Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Great Books I Missed in 2010

When I started this blog I hoped that in addition to the million other topics covered I'd also discuss books. Yet that seems to have not happened even once. This is partially because I'm never confident enough in my opinions to give a proper review and definitively tell you that you will or will not like a particular book and partially because this blog has sucked away a lot of the free time I used to spend reading. Books are my first and most enduring passion in life so rest assured that any time I'm not spending cooking, cleaning, crafting, or on the computer is spent with a book in hand. If there were a book-related profession that didn't involve dealing with the public and following in my mother's footsteps (she's a librarian) I might have been more tempted to go to college and pursue an actual career. Instead, while my peers were slaving away at university I was lounging around at home educating myself through whatever books struck my fancy.

I'm not sure that I want to muddle up this blog any further since with each new hobby I throw in the mix I worry that I run the risk of alienating even more readers. I won't promise/threaten that this will become a regular feature but while perusing the Guardian's list of the best books of 2010 I was suddenly compelled to quit my job, move to a remote island with a great public library system, and devote the rest of my days to reading the books on the list. No idea how I would fund this life of leisure but I got little butterflies of excitement in my tummy as I added almost every book to my to-read list. I was so excited I just had to share the list with someone.

Shockingly, I haven't read a single book from the list, which is unusual for me since I get most of my book news from their site and the ever entertaining Bookslut. Since getting into crafting and baking and starting my own blog I realize I've spent less time keeping up with that news so I haven't kept an eye on what's been published and acclaimed in the past year.

I hope to do better next year but will need to play catch up with the books from 2010's list first. I'm especially looking forward to reading:

  • Surface Detail: "Iain M. Banks returns to the world of the Culture after 10 years, with an examination of the idea of hell. The real and the virtual intertwine as an indentured slave, Lededje Y'breq, escapes from her master and sets off in search of revenge."

  • Visitation: "Jenny Erpenbeck examines the calamities of 20th-century Europe with this story of a grand house by a lake in Brandenburg, a short novel which paints nuanced portraits of the people who pass through as the calamitous 20th century rolls by."

  • In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut: "Shortlisted for the Booker prize, despite question marks over whether A Strange Room is really a work of fiction, this is the story of a young man's travels through Greece, India, and Africa, telling of the people he meets as each trip ends in disaster."

  • Lights Out in Wonderland: A Novel: "The 2003 Booker winner, DBC Pierre, keeps up his bad-boy image with this drug-fueled satire of contemporary decadence. Gabriel Brockwell's double pledge - to take his own life, but not until after a final bacchanalian blowout - sets him on course for an odyssey of consumption which takes him from London to Tokyo and beyond." I remember getting caught up in his previous novel, Vernon God Little, so I'm especially looking forward to this read.

  • Hitch-22: A Memoir: "Christopher Hithchens charts his intellectual development in a memoir which reveals the contradictions at the heart of the UK's greatest contemporary controversialist. The staging posts - boarding school, Oxbord, London, and New York - are all well known, but the sharp wit and vigor of this memoir makes his recent diagnosis with cancer of the throat all the more distressing."

  • Skippy Dies: "Paul Murray's 672-page second novel, which was longlisted for the Booke rprize, began as a short story. This tragic comedy set in a Dublin boarding school is set in motion by the death of Daniel 'Skippy' Juster, who dies in the opening chapter during a doughnut-eating race with his friend Ruprecht Van Doren." Sounds very strange, which only makes it all the more intriguing to me.

  • Room: "Emma Donoghue, an Irish writer who lives in Canada, tells the story of a five-year-old boy, Jack, who has been imprisoned with his mother in a tiny room - 11 ft by 11 ft - for his whole life. Told in his voice as he learns of a world outside his small prison, the book was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize."

  • The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss: "In this memoir, the potter Edmund de Waal goes in search of the story behind the 264 miniature Japanese carvings, or netsuke, which he has inherited from his great-uncle Iggie. He uncovers a story of loss which opens in 1870s Paris and charts the convulsions of the 20th century." I've seen this listed on a few "best of" lists so I'm sure it's a winner.

Be sure to check out the list for yourself since there are many more that look just as good as the ones I highlighted. Apparently it was a great year for books, not that I noticed since I was still catching up on good books from previous years.


Mim Smith Faro said...

I read one of them- Under the Dome. I have been stuck in the Young Adult section of the library it seems! Ten of the twenty-one books I have finished so far this year have been YA titles. I am currently finishing two other YA titles. From your list, I'd most like to read Room. Sounds intriguing.

the cape on the corner said...

i have spoken/blogged many a time of my love for books/reading, so i am checking out the list you referred to and also bookslut. purely based on name. i get a little crazy when lists like this come out, and feel a need to devour the items listed. don't even get me started about movies-i keep a checklist of the oscar and golden globe noms and work my way through them.

i was pleased to see that at least one of the books i read this year, the lonely polygymist, is on many best of book lists, and i have room on hold at the library. i refuse to read the jonathen franzen book as i detested corrections.