2010's Best Books

See some of On Point’s author interview highlights. And see our critics’ lists below.

Author Jonathan Franzen during taping of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in Chicago, Nov. 19, 2010. (AP Photo/Harpo Productions Inc.)

We struggle for meaning in life, and writers help us find it, help us look with seeing eyes.

In 2010, the bookshelf is full, from a people’s migration, with Isabel Wilkerson, to Emma Donoghue’s mother and child locked in a single room. From Jonathan Franzen’s “Freedom” to Gary Shteyngart’s “Super Sad True Love Story.”

We search for the best books of 2010.

-Tom Ashbrook


Maggie Galehouse, book editor for the Houston Chronicle, where she also writes the Chronicle’s blog, “Bookish: A Book Blog with Maggie Galehouse.”

Laura Miller, senior writer at, and one of the site’s co-founders. Her latest book is “The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia.”

Paul Yamazaki, head buyer at San Francisco’s City Lights Books. City Lights Books is the 2010 winner of Publishers Weekly’s “bookseller of the year” award.  Paul celebrated his 40th year at the store this year.

Panel favorites:



Freedom: A Novel” by Jonathan Franzen

A Visit from the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan

Faithful Place” by Tana French

Super Sad True Love Story” by Gary Shteyngart

Room: A Novel” by Emma Donoghue


Let the Swords Encircle Me: Iran – A Journey Behind the Headlines” by Scott Peterson

TIE: “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine” by Michael Lewis / “IOU: Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay” by John Lanchester

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot

The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them” by Elif Batuman

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” by Isabel Wilkerson



The Infinities” by John Banville.

The Passage” by Justin Cronin.

Freedom: A Novel” by Jonathan Franzen.

Luka and the Fire of Life: A Novel” by Salman Rushdie

The Imperfectionists: A Novel” by Tom Rachman.

One Amazing Thing” by Chitra Divakaruni.


Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty: Poems” by Tony Hoagland.


The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” by Isabel Wilkerson.

Decoded” by Jay-Z

Kids’ books

It’s a Book” by Lane Smith.



From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate” by Nathaniel Mackey

What We Are: A Novel” by Peter Nathaniel

Windward Passage: A Novel” by Jim Nisbet

I Hotel” by Karen Tei Yamashita


Nox” by Anne Carson


Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original” by Robin Kelley

The Black History of the White House” by Clarence Lusane

Churchill’s Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India During World War II” by Madhusree Mukerjee

The Wind from the East: French Intellectuals, the Cultural Revolution, and the Legacy of the 1960s” by Richard Wolin

Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas” by Rebecca Solnit

Devil Dog: The Amazing True Story of the Man Who Saved America (Pulp History)” by David Talbot, illustrated by Spain Rodriguez

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