Tuesday, February 15, 2011

2010: A Year in Books

I read 83 books in 2010. Eighty-three... I can barely believe it. That's a whole lot. And yet... I've already read 25 books in 2011 (though that includes some quick graphic novels). My goal is to read 100 books this year. Anyway... 83 is way above the average amount of books read a year by Americans (on different sites I found numbers like 4 to 11). I love reading, and I spend a decent amount of my time doing it. I read pretty fast, but the key is really setting aside reading time.

So, what books did I read in 2010? Perhaps you don't want an exhaustive list (but if you do, you can check out my 'read' books on Goodreads. But I will give you my highlights.

The Ten Best Books I read in 2010 (order is only by the most recently read):
1. Perdido Street Station by China Mieville - A steampunk fantasy novel. It's very gritty and plunges you right into the world of New Crobuzon. The ending is sort of unsatisfying and yet... I absolutely loved this.
2. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd - A tale of racism, love, religion, and bees in the south (really, there are bees). This book is sweet and insightful, but the sweetness is deep like a nice vat of honey... mmm... honey.
3. The Scott Pilgrim Graphic Novels by Bryan Lee O'Malley - Unapologetically nerdy graphic novels. They're also funny. Very very funny, and quirky, and just my style.
4. The Fruit Hunters by Adam Leith Gollner - A nonfiction book about people who seek out unusual fruits. So very interesting and awesome!
5. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold - A tale about what happens to the people in your life after you die that borders on fantasy. Based on the Goodreads reviews, this is really a love-it-or-hate-it book. I loved it.
6. Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky - Yes, this is a 500 page book about the history of salt. Yes, it is also an intriguing and even exciting read! I really like Kurlansky's food histories (he's also written about Cod), and I love reading about food in general. I think everyone should read this book.
7. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov - This had been in my book pile for years. I was sort of put off from reading it, just because of the subject matter. But it is amazing and magnificent and just wonderful. This one is a classic for good reason.
8. Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson - Epic fantasy done right. Sanderson is fantastic, all fantasy fans should read him (also! this book is available free on his website). The system of magic is super cool (it involves pretty colors) and Sanderson writes great female characters.
9. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon - A novel about comic books! There seems to be some consensus that it's 'boring', but the quality of the writing made me forget about the points where maybe the plot was a little dragging.
10. The Windrose Chronicles by Barbara Hambly - Fantasy trilogy with magic, wizards, ...and a computer programmer. Awesome!!! Really great, strong female lead, some romance.

Many of these are nerdy and/or fantasy. That's alright. That's who I am. I didn't always read so much fantasy, but I find myself really loving it (though I refuse to go the Robert Jordan route. However I'm open to George R.R. Martin).

The Worst Books I read in 2010 (similarly ordered):
1. The Liar by Stephen Fry - Don't get me wrong, I really like Stephen Fry. But, apparently, not as an author. I found the book tedious and dry.
2. The Tummy Trilogy by Calvin Trillin - I started out liking this book. Maybe it was the repeated jokes or something, but I got bored and annoyed with it rather quickly.
3. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson - BORING! Oh my good lord, I do NOT care about Swedish business intrigue! The middle was decent thriller material, but the beginning and the end made me want to gouge out my own eyes.
4. A Passage to India by EM Forster - Blah. I didn't like the characters. It was alright, but did not hold my interest well.
5. Neuromancer by William Gibson - For such a scifi classic, this book is utterly forgettable. Literally, every time I see it mentioned, I completely forget that I have actually read it.
6. The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner - I hated this book. Really, honestly, detested it. I grabbed it at a yard sale for 4 cents and swapped it for a not-even-decently-trashy romance in a Costa Rican hostel.
7. A Destiny of Love by Ivy St. David - Not that you would have ever heard of or seen this book (I am the only person to ever review it on Goodreads, for example), but it is a piece of crap. Barely worth getting for free in a hostel (see above).
And luckily, that's all the bad books I read last year (though there were some mediocre ones too). And there were good ones that I have not included, like The Color Purple, which totally would have made a list that was more than 10. I just had to stop somewhere, before I was actually going into all 83 books individually.

I look forward to making this post and series of lists next year as well. I am in the midst of a book that I suspect will make the best list. I'm going to go read it now.

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