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December Booklist + the 2010 Book Awards

1. Fall of Giants, Ken Follett
    I read Pillars of the Earth a few years ago and absolutely devoured it. I didn't remember having any issues with the writing style, so I was really confused when I started this one and it draaaaged the dialog was stilted and the writing generally drove me to distraction. For the first third I kept contemplating giving up on it completely, but 1/3 of a 938 page book is a considerable amount and I hate stopping a book after investing that much time in it.
    Before too long I got wrapped up enough in the characters to keep reading, but the writing never did get better. This makes me wonder if Pillars of the Earth is really as good as I remember. Or perhaps that time period was just better suited to his style somehow. I did learn a lot about WWI reading this book!
2. The Marriage Bureau for Rich People, Farahad Zama
   I'm so thankful to mainemilyhoon for mentioning this! It's a bit like a Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency book, only with an Indian marriage bureau. Absolutely delightful. Also, made me hungry for Indian food.

3. Dexter is Delicious, Jeff Linsay
    Speaking of food ... I think this creeped me out more than any of the other Dexter books, which I guess means I find cannibalism worse than serial killers? And yet at the same time it was remarkably tame for a Dexter book. Dexter himself is ... mellowing. But not, we suspect, for long.
4. A Secret Gift, Ted Gup
   A disappointment. The story is inspiring, about a man who anonymously gave money to destitute people during the Great Depression, but the execution of the book was extremely poor ... very repetitive and based on a lot of conjecture.

5. The Last Hero, Terry Pratchett
   My Christmas gift to myself was the luxury of rereading an old favorite. I love the Silver Hoard! And Rincewind! And Leonardo of Quirm! And Carrot! And ... okay, everybody.

6. Fool's Errand, Robin Hobb
   ... and then I spent most of the rest of Christmas lost in the world of the Farseers. I think my favorite thing about Hobb's writing is her timing in revealing mysteries - neither too quickly nor too slowly.

7. Golden Fool, Robin Hobb
   Finished this at ten minutes til midnight. :)

Books from the stack: 1

And thus ends 2010's reading, which means it's time for the 2010 BOOK AWARDS!

First, the numbers:

I read 116 books; 40 adult fiction, 60 adult non-fiction, and 16 young adult. Only 5 were rereads. 43 were from the huge stack of books beside the bed, the ones I want to read soon and then sell, loan, swap, or otherwise get rid of. (The stack hasn't gotten noticeably smaller.) Incidentally, it was an off year - usually I average closer to 150-180 books.

I love looking back over my reading list for the year - it seems to capture my year in a special way. And I love picking out the titles I found particularly memorable. In no particular order:

Best Kid's Book: How to Train Your Dragon, Cressida Cowell
Best Young Adult series: Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
Best Foodie Book: My Life in France, Julia Child
Best Crime Novel:
The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett
Best Science Fiction Novel: Shades of Grey, Jasper Fforde
Best Audiobook/Most Inventive Use of Food in a Novel: Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquieval
Best Non-fiction: Twelve Little Cakes, Dominika Dery

Book I Would Blame My Speeding Tickets On (if I had gotten any): The Driver, Alex Roy
Most Surprising Second Novel: Swan Thieves, Elizabeth Kostova
Author Who Impressed Me Most: Cory Doctorow

Top Three Books I'm Surprised I Loved:
Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
Odd Thomas, Dean Koontz
The Help, Katheryn Stockett

Top Three Religious Books:
Notes from the Tilt-a-whirl, N.D. Wilson
Blue Like Jazz, Don Miller
At the Corner of East and Now, Frederica Mathews-Green

Worst Book: Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

And finally, The "Why Didn't I Read This Sooner?" award goes to Nine Coaches Waiting, Mary Stewart.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
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(Deleted comment)
Jan. 3rd, 2011 12:41 pm (UTC)
Swan Thieves was VERY different from The Historian. It was equally fascinating, but in a different way. I'm not entirely sure I liked the ending, but it was one of those books that grabbed me and forced me to finish reading it as quickly as possible, so ... :)
Jan. 3rd, 2011 01:25 am (UTC)
Was the lower count on books read perhaps due to the fact that you were doing and living more? If so, that is great, too!

I appreciated a lot of these comments. It makes me wish I had more time to follow up and read some of these. I think I'll pin it to my "memories" just to come back later when I have the luxury of more time for reading book-picking.
Jan. 3rd, 2011 12:39 pm (UTC)
I think my traveling had something to do with it. :)
Jan. 3rd, 2011 05:28 am (UTC)
Yay! Book awards.

Have added "Shades of Grey" and "Like Water for Chocolate" to my to-read list.

Interesting that you liked "The Help" - I've mostly heard only lukewarm reviews of it. Now I may just have to read it too :)

I really, really, really disliked "Brave New World".
Jan. 3rd, 2011 12:38 pm (UTC)
I usually hate the kind of books that get picked for book clubs, so I expected to hate The Help. It really surprised me to like it so much. :)
Jan. 4th, 2011 05:33 am (UTC)
I'm quite 50/50 on book club books. I loved e.g. "Life of Pi", but have hated many others.
Jan. 5th, 2011 02:46 pm (UTC)
Life of Pi was another one that I was surprised I liked! I listened to the audio book, I think that helped me get into it better.
Jan. 3rd, 2011 05:46 am (UTC)
This reminds me I need to read Notes from the Tilt-a-whirl sometime. Thanks.
Jan. 3rd, 2011 12:37 pm (UTC)
It surprised me in ways I didn't expect. :)
Jan. 3rd, 2011 02:03 pm (UTC)
I'm actually curious that you didn't like Brave New World, especially since you liked Amusing Ourselves to Death (IIRC). What didn't you like about it, or is there a post/goodreads review I missed?
Jan. 3rd, 2011 04:34 pm (UTC)
I have no quarrel with the message; I just found the book very, very depressing and soul-stealing and hard to get through. =P
Jan. 4th, 2011 01:03 am (UTC)
"Most Inventive Use of Food in a Novel:" -- Have you read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake? It's bizarre but I kinda liked it it (and just finished it, so it's top of mind).

Great lists!
Jan. 5th, 2011 02:47 pm (UTC)
I keep picking it up and thumbing through it and thinking "I should really read this." :)
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )