'If anyone doubts that these are dark days, one need only look, for confirmation, at a cross-section of books published in 2010. Of the best-of-the-year selections we have made here - a top 10 list, 100 additional recommended books and a few dozen recommended reads by Bay Area authors - many of the themes that stand out are not especially light. There are books about war, immigration, the economic crisis and the perennial issue of race: A dozen titles focus primarily on this last subject.
But the sober stuff is mercifully offset by a bevy of books that celebrate, among other things, our creative spirit ("Apollo's Angels: A History of Ballet"), the natural world ("A State of Change: Forgotten Landscapes of California") and our capacity for compassion (Patti Smith's memoir "Just Kids"). Also, there are many authors who have a welcome and well-honed sense of irony. To name a few: Gary Shteyngart ("Super Sad True Love Story"), Tom Rachman ("The Imperfectionists"), Terry Castle ("The Professor and the Other Writings") and Keith Richards ("Life").'