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The big news in publishing these days may be all about merger, but that hasn’t diminished the many excellent books that came out this year. Among the standouts are two firsts: a debut novel by Ben Fountain (“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”) and a nonfiction work by New Yorker writer Katherine Boo (“Behind the Beautiful Forevers”).

1. Behind the Beautiful Forevers

Behind the Beautiful Forevers top 10 Book

Written by: Katherine Boo

Pages: 256

Price: $27

Deeply reported and written with understated grace, Boo’s magnificent, often distressing account brings forth the humanity of the ever-resourceful residents of a slum near Mumbai’s airport. The most important and obvious is that she listens closely and intelligently.” For this, her first book, which recently won the National Book Award, Boo spent over three years listening to the residents of a Mumbai slum.

2. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Top 10 Books

Written by: Ben Fountain

Pages: 307

Price: $25.99

Fountain’s hilarious, affectionate novel, propelled by vivid dialogue and images, sends up a nation’s self-congratulatory celebration of an Iraq war squad that’s put on display at a Dallas Cowboys game. The young men of Bravo company visit Cowboys Stadium in this funny and wrenching novel, which is seeded “with finely honed insights that reflect the hypocrisy and jingoistic thinking that dominate discussions about the country’s wars,” wrote Jacob Silverman in September.

3. Dear Life

Dear Life Top 10 Books

Written by: Alice Munro

Pages: 319

Pages: $26.95

Munro’s unsentimental, unvarnished stories of small-town life in her native Ontario are exemplars of the form - and welcome antidote to gauzy, Norman Rockwell-like visions of the past.

4. Far From the Tree

Far From the Tree Top 10 Books

Written by: Andrew Solomon

Pages: 962

Price: $37.50

In his tremendous, eye-opening study, Solomon persuasively and compassionately argues that commonalities exist among those with “horizontal” traits, such as deafness, dwarfism, autism and transgenderism.

5. A Hologram for the King

A Hologram for the King Top 10 Books

Written by: Dave Eggers

Pages: 312

Price: $25

Eggers’ latest novel - about a under pressure sales executive who has a shot at a life-changing work contract in Saudi Arabia - is a dry-eyed elegy written in spellbinding prose.

6. Iron Curtain

Iron Curtain Top 10 Books

Written By: Anne Applebaum

Pages: 566

Price: $35

The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1945-1956, by Anne Applebaum. Applebaum’s engrossing and finely researched history tells of how liberation from the Nazis, for millions, led to defeat by another tyrannical force.

7. The Man without a Face

The Man Without a Face Top 10 Books

Written By: Masha Gessen

Pages: 314

Price: $27.95)

The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin, by Masha Gessen. Gessen’s brave, impassioned and darkly comic biography is a damning portrait of the Russian leader.

8. The Passage of Power

The Passage of Power Top 10 Books

Written by: Robert A. Caro

Pages: 712

Price: $35

The Years of Lyndon Johnson, by Robert A. Caro With a novelist’s flair, Caro continues, in this fourth of five volumes, his monumental biography of one of America’s most complex and conflicted politicians.

9. The Round House

The Round House Top 10 Books

Written by: Louise Erdrich

Pages: 321

Price: $27.99

Set on an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota, Erdrich’s suspenseful novel is narrated by a 13-year-old boy whose mother has been brutally attacked.

10. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal Top 10 Books

Written by: Jeanette Winterson

Pages: 230

Price: $25

Mercifully free of rancor - and any gooey sense of redemption - Winterson’s hard-nosed, bitterly funny memoir examines a childhood with a malicious adoptive mother who could have been shaped by Dickens.

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