Best books of 2010 (the year of the whale)

Here are the best books I read in 2010, most of which weren’t published in 2010.

Herman Melville, Moby-Dick: Probably the greatest novel I’ve ever read. I hope to someday find words to write more adequately about it.

Philip Hoare, The Whale: A social and natural history of man’s dealings with whales. This is the book that convinced me to read Melville.

Andrew Delbanco, Melville: His World and Work: A compulsively readable intellectual and social biography of Melville.

William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience: I wish I hadn’t waited so long to read James’s classic work. Some amazing first-person accounts of religious experience. And James introduces some of his most important and indispensible concepts here.

Margaret Atwood, Oryx & Crake; The Year of the Flood: The first two books in a projected dystopian trilogy about a world of bioengineering run amok, economic inequality, and environmental degradation. Atwood’s knack for humor and for coining near-futuristic lingo lightens a fairly grim storyline.

Clark Williamson, A Guest in the House of Israel: A critique of Christian anti-Judaism and supersessionism and an attempted theological reconstruction.

Paul Krugman, The Conscience of a Liberal: Lucidly argues that the causes of (and solutions to) economic inequality in America are rooted in political choices, not the inexorable laws of economics.

Jonathan Safran-Foer, Eating Animals: Deconstruction of factory-farming written with a novelist’s flair.

C.S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism: Lewis argues that good books are those that allow, invite, or compel good reading.

Robert MacSwain and Michael Ward (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to C.S. Lewis: A welcome reminder that Lewis is much more interesting and complex than his uncritical admirers or detractors realize.

2 thoughts on “Best books of 2010 (the year of the whale)

  1. Thanks. Great list, and I have already read several books on it. Though instead of reading Klugman’s THE CONSCIENCE OF A LIBERAL, I read both Ralph Brauer’s THE STRANGE DEATH OF LIBERAL AMERICA and Chris Hedges’ DEATH OF THE LIBERAL CLASS.

    Long a fan of MOBY DICK and the critical-literature about the novel, as well as on Cormac McCarthy’s BLOOD MERIDIAN which shares certain aspects. McCarthy has said that he is a fan of William James’s THE VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE, and I believe it.

    Early this year, I read Margaret Atwood’s PAYBACK: DEBT AND THE SHALLOW SIDE OF WEALTH, now on my “most-beloved” shelf. It was an eye-opening experience and gave me a new perspective to interpret novels (and thus life itself) with a heightened awareness.

    I also read Jonathan Safran-Foer’s EATING ANIMALS earlier this year, and I thought it worthwhile.

    My modest book blog is here. No doubt you’ll have read many of the books I discuss.

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