Edwards bookstore picks best of 2010 | VailDaily.com

Edwards bookstore picks best of 2010

Besse LynchVail Daily correspondentVail, CO Colorado

Ask a bibliophile to chose a favorite book, and you are likely to get a full list. Out of the millions of books published each year, we are loath to select just one as “the best.” At The Bookworm in Edwards we had many readers and many opinions to consider when making our selections for the best books of 2010. We could not overlook the books that our customers loved and devoured this year, nor could we eliminate titles that each of our staff members had managed to agree upon.But there were two books this year that emerged as clear leaders. No, we did not succumb to Franzen frenzy and declare “Freedom” the greatest American novel of our time. Nor have we attempted to make any sweeping literary claims for a certain Swedish series. Instead, we selected two very simple stories about the simple pleasures in life: Happiness, friendship, and a darn good book.In the end we chose our favorites within 18 categories, including everything from literary fiction to adventure writing, to local favorites. Here are 13 of those selections.BEST LITERARY FICTION”How to Read the Air,” by Dinaw MengestuMengestu weaves a web of fiction within fiction as he follows the lives and loves of Yosef and Mariam, young Ethiopian immigrants who have spent all but their first years of marriage apart, and 30 years later their son Jonas as he sets out to retrace his parents’ steps. Utterly brilliant in scope, with intricate sentences and a focused plot exploring the impact environment and encounters can have on one’s inner life, this novel is beautiful.BEST HISTORICAL FICTION”The Wake of Forgiveness,” by Bruce MachartLove, loss and redemption are the themes Machart explores in his debut novel. What happens to a man who has lost “the only woman he’s ever been fond of”? And how can a boy be forgiven for a death that is not his fault? The answers leave the reader reeling in a mire of grief, anguish and lust. But Machart’s lush prose spins you back out of the turmoil to a place where the scars of past mistakes can be seen anew with the distance of time.BEST CUSTOMER FAVORITE”The Invisible Bridge,” by Julie OrringerIt’s 1937 in Paris and a young Jewish man from Hungary is falling in love, attending architecture school on scholarship and dreaming of a life full of possibilities. This debut novel by the short story author of “How to Breathe Underwater” is stunning in its knowledge of art, architecture, Hungarian labor camps and how much the human spirit can endure. Orringer’s writing is rich and descriptive and forces the reader to invest in her characters’ journey.BEST MEMOIR”Claiming Ground,” by Laura BellForgoing a grandiose portrayal of Western life, Bell tells a simple, honest story. Writing of her time as a sheepherder – alone in wilderness, in a man’s world – she is careful not to idealize her home but instead adopts it as a sibling, flaws and all. She finds love and also finds the wrong man, but seems also to find herself along the way. We can’t wait for another book from Bell and we’re hoping for fiction!BEST BIOGRAPHY”Cleopatra: A Life,” by Stacy SchiffDon’t let the cover fool you, this is no pseudo-historical fluff piece of an iconic celebrity. Stacy Schiff, a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, reveals all of the truths that have been glossed over and bent through the years. Between these covers you’ll discover a portrait of one of the most powerful and interesting women who ever lived.BEST BOOK TO LISTEN TO”Life,” by Keith RichardsImagine you are listening to a lecture on mid-20th century history. Now imagine the expert giving the lecture is Johnny Depp, and the historical facts are couched in music theory, pop culture and good ol’ rock and roll. Here you have the adventure to be embarked upon in “Life,” the autobiography of one of the most influential musicians of the last century. Your imagination will conjure the Rolling Stones’ most classic songs for a soundtrack as you journey through the life of Keith Richards.BEST MYSTERY SERIES”The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie,” & “The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag,” By Alan BradleyBradley’s intricately plotted mystery series brings us to a quaint 1950’s English village and introduces the reader to the delightful young sleuth Flavia de Luce. Flavia is a dangerously brilliant 11-year-old with a passion for chemistry and a penchant for solving murders. With just the right amount of the macabre and a pinch of whimsy, Bradley has us hooked. We can’t wait to find out what tangled webs Flavia will unwind next.BEST ADVENTURE”Blind Descent,” by James M. TaborWe often think of adventure as taking place above the surface, on steep peaks and roiling seas, but Tabor brings the reader underground to the deepest supercaves on earth and the men and women who dare to explore the depths. Following two relentless explorers – one American, one Ukranian – “Blind Descent” is a thrilling epic that explores the brightest and darkest aspects of the timeless human urge to discover, and leads us to the bottom of the world.BEST LOCAL BOOK”Eagle County: A Graphic Guidebook,” by Sherwood StockwellLocal watercolor artist and retired architect, Woody Stockwell has created a wonderful illustrated journey through our very own Eagle County. With beautiful pen and ink drawings and concise text, Stockwell illuminates the history, geology and lore of our neighborhoods.BEST NATURE WRITING”The Tree (30th Anniversary Edition),” by John Fowles”The Tree” is one of the few works of non-fiction written by John Fowles, widely regarded as one of the preeminent English novelists of the 20th century. In this quiet treatise, he illuminates the human connection to wild nature, the imminent necessity of preserving the natural world, and the simple pleasures to be found outside of our man-made existence. In a tone that never seems reproachful nor becomes accusatory, Fowles simply relishes the beauty nature brings to our lives.FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK”The Natural World,” by Thomas MangelsonIn this utterly spectacular book, celebrated nature photographer Thomas Mangelsen has selected his most important panoramic images and paired them with excerpts from his journals detailing his experience in the field to create a stunning portrait of the world’s ecosystems. “The Natural World” is a record of Earth’s last great locales, a book that will inspire present and future generations to save our natural treasures.

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