Master your Minecraft

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Tour our stores

Staff Top 5s of 2010

Staff Top 5s of 2010

If you're thinking about asking a Powell's employee for book recommendations, find a seat first. Get comfortable, and be prepared to spend some time there. (Booksellers aren't known for brevity.) But this time we've made it easy. Peruse this collection of Powell's Staff Top 5s of 2010, and most importantly, do so from the comfort of wherever you choose. No escape-route necessary.



Great House
  1. Great House
    by Nicole Krauss

    Nicole Krauss, author of the bestselling History of Love, showcases her brilliant storytelling yet again. Her artistic way of weaving a tale and the amazing characters she develops are beyond compare. It's no wonder she's featured on the New Yorker's 20 under 40 list for 2010.

  2. Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
  3. The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall
  4. Room by Emma Donoghue
  5. Promise Me: How a Sister's Love Launched the Global Movement to End Breast Cancer by Nancy G. Brinker


Cutting for Stone
  1. Cutting for Stone
    by Abraham Verghese

    Cutting for Stone is both an excellent read and a gift that keeps on giving: I've recommended this book to many, many customers — some of whom have come back to thank me personally and buy more copies as gifts. The plot travels in many diverse directions, but eventually converges to create one solid story; you'll love, laugh, hate, and cry throughout its panoramic unfolding. This is such an outstanding novel, one can only dream of an encore. 

  2. Just Kids by Patti Smith
  3. Prizes: Selected Short Stories by Janet Frame
  4. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  5. Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will by Judith Schalansky

Michael T.

Ruth and the Green Book
  1. Ruth and the Green Book
    by Calvin Alexander Ramsey

    This is a book that matters, and it pleases and succeeds on so many levels. Ruth and the Green Book is the story of a young girl and her parents who travel from their home in Chicago to visit relatives in Alabama. The book is set during the segregated 1940s, a time when it wasn't easy for a black family to find places to eat, shop, and sleep while making their way across the country. Aided by "The Negro Motorist Green Book" — a travel guide listing black-friendly businesses — the young family works together to make their journey. This is a children's picture book, but readers of any age will be uplifted by its soft images, gentle beauty, and the sense of love and community it imparts to the reader.

  2. Super by Jim Lehrer
  3. Room by Emma Donoghue
  4. Role Models by John Waters
  5. Feed by Mira Grant

Mark S.

  1. C
    by Tom McCarthy

    This novel reads like intercepted radio transmissions from the first two decades of the 20th century: a looping cacophony of coffins, cabaret, cocaine, and cryptology. Serge Carrefax hunts for meaning in minutiae and for secret messages from his dead sister, his journey carrying him to a multitude of locales: the mansion where he spent his childhood, a German spa, the trenches of the First World War, Soho séances, and Egyptian tombs. McCarthy betrays the truth that life can hold moments of flickering significance, even if they're hidden in a deluge of patternless data and doggy-style sexual encounters.

  2. The Complete Stories of J. G. Ballard by J. G. Ballard
  3. Bad Nature; or, With Elvis in Mexico by Javier Marias
  4. Reality Hunger by David Shields
  5. Conquest of the Useless: Reflections from the Making of Fitzcarraldo by Werner Herzog

Jason W.

Conquest of the Useless
  1. Conquest of the Useless: Reflections from the Making of Fitzcarraldo
    by Werner Herzog

    Much like the man himself, Werner Herzog's journal from the filming of Fitzcarraldo is hallucinatory and horrific, lovely and poetic all at once. This is a book about madness and obsession, about depth and illusion, about a place where nothing is as it seems. Filled with darkness and light, it's the story of a vision so contradictory and shifting it becomes life itself. I've stayed in Iquitos on the Amazon, and this is by far the most honest, accurate description of the place I've ever read. In fact, I've never read so honest a description of any place.

