The end of the year is a stressful time at best, and while I haven't proven this, I assume I read much less during this time frame. Due to holiday commitments, I never plan to have a book club meeting in December and because I'm focused on everything else [work, presents, tying up loose ends,etc] I don't seem to have much time left over. That said, I have reached my goal of reading 2 books a month; I have actually read 25 novels! This doesn't sound like a lot, but at my reading speed, this is a good accomplishment given my time commitments this year and is a personal best.
This year's list seems to have a lot of new authors which I guess means that I'm expanding my horizons [or that I'm not very well-read]. There were quite a few that I enjoyed this year but not many that I found truly great.
Books Read in 2010
Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice
Bellow, Saul. Ravelstein
Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre
Butler, Samuel. The Way of All Flesh
Carroll, Lewis. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Carroll, Lewis. Through the Looking Glass
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities
Eliot, George. The Mill on the Floss
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. Tender is the Night
Grant, Michael. Cities of Vesuvius: Pompeii and Herculaneum (non-fiction)
Greene, Graham. The Human Factor
Hardy, Thomas. Jude the Obscure
Heller, Joseph. Catch-22
Hemingway, Ernest. Death in the Afternoon (non-fiction)
Irving, John. The Fourth Hand
Patchell-Evans, David. Living the Good Life
Scott, Sir Walter. Ivanhoe
Spyri, Johanna. Heidi (audiobook)
Sterling, William and Stephen Waite. Boomernomics
Stevenson, Robert Louis. Treasure Island
Thompson, Hunter S. The Curse of Lono
Verne, Jules. A Journey to the Centre of the Earth
Verne, Jules. Around the World in Eighty Days
Wharton, Edith. The House of Mirth
White, E.B. Charlotte's Web
[Links on the left sidebar or on the "Read in 2010" tab - formatting won't copy/paste links]
Best book of 2010: Jude the Obscure
Thomas Hardy absolutely blows me away. I have said this before, but he reminds me of a master chess player... thinking so many steps ahead and then delivering a knock out blow... all the while dancing a brilliant dance that captivates and inspires. I thought "Tess of D'Urbervilles" was remarkable, but Jude the Obscure is the bees knees. Since the church turned on him and he became estranged from his wife over this novel, I applaud Hardy for following through with it. I only wish that he didn't make this his last novel, out of spite.
Worst book of 2010: Pride and Prejudice
I don't get Jane Austen, I really don't. I can't fathom how one can say so little on a topic, make it completely prosaic and shallow, and have so much of a loyal following and a general opinion that Pride and Prejudice should be on the top 100 novels of all-time lists. I really don't understand. I would skip this and read 'Jane Eyre' or 'Wuthering Heights' from the Bronte sisters.
Most Difficult to Read: Ivanhoe
Ivanhoe was packed full of goodness, but it was a slog and I remember it as being the only book I have not finished before attending a book club meeting. I had to finish it while on vacation, and even that was a struggle.
Biggest Disappointment: Death in the Afternoon
Death in the Afternoon was a disappointment, but in fairness, I assumed that it was a work of fiction and knew nothing about bull fighting. While it contained an honest opinion (coupled with fact) about the 'sport', it was a book that did not stand the test of time. Some still regard it as a quintessential work on bullfighting, but due to all the talk around matadors and which cafes to frequent, there was a lot of information that wasn't pertinent. I admit to not being the target audience, but I think it would still be a slog for many readers outside of Spain and Mexico.
New Authors Discovered/Explored:
Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Samuel Butler, Lewis Carroll, George Eliot, Graham Greene, Joseph Heller, Sir Walter Scott, Johanna Spyri, Jules Verne, Edith Wharton.
Author I wish To Read More Of: Jules Verne; Charles Dickens
Somehow, I never expected to be so enamored with Jules Verne's way of presenting science fiction coupled with adventure. It really appeals to me, and I have since begun a second work of his [as stated above].
I can't believe I haven't read any Dickens other than 'A Christmas Carol' before this year. What I learned with 'A Tale of Two Cities' is that Dickens is a master storyteller - his novels come across as mysteries with a depth that is rare in the genre that makes it a classic. They seem to be rooted in history, are dramatic and are quite funny. I have heard so many bad things about Dickens (many refuse to read him in the book club), but I was pleasantly surprised by him.
I'd like to take the time to give a big thank you to all of the book bloggers out there. I have been reviewing books for a few years now, but I just stumbled upon this great community this year of fellow bloggers. I find I read their blogs more than novels, and I'm glad to have made so many new friends from around the globe.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. I hope you get plenty of books over the holidays and time to enjoy them! Please comment on your favourites of 2010 - I'm looking for suggestions on what to read in 2011!