Friday, December 31, 2010

Best of 2010

2010 wasn't a great reading year for me. I read only 60 books as compared to last year's 64. I had hoped to read more this year but real life got in the way. In fact I had trouble completing my top ten list so I've just listed nine of the best books I've read in 2010. I did reread some fantastic books such as Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller, My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier and Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood however I only included one reread in my list which is The Sun Also Rises. I included it because I didn't appreciate it at all the first time I read it when I was eighteen. Reading it again has been a wonderful experience and I have a new respect for Hemingway. It's a beautiful novel and one that has made my list of all-time favourites. So here is my final list in no particular order:


The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
I think this book is extraordinary not just for its adjective-free writing style, vivid descriptions and its depiction of the lost generation but for all the undercurrents and nuances of unrequited love. It's in essence a love story written by a man and told from a man's point of view and it involves a promiscuous and beautiful woman, Brett Ashley, who falls in love with just about every man she meets. Brett wreaks emotional havoc on the principal characters and most especially on Jake, our storyteller, who loves her with a passion but is ultimately unable to give her what she needs.



One Day by David Nicholls
 This is the kind of book where you think you know how it will all end but you don't care. It's the journey that matters. Dex and Em. Em and Dex. They meet on the night of their college graduation in 1988. They're made for each other but they don't know it yet. Life calls them to different places and different things. But their obvious connection to one another stays and for the next twenty years we get a snapshot of their lives on the same day every year, July 15th. A book that will make you laugh out loud and cry too.


The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster
I thought this was such a wonderful, wonderful book from start to finish. It had some sad parts but its still a happy novel at heart. A life-affirming book filled with beautiful passages and precious moments. Though it will be difficult to choose one favourite among all the Auster novels I've read, this is certainly one of them. It's brilliant and definitely a keeper.






The House on the Strand by Daphne Du Maurier
This is a strange story but completely engrossing. It's a time travel story about Dick Young, who's staying at the home of his scientist friend, Magnus.However, there's one catch - Dick is only a witness and is unable to be seen, heard or touched by the people he observes which include a steward called Roger and a captivating lady known as Isolda Carminowe. As Dick quickly becomes fascinated by their lives, he starts to withdraw from the modern world and his family and retreats more and more into the past. His time travel visits soon become an addiction that begin to affect not only his sanity but his physical condition.





Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
Brooklyn is elegantly and beautifully written. From page one, I was riveted by Eilis' quite ordinary life and her everyday trials and tribulations. I loved Toibin's writing...so clean, crisp yet also compelling. Not a sentence wasted. It takes a brilliant writer to turn a simple story of a young immigrant where nothing much happens into a suspenseful read.






The Easter Parade by Richard Yates
This novel offers a microscopic view of two average sisters and their search for their little piece of happiness in this world. It's also the story of their own relationship with each other which is one of love, rivalry and jealousy. Each one believes the other to have the more wonderful life. It's ultimately sad to realise that actually neither of them had it.  I'm amazed at how quickly I finished the novel. The pages just flew by and before I'd known it, I'd reached the end of this quiet masterpiece. Yates doesn't mince words. His prose is simple, his sentences are basic and uncomplicated. I loved the gritty realism of this story, the descriptions and the dialogue.



To Bed With Grand Music   by Marghanita Laski
I found this book compulsively readable but I completely disliked the main character of Deborah. Usually, it's hard for me to read a book with a character that's so unlikable but surprisingly enough I still found the book very engaging and I credit it all to Laski's brilliant writing. I had no idea there was this whole sub-culture of women left behind during the second world war who indulged in wanton philandering. I guess Laski wanted to convey how war affected everyone. War can destroy not just the men who fight the battles but the women left behind.


The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
A new Sarah Waters novel is always something to look forward to. I loved her novel Fingersmith. The Little Stranger is very different. It's not set in the Victorian era nor is it filled with shocking plot twists. It's a book where the build-up of suspense is quite slow but that doesn't make it any less gripping. This made an excellent book club read too.







