After a great deal of hemming, hawing, weighing the alternatives and perhaps most of all procrastination, here is my list of the top ten non-fiction books I read in 2010. Since I read a number of excellent books last year creating a list of just ten is not an easy task. So, in no real order of preference, here is my list.
- Destiny Disrupted: The World Through Islamic Eyes By Tamim Ansary
- Working in the Shadows: A Year of Doing Jobs (Most) Americans Won’t Do by Gabriel Thompson
- 1959: The Year Everything Changed by Fred Kaplan
- Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East by Robin Wright
- The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday: Unexpected Encounters in the Changing Middle East by Neil MacFarquhar
- America’s Prophet: Moses and the American Story by Bruce Feiler
- The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic and How It Changed Science, Cities and the Modern World by Steven Johnson
- Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach
- Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
- Memories of Muhammad: Why the Prophet Matters by Omid Safi
As hard as it might be to make a top ten list like the one above, it seems even harder to list a few honorable mentions. But if I could, I would probably consider Tim Harford’s The Logic of Life: The Rational Economics of an Irrational World, Robert Baer’s The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower, Ira Berlin’s The Making of African America: Four Great Migrations and Barrie Wilson’s How Jesus Became Christian.
Before I forget, there’s a few other books that for a variety of reasons I’d like to mention:
- Mark Mazower’s Salonica was probably the best-researched history book I read this year.
- The chapter “What to do with the Stupid ?” in Michael Hanlon’s 10 Questions Science Can’t Answer (Yet) was one of the most brutally honest and intelligent chapters I read in 2010.
- Dinesh D’ Souza’s What’s So Great About Christianity, Juan Cole’s Engaging the Muslim World and Christopher Caldwell’s Reflections on the Revolution in Europe all presented numerous intelligent, persuasive and well-reasoned arguments. While I might not have agreed with everything the authors wrote, I still came away enjoying the books and in the process learning more than a few things.
- Lastly, Thank God for Evolution and Who Speaks for Islam were beyond a doubt the biggest disappointments of 2010.
Well, for good, bad or otherwise there it is. Hopefully I will be back in a few days with a short list of the best fiction I read in 2010. Until then, stay literate my friends…