Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Top 11 2010 Releases- and Five Favorites from the Backlist

2010 has been a great year in books and bookish life. When I was trying to come up with my top 10, I couldn't get past my top 16- 11 of which were released in 2010 and five of which were not. So rather than whittle it down further I decided just to tell you about all the books I loved this year.

I came up with this list by running through the list of this year's reads, which you can see on the sidebar of my blog at any time, and when one of them elicited a big smile and a great memory, I wrote the title on a list in a notebook.  I had 16 books and decided I couldn't really fail to mention any of them.

This list of my favorites this year is in no particular order. There's no way I could choose a #1 favorite!

My Favorite 2010 Releases:
  •  Eddie Signwriter, by Adam Schwartzman. If there is one truly hidden gem of 2010 it's Eddie Signwriter. It wasn't nominated for any big awards and I don't even know if anyone besides me even read it. But it's wonderful. Please read it. Please. Please.
  • The Tiger, by John Vaillant, a breathtaking pageturner, part adventure story, part history, part window into a little-known part of the world and part ecological plea on behalf of the Amur tiger.
  • Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, by Helen Simonson, a somewhat light but incredibly sweet and moving love story and story of the changing face of Great Britain.
  • The Passage, by Justin Cronin. A fab literary-pop page-turner about a post-apocalyptic America and the little girl destined to save it.
  • Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show, by Frank Delaney. The sequel, The Matchmaker of Kenmare, is due out in February and not a moment to soon to follow up this fun and very Irish novel about the theater, the family, love and history. If I could interview anyone in 2011 it would be Frank Delaney!
  • Running the Books, by Avi Steinberg. A winner of a memoir about a prison librarian and the challenges he faces on the job.
  • The Invisible Bridge, by Julie Orringer. A wonderful epic novel about Hungarian Jews trying to survive in World War 2-era Europe.
  • The Finkler Question, by Howard Jacobson. I don't care what anyone says- this serious and sophisticated novel about being Jewish and British deserved its Booker Prize win.
  • To the End of the Land, by David Grossman. A brilliant epic about family life and the life of a country.
  • The Debba, by Avner Mandelman. A really engrossing thriller about contemporary Israel and the meaning of identity, nominated for Canada's Giller Prize.
  • Broken Glass Park, by Alina Bronksy. A searing and psychologically honest portrayal of a young woman whose life and family have been shattered by domestic violence. Heartbreaking and all too real.

The Backlisters I Loved:
    • Disgrace, by J.M. Coetzee. Booker-Prize winner and stunning work of literature about scandal and its consequences. Not for the faint of heart!
    • The Rooftops of Tehran, by Mahbod Seraji. A paean to childhood and growing up set in Iran, both sweet and tragic, tender and bittersweet.
    • The Halfway House, by Guillermo Rosales. A book I wish everyone would read, a difficult novella about the fight to live with dignity against impossible odds.
    • Asta in the Wings, by Jan Elizabeth Watson. Hands-down one of the best books I've read about childhood, a brilliant and beautiful book; a little girl and her brother come out of isolation to face the world separately and together.
    • Await Your Reply, by Dan Chaon. Wow. Just, wow. I sped-read this in two days and it still haunts me. A gripping story of that elusive thing called identity.
    Click Here to Search for any of these books, or anything else. I'm a Powell's affiliate and receive a small commission on sales.


      lilly said...

      I definitely agree on The Passage. I think it will be on many best of 2010 lists. It really was great. I do have a few of the books you mentioned, including Debba, and now I'll have to get to them. said...

      "The Finkler Question" is up on amazon for just $5 on kindle - I've been going back and forth on buying it because I've heard such mixed things. Think I'll go for it now!

      -- ellen

      Blodeuedd said...

      I must have a look at some of those :)

      Zibilee said...

      So, so many good books on that list, and I have to agree with The Tiger (it made my best of list too!) and Disgrace. A lot of the books that you mentioned are already on my list after having read your reviews, but now I need to snap to it and go out and buy them!!

      Amy said...

      Await Your Reply is stunning. I'm re-reading it now, trying to pay close attention to how he accomplished so much.

      rhapsodyinbooks said...

      I tried a couple of Frank Delaney books but gave them up - he seems to me to write in a way that is so "male" - I wish I could articulate that better, but it turned me off!

      Marce said...

      I have seen The Passage on a few lists.

      I Await Your Reply is on my Wishlist.

      I always enjoy that your list is different.

      Lynne Perednia said...

      Wonderful lists -- including several that I've been meaning to read.

      I also agree about The Passage.

      Care said...

      OK, Await Your Reply gets moved UP. I love these lists - and you usually have books no one else has. PLUS they all seem 'smart'.

      Vasilly said...

      I own The Debba and Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, so I'm placing both books near the top of my TBR pile. I placed The Tiger on hold yesterday because of you. You're adding so many books to my tbr list. Thanks for telling us what your favorite books of this year are!

      gautami tripathy said...

      I gotta read The Passage. Will do so in 2011!

      I could read only 96 books. But that's ok. I was in a reading slump for more than four months.

      Here are my Best Reads of 2010.

      nomadreader (Carrie) said...

      I still must read Finkler and The Invisible Bridge. Great list! I love seeing familiar titles and noticing which titles aren't on other lists (and I promptly requested Eddie Signwriter from the library!)

      pburt said...

      I am somewhat afraid to read I Await Your Reply because I really disliked You Remind Me of Me by the same author. Perhaps it should be my "second chance" book in 2011.

      Asta in the Wings was interesting, Major Pettigrew was charming but I was somewhat disappointed in The Invisible Bridge - I thought the writing and the story was somewhat uneven.

      Loved looking at your list.

      diaryofaneccentric said...

      I really enjoyed Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show, too. Wishing you a great reading year in 2011.

      stacybuckeye said...

      I haven't read any of these, but my husband gave me The Passage for Christmas. Now all I need is the time to read it!