The Best Read Books in 2010
I only began blogging in July, so some of these books haven’t been reviewed on Pink Sheep Cafe because they were read at the beginning of the year. They are still good books though, I promise. I wouldn’t recommend anything to you that wasn’t truly fantastic.
The Piano Man’s Daughter by Timothy Findley – Timothy Findley has long been my favorite author and this was one of his few works I hadn’t yet read. I think it is Findley’s most powerful novel and I found it blew me away more than any of his other works.
From Goodreads: “As the story opens, Lily, the heroine of Timothy Findley’s Victorian-Gothic-style novel as seen through the narrative of her son Charlie, is ending her days in an asylum; her life unfolds as a Dickensian tale of deprivation and struggle between the feminine and the coldly masculine, leading to that “madwoman in the attic” denouement. Yet Charlie is reclaiming his mother’s life through his loving telling of her story. “She could break your heart with that riveting gaze,” he says. Music, vaudeville, and silent movies resonate through the lives in the novel, set in turn-of-the-century Toronto.”
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz – This is undoubtedly one of my two favorite books of all time and perhaps the only book to which I would ascribe the term life-changing. This fat, Dominican kid touched me deeply and nearly had me in tears.
From Goodreads: “Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother and rebellious sister dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, finding love. But Oscar may never get what he wants. Blame the fuk — a curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, following them on their epic journey from Santo Domingo to the USA. Encapsulating Dominican-American history, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Waoopens our eyes to an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and explores the endless human capacity to persevere and risk it all in the name of love”
Room by Emma Donoghue – No surprise here I suppose. I haven’t heard a bad word breathed about Donoghue’s most recent work. It is unfortunate that with all the nominations this book has had over the course of the year that it didn’t win more awards. You can check out my review here.
Independent People by Halldor Laxness – This was my first attempt at Icelandic Literature and only my second foray into the works of Nobel Laureates. An epic tale of family life in rural Iceland, it was one of the slowest paced books I read this year, but, by far, the richest. You can read my review here.
Arabian Nights and Days by Naguib Mahfouz – I am really desperate to dig into something else by Mahfouz after reading this. The book is a companion piece of Arabian Nights by Richard Burton and is told in fable/fairytale format. The writing was both simple and rich in ways I have never before experienced. This will be one of the most recommendable of 2010. Read my review here.
London Triptych by Jonathan Kemp – This was my only foray into LGBTQ Lit this year and I truly loved it. It comes with a high dose of sexual freedom, so may not be for the weak of stomach, but I think it is a very insightful look into the history of gay life over the past century. I was sad to see this didn’t make the short list for the Indie Lit Awards, but not surprised as it comes from a very small publisher. Read my review here.
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom – This was the first book I reviewed for Pink Sheep Cafe way back in July and it is still one of the best reads of the year. It is the story of a white indentured slave girl during the late 1700s. Her presence among the black slaves upsets the order of things on the plantation. This was a first novel for Grissom; I anxiously await her next novel. Read my review here.
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – This sat on my TBR pile for ages, I was afraid to go anywhere near it because it seemed like such a chunkster. I was also wary of the content, I was worried it would be a little bit to Science Fictioney for my taste. I was mistaken on all counts. This was one of the most moving books of the year. Funny enough, I still find I have the same reservations about her other works. Read my review here.
The View from Castle Rock by Alice Munro – Alice Munro is Canada’s master short story artist. Half-fact, half-fiction Munro weaves the tales of her ancestors’ journey from Scotland to Canada filling in the details with her imagination as she goes. Anyone with an interest in family history or genealogy would cherish this semi-memoir. I detest short stories, but I don’t know if anyone can find fault with the short stories of Alice Munro. My review is here.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett – Never before had I considered venturing into audiobooks. I thought they were only for blind people. I had no idea that a well put together audiobook, like The Help, can be a masterpiece. I found myself running around the house desperate for another toilet to scrub or floor tile to polish so I could keep listening just a little longer.Thanks to this presentation of Katheryn Stockett’s debut novel, I am hooked on audiobooks. Read my review here.
So, those are the ten best of the year. What, you ask, was the worst read of the year?
Worst Read of the Year
Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man by Thomas Mann – I received this book from Rikki at the Bookkeeper by way of the Crazy Book Swap. Perhaps the only reason it stands out in my mind as the worst book of the year is because I didn’t have the heart (or the good sense) to put it down without finishing it. You can read my diatribe on it here.