all the light we cannot seeOccupied France, 1944. The Allied invasion has begun, but the Germans continue to hold the tiny seaport town of Saint Malo, hanging on grimly. An American plane flies over the town, blanketing it with leaflets urging the residents to leave for the countryside immediately – the bombing of Saint Malo is about to begin.

In a tall house overlooking the sea, Marie-Laure waits for her uncle. She does not realize that he has been taken prisoner by the Germans and cannot return. She hears the plane, but she does not know what the leaflets say – Marie-Laure is blind and she is alone. Across town, Werner, a young German soldier, braces for the coming battle. More comfortable with radios and transmitters than rifles, Werner is an orphan from Berlin, thrown into the war machine to avoid a worse fate. Marie-Laure and Werner’s stories are about to intertwine.

All the Light We Cannot See follows both Marie-Laure and Werner from when they were children to their eventual meeting in Saint Malo, shifting between characters and through time. Filled with gorgeous imagery, real suspense and stunning twists, it is filled with sad and tender moments, flashes of joy and beauty and heartbreak, of the strange paths a life may follow and the long lasting effects of the horror of war. Highly recommended.

aviatorsFrom Winston Groom, the best-selling author of Forrest Gump, comes the fascinating story of three extraordinary heroes who defined aviation during the great age of flight in The Aviators. These cleverly interwoven tales of their heart-stopping adventures take us from the feats of World War I through the heroism of World War II and beyond, including daring military raids and survival-at-sea, and will appeal to fans of Unbroken, The Greatest Generation, and Flyboys.

With the world in peril in World War II, each man set aside great success and comfort to return to the skies for his most daring mission yet. Doolittle, a brilliant aviation innovator, would lead the daring Tokyo Raid to retaliate for Pearl Harbor; Lindbergh, hero of the first solo flight across the Atlantic, would fly combat missions in the South Pacific; and Rickenbacker, World War I flying ace, would bravely hold his crew together while facing near-starvation and circling sharks after his plane went down in a remote part of the Pacific. Groom’s rich narrative tells their intertwined stories–from broken homes to Medals of Honor (all three would receive it); barnstorming to the greatest raid of World War II; front-page triumph to anguished tragedy; and near-death to ultimate survival–as all took to the sky, time and again, to become exemplars of the spirit of the “greatest generation.” (description from publisher)

Here’s the final installment of personal Best Books from our Blogging Librarians.

Amber loved The Agency: A Spy in the House and The Agency: The Body at the Tower by YS Lee : “This YA mystery series follows Mary Quinn on her path from the gutters and gallows to a member of the secret detective organization of Victorian ladies called the Agency. I could not pull myself away from these books full of smart, determined females, little bits of saucy romance, and lots of fascinating tidbits about the Victorians!”

Ann’s favorite for 2010 was City of Thieves by David Benioff : “In the midst of the worst possible circumstances, the true character of people is revealed, good and bad. Despite horrific images (starvation, torture, war), what I remember most about this book is the light – friendship, loyalty, laughter, finding something to celebrate even when the world seems to be ending. It’s a testament to the best of the human spirit.” Ann blogged about it here.

There you have it – an eclectic, wide-ranging variety of the Best Books of 2010. Now it’s your turn – what was your favorite book that you read this year and why?