Co-review: Best and Worst of 2010
I know what you’re thinking. “2010? Are you serious?” Yes, yes I am. Just because we just celebrated St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t mean we can’t take a little time to look back and reminisce at 2010, does it? Okay, really, I had planned to do this post three months ago. But I’m pretty sure the content won’t change just because it’s late. Remember that this list only includes books we read in 2010, regardless of when they were published.
Caren’s Favorites from 2010:
One of the reasons I’m so late getting this post together is that I had a hard time getting excited about anything I read last year. I felt like I’ve been in a funk for about six months, but when I went back and looked at everything I realized, “Oh yeah! I did read some good stuff!” A lot of it was just average or even forgettable, but some of it was awesome!
1. The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. This one made Jenny’s list the year before, so I wasted no time reading it (as soon as I could finally get it from the library.) Seriously, I couldn’t tear myself away from it and it’s one of my top recommendations when someone is looking for a good read.
2. Beatrice and Virgil, by Yann Martel. This one makes my list not because I enjoyed it so much, but rather because it evoked such a strong response. I didn’t feel like I understood a lot of it, but even with only partial comprehension it stirred me very deeply.
3. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. In another year, this might not have ranked so high, but it definitely stands out as one of my best reads of 2010. The story was good, but it was the fresh way it was presented that made it great.
4. Mary Russell mysteries, by Laurie R. King. Yes, I’m claiming a whole set of books. Individually, some are great and some are just okay. But collectively, this was a definite highlight of my reading experience last year. And I’m only about halfway through!
5. Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, by Dorothy L. Sayers. I haven’t been able to read very many, because my library only has a few, but the ones I’ve read are completely delightful. In another year, they might not make the list, but I just couldn’t bear to leave them off this time when I first discovered them!
A few more that deserve a little nod:
1. The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova. This one probably deserves to be one of my favorites from the year, because it really was that amazing. But it was also really long with an anti-climactic ending, so it gets an honorable mention instead.
2. I am Not a Serial Killer, by Dan Wells. I was so impressed with his writing that I could forgive the very disturbing subject. I haven’t gotten up the courage to read the next one, but it’s only a matter of time……I think….
3. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins. Not as blow-your-mind good as I’d expected from all the hype, but still worth reading.
4. Forest Born, by Shannon Hale. The latest installment in her Books Of Bayern collection, it wasn’t as gripping as Goose Girl and Enna Burning, but again, still worth reading.
5. The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag, by Alan Bradley. I just have to make a plug for Flavia de Luce! Love her!
Waste of time books from 2010:
1. The Wednesday Letters, by Jason F. Wright. In another universe, this might be considered good writing. You know, the universe where people only have a 7th grade education and never read anything more interesting than Hallmark cards.
2. Slumdog Millionaire, by Vikas Swarup. The language and sexual abuse just ruined it for me. I liked the story and the writing, but it wasn’t enough to counteract spending so much time wallowing in the gutter.
3. As Simple As Snow, by Gregory Galloway. This one fell far short of its potential. I might be willing to try another one by this author, but I would have to get over being irritated about the stupid ending of this one first.
4. Avalon High, by Meg Cabot. I’ve decided bubble-gum teen fiction is not for me. The sense of humor was the only part of this story that saved it from getting a higher “worst” rating.
5. Hornblower and the Atropos, by CS Forester. After watching the Horatio Hornblower A&E film adaptations, the novel was, well, boring.
Some of the best books I read last year came from Jenny’s Best list of 2009, so I can’t wait to see what she has for 2010!
Jenny’s Favorites from 2010:
I was a little worried about writing this co-review because I thought for sure I’d have a hard time coming up with enough books to recommend. It didn’t feel like an eventful year for books, but when I made my list, I had to kick a few off! Whew.
1. Ella Minnow Pea, by Mark Dunn. I snuck this book in at the very last part of the year, but it counts for 2010. Such clever writing and a fascinating concept. It kept me riveted.
2. The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, by Reif Larsen. The adventures of this boy were bizarre, heart-wrenching and incredibly moving. One of the most creative examples of storytelling I’ve ever read.
3. Left to Tell, by Immaculee Ilibagiza. I didn’t know a bit about the Rwandan civil war before reading this and afterward, I couldn’t believe I never knew anything about it. Powerful and faith-building.
4. The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson. Sanderson never seems to let me down. This epic beginning of a multi-volume world-building masterpiece is a good sign of how much talent Sanderson has.
5. Fablehaven: Keys to the Demon Prison, by Brandon Mull. The final book of the fabulous Fablehaven series had my entire family spellbound. Like my daughter said, “I wish I could forget the entire thing and re-read it, not knowing anything about it and enjoy it all over again.” Me too.
1. I Am Not a Serial Killer, by Dan Wells – This probably deserves my top five, but Fablehaven booted it off the list. So creepy and scary and awesome. Can’t wait for the second book.
2. Kaline Klattermaster’s Treehouse, by Haven Kimmel. I love Haven Kimmel. She needs to be my best friend and tell me all her stories first. Her first attempt at a story geared towards juvenile readers was hilarious and touching, much like her adult fiction, but shorter.
3. Beatrice and Virgil, by Yann Martel – This is on the honorable mention list only because I liked Left to Tell slightly more and it was more uplifting. But this book left me paralyzed afterward, in a good way, sorta.
4. Looking for Calvin and Hobbes, by Nevin Martell. A fascinating journey of a writer’s quest for more information on the elusive Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes. I really enjoyed the book, but that’s because I’m a nerd.
5. Sarah’s Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay. Yet another holocaust book, but a different take on it and from a part of history I’d never heard about. Not as good as Beatrice and Virgil, but still good.
I have to give a nod to The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag and The Book Thief. They were definitely top 10 material, but I didn’t want to bump off the ones I did pick and Caren covered those bases for me anyway.
1. The Leisure Seeker, by Michael Zadoorian. Could have ended so much differently and I hated how it did. Stupid book.
2. How to Spin Gold, by Elizabeth Cunningham. You can’t tell from my review, but I really didn’t like this book. My book group helped me see some of its virtues, but I still paperbackswapped it faster than you could say “Rumplestiltskin.”
3. The Swan Thieves, by Elizabeth Kostova. I think it was a cheap trick for Kostova to write such a cool book first and a kind of stinky one second. I like art, but I couldn’t love this book.
4. Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins. I thought the conclusion of the fabulous Hunger Games series was disappointing. And I didn’t get half of what happened at the end and had to re-read it. That’s lame.
5. As Simple As Snow, by Gregory Galloway. Ditto to what Caren said, but I don’t know if I would try the author again. Too many other books out there.
I need to give some Mary Russell and Lord Peter Wimsey books a try! That’ll up my Best Of list for 2011.