Wednesday, 29 December 2010

2010 - A Year in Books

I’ve had many mixed feelings about my decision to list all the books I read in 2010, as well as doing the monthly reviews. It’s hard to keep something like that interesting to read and I started to find myself dreading it a little bit towards the end of each month but I think I might keep it going in 2011 in some form – maybe just reviewing the winner of each month and listing the others, it’s good to keep things fresh.

I will still be keeping a list on my sidebar of each book as I read it though, that’s been interesting and I’m really glad I’ve done it, especially because of my tendency to forget a book as soon as I’ve read it. The 2010 list is going to be kept as a separate page on the blog, for people to have a squizz at if they so wish.

I said that I would pick a book of the year but I should have known really that I’d be unable to – I’m not the Man Booker committee rolled into one person. But I have selected my top 4 books of the year, which I think is marvellously restrained of me. They all offer something a little different but all have stayed with me in one way or another. (The links go back to the original reviews I wrote.)

1. One Day – David Nicholls – I love love love loved this book. It’s not a hard read, it’s probably not going to make you question the meaning of life, but it is a perfect love story without all the romantical schmaltz because the characters are real.

2. The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters – I have forgiven her for the lack of lesbians in this book I’ve decided. It’s just a brilliant ghost story with possibly the best twist in the world that will keep you guessing right up until the end of the book and beyond.

3. A Week in December – Sebastien Faulks – I raced through this, I devoured it like the greedy little bookworm that I am and I have continued to think about it long after I finished going “Oh yeah, remember that bit in that book, when...” Most definitely a rare occurance for me to remember what actually happened once the last page has been turned. Excellent read for a take on today’s society.

4. The Finkler Question – Howard Jacobsen – It’s just an amazing book, and I’ve struggled to really describe why. Maybe it just spoke to me for some reason, but I definitely approve of the 2010 Man Booker Committee’s choice.

Special Mentions

I feel that there needs to be a couple of special mentions however. Those 4 books were chosen out of the 12 that won each month but there were a couple of runners up that deserve an honourable mention.

The Selected Works of TS Spivet. (Reif Larsen) - This really really did almost win and if it had it would have absolutely been one of the books of the year. It’s a beautiful story and hello?! The book has maps and diagrams and drawings in the margins – win! I would, and have, recommend this over and over again.

Nocturnes (Kazuo Ishiguro) – the book that made me reconsider my loathing of short stories and love stories that have continued to haunt me.

And another special mention needs to go out to Wetlands (Charlotte Roche) – for disturbing me beyond all measure. I think I’m a changed person now that I’ve read that. Bleurgh.

Those that got left behind...

There also should be mention of those books that sadly didn’t make it. Although I try incredibly hard not to give up on a book and stick with them to the bitter end there have been three this year that I have had to throw the towel in, hold my hands up and just admit that it’s never going to happen.

Dubliners (James Joyce) – I say this in a tiny voice because if American Boy hears it he seriously might come over here and punch me in the face because he’s all about the James Joyce. That’s why I even had this book, he raved about him and I wanted to have a go too. It’s just awful, I got a few stories in but knew I didn’t have the stamina for the rest.

Awakenings (Oliver Sacks) - This is what happens when you don’t travel with a spare book. I went to see the person that I don’t talk about and I finished my book and this was all he had on his bookshelf that looked vaguely interesting. I saw the film a long time ago (which incidentally is brilliant, you should just watch that) and thought I’d give the book a go. But it is dry. Dry dry dry. Just endless case studies. That all start to merge into one. But you should absolutely watch the film if you don’t know the story because it really is fascinating.

Lark Rise to Candleford (Flora Thompson) – I have read the first book in the series and maybe the second two will be more interesting but I have really struggled with this. I’ve kept going because so many people have told me how amazing it was and I really did enjoy Cranford when I read that and it’s the same kind of era, but it was just so interminably dull and reads like a social history textbook. At some point I could be tempted to pick this up again and give the other couple of books ago but it’ll be a while.

I hope it hasn’t all bored you too much and if you have any suggestions for 2011 in terms of how the book reviews might go (or if they should go at all!) then please let me know.


  1. I have enjoyed all of your book reviews! Like the idea of a page for this year's books. I read quite quickly too and often forget what I've read, this might keep me on the straight and narrow too.

  2. Yet again I'm in awe of your reading prowess! I'm still on Book #12 for 2010 - hoping to double my quota next year! I have The Little Stranger sitting on my shelf, that might be next... :)

  3. I like your book reviews, definitely continue with them! Glad to see you recommend the Mitfords. I just bought The Pursuit of Love for myself. Because I'm rubbish at present shopping without buying something for me :-) Happy new year.

  4. I love your book reviews! Don't stop doing them - they're such fun to read.

    Hmmm, don't necessarily agree with you about One Day. I read it last year and just remember feeling underwhelmed by it. I quite often get that with overly hyped books though. Perhaps I just have odd taste.


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