  2. I Curse the River of Time by Per Petterson
  3. Finders Keepers: A Tale of Archaeological Plunder and Obsession by Craig Childs
  4. Sunset Park by Paul Auster
  5. Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology by David Abram


  1. Freedom
    by Jonathan Franzen

    In Freedom, Jonathan Franzen bulldozes through the façade of the progressive, modern American family. His characters are intelligent, analytical, selfish, needy, and full of regret. They come off as unlikable, but are instead complex, realistic people choking on their freedom; each earns our sympathy as they actively poison themselves and the ones they love. Franzen's writing is intimately elaborate, offers astute observations, and, in its entirety, amounts to a tremendous achievement — clouded in gloom, but ultimately shining with hope.

  2. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary by David Sedaris
  3. Columbine by Dave Cullen
  4. It's a Book by Lane Smith
  5. All My Friends Are Dead by Avery Monsen and Jory John


Hold Me Closer, Necromancer
  1. Hold Me Closer, Necromancer
    by Lish McBride

    With chapter headings taken from song titles (creating the most persistent mental playlist ever), a 19-year-old "slacker" protagonist, skateboard-fu, the world's most adorable disembodied head, and a wicked sense of humor, this is far from your typical young-adult paranormal novel. There's no overblown angst or family drama and no sad attempt by an adult author to emulate teen-speak. Though marketed to the YA audience, this book is far more Dresden Files than Twilight Saga. And that's a very good thing.

  2. Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
  3. It's a Book by Lane Smith
  4. Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
  5. Room by Emma Donoghue

Sheila N.

Luka and the Fire of Life
  1. Luka and the Fire of Life
    by Salman Rushdie

    Award-winning novelist and master storyteller Salman Rushdie delivers once again with this enthralling fantasy novel aimed at younger readers. A follow-up to an earlier adult novel, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Luka and the Fire of Life follows the adventures of a young boy and his talking pets as they set off on a quest to save his father's life. So, gather the kiddies in your life and settle into a comfy chair — Luka and the Fire of Life is just the kind of engaging novel that simply begs to be read out loud. Fast paced, exciting, and written with humor, wit, and whimsy, everyone will hang on your breath as you turn the pages. Recommended for readers ages 14 and up.

  2. The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley
  3. The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg
  4. Wait for Me! by Deborah Mitford
  5. Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff


Secret Historian
  1. Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist and Sexual Renegade
    by Justin Spring

    Sam Steward moved between culture both high (he was a close friend of Gertrude Stein) and low (he became one of the foremost tattoo artists in the country, well before tattoos became socially acceptable, and authored several volumes of erotic fiction). He also kept detailed diaries and a "Stud File" of sexual partners, including Rudolph Valentino and Thornton Wilder. This highly readable biography gives a fascinating look into both pre-Stonewall gay culture and the mind of a man who above all else remained absolutely true to himself — no small feat at that time.

  2. On the Beach by Nevil Shute
  3. We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems
  4. God on the Rocks by Jane Gardam
  5. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman


The Passage
  1. The Passage
    by Justin Cronin

    The Passage is a page-turner that grabs you from the start with its great storytelling and character development. The style of writing and portions of the plot reminded me of The Stand by Stephen King. This is the first book in a series, and I can't wait to read the next.

  2. Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins
  3. The Fall by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
  4. Faithful Place by Tana French
  5. The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova


97 Orchard
  1. 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement
    by Jane Zeigelman

    I love looking at history through the telescope of a particular subject, in this case, viewing the New York immigrant experience through their food. Not so very long ago, our hot dogs, bagels, and lasagna were exotic introductions to this country. Cookbooks were rare, with recipes handed down through the generations from mother to daughter. Life was arduous for a mother trying to feed her family in a fifth-floor tenement with no running water. But from the different cultures and religions of our immigrant ancestors, we have inherited a rich groaning board of ethnic foods.

  2. Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food by Jeff Potter
  3. The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
  4. Room by Emma Donoghue
  5. Wigs on the Green by Nancy Mitford

Chris C.

