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The notable books of 2010

We’ve read them — and you still have to (well, these picks, at least). Metro, with a little help from our friends, picks the best of the year.

Picking the best books of the year is a daunting challenge, one that Metro staffers decided to outsource to a publishing expert, former book editor Maris Kreizman and proprietor of the popular Tumblr blog, Slaughterhouse 90210, a site which juxtaposes literary quotes with screenshots from TV shows, combining high and low culture. Here are her top five of the year (with honorable mentions by your favorite free daily newspaper writers).

1 ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’ by Jennifer Egan
The novel-in-stories is a tough medium to master, as countless MFA grads can attest. But there isn’t one weak link in “Goon Squad” — every chapter, every shift in point of view, every narrative, feels essential. It unfolds like a mystery, with each chapter revealing a bit more about the ways in which the cast of characters are interconnected.

2 ‘Just Kids’ by Patti Smith
Being young and poor and dirty has never sounded quite as romantic as it does here. Patti Smith’s formative years as an artist — complete with cameos by a veritable who’s who of ’70s era bohemians — makes the perfect fodder for a memoir that’s absolute poetry.

3 ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’ by Rebecca Skloot
Medical history meets biology and personal narrative in this nonfiction heartbreaker that reads like a novel. Skloot masterfully tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, the woman whose cancer cells led to major breakthroughs in scientific research even as her family remained poor.

4 ‘Freedom’ by Jonathan Franzen
Love him or hate him, there’s a reason why Mr. Franzen is “important.” He gets many points for making the character of Patty Berglund so multi-dimensional, so real and so perfect in her flaws.

5 ‘The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake’ by Aimee Bender
People had mixed feelings on this one, but “Lemon Cake” appeals to the vulnerable, emo part of you that gets “Dark and Quirky Coming-of-Age Dramas” as a recommended category from Netflix. The descriptions of first loves and the disappointments that follow are superb.

Runners-up

‘The Passage’ by Justin Cronin
End of the world apocalyptic vampire fiction clocking in at over 700 pages but written by an Iowa-trained literary craftsman? Yes, please.

‘Room: A Novel’ by Emma Donoghue
“Room” is written from the perspective of a precocious 5-year-old named Jack, who the reader slowly discovers is being kept in captivity with his mother since her kidnapping years before. An absolutely gripping read.

‘Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime’ by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
This political book about the last presidential election is a triple threat:?well-researched, totally gossipy, with entertaining reporting by journalists Halperin and Heilemann.

‘The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest’ by Stieg Larsson
In this, the last of an amazing trilogy that gripped the entire world, we bid adieu to our favorite tattooed computer hacker.

 
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