Here's a list of top titles you won't find anywhere else! Over in Salem, Oregon, Fiction Selector Robin Beerbower makes it her business to choose the best of the best fiction. Sometimes, we're just lucky enough to land in her graces and get a shout-out! Here's Robin's full list of fiction favorites for 2010.
LEAN ON PETE by Willy Vlautin. Set in Portland, 15-year old Charley searches for a home with the help of a broken down race horse named Lean on Pete. Spare in its use of language, this is an amazing novel by an Oregon author.
CRASHERS by Dana Haynes. Wow! You may never want to fly again after reading this thriller about a jetliner that goes down north of Salem and the investigation that follows by the “crashers” who try to determine why it fell out the sky. The gross out factor is a little high at times but it is fascinating.
STILTSVILLE by Susanna Daniel. Absolutely terrific first novel about a long marriage set against the background of Miami and the now defunct summer community of houses in the water of Biscayne Bay known as Stiltstville. Why this novel is so effective is hard to say, but the setting and historical events form an effective background for the story. Keep a tissue handy.
THE GIRL WHO FELL FROM THE SKY by Heidi Durrow. After a tragic accident kills her two siblings and mother Rachel is sent to Oregon to be raised by her grandmother, but as she grows older starts to question her mixed racial heritage and the mystery of the accident. This is a great choice for book groups.
IN THE DARK by Brian Freeman. This is the fourth in the suspense/thriller series that features Jonathan Stride, a homicide detective in Duluth, Minnesota. These are fast-moving and best read in order (IMMORAL, STRIPPED, and STALKED).
PACKING FOR MARS by Mary Roach. This look at the mechanics and biophysics of traveling in space was my favorite nonfiction book of the year. I found myself giggling and chortling while reading various “who knew?” moments such as the description of burping toilets on the space shuttle, what the "vomit comet" plane is like when one is weightless for 20 seconds, and exactly how one eliminates in space. I'll bet you never thought of what could happen if a spacewalker hurled in his helmet (if you read this you will find out, and for the record, you don't want it to happen to you).
UP FROM THE BLUE by Susan Henderson. Told from the viewpoint of Tillie as an 8-year-old girl and also as a grown woman preparing for the birth of her first child, this haunting novel relates her struggle to make sense of her mother’s mental illness. An excellent choice for book groups.