what happened to the characters.
Storm Born
Richelle Mead. Storm Born (2008)
Paranormal action and romance.
Breakfast with Buddha
Roland Merullo. Breakfast with Buddha (2007)
Part self-help, part travel story, great novel.
Witchling
Yasmine Galenorn. Witchling (2006)
Paranormal romance and adventure.
Water for Elephants
Sara Gruen. Water for Elephants (2006)
Join Jacob as he tells of his adventures as part of the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth in this engaging historical novel set during the Great Depression.
Summer at Willow Lake
Susan Wiggs. Summer at Willow Lake (2006)
 
Maria V. Snyder. Poison Study (2005)
Magical, romantic, and adventure all in one book.
Storm Front
Jim Butcher. Storm Front (2000)
Paranormal action fast paced adventure.
Neverwhere
Neil Gaiman. Neverwhere (1997)
This is a great fantasy book that takes you to a part of London you have never imagined – London Below.
Beloved
Toni Morrison. Beloved (1987)
This brooding lyrical tale starts in Cincinnati in 1873. Sethe and her daughter Denver live in a haunted house. It’s haunted by a death eighteen years ago and the scars of slavery that linger long after its abolition.
Catch 22
Joseph Heller; performed by Jay O. Sanders. Catch 22 (1961)
Catch-22 is wonderfully witty word-play, a ball of tangled narrative time, dialog, fears, and desires, set on an Army Air Corps base on the island of Pianosa off the coast of Italy during the closing months of the Second World War.
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn
Betty Smith. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (1943)
Our book club selection for November. Proved to be a pleasant surprise. Amazingly entertaining, especially considering the time period. A true classic, still relevant and a good read all around.
The House of the Seven Gables
Nathaniel Hawthorne. The House of the Seven Gables (1851)
Matthew Maule was hung for witchcraft. Just before he died he faced his chief persecutor in Salem, and cursed him. “‘God,’ said the dying man, pointing his finger, with a ghastly look, at the undismayed countenance of his enemy, ‘God will give him blood to drink!’”
A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens. Read by Jim Dale. A Christmas Carol(1843)
Jim Dale brings the classic tale alive.

Nonfiction

Open
Andre Agassi.Open: An Autobiography (2010)
Even without an interest in the sport, anyone would find this title difficult to put down as Agassi describes in candid, "open" detail his athletic journey, rise to fame and the love/hate relationship he long carried on with tennis.
Spoken From The Heart
Laura Bush.Spoken From The Heart (2010)
This is a deeply personal and insightful account of Mrs. Bush’s life from her youth through her 8 years as First Lady.
You Say More Than You Think
Janine Driver.You Say More Than You Think (2010)
Reading other people’s body language and being careful what your body’s saying.
Committed
Elizabeth Gilbert.Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage (2010)
The sequel to Eat, Pray, Love is an enjoyable story about the history, practice, and meaning of marriage. If you like Gilbert, this is a fun follow up to her best-seller.
Jane's Fame
Claire Harman.Jane's Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World (2010)
When Jane Austen’s brother Henry wrote the first ‘Biographical Notice’ for the posthumous publication of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion in 1818, he clearly thought this would be the last words on the subject. … But almost two hundred years later and tens of thousands of books on Austen later, her fame and readership worldwide continue to grow
Just Kids
Patti Smith.Just Kids (2010)
A moving account of the friendship of two fascinating people in a fascinating place in a fascinating time.
Finishing the Hat
Stephen Sondheim. Finishing the Hat (2010)
Broadway musical geek heaven on a page as Sondheim dishes about the songwriter’s craft and his work.
The Bedwetter
Sarah Silverman.The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee (2010)
Born to Run
Christopher McDougall.Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen (2009)
Runners, aspiring runners, and even couch potatoes will find here a fascinating read, as the author begins his exploration of running as a natural human skill by asking one simple question: "Why does my foot hurt?"
Dewey
Vicky Myron.Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched The World (2008)
Read the incredible, true story of Dewey, the Spencer Public Library's cat who touched the lives of everyone he came in contact with for over 18 years!
Don't Make a Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings
Tyler Perry.Don’t Make a Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings:  Madea's Uninhibited Commentaries on Love and Life (2007)
Desert Queen
Janet Wallach.Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell (1996)
Can't BELIEVE I never heard of this book before now. The story of an extraordinary woman living an extraordinary life. Highly pertinent to current events.

Young Adult

The Haunting of Charles Dickens
Lewis Buzbee.The Haunting of Charles Dickens (2010)
I listened to the CD and really enjoyed it
Pathfinder
Orson Scott Card.Pathfinder (2010)
A surprising ending and suspenseful writing combined make this a great read which is impossible to put down!
Heist Society
Ally Carter.Heist Society (2010)
Ally Carter’s new series  is just as fast paced and action packed as her Gallagher Girls books.
Alchemy and Meggy Swann
Karen Cushman.Alchemy and Meggy Swann (2010)
When Margaret Swann arrives in London in 1573 to live with her father the city does not impress her. It’s crowded, it’s noisy, it’s filthy, it stinks, and they have dead men’s heads hung on their bridge! Then her father, Master Ambrose the Alchemist, expresses his disappointment that she is not a son and wonders aloud if she is a crackbrain.
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
Jacqueline Kelly.The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate (2009)
An amazing story of a  young girl growing up in 1899 Texas.
The Nobody
Jeff Lemire.The Nobody (2009)
I enjoy Lemire’s artistic style and tone. I was first exposed to his Essex County trilogy which I equally enjoyed. I think this work is suitable for both genders (I usually lean toward chick lit type stuff) and also has a suspenseful twist . The Nobody was inspired by H.G. Wells The Invisible Man.
The Season
Sarah MacLean.The Season (2009)
Thrilling mystery interlaced with romance in nineteenth century England.
Death Note
Ishin Nishio.Death Note: Another Note, The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases(2008)
Wicked Lovely
Melissa Marr.Wicked Lovely (2007)
This is a fascinating YA fantasy about faeries.
Bloody Jack
L.A. Meyer.Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ships Boy (2002)
Rollicking good adventure. I've listened to all of them this year...they are excellent on audio.

Children's

Danger Box
Blue Balliett. The Danger Box (2010)
Tension filled mystery occasionally interrupted by newspaper articles about a Mysterious Soul.
Of Thee I Sing
Barack Obama. Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters (2010)
A sweet message for his daughters, but a nice tribute to those who made American history.
Private Thoughts of Amelia E. Rye
Bonnie Shimko.The Private Thoughts of Amelia E. Rye(2010)
This is a gentle story of a girl unwanted by her mother who finally gets one true friend.
The Case of the Gypsy Good-Bye
Nancy Springer.The Case of the Gypsy Good-Bye (2010)
The sixth and final book in the Enola Holmes series.  This is a most satisfying ending to a wonderful mystery series about Sherlock Holmes’ much younger sister, Enola who does an amazing job of outwitting her famous detective brother.
Faith, Hope and Ivy June
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.Faith, Hope and Ivy June (2009)
Heartfelt story of two girls in a student exchange program who have very different lives and families but develop a friendship while discovering things they have in common.
The Sisters Grimm
Michael Buckley.The Sisters Grimm: Book 1: The Fairy Tale Detectives (2007)
A little bit of mystery and adventure.