Has it ever occurred to you that many of those lists of my best this and my best that (for twenty-whatever) that are produced any time between November 15 and December 26 are bound to be defective? A proportion of them must be. Why so? Because some time between the date of production and the end of the year in question your list-compiler will read a book, see a movie, hear a bit of music, or assess a handbag that would have been on the list had the list been compiled in the following January, but wasn't because it wasn't. I have a personal proof of this hypothesis right here.
I just read Philip Roth's Patrimony. Had I done so any time before December 20, I would have included it in my top 10 for 2010. I can't recommend it strongly enough. It's an account of Roth's father Herman's last years and of his death, and at the same time so much more than that: some account of Herman's life, and of Philip Roth's relationship to him, and of the process of ageing and the prospect of death (well-known Roth preoccupations), and of filial love and of the meaning of family. Whether intentionally or not it shows why universalist doctrines that don't accommodate particularist attachments must be wanting. The book is seamlessly put together, a moving testimony and a small masterpiece.