My 2010 in Books

After seeing Jamie’s End of 2010 Book Survey post on her blog The Perpetual Page Turner (via @brokeandbookish on Twitter), I decided to compile my own list. But remembering all – or any! – of the books you’ve read in the last year takes some serious head-scratching, you know…

Best Book of 2010:

Room by Emma Donoghue. Great to find a critically acclaimed book that is also immensely readable, and how many books can you say are truly original? Jack, the five-year-old narrator, will stay with you for a long time after you reach the end, and far from being the dark and creepy novel the subject matter implies it will be, I finished this feeling uplifted. (Read my review of Room here.)

Worst book of 2010:

I really can’t think of one! I’m sure there were truckloads of bad books, but luckily I didn’t waste my time reading any of them.

Most Disappointing Book of 2010:

The Passage by Justin Cronin. I was expecting big, BIG things of this post-apocalyptic vampire saga, and all I got were small-to-medium-sized ones. A crying shame, because its opening section was brilliant, and most of its problems could have been fixed by a ruthless edit. But could anything have lived up to such pre-publication hype?

Most Surprising (in a good way!) Book of 2010:

After I posted my review of The Passage, Henry Holt & Co. sent me a copy of The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell to read and review. I wasn’t expecting much. I’m not especially into flesh-eating zombies, Southern Gothic or books with descriptions that might make you upchuck your dinner, but Reapers had me gripped. A literary novel that deserves the marketing budget of its much inferior commercial competitor. (I reviewed it here.)

Book You Recommended to People Most in 2010:

I think it’s probably The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I only read it this summer and it completely floored me. (It’s the only book, I can say with certainty, that had me sitting in a deck-chair in my back garden, burnt after eight straight hours in the sun, crying my eyes out. And that was before I even read the Author’s Note, which set me off again.)

Best Series You Discovered in 2010:

Alas, I don’t think I discovered any series in 2010… although I did re-discover Karin Slaughter. Does that count?

Favorite New Authors You Discovered in 2010:

Gillian Flynn is by far my best discovery this year. Her crime novels, Sharp Objects and Dark Places, are very dark and very gripping, and more character driven than any of their neighbors on the Crime section’s shelves. I also finally got around to reading a novel by my three initials/two names friend, Catherine Ryan Hyde (Second Hand Heart) and after the amazing Like Bees to Honey, I’m looking forward to reading more of Caroline Smailes‘ work. In Search of Adam is already on my iPhone Kindle app, waiting for just the right train journey. Another great find: Belinda Bauer and her Crime Dagger winning debut, Blacklands. I can’t wait to read her second novel, Darkside, published in January.

Most Hilarious Read of 2010:

I mustn’t have read very many funny books in 2010, because when it came to this category I couldn’t think of any. So I’m cheating, and saying How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely, which was released in 2009 but which I read (twice!) in 2010. Laugh-out-loud funny from beginning to end. (See my review here.)

Most Thrilling, Unputdownable Book in 2010:

Blacklands by Belinda Bauer. Thrilling, unputdownable, spine-tingling, terrifying – they all apply. While its pace is measured and slow, its horror pulls you in and refuses to let you go, and even though you fear for the characters and the horrifying end they all seem to be moving towards, you can’t help but rush to get there with them. Definitely an Up All Night one. (See my review here.)

Book You Most Anticipated in 2010:

I was dying to read Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert, but put it down during her first clump of dry pages about the history of marriage and never picked it back up again. I had my usual rush-to-buy-and-read-on-publication-day-and-then-regret-you’ve-a-whole-year-to-wait-for-another-one syndrome with Michael Connelly’s and Harlan Coben’s latest offerings (The Reversal and Caught, respectively), and I could barely wait to read Room. I would have been highly anticipating Freedom if I wasn’t sick to death of hearing about it long before it came out, and waiting for this feeling to fade is why I still haven’t cracked the spine on my copy.

Favorite Cover of a Book You’ve Read in 2010:

I’m all about the covers, so it’s hard to pick just one, but I did love the cover of Like Bees to Honey by Caroline Smailes.

Most Memorable Character in 2010:

Five-year-old Jack, the narrator of Room. No competition for that one!

Most Beautifully Written Book in 2010:

That’s be Room again. There were no flowery or complicated words but yet Donoghue managed to bend the English language in a whole new way – she had to, what with her writing a book for adults as told by a five-year-old. Dazzling.

Book That Had the Greatest Impact on You in 2010:

Hmm. How do you measure impact? Not entirely sure. But I would have to say that due to the deck-chair/suburn/crying incident, it’s got to be The Help.

Book You Can’t Believe You Waited UNTIL 2010 to Finally Read:

In April 2009 I spent ten days in Orlando and while there, picked up a slightly damaged copy of The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls in a bargain bin in Barnes and Noble. For some reason, it took me until April of this year to get around to reading it, which I did all in one go without moving from the sofa. With one of the most intriguing prologues I’ve ever come across (a dressed up Walls is on her way to a society party in New York’s Upper East Side when, through the window of the cab, she spots her homeless mother, rummaging through a Dumpster) this tale of overcoming a poverty-stricken childhood and parents intent on living outside the norm is captivating, inspirational and wonderfully written.

Now… onto to 2011!

What are YOUR answers? If you want to post this survey on your blog, pop over to The Perpetual Page Turner to add a link to your post.

7 thoughts on “My 2010 in Books

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      I was like that too – kept hearing about The Help and thinking, oh I must get round to reading that. If I’d have known how much I was going to enjoy though I would’ve picked it up a lot sooner. It’s brill! 🙂

  1. stentorpub says:

    Enjoyed reading through your survey. You and I are totally in sync regarding the disappointment in The Passage. Even though I enjoyed it, I expected a LOT more as you did, AND I was teased by how strongly it started out. Oh well. This one was only runner up to Cold Mountain on my summary, though. Blacklands sounds really good. This is the first I’ve heard of it, but it may make my list for 2011…


    • catherineryanhoward says:

      You’ve hit the nail on the head re: The Passage. If it was just mediocre all the way through, I don’t think I’d have been AS disappointed, but the start was so good it was just pouring salt on the wound. Not being a cynic or anything (!!) but according to something I read in the NY Times, he got his multi-million dollar based on the first 300 pages, which if we’re talking manuscript pages would have been right up until the jump forward in time, or where it got boring for me…!

      I have to say I haven’t read Cold Mountain. Started it around the time it came out but abandoned it. Might give it another go though.

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Love your list! I actually have a copy of Let the Great World Spin but haven’t got around to reading it yet… and I must read Hunger Games, heard so much about it!

      I love A Moveable Feast too, although it makes me hungry and desperate to go to Paris!

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

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