Wally Gropius
  1. Wally Gropius: The Umpteen Millionaire
    by Tim Hensley

    Torn from the pages of MOME quarterly, this bizarre comic album takes on teen humor comics from an abstract angle, full of head-scratching laughs and razor sharp cartooning. If Mort Walker drew Jim Shaw's dreams for an Archie Comics (Japanese edition) super special, it might be half as great as this terrific book. Buy it today, wrap it around your head, make a million dollars!

  2. Weathercraft: A Frank Comic by Jim Woodring
  3. Kissing the Mask: Beauty, Understatement, and Femininity in Japanese Noh Theater by William T. Vollmann
  4. I Was Looking for a Street by Charles Willeford
  5. The Box Man by Imiri Sakabashira

Jill S.

Before I Fall
  1. Before I Fall
    by Lauren Oliver

    I hardly ever find young-adult books whose main character is a maddeningly popular girl — the girl with the hot jock boyfriend and the fiercely close but catty top-tier friends — and yet, here one is. Before I Fall is a fantastically authentic read (verging on character study, in the way Sam and her posse grow throughout) all bundled tightly in a warm cocoon of page-turning loveliness. This YA novel is going to go places. Mark my words.

  2. We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems
  3. A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead
  4. Happyface by Stephen Emond
  5. The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood and Renata Liwska

Brian B.

Heavy Hand
  1. Heavy Hand
    by Chris Cilla

    Chris Cilla's Heavy Hand is a surrealistic story that borders on the mystical. The inane banalities of everyday life are counterposed by shocking breaks with reality that are perceived by the characters as just slightly out of place. The desert motif and mythical qualities of the storyline can't help but to bring to mind the writings of Carlos Castaneda. The style is wonderfully balanced between the classic alternative graphic-novel culture of the late '60s and '70s, and yet it's evocative of the early mid-century comic artisans, while retaining something that is uniquely Cilla's own. Outstanding and challenging in equal parts without the danger of falling into postmodernist, self-aggrandizing schlock. Outstanding!

  2. Georges Bataille: An Intellectual Biography by Michel Surya
  3. Only Death Is Real: An Illustrated History of Hellhammer and Early Celtic Frost 1981-1985 by Tom Gabriel Fischer
  4. The God Who Deconstructs Himself: Sovereignty and Subjectivity between Freud, Bataille, and Derrida by Nick Mansfield
  5. Renee French: H Day by Renee French

Paul S.

Super Sad True Love Story
  1. Super Sad True Love Story
    by Gary Shteyngart

    Shteyngart offers a look into the near future where technology and rampant consumerism run roughshod over compassion and culture — a lot like the present, only a little worse.

  2. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
  3. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
  4. Encounter by Milan Kundera
  5. The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk


Super Sad True Love Story
  1. Super Sad True Love Story
    by Gary Shteyngart

    A dark Romeo and Juliet tale set in a dystopian future America where books are considered dirty and smelly, and everyone gets all their information through their apparatus (i.e., smart phone). Oh, wait, did I say the future? Sounds an awful lot like the present!

  2. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
  3. Twin Spica, Volume 1 by Kou Yaginuma
  4. A Secret Gift: How One Man's Kindness — and a Trove of Letters — Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression by Ted Gup
  5. It's a Book by Lane Smith


The Magicians
  1. The Magicians
    by Lev Grossman

    As a diehard Narniaphile and fantasy addict, I think it would have been impossible for me not to fall in love with The Magicians. Taking a page from C. S. Lewis, Grossman introduces Fillory, a charming and uncanny alternate world created by a fictional author, whose books play a role in the lives of Grossman's characters. At the same time, Grossman's Brakebills College seems a nod to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Yet, despite these allusions to children's books, this is definitely a story for adults, rife with sexual tension, deceit, and self doubt.

  2. Salted: A Manifesto on the World's Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes by Mark Bitterman
  3. Pacific Feast: A Field Guide to Coastal Foraging and Cuisine by Jennifer Hahn
  4. Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan
  5. Light Boxes by Shane Jones

Shawn D.

