2010 was a good year for books. For me it was a strange year—a year in which I read less widely than I am accustomed to, but perhaps read more overall. Work on my new book had me reading a whole lot in a single direction and so much of that reading never appeared as reviews on this blog. Nevertheless, I still read many great books and thought it would be beneficial to keep with tradition and put together a list of some of my favorites.
I will offer my usual caveat in saying that these are almost certainly not the 10 best books of 2010 in any objective sense—but they are my favorites. Here they are, in no particular order:
The Shallows by Nicholas Carr - Carr picks up threads from a lot of other books and tells us what the Internet is doing to our brains. This is far more than an expansion on his infamous article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” He doesn’t write as a Luddite or as someone lost in ignorance—he writes as a computer enthusiast who has begun to wonder just what all this technology is doing to him and to us. Very few people are thinking about these things, so his book hit hard.
Son of Hamas by Mosab Hasson Yousef - This is one of two biographies to hit the bestseller lists this year that culminated in the hero of the book becoming a Christian. In this book Mosab Hasson Yousef, a son of one of the founders of Hamas, writes about life on the inside of a terrorist organization. And he writes of becoming a traitor to that cause and eventually a convert to the Christian faith. [my review]
Hero by Michael Korda - Hero is a much-anticipated biography of T.E. Lawrence, known more popularly as Lawrence of Arabia. While I found that the man himself did not interest me all that much, I couldn’t help but be drawn into his life through this superior biography. The first 100 pages were difficult going, but the book then opened wide and I found myself intrigued by this eccentric British hero.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot - This may be the most unusual book to appear on the list of my favorite books. In 1951 Henrietta Lacks, a thirty year-old African American woman, died of cervical cancer, her body ravaged by the disease. Shortly before her death, and apparently unknown to her, researcher George Gey took a biopsy of her tumor and, for the first time in history, managed to culture an immortal line of cells. This line soon became known as HeLa and since the 50s has been sold commercially and used in a remarkable variety of experiments. Rebecca Skloot compellingly tells the tale of this woman: her life, her death and her ongoing legacy.
Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas - This big biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer has become one of the year’s top sellers within the Christian market and for good reason. Metaxas offers “a comprehensive review of one of history’s darkest eras, along with a fascinating exploration of the familial, cultural and religious influences that formed one of the world’s greatest contemporary theologians.” It’s well-written and looks at a fascinating individual who lived in a fascinating time. That’s a recipe for success. [my review]
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand - Of all the books I read in 2010, this is probably the one I enjoyed reading the most. I sat down with it in the morning and pretty much read straight through until bed time. It tells the story of Louis Zamperini, a man who is way larger than life. This is the second of the books on this list that rocketed onto the bestseller list and that tells the tale of a remarkable conversion to Christianity. It’s pretty much a must-read. [my review]
Other books I enjoyed: