Best and Worst Books 2010

After debating with myself for at least one week, whether or not I should do a Best of 2010, I finally gave in. Since I only started blogging in August many books are not reviewed here. Unfortunately some haven’t or will never be translated either. I did also add the worst books of this year. Not very nice, I know…

Most engrossing reads

These were the books where I never checked how many pages were left because I had finished them before even getting the chance to do so.

Francesc Miralles Amor en minúscula. Please find here his Spanish website. This writer needs to be translated!

Ulli Olvedi Über den Rand der Welt. Olvedi is a German Buddhist, teacher of Qi Gong and novelist.

M.C. Beaton Death of a Witch. Cozy crime in a Scottish setting with cat.

Ayelet Waldman Love and Other Impossible Pursuits. She has a style that just swipes you away and all her themes are so interesting.

Elizabeth Lupton Sister. Great thriller.

Ruth Rendell A Judgment in Stone. Fascinating psychological study of a criminal mind.

Most beautiful

You want to live in the world created by a beautiful book, jump right into it and stay there.

Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus, where have you been all my life?

Rosamond Lehmann Dusty Answer. I love Rosamond Lehmann. This moved me and it is beautiful and thanks to this book I started blogging because it made me discover A Work in Progress and….

Elizabeth Taylor Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont. Just perfect.

Niccolò Ammaniti I am not scared. Childhood memories, intense pictures, such a beautiful, beautiful book.

Meg Rosoff What I Was. This has a truly dreamlike quality. Something very, very special.

Most fascinating

Books that were different, thought-provoking, engaging, not easy but worthwhile.

Sheri S. Tepper The Gate to Women’s Country. That’s what I call original. Feminist SciFi.

Audrey Nyffenegger Her Fearful Symmetry. The setting (Highgate Cemetery), the topic (ghosts), the writing. Marvelous.

Sjón The Blue Fox. Fairytale, historical, poetical.

John O’Hara Appointment in Samarra. This is a must read for aspiring writers. His writing teaches you a lot.

Most interesting

Occasionnaly you want to learn something when you read a novel. These two teach you something, are entertaining and really surprisingly good reads.

Lisa Genova Still Alice. What if you had early onset Alzheimer’s? Who would you be without your memory, without your intellectual faculties and how would others react?

Allegra Goodman Intuition. Did you ever wonder what scientists do in a lab, how researchers live? Intuition tells you this and a lot more. She kept me interested in a topic I am normally not interested in. Plus the style is limpid.

Most accomplished

This is the category of the stylists. Two of the books mentioned have been written by poets.

Jennie Walker 24 for 3. The work of a poet. I hardly found a book in which more parts were quotable than in this one.

Gerard Donovan Julius Winsome. Beautifully crafted. Sad and touching story. If you ever really loved an animal you know what he is talking about…

Jennifer Johnston The Gingerbread Woman. How to survive a tragedy? Told in compelling prose.

Andrew Sean Greer The Story of a Marriage. Puzzling, nice construction, short and efficient.

Most touching

Books that speak to you, your soul or something you experienced. In these cases everything spoke to me.

Susan Breen The Fiction Class. A teacher of creative writing, a difficult mother, a possible love story.

Maria Nurowska Jenseits ist der Tod. Death of a mother and how to bury her. Raw emotions. Incredible. I read the German translation of this book. The original is Polish.

Best Short Story

Lauren Groff Blythe (from her collection Delicate Edible Birds). If someone took the pieces of Anne Sexton’s life and wrote a short story about it, that is what would come out.

Would I have wanted to be the author?

I always ask myself this question. Occasionally I say yes.

These are this years’ choices:

Francesc Miralles Amor en minúscula

Maria Nurowska Jenseits ist der Tod

Niccolò Ammaniti I am not scared

Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird (why be modest?)

Non Fiction

Deepak Chopra’s The Book of Secrets. Chopra is famous but I don’t necessarily like his books. This one was different. It is one of the best introductions to Hinduism and the different yogas you can find. It combines theory with exercises. A truly great book and recommended by Ken Wilber whom I admire loads.

Paul Leyhausen Cat Behaviour: Predatory and Social Behaviour of Domestic and Wild Cats. One of the most interesting books on cats.

Georg Diez Der Tod meiner Mutter. Unfortunately this hasn’t been translated. It is an outstanding memoir about the death of a mother, the love of a son and saying goodbye.

Steven Pressfield The War of Art. You want to write or be otherwise creative? Why don’t you? Procrastination. Pressfield’s book is like dynamite…

Isabel Gillies Happens Everyday. Also a memoir. The style is simple not very engaging but I enjoyed it a lot. It is the story of the end of a marriage. But that is not the engrossing part, the engrossing part was the description of Oberlin College. Campus life in the States, something we do not have here.

The worst reads this year

Sebastian Barry’s The Secret Scripture. I hate this type of coincidence and Maggie O’Farrells’ The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox tells a similar story only in a more appealing way.

Jo Nesbos The Snowman. Did he want to kill me through boredom? He almost achieved. Predictable and boring.

Alice Sebold The Lovely Bones. This is a bit difficult. Why did I not like it? I just didn’t. Period.

Maria Nurowska