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December 30, 2010 @ 11:34 am | Filed under: Books

What was your favorite read of 2010?

Or *a* favorite, if you, like me, have a hard time committing to One Most Favored Favorite.

I’m hopeless at naming favorites. In grade school I always had to give valentines to everyone in the class lest someone’s feelings get hurt.

I was going to write a list of “Ten Books I’m Really Glad I Read This Year.” But in looking over my 2010 book log, I see hardly any titles I’m not glad I read. Even if I didn’t care for a book, I’m happy I read it. I learn as much from the books I don’t like as from the books I do.

Some books I’m super especially happy I read this year (I would put an extra heart sticker on their valentines) include:

Scrawl by Mark Shulman. A funny, wry, touching YA in the voice of a high-school boy who hides his intelligence behind acts of petty thuggery. The price he pays for narrowly escaping a juvie sentence is to write a journal during a month of detention under the watchful eyes of his guidance counselor. This journal is the book, and it’s a treat to get to know Tod as he slowly reveals himself on the page. I’d hand this one to any parent or teenager.

Memento Mori by Muriel Spark. Tart, wry, ascerbic, all those words that make your mouth quirk. My first taste of Spark, and I loved the pucker.

Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Unset. Has been on my TBR list for over a decade. Made three attempts at in years past. This time, after reading Sally’s post that mentioned the new Tina Nunnally translation, I finally sank into it and it was a gorgeous, lyrical, heartstabbing experience. Afterward I was eager to dive into the next book in the trilogy, but the CYBILs were looming and Franzen’s Freedom had just arrived from the library after months in the queue. So now I have the next leg of Kristin’s journey to look forward to.

Feed by M.T. Anderson. Everything that already alarms you about our tech-addicted world will alarm you all the more after reading this book, but in a good way. It felt like an important cultural-literacy read to me, and I immediately passed it on to my 15-year-old despite mature content (ahem) and strong language.

The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt. It troubled me, consumed me during the reading, fascinated me in an entirely uncomfortable way. Like Byatt’s Possession, I’m finding that this one won’t leave me alone, even now, months after I read it. I can hear its footsteps creaking the floorboards in the attic of my brain.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. All of you who said I’d love it, you were so right. Reminds me, now I can finally read the Noel Perrin essay on this book in A Child’s Delight (which is where I first heard of Capture).

Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis. Two teenage girls drive cross-country with their feisty grandmother. (Had me at hello.) Turns out Mare (grandma) was a private in the African-American regiment of the Women’s Army Corps during World War II, and her stories put us right there with her. Fascinating, engaging, full of warmth and candor. Loved it.

Argh, this post is KILLING ME. I keep scrolling down my book log and thinking “Oh! I need to add that one! And that one! And that one!” Can we just consider this a part one? More to come? If I am not too busy reading? Because I have a whole bunch of new stuff about to come into the library…


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Comments

18 Responses | | Comments Feed

  1. Stilgoe – Outside Lies Magic, by far my most favorite and memorable read of 2010, and the one that I am constantly thinking of as I wander around my world. But you get that, I know :)

    Also When You Reach Me, Calpurnia Tate and… and…

  2. Olive Kitteridge is the best fiction i read. Great character development. The most distasteful character at the beginning has your undying compassion at the end.

  3. David Copperfield. Great Expectations. Big Susan. Understood Betsy. A Severe Mercy. Pursuit of God (Tozer). Surprised By Joy (Lewis). Heidi. Eight Cousins. The Yearling. Betsy-Tacy books (thank you for leading me to them). Racketty Packetty House. Twins books (Lucy Fitch Perkins). Little Tim books (Edward Ardizzone). The Maggie B. Miss Twigley’s Tree.

  4. Keep going! I always appreciate your recommendations.

  5. I am the same way. I hate having to pick favorites. So my current picks would probably just be the most recent books I fell in love with.

    My best of 2010 would include:

    Connie Willis’ Blackout and All Clear, just make sure you have All Clear ready and waiting when you finish Blackout. It’s really one novel that was split and the wait for part 2 almost killed me.

    Louis de Wohl’s Citadel of God, The Joyful Beggar, and Lay Siege to Heaven. Novels about St Benedict, St Francis of Assisi, and St Catherine of Siena respectively. I was really blown away by the stories. Masterfully told.

    Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay. A fantasy novel set in an alternative version of Tang Dynasty China.