The Imperfectionists
  1. The Imperfectionists
    by Tom Rachman

    Nobody's perfect, but Tom Rachman comes pretty damn close with his debut novel, The Imperfectionists. Through the lives of the 11 main characters (each with their own chapter), Rachman chronicles the rise and fall of a Rome-based international newspaper, which bares a striking resemblance to his former employer, the International Herald Tribune. Gossipy and fun, yet poignant and timely, The Imperfectionists marks the arrival of a wonderful new literary talent.

  2. Just Kids by Patti Smith
  3. Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower
  4. The Interrogative Mood by Padgett Powell
  5. What He's Poised to Do by Ben Greenman


Life from an RNA World
  1. Life from an RNA World: The Ancestor Within
    by Michael Yarus

    Most everyone knows about DNA, the molecular double helix that contains our genetic information. But, few outside the world of biochemistry are familiar with RNA. Yet research over the past 30 years strongly suggests a primordial world of RNA-based organisms near the origin of life on Earth. Life from an RNA World offers a clear account of the latest developments in the scientific quest for the origins of life, written for interested non-specialists.

  2. The Origins of Life by David Deamer and Jack Szostak
  3. Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha
  4. Pandora's Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization by Spencer Wells
  5. Titan Unveiled: Saturn's Mysterious Moon Explored by Ralph Lorenz


The Notebook
  1. The Notebook
    by Jose Saramago

    José Saramago passed away in June 2010, and The Notebook is a compilation of one year of the late Nobel Laureate's personal blog postings. Unabashedly candid, yet composed with obvious humility and a simple grace, these writings offer Saramago as engaged citizen, sincerely troubled by the apparent waning morality that characterizes our modern societies. In these brief yet extraordinarily potent essays, he wrote convincingly about torture, the violent and degrading treatment of women, world politics, war, peace, forgotten everyday heroes, film, religion, history, music, economics, books, education, culture, and other disparate topics.

  2. The Rest Is Jungle and Other Stories by Mario Benedetti
  3. Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology by David Abram
  4. The Return by Roberto Bolano
  5. Gimme Refuge: The Education of a Caretaker by Matt Love


Mink River
  1. Mink River
    by Brian Doyle

    I haven't enjoyed a book this much in quite some time! Set in a tiny coastal Oregon town, Mink River is populated with characters who seem to leap off the page and speak their lines directly to you. Doyle breaks all the "good writing" rules, yet this book is rich and layered, riotous and quirky, compelling you to read faster than you'd like, because you can't stand not knowing what the heck is going to happen next. Every lush sentence is a tiny jewel that you'll want to roll around on your tongue and slowly savor.

  2. The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi Durrow
  3. My Abandonment by Peter Rock
  4. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
  5. Room by Emma Donoghue


My Vocabulary Dad Did This to Me
  1. My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer
    by Jack Spicer

    Jack Spicer is a wonderfully bizarre and enigmatic poet, whose work has been out of print for far too long. I particularly love After Lorca, but all of Spicer's work deserves to be read and celebrated.

  2. On Tact, and the Made Up World by Michele Glazer
  3. Nox by Anne Carson
  4. Mean Free Path by Ben Lerner
  5. Is Music: Selected Poems by John Taggart

Jill O.

The Instructions
  1. The Instructions
    by Adam Levin

    The Instructions is awe-inspiring. Addictively quotable, violently funny, insanely intelligent, and utterly compelling, Adam Levin's debut novel is unlike anything I've ever read, in the best possible way. Read this book. You'll savor every word on its thousand-plus pages.

  2. Rat Girl by Kristin Hersh
  3. Raptus by Joanna Klink
  4. Every Riven Thing by Christian Wiman
  5. Summertime by J. M. Coetzee


Not Your Parents' Money Books
  1. Not Your Parents' Money Book: Making, Saving, and Spending Your Own Money
    by Jean Chatzsky

    Though written for a young audience (ages 8 to 16), there's a lot of information which is useful and interesting for people of any age. Jean Chatzky tells all, covering where money comes from and what it represents, as well as how to decide what to do with it. Fiscal responsibility can never start too soon (nor too late!).

