Books to Know – Top 10 List – December 2011


December 1, 2011
By Miriam Laufer
News Writer
Books: Top 10 List

1. So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut, A Life

by Charles J. Shields, 2011

2. Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention

by Manning Marable, 2011
Marable, professor of history and African-American studies at Columbia University, completed this biography of Malcolm X before his death on April 1. A finalist for the 2011 National Book Award, the new biography traces not only the familiar tale of Malcolm Little’s rise to prominence, but provides never-before-seen information behind the conspiracy that led to his assassination. A gripping new read for lovers of American history.

3. Out of Oz: The Final Volume in the Wicked Years

by Gregory Maguire, 2011

Maguire does not disappoint in the final volume that began with Wicked, which became a bestseller through word-of-mouth and then an award-winning Broadway musical. Dorothy Gale, along with Elphaba’s granddaughter, Rain, take center stage here, but Maguire revisits many of his beautifully realized protagonists, including Glinda, Liir, and the Cowardly Lion. For all its darkness and eccentricity, Maguire’s Oz has a very human familiarity that readers keep coming back to.

4. Shaq Uncut: My Story

by Shaquille O’Neal with Jackie MacMullan, 2011

Iconic basketball player Shaquille O’Neal’s autobiography is sure to be a bestseller. He can now add author to his long list of accomplishments, including rapper and TV star. He details his childhood, but in particular the ups and downs of his basketball career from locker room tension to the fallout over the Kobe Bryant sex scandal. Fans of Shaq and basketball will want to read this book.

5. The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World

by Daniel Yergin, 2011

Pulitzer prize-winner Daniel Yergin explores energy as the center of modern global economics and politics. He investigates the history of energy, from fossil fuels to nuclear power, and addresses questions about the future of energy and how the battle for energy control will play out among world powers from the United States to China. Climate change also becomes a compelling character in the story of how we fuel ourselves now and how it will change the world.

6. The Map of Time

by Felix J. Palma, 2011

Spanish author Felix J. Palma’s work has been gaining steam since its translation into English. This alternate-universe, time-travel story set in Victorian London features H.G. Wells as narrator, along with Jack the Ripper, Bram Stoker, and Henry James as characters. The novel takes place in three sections, and each protagonist uses time-travel to better their lives. The book appeals to fans of steampunk and alternate history, as well as “time-travel romance” like The Time Traveler’s Wife.

7. The Sense of an Ending

by Julian Barnes, 2011

Winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize, The Sense of an Ending is the story of Tony Webster, a man who has never given much thought to his past, but is suddenly confronted with a haunting deed that confuses his understanding of himself. Tony’s journey to recover and explain his past is related in Barnes’ careful, searching prose, a trademark of his long and distinguished career as a novelist.

8. To Come and Go Like Magic

by Katie Fawcett, 2010

Twelve-year-old Chili Sue Mahoney narrates this fictional portrait of life in a small town in Appalachia. Fawcett, a local author, depicts a girl longing for a life outside of her close-knit family and neighbors, but shows how beautiful and mysterious the life within can be. Readers appreciate the purity of the narrator’s voice and the skill with which the landscape emerges from the page.

9. Inheritance

by Christopher Paolini, 2011

The final book in the Inheritance trilogy that began in 2003 with Eragon and along the way morphed into a quartet is finally out. The simple farm boy meets dragon story launched the young Paolini onto the bestseller lists; he wrote the first book at age 15 and is now 28. The conclusion finds our protagonists, Eragon, Saphira, Nasuada and Arya, attacking their way through Galbatorix’s kingdom, intent on overthrowing the evil king once and for all.

10. High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America

by Jessica B. Harris, 2011

The title refers to eating the best parts of the pig, and there is certainly plenty of ham and chitlins in Harris’ groundbreaking book on African American culinary history. Meet America’s first First Chef, an African American slave named Hercules, and James Hemmings, a French-trained chef and brother to Sally Hemmings. After reading Harris’ mouthwatering descriptions, you will also know the difference between yams and sweet potatoes and their respective importance on African American tables.


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