Saturday, January 01, 2011

2010: The Year In Books

That's right, it's time for the traditional New Year's book post! The complete list of my 2010 book reading can be found here, conveniently sorted by the order in which I read them. Total for this year was 171, which is pretty substantial even by my standards. I think it's actually the highest total since I've been keeping records. Go, me! Anyway, said reading is the usual eclectic mish-mash of stuff, although I was rather surprised to realize that while a lot of these books come under the general heading of "speculative fiction," there's actually comparatively little straight-ahead science fiction. And a fair percentage of the books that do qualify are either Doctor Who or Miles Vorkosigan novels. (I finally finished the latter series this year, by the way. Now I feel bereft.)

I did fulfill my stated goal of ending the year with fewer than 400 books on the To-Read Pile. Only by the skin of my teeth, though; if the mail service were any faster, I would have missed it. I ended up with 398 unread books, 30 fewer than I started with. Which is less impressive than it sounds, considering that 30 is also the number of books I pulled off the To-Read shelves and donated to the library. Oops.

Anyway, as has also become traditional, here is the my list of the best books I read in 2010, based on the ratings I gave them at the time I read them. It's a pleasantly long list this time, I think.

Fiction:

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Locke and Key: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
The Simpsons Futurama Crossover Crisis by Matt Goening and Bill Morrison
The World Inside by Robert Silverberg
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold
Iron Council by China Mieville
Voices by Ursula K. LeGuin
Powers by Ursula K. LeGuin
Ring for Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit by P.G. Wodehouse
Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich
I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett
Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles

Non-fiction:

Perfectly Reasonable Deviations From The Beaten Track: The Letters Of Richard P. Feynman by Richard P. Feynman, compiled by Michelle Feynman
The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia by Laura Miller
The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose
Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach
Doubt: A History by Jennifer Michael Hecht
Prisoner of Trebekistan: A Decade in Jeopardy! by Bob Harris

I don't know why I had so much more high-rated fiction than non-fiction, though, considering that my overall reading was pretty close to a 50-50 split. Maybe my standards are just a bit higher for non-fiction.

4 comments:

  1. And interesting mix. Iron Council is probably my least favorite of Mieville's Bas-Lag books, but it's still quite good, and I sometimes think it's the one of the three that most deserves another look.

    The only other titles on your list that I've read are the Hill, Collins, and Eugenides. I liked them all, but don't remember a whole lot about The Moonstone.

    And while I didn't much love the Erdrich that I read this year -- The Plague of Doves, that wasn't due to her inability to tell good stories or create complex characters, just that I didn't think it held together well as a novel.

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  2. That seems to be the general opinion on Iron Council, apparently, but for some reason I can't quite put my finger on, I think it may actually be my favorite of the three.

    I was astonished by how much I loved The Moonstone. I almost literally could not put it down.

    And Erdrich's ability to write complex characters in a very vivid, readable way is what made me love Shadow Tag, despite the fact that I didn't think it was going to be my sort of thing at all. If Plague of Doves manages that half as well, it'll be worth reading, IMO.

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  3. Heh, every one of your nonfiction books has a coloned title. Does that mean anything? :P

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  4. I think it means that colons are ridiculously popular in non-fiction these days. :)

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