  2. The Moral Underground: How Ordinary Americans Subvert an Unfair Economy by Lisa Dodson
  3. A Blessing on the Moon by Joseph Skibell
  4. The Accountant's Guide to the Universe: Heaven and Hell by the Numbers by Craig Hovey
  5. Piggybanking: Preparing Your Financial Life for Kids and Your Kids for a Financial Life by Jeff Opdyke


A Life
  1. A Life
    by Keith Richards

    Admit it, you didn't expect Keith to remember much, did you? Well, you were so wrong. His story is off-the-charts awesome, and, taken along with the Stones in Exile documentary, it made my year. Together they are everything I always wanted from my favorite genius outlaw.

  2. Just Kids by Patti Smith
  3. Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin
  4. The Ask by Sam Lipsyte
  5. Role Models by John Waters


  1. Sleepless
    by Charlie Huston

    Set in an alternate America that is unraveling under the strain of a deadly plague, this masterful novel portrays the lives of two very different men on a collision course of destruction. Huston is a one of the finest writers that you've never heard of. His characters are quirky and real and speak with an authenticity that's hard to match. Do yourself a favor and read this book.

  2. Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks
  3. Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey
  4. The Terminal State by Jeff Somers
  5. Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear


The Dead Lie Down
  1. The Dead Lie Down
    by Sophie Hannah

    Ruth Bussey's story is so bizarre, the police don't know what to make of it: her boyfriend insists he's killed a woman she knows to still be alive. Is she mad? Is her boyfriend mad? Is the woman he claims to have killed mad? Or is one or more of them conspiring some elaborate, disturbing hoax? The Dead Lie Down is a gripping novel from acclaimed British poet and novelist Sophie Hannah. Like the extraordinary psychological novels of Ruth Rendell, Hannah puts the reader inside the world of fragile, damaged people, compelled to act on a perception of reality skewed by their own unspeakable pasts.

  2. The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter
  3. Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
  4. Just Kids by Patti Smith
  5. Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane

Kelly L.

In the Company of Angels
  1. In the Company of Angels
    by Thomas E. Kennedy

    It's a rare book that can both haunt and inspire. The lead characters' efforts to recover from shattering events are traced with compassion, deep intelligence, and an almost miraculous hope. As if that weren't enough, the home life of the psychotherapist helping Nardo put his life — his soul, really — back together is portrayed, not as mundane (which would have been easy), but with sensitivity and honesty, a reminder of the far-reaching effects of evil. Long popular in Europe and a resident of Copenhagen, Kennedy was published only by small presses in the U.S. — until now! His next book is due in the states in March 2011.

  2. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
  3. The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker
  4. God on the Rocks by Jane Gardam
  5. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson


The Lonely Polygamist
  1. The Lonely Polygamist
    by Brady Udall

    The Lonely Polygamist spotlights the fragile humanity of the title character, Golden Richards, and his extended family. Through masterful prose filled with palpable heartache — not to mention all manner of hi-jinks — Udall shows that love really can conquer all.

  2. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
  3. Skippy Dies by Paul Murray
  4. A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
  5. Fallen by Lauren Kate


  1. Horns
    by Joe Hill

    I expected to like this book as a guilty pleasure. I was hungry for a fast-paced read, something that would effortlessly draw me in, but wouldn't require a lot of heavy thinking. I was so wrong: Horns is highly literary, in addition to all the other qualities I was craving. Joe Hill managed to create a world so ugly, terrifying, and heartbreakingly beautiful that I desperately didn't want to leave.

  2. Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
  3. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
  4. The Wilding by Benjamin Percy
  5. Fast, Fresh, and Green by Susie Middleton


  1. Changes
    by Jim Butcher

    When you read over 200 books a year, it's generally difficult to pick your five favorites, but Butcher's Changes was an easy choice for my number one pick of 2010. A long-running series like the Harry Dresden books can easily turn boring if the author doesn't pay close enough attention to the characters' growth or doesn't take a fair amount of risks. Butcher manages it all in Changes.

