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

18 thoughts on “Best and Worst Books 2010

  1. This is a great way to make a list 🙂
    I will make my book list too later, I choose to list my movies first.

    You really give new perspective in books, I found more authors in your blog compare to other blogs.
    Just a small advice, It’ll be better if you link all those books (Or maybe you have linked them but I didn’t know because I’m using my mobilephone 😉 )

    • Thanks and yes you are right I should have done. Maybe will still do it but that post took ages and I lost patience. Longer than any other… I am looking forward to your list as well. Loads of Japanese books… Glad I already bought some but The Square Persimmone did not arrive yet. Too much snow in Europe, huge delays in deliveries.

          • There are a great many film versions made from her books too, and it’s always interesting to read the book, watch the film, something that I suspect you’re into like me.

            I prefer her stand-alone books, but others argue equally for the Inspector Wexford series.

            • Yes, you are right, I always try to watch the movie version as well but preferably after having read the novel. I did order the Tree of Hands, it sounded like something I will like. I think I read one or two Wexfords but I didn’t like them as much. Btw, I am in the middle of A Kind of Intimacy… It is really great…

  2. I really need to try and be more creative with my list next year instead of a flat “favorites” list! I love your categories. I really want to read more Rosamond Lehmann–that was meant to be the first of a number of books I was going to read by her…I’ve not gotten back to them, but maybe next year. I plan on reading the Ammaniti next year and I found a nice inexpensive copy of The Sister on Amazon, which I am waiting for now. And I still have Julius Winsome on my list (I never get all my library books read). I’m glad you decided to make a list–you have lots of interesting titles to explore even if you didn’t get to write about all of them. And Ruth Rendell is wonderful…I’ve read lots of her books but not the one Guy mentions, so I will look for that one, too. I owe you an email, but will send it this weekend (I spent most of the day finishing reading Madame Bovary and my brain is a little fried!). Happy New Year, Caroline!

    • Thanks, Danielle. I didn’t think your list was flat. You explained why you liked the books and am glad I greedily acquired many of them already… Need to look up the Rendell Guy mentions as well. Where is my New Year’s resolution…

  3. These lists are wonderful, Caroline. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my all-time favorites, and I’m so glad you enjoyed Mrs. Palfrey. I’ll be printing out your post so I can remember the titles when I need a new book to read.

    Hope you don’t have too much snow. Happy New Year to you.

    • Thanks a lot, Mrs Pearl. I think there are quite a few on the list you might enjoy. Happy New Year to you as well.
      We have no snow. It’s grey and dark, Typical Swiss January weather.

  4. I love best-of lists so I’m really glad you did one. And these are wonderful categories! So many books here I haven’t heard of and need to check out – so thank you for that. I love the breadth of your reading.

    • Thanks so much, litlove. I hope you will find some you might enjoy as I have certainly found some on your list and in your posts. Bausch and Nicholson and one or two others. Not read yet but I will soon.

  5. What a wonderful list even if we don’t always agree. (2 of your 3 worst reads completely enthralled me for instance!)

    Look forward to reading more from you.

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