Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2010 Year in Review

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!

9 comments:

Jamie said...

Ugh I tried Ivanhoe last year and had to put it down! I really want to finish it though. I did a similar end of the year survey on my blog a few weeks ago..although Pride & Prejudice was a new favorite of mine! I was instantly sucked in! I can't help it :P I still need to read Jane Eyre & Wuthering Heights so we'll see how the Brontes compare for me!

You can check out my End of the Year survey if you want. I added a book blogging section as well!

www.perpetualpageturner.blogspot.com

Jillian said...

Merry Christmas!!

I agree about Austen. I want to love her, I just can't figure out how to do it...

Here's my end of 2010:

http://jillianisreading.wordpress.com/2010/12/03/end-of-2010-survey/

(I'm not digging for a comment; I'm just sharing since you asked.) :-)

- Jill

toni said...

wow, what a great overview! I was excited to see Graham Greene in there, I want to read more from him. And Austen isn't for everyone, but you should definately try the Brontes next year!

Hope you have a great christmas, and all the best for 2011 :)

Bethany said...

Jude the Obscure is INCREDIBLE! I first read it about 7 years ago and I can't wait to re-read it next year.

Allie said...

You read some great titles! I read my first Hardy this year and loved it, so I am looking forward to more of his work in the coming year.

Happy Holidays!

everybookandcranny said...

I have a growing love for Thomas Hardy. I started out with Tess early in the year but I was so heartbroken over it that I didn't read any more of Hardy for a few months. Then I picked up Far From the Madding Crowd for an online group read, and followed that with A Pair of Blue Eyes and The Return of the Native.

I loved them all but my favorite thus far is FFTMC. I *hope* to complete my reading of Hardy's novels in 2011 and The Mayor of Casterbridge by the end of this year/month.

I can understand your feelings about Austen. I reread P&P this year and though I was aware that nothing much was happening I still couldn't stop reading it.

I have only read A Christmas Carol by Dickens and I thought that I would start with Great Expectations for sometime next year.

I was just thinking yesterday that I needed to take a look at Ivanhoe as I've seen in referenced in several books that I've read lately.

Merry Christmas to you too! Love your blog.

LifetimeReader said...

I just read and posted about Hardy's Under the Greenwood Tree--which I really enjoyed, despite the fact that it lacks some of the features of his later novels. It is a book with a happy ending (with a slight twist) and a Christmas theme, so it is perfect for this time of year. I'm looking forward to reading more Hardy soon.

bibliophilica said...

Great "Year in Review" and comments. I'd say you had a great 2010 as far as reading goes. I totally agree about Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy. This book made quite an impression on me back in the day. I "feel your pain" re Ivanhoe, but the time I spent slogging through SWS for that book and the two SWS books I read this year was well worth it looking back.

I posted about Thomas Hardy's less well known "Two on a Tower" last month and would recommend that to anyone enamored of Hardy. I see Lifetime Reader mentioned Under the Greenwood Tree - another "unknown" Hardy book which i'm sure I'll look into as well...

IngridLola said...

Bahaha why is it that I automatically like anyone that dislikes Jane Austen? :)