The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help is a great read. It's set in 1962 in Jackson, Mississippi. A young white woman, Skeeter, decides to write a book about the working lives of domestic helpers. Two African-American maids, Aibileen and Minny agree to participate in the risky project. The story is told from the points of view of the three women. Their various accounts are touching, harrowing and also funny. The Help is riveting and compulsively readable.




So there you have it...my final list. Did any of them make your top ten? I'd love to know. I really hope to read more books next year and more wonderful ones. Looking forward to a new year filled with marvelous books. Happy New Year to you all! 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Books Read in 2010

This has not been a great reading year for me. I'm actually having trouble filling up my top ten list of the year which I'll be posting soon. For now, here's the exact list of books read in 2010:

1. The Glass of Time by Michael Cox
2. Captivated, the Du Mauriers and J.M. Barrie and the dark side of Neverland by Piers Dudgeon
3. The Inn at Lake Devine  by Elinor Lipman
4. Invisible  by Paul Auster
5. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
6. 84 Charing Cross Road  by Helene Hanff
7. A Jury of Her Peers by Susan Glaspell
8. Miss Buncle's Book  by D.E. Stevenson
9. The Help - Kathryn Stockett
10. Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski
11. The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
12. Easter Parade by Richard Yates
13. My Latest Grievance by Elinor Lipman
14.The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark
15. Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli
16. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
17. The Making of a Marchioness - Frances Hodgson Burnett
18. Raven Black - Ann Cleaves
19. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
20. High Wages by Dorothy Whipple
21. Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
22. The Basic Eight - Daniel Handler
23. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
24. The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier
25. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier (reread)
26. Bonjour Tristesse - Francoise Sagan (reread)
27. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
28. To Bed With Grand Music by Marghanita Laski
29. The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris
30. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (reread)
31. The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist
32. Talking it Over by Julian Barnes
33. The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster
34. The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbery (reread)
35. Little Bee by Chris Cleaves
36. Man in the Dark by Paul Auster
37. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
38. Looking for Alaska by John Green
39. Real World by Natsuo Kirino
40. I'm the King of the Castle by Susan Hill

41. Juliet Naked by Nick Hornby
42. Blankets by Craig Thompson
43. Howl's Moving Castle - Diane Wynne Jones
44. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
45. Dark Matter by Michelle Paver
46. The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
47. Leviathan by Paul Auster (reread)
48. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
49. The Closed Door and Other Stories by Dorothy Whipple
50. Breakfast at Tiffany's (and other stories) by Truman Capote
51. One Day by David Nicholls
52. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (reread)
53. The Book Thief by Marcus Zuzak
54. Don't Look Now by Daphne du Maurier
55. The Exception by Christian Jungerson
56. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
57. Stoner by John Williams
58. The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald
59. Faithful Place by Tana French
60. Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller (reread)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Persephone Secret Santa



It's the Persephone Secret Santa reveal day today so it's time to reveal my gift and who my Secret Santa is. I almost didn't participate this year, what with being seven months pregnant and just feeling a bit under the weather I thought I'd just wait till next year. I know I've been a bad book blogger of late as my last post was last month! Blame it on my pregnancy and the busy Christmas season. I finally have a very good excuse to post today and actually I'm so glad I joined the Persephone Secret Santa event as I got the most wonderful present plus I discovered a fabulous book blog too. My gift was The Winds of Heaven by Monica Dickens, one of the brand new Persephones released recently and my Santa is Colleen of Col Reads . When I read the card I didn't know who Col was as I've never been to her blog but it's truly a lovely one and I'm happy to now have it on my blog list. Col - thanks so much! You made a perfect choice as I loved Mariana by Monica Dickens and I've been wanting to read more from her.

My giftee hasn't received her book yet so I do hope she gets it soon. 

A big thank you to Claire at Paperback Reader for hosting this wonderful event. I'm eager to see what everyone else has received so I'm off to check out her blog right now. Cheers!
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