    The Bells of Nagasaki by Takashi Nagai. An amazing memoir by a Catholic convert and survivor of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Nagai is a scientist and physician as well as a very devout man. I love the way his book draws those different strands together. Also A Song for Nagasaki, a biography of Nagai by Paul Glynn. The two of these books together were the best non-fiction I read this year. I am now in mourning because I just received for Christmas the only other of Nagai’s books that has been translated into English because once I finish it there will be no more.

  6. And Willie Mouse by Alta Tabor and How Freckle Frog Made Herself Pretty by Charlotte (Bronte) Herr. And the Crow books by L. Leslie Brooke. And The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by Amelia C. Houghton. Sorry to clog your comments section, but it’s been a good reading year.

  7. I think we’re at least partially channelling each other. My list:

    I Capture the Castle — just read it last week, then watched the movie!

    The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O’Connor.

    Kristin Lavransdatter, a reread this fall. Always the best.

    Several Muriel Sparks: Memento Mori, but also The Girls of Slender Means and A Far Cry From Kensington.

    A Month in the Country, J.L. Carr (the intro by Michael Holroyd is worth the price of the book by itself)

    Stopping now before I think of any more, and leaving off books I read aloud to my kids.

  8. Okay, I looked back at my reading log and here were some top contenders:

    D.E. Stevenson’s Mrs. Tim Christie – delightfully witty

    Fulton Sheen’s Life of Christ – brilliant, obviously

    I Capture the Castle, The Sherwood Ring, and the Perilous Gard – thanks to mentions here!

    …and Jane of Lantern Hill, which I just finished for the first time last night – so very satisfying and lovely

    Many, many more that I enjoyed, but those were stand-outs.

    I have to admit, Lissa, that I’m still hoping you’ll post your thoughts on Mockingjay. I thought that would be on my best-books-of-2010 list, but it wasn’t. ;)

  9. Ditto Melanie’s Blackout and All Clear. I read them twice through because by the time All Clear came I had go back to Blackout. also, it helped while reading All Clear to be able to turn to Blackout to reread certain bits.

  10. I don’t have much time for personal reading because of homeschooling, but one book that stands out among the hundreds that I have read my children this year is a book called Christmas in the Big House; Christmas in the Quarters. I can’t think of the author right now, but know that you can find it on Amazon with just the title. It was written shortly before the emancipation proclamation. Great book to read if you are currently studying the Civil War, or even if you are not. Wonderful living book IMHO.

  11. Great list! I really must get around to reading I Capture the Castle.

    My list is difficult to compile as my memory is not good … I do remember some though: Sanditon, Agnes Grey, Jane of Lantern Hill (or was that last year?), True Spirit (the story of Jessica Watson), Lady Windimere’s Fan … I also read The Boy In Striped Pyjamas and disliked it (because I feel it failed) but I add it to the list as it inspired my students to respond in a way any teacher would get excited about, so it deserves a mention.

  12. [...] Melissa Wiley: Some books I’m super especially happy I read this year. Three of these are going on my list; three of them I’ve already read and loved, and then there’s The Children’s Hour. I tried and couldn’t quite . . . like it. [...]

  13. I know exactly what you mean about not being able to pick favorites. I have the same problem! I tried to do it, though, here–> http://www.hopeisthewordblog.com/2010/12/28/best-of-2010/

    I still haven’t read Kristin What’s-Her-Name, though I’ve known about her for a while. I really need to remedy that.

  14. Scrawl, Memento Moir, and Mare’s War all sound appealing. I’ve been meaning to read a book by Muriel Spark.

  15. Mori, that is.

  16. I just finished reading Scrawl, and I had to comment and say THANK YOU. That book was indescribably amazing.

  17. Sojourner, yay, I’m so glad! It really is something special, that book. And I’ve heard next to no buzz about it besides our CYBILs shortlist.

  18. [...] Melissa at Here in the Bonny Glen suggested I read this YA novel; a long time ago she did, she did, and it was on the Cybils shortlist for YA fiction in 2011. I just got around to it in March while I was on blog break, and it was definitely a good read. I’m think it might be good to compare Tod Munn and Scrawl to Gary Schmidt’s Doug Swieteck in Okay for Now. I think liked the Gary Schmidt book better, but I didn’t read them at the same time. Both books were great reads and would appeal to boys in particular. In fact, now that I think about it, maybe I’ll buy copies of both and leave them around the house for Karate Kid to find. He needs to be reading something, and I find it difficult to capture his interest. One of these books might do the trick. Posted under General,Young Adult Fiction Comments (0) [...]