  2. The Whisperers by John Connelly
  3. Horns by Joe Hill
  4. Port Mortuary by Patricia Cornwell
  5. The Burning Wire by Jeffrey Deaver


The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
  1. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
    by David Mitchell

    Widely praised, and rightfully so, as one of the most gifted writers of his generation, Mitchell has yet again created an amazing story that's wholly original and enthralling. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet fulfills the promise of Mitchell's previous work.

  2. Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes
  3. Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter by A. E. Moorat
  4. The Hard Way Around: The Passages of Joshua Slocum by Geoffrey Wolff
  5. Bite Me: A Love Story by Christopher Moore

Carla M.

  1. Changes
    by Jim Butcher

    Grab your hat and your blasting rod and hang on for this wild read. Seriously, every time I get a new Butcher book, it seems even better than the last. How does he do it?

  2. Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs
  3. Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews
  4. Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews
  5. An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire

Kevin S.

Ghost Machine
  1. Ghost Machine
    by Ben Mirov

    This was one of those books that seemed like it came at just the right time in my life. I loved its muted sadness and the occasionally surreal descriptions of that sadness, and I loved the weird way the poems sample from each other throughout the book. It's like a book eating its own tail.

  2. The Ask by Sam Lipsyte
  3. Happy by Alex Lemon
  4. Daddy's by Lindsay Hunter
  5. Half a Life by Darin Strauss


  1. Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War
    by Karl Marlantes

    Powerful. Words melt away, immersing me into a predator-infested jungle. Soon to be a classic.

  2. Horns by Joe Hill
  3. The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe by J. Randy Taraborrelli
  4. Room by Emma Donoghue
  5. In the Place of Justice: A Story of Punishment and Deliverance by Wilbert Rideau

Sarah H.

It's a Book
  1. It's a Book
    by Lane Smith

    If you adore the way paper feels against your fingertips and the smell of musty ink, if you shudder each time a friend predicts the rise of the ebook and the demise of the traditional one, then think of It's a Book as therapy.

  2. A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
  3. Little Owl Lost by Chris Haughton
  4. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
  5. Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins


Dark Road to Darjeeling
  1. Dark Road to Darjeeling
    by Deanna Raybourn

    Dark Road to Darjeeling is another excellent mystery featuring Victorian sleuths Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane. Enlisted by Julia's sister to help an old family friend investigate her husband's sudden death, Julia and Brisbane journey to a Cavendish tea plantation, located in a remote valley in the foothills of the Himalayas. As tensions between them run high, Julia and Brisbane must probe the darkest secrets of the valley's eccentric British inhabitants, endangering not only their fledgling marriage but their lives, as well. Raybourn brings colonial India to life as she once again explores the darkness lurking within the human soul.

  2. For the King's Favor by Elizabeth Chadwick
  3. Royal Blood by Rhys Bowen
  4. Demon from the Dark by Kresley Cole
  5. Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas

Nathan W.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
  1. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
    by David Mitchell

    The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is set in Japan in the late 1700s and deals with trade relations between the Japanese and the Dutch. Mitchell begins by methodically detailing how outwardly different in custom and costume the two cultures are, which only serves to make the personal similarities between characters on each side of the cultural divide that much more compelling. This wouldn't have worked if the author had been only acquainted with the cultures in passing, but he's obviously well versed in Japanese and Dutch history, providing thousands of minor points that coalesce into breathtaking panoramas of Nagasaki and Dejima. It's beautiful writing.

  2. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
  3. C by Tom McCarthy
  4. The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea by Philip Hoare
  5. I Curse the River of Time by Per Petterson


  1. Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War
    by Karl Marlantes

    Karl Marlantes's Matterhorn is visceral, raw, and gripping; an exceptionally moving and insightful novel of young men at war. If you love Bao Ninh and Tim O'Brien, you can't fail to be moved by this immensely compelling foray into the leech- and tiger-haunted jungles of Vietnam.

  2. New Selected Poems and Translations by Ezra Pound
  3. Buddhism through American Women's Eyes by Karma Tsomo
  4. The Horse Has Six Legs: An Anthology of Serbian Poetry by Charles Simic
  5. The Salt Ecstasies by James L. White

Drew S.

