Monday, January 10, 2011

up to my eyeballs in print: my best of 2010

I read a lot of books last year. Seventy-one books, to be precise. And some of them were really big.

These are my favourites. These ten are the ones I think you should read, too.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel - winner of last year's Man Booker award. I found it slow going at first and then was completely swept up in the life of Thomas Cromwell and the intrigues of life in the court of King Henry the VIII. It's made me want to read a lot more about Henry and the folks who advised and served him.

An Abundance Of Katherines by John Green- my twelve year old rediscovered reading when he found John Green and he begged me to read this book. I reluctantly agreed, not having read much young adult ficiton (or YA, as the kids call it) and then went on to devour this novel and almost everything else this author has written.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan - the authors alternate the chapters in this book. The title refers to two high school students (one straight, one gay) named Will Grayson. The real star of the book, however, is a gay football player named Tiny who writes and directs a musical of his life story. I loved everything about this book.

by Patchen Barss - This work of non-fiction puts forward the theory that, from the beginning of humanity, pornography has driven technological change. The argument is very persuasively made but it was the author's writing that really captured me. I am not particularly interested in technology and not really interested in porn but I could not put this book down. I kept going back to re-read turns of phrase and often found myself laughing out loud. Several folks got this one for Christmas and I'm not done giving it away.

Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen - This book has been out for a while but I read it with my book club this year. It was kind of a boring meeting because no one had anything critical to say about this beautiful story, told very well. I now want to read everything else the author has written.

Villa Triste by Lucretia Grindle - With a name like that, how could she not become a writer? This book is part murder mystery, part historical novel. I fell in love with the characters in this book and could not stop thinking about them when I had to put the  book down. Set in Italy during the second world war, the book tells the story of several women involved in the Resistance movement, whether by choice or out of necessity.

The Princess of Burundi: A Mystery by Kjell Eriksson - Steig Larsson was not the only Swedish writer. This book had been on my shelf for a few years and I'm not sure why I waited to read it. Darkly funny with a smart mystery and flawed, likeable characters this book held my interest from the very first page. Be warned, the book has little to do with Burundi and quite a bit to do with tropical fish.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger - Last summer, I finally found out what the fuss was about. I read this book on holiday, reading during quiet moments and listening to the audiobook when I was out for walks with my dog. It really is a beautiful love story that, in my opinion, never descends to the realm of the schmaltzy. And it stayed with me, which is impressive, given how quicly I read it.

The Devil's Company: A Novel by David Liss - Another brilliant, well-researched historical mystery from David Liss. I love the roguish Benjamin Weaver and the intelligent humour of all these novels. You could go back and start with A Conspiracy of Paper,the first Weaver novel but it really doesn't matter.

This year my goal is to read seventy-two novels (I don't watch a lot of television) and, since reading around here is a family affair, toying with the idea of a family book blog.

What do you say?


Nili said...

Great annotations - thanks for the reading list ideas!

sassymonkey said...

I had planned to read Wolf Hall because I've heard really good things about it (I'm tempted to say in spite of it being on prize lists lol) but then the author made some statements that I wasn't crazy about. I might read it some day but there are plenty of other authors out there to read.

Bhuvana said...

Laurie, that is a great list. I am definitely going to read at least a few of them this year. The only one I have already read is the Time Traveler's wife. Gotta read An Abundance to figure out if it is okay/appropriate for my 8 yo. It sounds interesting. I also like your goal of reading 72 in 2011. My goal this year is to keep track of what I read because I never have! Thanks again for a great post.

A.M. said...

put in holds at the library for Wolf Hall, Princess of Burundi and the earliest John Green they had. Sadly they don't have Villa Triste. Thanks for the suggestions! I'm reading everything by Sara Gruen myself - read Ape House a few weeks ago, and have Riding Lessons out now. And you know I love David Liss ;)

laurie said...

AM -David Liss is my writer crush.

Bhuvana - Not appropriate for an 8 year old. Big focus on dating and relationships and some sexual content

Sassymonkey - What on earth did she say?

Nat said...

I think I'm the only person ever who thought Time Traveller's Wife just got lost in itself about half way through.

Must check Water for Elephants, I've heard much about this one.

Sarah said...

Hello there,

First off, great list, thanks very much.

My name is Sarah Ann Cuy. I am one of the moderators of an online patient community that provides support for people living with Metastatic Breast Cancer. (OR families affected by Metastatic Breast Cancer or survivors of Metastatic Breast Cancer).

Being a patient of a serious disease is difficult enough; being a patient of a rare disease adds loneliness to the situation. These patients desperately need to connect with others like them and that’s where our patient communities come in.

Members of our patient community provide support to each other during the most difficult of times. Our community has helped many members connect with other so far, but since there are millions more to reach around the world, we need your help to spread the word.

How can you help these patients in need?

You can help make us easier to find on the internet by:

1. Writing a blog post about our community
2. Posting a link (see below) to our community on this page:
Leading online support group for Metastatic Breast Cancer survivors.

On behalf of all the current and future members of our patient community, thank you very much! Happy New Year!
Sarah Ann Cuy

laurie said...

These things can be very personal. My book club was very divided over Wolf Hall, for example.

nancyspoint said...

Laurie, Thanks for the great list. I received a bunch of new books for Christmas that I am eager to begin. Gotta get back into a regular reading schedule. (along with eating better, exercising more...) Also, gotta get back to working on my own book. Here's to happy reading!

nonlineargirl said...

I have read most of The Girl Who Fell From The Sky and have enjoyed it. Add it to your list - good book, fast read.