My 10 Favorite Books of 2010

It’s that time of year again where I like to share my favorite books from the last year and the ones I’ll be getting for friends and family this holiday season. Not all these were published in 2010, but they were new to me in the last year. Without further adieu, here they are in no particular order.

City of Thieves by David Benioff
Both adventurous and funny, Benioff’s story of Lev and Kolya flies by in this thrilling war story. I love the themes of friendship and adventure throughout. Who knew the hunt for a dozen eggs could be so entertaining and exciting!

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
I love novels that help to explore historical themes in rich and educational ways. Jamie Ford does a fantastic job depicting a part of history that I knew embarrassingly little about. His story of Henry Lee and his friend Keiko during the time of the Japanese internment after WWII is both beautiful and deeply touching. Add to that a great post-modern narrative that weaves in and out of two different time periods and you have a fantastic and engaging read.

Coming Back Stronger by Drew Brees
After Super Bowl 44, I wasn’t sure it was possible to have any more affection and admiration for Drew Brees. Coming Back Stronger changed that in an instant. Drew’s journey as an athlete and a man is inspiring in a multitude of ways. As a sports fan, it’s amazing to witness such a dramatic recovery from the depths of injury to the apex of accomplishment. Drew embodies a spirit that pushes us New Orleanians to excel and continue to reach new heights we never imagined were possible. The book continues to confirm for me what a golden age of sport we live in with role models like Drew.

The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working by Tony Schwartz
This is the one book that profoundly impacted the way I work and live in 2010. Schwartz and his perspectives on energy and productivity have elevated him to the likes of David Allen when it comes to living maximally and according to one’s intentions in life. The book is rich with practical examples for transforming your every day activities to maximize performance and satisfaction. Reading it has transformed the way I think about nenewal and exercise and has had a profound impact on my energy and vitality for life.

Drive by Daniel Pink
Is it possible to be a “Pinkian”? I’m increasingly drawn to Pink’s work and his views on the way we work. Drive is a towering work of genius that combines relevant research on best practices for motivation and peak performance in a surprisingly non-academic way. I especially love all of the examples presented in the book including FedEx days.

Food Rules by Michael Pollan
One mark of a great book by my account is how often it gets mentioned at the dinner table. This book will not only transform those conversations, but more importantly the food that ends up there in the first plan. The book is simple yet elegant in how Pollan has boiled down very complex nutritional and dietary information into simple rules to live by.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba
Every year I pick out a book to give to all my friends as a gift. This year it’s the truly inspiring story of William Kamkwamba and his windmills. As an academic advisor I’m often intrigued by stories of learning and people who have overcome significant obstacles to achieve success in spite of their hardships. Kamkwamba’s story of growing up in Malawi with little means and formal education is remarkably touching and deeply inspirational. It’s an important reminder for many of us as we contemplate how to overcome and achieve success despite the odds against us.

In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore
I didn’t think it was possible going into it given the times, but Honore magically reframes slow as strength in his landmark book on the benefits of slowing down. It’s an important lessons in this day and age to learn how to relax and slow down. Honore profiles the cult of speed and details ways we can break free in this supercharged world where everyone and everything seems to want to speed us up.

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
If ever there were a more important story of our times it has to be Zeiton. This story has particular intrigue for me because I’m from and live in New Orleans, but I find it has universal appeal in the themes Eggers addresses through the harrowing post-Katrina story of Abdulrahman Zeitoun and his family. Eggers has also elevated to the likes of Vonnegut and other famous writers of recent memory to become the best political writer of this generation.

Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
I’m happy to have knocked this one out in 2010 since it’s been on my list for quite some time. And it didn’t disappoint. The psychology behind the optimal experience is often cited in many of my favorite books (see Drive by Daniel Pink above). The original is well worth the read for anyone seeking to cultivate optimal experiences and conditions in every day life. It’s also extremely useful for anyone who is seeking an introduction into the budding field of positive psychology.

These are just some of my favorites from 2010. What have I left out? What were some of your favorites reads from 2010? Hit up the comments as I’d love to hear what you enjoyed from 2010.

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