  1. Flowers
    by Paul Killebrew

    Flowers does for me what a John Ashbery collection does: mystifies, stifles, and causes a desire to mimic, leaving with it the eventual personal failure to do so. These are signs of great poetry. Killebrew succeeds in creating comic and anecdotal lines without tripping over them or making them hip. He dares to write about what he had for breakfast, his hometown, and of course, John Ashbery himself. His long poem "Forget Rita," previously published in chapbook form by Ugly Duckling Presse, is a true beauty.

  2. Thin Kimono by Michael Craig
  3. Money Poems by James Gendron
  4. Mary Ruefle: Selected Poems by Mary Ruefle
  5. Nick Demske by Nick Demske


The Weird World of Eerie Publications
  1. The Weird World of Eerie Publications: Comic Gore that Warped Millions of Young Minds
    by Mike Howlett

    This is the history of Myron Fass and his Eerie Publications line, some of the sleaziest, goriest magazines ever produced in America. Exploitation gold. It's filled with color reproductions of cover art from the titles Weird, Tales of Voodoo, Witches' Tales, and more. My fifth grade teacher took a copy of Terror Tales away from me when she saw it in my desk. She did give it back at the end of the day, but not before getting her digs in by asking, "Do your parents know you're reading this trash?" Now, she's forever linked with trash in my mind. Can't recommend any more heartily.

  2. Outcast by David Hurles
  3. Lucha Loco: The Free Wrestlers of Mexico by Malcolm Venville
  4. Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s by Greg Sadowski
  5. Henry and Glenn Forever by Igloo Tornado

Doug C.

Zero History
  1. Zero History
    by William Gibson

    In Zero History, William Gibson continues his deconstruction of postmodern corporate and artistic life, making 2010 an unrecognizable future-present through the use of completely recognizable settings, people, and things. Instead of the "screw you" attitude of his early cyberpunk stories, we now get a "we're all screwed" kind of a world, and the story is fun enough that we can't really disagree.

  2. Skippy Dies by Paul Murray
  3. Innocent by Scott Turow
  4. It Was the War of the Trenches by Jacques Tardi
  5. Pterror over Paris and The Eiffel Tower Demon (The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec #1) by Jacques Tardi

Mark P.

The Big Short
  1. The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine
    by Michael Lewis

    Lewis describes the causes of the financial crisis with clarity, while putting it all in a very human context by focusing on a few of the individuals involved. It would have been easy for Lewis to second guess — in retrospect, it seems crazy to have expected house values to rise forever — but he reminds us how truly difficult it was at the time to foresee the conditions where a collapse was possible and how few people actually did predict it.

  2. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
  3. The Wake of Forgiveness by Bruce Machart
  4. The Lost City of Z by David Grann
  5. The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science by Richard Holmes


The Passage
  1. The Passage
    by Justin Cronin

    While most of the books that I read in 2010 were conclusions to series (often series I started in 2010), The Passage was a brilliant new beginning. I rarely start reading a series without some conclusion in sight, but this book had too much hype — both at the office and in real life — to put off reading it. It delivered such a great story that I gladly name it my favorite of the year.

  2. Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins
  3. Bearers of the Black Staff (Legends of Shannara #1) by Terry Brooks
  4. Darksolstice (Lyonesse #2) by Sam Llewellyn
  5. Lord Sunday (The Keys to the Kingdom #7) by Garth Nix

Sheila A.

The Widow
  1. The Widow
    by Suzanne Burns

    I'm not an avid poetry reader, but Suzanne Burns's The Widow hooked me as a lover of short stories. When read straight through, The Widow is a coherent narrative, the individual poems coalescing into a plot, with a beautifully-paced emotional arc, reminiscent of a short story. There's even a good twist, though I won't spoil the surprise. This is a deep and evocative book that draws on the best qualities of both poetry and the short-story form.

  2. The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer
  3. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
  4. Termite Parade by Joshua Mohr
  5. The Orange Eats Creeps by Grace Krilanovich

  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at