Outstanding fiction, non-fiction and poetry titles named to 2010 Notable Books List for adult readers

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For Immediate Release,
January 17, 2010

BOSTON—The 2010 selections for the Notable Books List—a source for very good and very important fiction, non-fiction and poetry for the nation’s adult readers—have been announced by the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA).

Since 1944, the Notable Books Council has annually selected a list of 25 very good, very readable and at times very important fiction, nonfiction and poetry books for the adult reader. Books may be selected because they possess exceptional literary merit; expand the horizons of human knowledge; make a specialized body of knowledge accessible to the non-specialist; have the potential to contribute significantly to the solution of a contemporary problem; and/or present a unique concept.

The winners were selected by the Notable Books Council, a group of RUSA members and readers’ advisory experts from around the country. This year’s committee included Alicia Ahlvers, chair, Kansas City Public Library; Susie Brown, Shaker Heights Public Library; Julie Elliott, Indiana University-South Bend; Lucy Lockley, St. Charles City-County Library District; Valerie Taylor, Lewisville Community Library; Elizabeth Olesh, Nassau Library System; Jessica Pigza, New York Public Library; Nancy Pearl; A. Issac Pulver, Saratoga Springs Public Library; Heather Robideaux, Fayetteville Public Library; Nonny Schlotzhauer, Pennsylvania State University; and Andrea Slonosky.

The 2010 winners are:




Anthony, Jessica. The Convalescent. McSweeney's. 9781934781104

Rovar Pfiegman, bus dwelling meat salesman, fulfills his destiny as the last of the last of his clan, in this oddly imaginative tale.


Atwood, Margaret. The Year of the Flood: A Novel. Doubleday/Nan A. Talese. 9780385528771

In the near future, two women survive an apocalyptic event in a queasily enthralling work.


Baker, Nicholson. The Anthologist: A Novel. Simon & Schuster. 9781416572442.

A charming failure, poet Paul Chowder struggles to regain his muse and his girlfriend while watching deadlines slip by.


Chaon, Dan. Await Your Reply: A Novel. Ballantine. 9780345476029.

This chilling exploration of the modern meaning of identity follows three people on the fringes of society.

Cleave, Chris. Little Bee: A Novel. Simon & Schuster. 9781416589631.

The compelling voice of a refugee illuminates the life-changing friendship between two women that began with a horrifying encounter on a secluded Nigerian beach.


Dexter, Pete. Spooner. Grand Central. 9780446540728.

A boy struggles to navigate the vagaries of the world with the lifelong guidance of his stepfather in this funny and heartbreaking tale.


Harding, Paul. Tinkers. Bellevue Literary Press. 9781934137123.

In this lyrical novel, the life of a dying man is examined through the smallest moments of time and memory.


Li, Yiyun. The Vagrants: A Novel. Random. 9781400063130.

The execution of a dissident woman reverberates through her small town in the aftermath of China’s Cultural Revolution.


McCann, Colum. Let the Great World Spin: A Novel. Random. 9781400063734.

Phillipe Petit’s highwire walk between the Twin Towers provides the backdrop for this rich portrait of the unlikely connections among a group of New Yorkers in the 1970s.


Morrison, Toni. A Mercy: A Novel. Knopf. 9780307264237

Four women—white, mixed race, black and Native American—become a makeshift family under the care of a "good" man in colonial America.


Powers, Richard. Generosity: An Enhancement. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 9780374161149.

In this postmodern indictment of the biotech industry, a student’s unnerving happiness seems to hold the key to banishing despair from the human genetic code.


Tóibín, Colm. Brooklyn: A Novel. Scribner. 9781439138311.

A young Irish woman faces heart-wrenching decisions in this unabashedly romantic and deceptively simple story of immigration and belonging. 




Cullen, Dave. Columbine. Twelve. 9780446546935.

This fine work of investigative journalism challenges the myths and misconceptions of the Columbine tragedy.


Eggers, Dave. Zeitoun. McSweeney’s. 9781934781630.

This powerful account explores the devastation of post-Katrina New Orleans through the eyes of a Syrian-American who remained and endured the resulting chaos and confusion.


Finkel, David. The Good Soldiers. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 9780374165734.

An embedded reporter describes the human cost paid by an Army battalion on the streets of Iraq in language that is searing, visceral and immediate.


Grann, David. The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon. Doubleday. 9780385513531.

An intrepid reporter sets out to uncover the mysterious fate the last of the great Victorian explorers in this thrilling adventure.


Guibert, Emmanuel. The Photographer: Into War-torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders. First Second. 9781596433755.

Using mixed visual media, this stunning memoir vividly depicts the struggles and accomplishments of a humanitarian mission in an unforgiving terrain.


Holmes, Richard. The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science. Pantheon. 9780375422225.

This lively, stellar group biography animates the engrossing accounts of the research that inspired a sense of awe in poets and scientists alike.


Keefe, Patrick Radden. Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld & the American Dream. Doubleday. 9780385521307.

Human trafficking and its subsequent effects on the American economy and social structures are documented in this fast-paced panoramic expose.


McDougall, Christopher. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. Knopf. 978-0307266309.

One journalist’s quest to discover the secrets of the reclusive Tarahumara Indians leads to an exciting and dangerous endurance race.


Norman, Michael and Elizabeth M. Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 9780374272609.

In-depth, brutal and moving this narrative provides multiple perspectives into a tragic WWII episode in the Philippines.


Salisbury, Lainey and Aly Sujo. Provenance: How a Con Man & A Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art. Penguin. 9781594202209.

This enthralling page-turner describes how archivists uncovered one of the most extensive frauds in recent art history.


Small, David. Stitches: A Memoir. Norton. 9780393068573.

Stark drawings give voice to the horrors of a child who find redemption in art while growing up in a repressed and disturbed family.


Thompson, Nicholas. The Hawk and the Dove: Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War. Holt. 978-0805081428.

The remarkable half-century friendship and rivalry between two influential strategists who helped shape American policy is brought to life in this insightful dual biography.




Alexie, Sherman. Face. Hanging Loose Press. 9781931236706.

Autobiographical poems experimenting with various styles and forms explore childhood, fatherhood, and the trials, perks and humor of minor celebrity.


Dunn, Stephen. What Goes On: Selected and New Poems 1995-2009. Norton. 978039306775

Completely accessible poems written in ordinary language deal with cats, love, barfights, desire, melancholia and relationships.


The Reference and User Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, represents librarians and library staff in the fields of reference, specialized reference, collection development, readers advisory and resource sharing. RUSA is the foremost organization of reference and information professionals who make the connections between people and the information sources, services, and collection materials they need.  Not a member, but  interested in discounted registration rates on conference, preconferences and other events? Join, renew or add RUSA to your ALA membership at www.ala.org/membership. Learn more about the association at www.ala.org/rusa.