Best nonfiction books of 2010
Ian Frazier's "Travels in Siberia" shares a border with "Country Driving." Frazier's book, however, is not likely to inspire much copycat tourism. To hear Frazier tell it, Siberia consists of one-third trash and two-thirds mosquitoes, all of it distributed across a landscape so vast and monotonous that, "[o]nly on the sea can you travel as far and still be in apparently the same place." Luckily, the rest of us can skip the DEET and buy the book. Sentence by sentence, Frazier is as good as almost any writer working today; his magnetic words affix themselves briskly and precisely to an idea. Just as fun, he uses facts the way 7-year-olds use Legos; give him a dozen, and he'll build the Taj Mahal. His history of the Mongols is, by itself, worth the cover price.