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Picks and Pans Main: Top 10 Books

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THE LAST LECTURE
by Randy Pausch

An entire book of living-life-to-the-fullest advice from a college professor sounds about as inviting as a 20-page term paper. But Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon computer science prof diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in ’06, is so earnest and funny that you’d let him teach you anything. Among his tips: Respect your childhood dreams, remember to laugh and appreciate the gifts you receive. The author—who died in July—is one of them.

UNACCUSTOMED EARTH
by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Bengali immigrants in these mesmerizing stories are scattered across three continents, yet their struggles are universal. An exquisitely wrought collection.

WISHFUL DRINKING
by Carrie Fisher

That weird Princess Leia hair? She hated it! Taking comic aim at everything from her bizarre if loving relationship with mom Debbie Reynolds to her electroshock therapy, the Star Wars actress’s hilariously candid memoir rises to the top.

THE SNOWBALL
by Alice Shroeder

Warren Buffet out-earned his teachers as a paperboy and drove his new bride to the Vegas slots on their wedding day. An endearing portrait of the world’s most famous capitalist.

SAY YOU’RE ONE OF THEM
by Uwem Akpan

Bleak but transfixing, these tales of families in war-torn Africa have a heartrending message: Blending in can mean the difference between life and death.

NETHERLAND
by Joseph O’Neill

A haunting novel about a shakily married Dutch-born Manhattanite who finds solace in cricket and an unlikely friendship after 9/11.

THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE
by David Wroblewski

A bestselling debut, this saga of a mute teen who leaves his Wisconsin farm after a mysterious death—and the über-dogs who help him survive—made even cat lovers smile.

WHEN YOU ARE ENGULFED IN FLAMES
by David Sedaris

Just when you think you’ve heard everything about humorist Sedaris’ life, he comes up with more, and it’s gold. (Think man-purses and evil neighbors.) A treat.

AMERICAN WIFE
by Curtis Sittenfeld

Intrigued and impressed by Laura Bush and her marriage, Prep author Sittenfeld set out to imagine the enigmatic First Lady’s life trajectory. The result: a thought-provoking page-turner for the waning days of the Bush Presidency and beyond.

OLIVE KITTERIDGE
by Elizabeth Strout

She’s gruff, impatient and unwilling to suffer fools, but the aging Maine schoolteacher at the center of these keenly observed stories will ultimately win your heart.