Top Books of 2010

Fyodor Dostoyevsky's classic novel heads the list of my top books for 2010.

UPDATE: Friend and former babysitter Matty Speth wrote the following:

“Lit” – Mary Karr (also, Liars Club), Growing Up – Russell Baker, The Family – Jeff Sharlet, Unbearable Lightness – DeRossi, Half-Broke Horse – Walls (also Glass Castle).. Books not worth reading: Going Rogue (Palin), Courage & Consequence (Rove) I tried to get some balance in my Liberal brain. It was excruciating!

ORIGINAL POST: Happy New Year, everyone!

I hope that the post-festivities consequences of last night’s revelry are not too painful, and, if they are, that you are still sleeping before reading this.

This is my third annual list of the top books I read in 2010.  The quantity of books I read dropped substantially from 2009 as I became heavily involved in the Dart Society, participated in the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma and thought differently about reading in general.

This year I again want to make sure that I am reading classic works of fiction and non-fiction as well as learning about organizational leadership from those who speak with authority on that topic.

Here were my favorites from last year.

The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.  One of the greatest novels of all time, this book has at least five sections that alone would have made it worthy of being on this list.  A must read at some point during  your life time.

The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs.  A classic manifesto about cities, neighborhoods and the people and policies that give them vitality.  Written with passion and insight.

Conversations with Myself, by Nelson Mandela. The great South African leader is in the early part of his tenth decade, and, in this book, gives us more intimate access to his life than ever before.

My Own Country, by Abraham Verghese.  Verghese’s tale of living and working in northeastern Tennessee in the early days of AIDS epidemic is a haunting portrait of an avoidable tragedy and a painful description of the author’s failing marriage.

Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers. Eggers’ story about a Lebanese immigrant who gets caught up in post-9/11 immigration policies while helping his neighbors in post-Katrina New Orleans is filled with poignant detail and a damning indictment of the government’s treatment of some of its citizens.

Reckoning at Eagle Creek, by Jeff Biggers.  Biggers tells a story of community devastation and personal reckoning in this book about the little explored subject of coal in southern Illinois.

Still Alice, by Lisa Genova. Genova’s tale about a Harvard professor struck at the height of her intellectual powers with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease is emotionally resonant and highly informative about the insidious disease.

Passing Strange, by Martha Sandweiss.  Sandweiss tells a fascinating tale about Clarence King, who lived a double life as a white and black man in the Gilded Age.

Run Less, Run More, by four authors.  For people resolving to get in better shape by running this year, this book is the way to go.  The authors encourage readers to do three times of workouts per week  and provide detailed tables to help them achieve their goals at any distance from 5 kilometers to a marathon. A gift from dear friend Lisa Cook, who has applied the book’s method to run a marathon.

What were your favorites this past year?  What should I be putting on my reading agenda for 2011?

I can’t wait to hear from you.


4 responses to “Top Books of 2010

  1. Great titles as always Jeff. I will add them to my list.

    I’d love to hear what you think of My Life After Hate, which I finished in November 2010.
    If you e-mail your snail mail to I’ll gladly send you a signed copy. Your input helped shape the book and I’ll always be grateful for that.

    Wishing you and your family a peaceful and compassionate 2011!

    • jeffkellylowenstein3

      Thanks, Arno, for your note and good words. I’d love to read your book and write about it.

      I’ll send you my address in a minute.


  2. The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
    by Michelle Alexander, Going Down Jericho Road ( The Memphis Strike
    MLK’s Last Campaign) Michael K. Honey, Freedom Summer (The Savage
    Season that Made Mississippi Burn) Bruce Watson. These are just a few recent books.

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