Outside the window of Dog-Eared Books.
They are the invisible hand that shapes our tastes. From the well-curated remainder table at Dog Eared to the annotated shelves of Borderlands to the stacks of small press works at Modern Times, we’ve all taken advantage of this neighborhood’s supply of booksellers. And we have, in turn, shaped those bookstores, in what we have bought, and what we have sold to them (at least as far as the used bookstores are concerned).

We at Mission Loc@l thought about doing a Best of the Year list ourselves, but we quickly thought better of it. What better way to show the eclecticism of the Mission’s taste in books than by asking the neighborhood book providers themselves for recommendations?

We tried to get every clerk at every store to weigh in with one favorite book they’d read this year. Not everyone got back to us. And after seeing the pained expressions on the faces of clerks at used bookstores when we asked them to confine themselves to commending only books that were published in 2010, we broadened the rules for them.

So here they are. Have any of your own to add? Tell us the best book that you read in 2010 in the Comments section.

DOG EARED BOOKS, 900 Valencia (@20th)

Alvin Orloff:
Here They Come, by Yannick Murphy (McSweeney’s). Told in the voice of a female child with a charmingly off-kilter worldview who is trying to find her lost brother and manage her slightly dysfunctional mother. Funny, and not at all heartwarming.

Ryan Smith:
The World as I Found It, by Bruce Duffy (New York Review Books Classic). A long-forgotten, recently rereleased novel about, of all things, Ludwig Wittgenstein.

John Wolfe:
Life on Air, by David Attenborough (Princeton University Press).

Jill Stortz:
The Story of my Wife: The Reminisces of Captain Storr, by Milan Fust (Vintage International). A novel by a Romanian author about a sailor who is insanely jealous of his wife, who is probably not cheating on him. Dark and hilarious.

MODERN TIMES, 888 Valencia (@20th)

Annie Danger:
The Hakawati,
by Rabih Alameddine (Knopf). A novel set in Lebanon that integrates ancient tales from the Middle East into the lives of one family. Totally enjoyable to read.

BORDERLANDS, 866 Valencia (@20th)

Kraken, by China Mieville (Del Rey). Very witty urban fanstasy about a giant squid missing from the Bristish museum and the squid-worshipping cult that is anxious to find it.

Jude Feldman:
Best Served Cold, by Joe Abercrombie (Orbit). Essentially a George R.R. Martin fantasy crossed with a Sergio Leone revenge Western. So good! So violent! So blackly comical!

ADOBE BOOKS, 3166 16th Street (@Guerrero)

Andrew McKinley:
The John Ford Movie Mystery, by Andrew Sarris (Indiana University Press). Criticism about one of America’s finest filmmakers. A great pleasure to read.

MISSION COMICS, 3520 20th Street (@Mission)

Acme Novelty Library, vol. 20, by Chris Ware (Drawn and Quarterly). The death of Jimmy Corrigan!

KALEIDOSCOPE FREE SPEECH ZONE, 3109 34th Street (@ Folsom)

Sara Powell:
From the Canyon Outward, by Neeli Cherkovski (R.L. Crow Publications). Neeli is a poet who lives on Bernal. He’s also written biographies of  Charles Bukowski and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Chris Dixon:
The Black Panthers 1968, by Howard L. Bingham (Ammo Books). This guy was hired by Life magazine to follow the Black Panthers for almost a year. There was a disagreement and the photos were never published. It’s an important part of local history — there are a lot of photos of the Black Panthers in the Bay Area. And it’s a super badass-looking book.

NEEDLES & PENS, 3253 16th Street (@ Guerrero)

Andrew Scott:
I can’t decide! It’s a toss-up between:
The Mental Health Cookbook, by H. Cunningham (Source Press). A locally published zine about foraging, sprouting, fermenting, medicinal herbs and so forth.

Henry and Glenn Forever, by Igloo Tornado (Microcosm).
The fictional love story between Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig, two legendary macho musclemen of punk music.


Brian Weaver:
People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks (Viking). It’s about a preservationist who talks about how she goes about researching things, like the history of a butterfly’s wing. It’s like someone wrote this book especially for librarians.

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Heather Smith covers a beat that spans health, food, and the environment, as well as shootings, stabbings, various small fires, and shouting matches at public meetings. She is a 2007 Middlebury Fellow in Environmental Journalism and a contributor to the book Infinite City.

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