Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 Books: The Best and Worst

Well, it's a bit late, but I've been out of town and unable to post.  I was so busy I hardly even got any reading done.  I'll be compiling some year-end statistics and a report on my holiday swag this week as well.  But here's some of my best and worsts for 2010.

1. Best book of 2010? Wow, that's tough!  Several Persephones are on top of my list, including Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Miss Buncle's Book, and The Priory.  But Fingersmith was just great, and I loved Barchester Towers.

2. Worst book of 2010? The Man From Beijing by Henning Mankell.

3. Most Disappointing Book of 2010?  Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier.  I had high hopes after Rebecca, but it was just meh.

Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2010? Lady Bird: A Biography of Mrs. Johnson by Jan Jarboe Russell.  I'm not really into politics or biographies but this was an absorbing, fast read.

Book you recommended to people most in 2010?  Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and Fingersmith.

6.  Best series you discovered in 2010?  I just read my first Miss Read novel between Christmas and New Years and just loved it, it's sure to be my new favorite series.  And of course I discovered Persephone Books this year -- technically, it's a publisher, but I feel like I need to mention them as well.

Favorite new authors you discovered in 2010? Sarah Waters, Emile Zola, Dorothy Whipple, Miss Read, and  D. E. Stevenson.  

8. Most hilarious read of 2010?  Miss Buncle's Book by D. E. Stevenson. My Family and Other Animals Gerald Durrell was another hoot.

Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2010?  Fingersmith by Sarah Waters.  I'd seen the BBC adaptation and I still couldn't put it down. Can't wait to read more of her books.

Book you most anticipated in 2010?  The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson.  Sadly, a little disappointing after the first two, though it had its good points.  

11. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2010?  Nightingale Wood by Stella Gibbons; The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett; Where the Mountains Meet the Moon by Grace Lin.

12. Most memorable character in 2010? Tom Sawyer; Miss Pettigrew; Ethan Hawley from The Winter of Our Discontent.

Most beautifully written book in 2010? The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley

 Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2010? The World that was Ours by Hilda Bernstein.  A shocking, frightening memoir of the 1963 Rivonia trial in South Africa.  The blantant racism and miscarriage of justice was mind-blowingly awful.

15. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2010 to finally read?  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.

This was fun!  I'd love to hear about other bloggers' year-end roundups; if you've posted one please leave a link in your comments and I'll add them below. 


  1. I'm excited to read Fingersmith - I'm downloading that onto my Nook soon! I'm surprised to hear that Jamaica Inn was just okay - I'm looking forward to reading Rebecca and then was planning to follow up with Jamaica Inn. Maybe I'll wait a little bit in between now!

  2. So are you back home yet then? I can't wait for the kids to go back to school! We'll have to get together and compare Christmas loot. And avoid the bookstores together. :D

  3. Coffee and a Book Chick -- Jamaica Inn was a huge disappointment after Rebecca, which is still one of my all-time favorites. It reminded me a little of Wuthering Heights but just not as good. However I loved her short stories -- NYRB has a compilation called Don't Look Now which is especially good. I'm not giving up on Du Maurier.

    Amanda -- we just got in tonight. Too tired for more posting but I'll put an update together after I get the mail on Monday, I'm hoping for some late deliveries, hopefully from Book Depository!

  4. I can't tell you how much I wish you were closer, so that you could come to my New Year's Book Exchange Party next weekend! It's right up your alley, and also, I haven't seen you in forever...

    In the meantime, I'm so glad that Fingersmith made such an impression on you. I read it a while ago when it was short-listed for the Booker Prize, and I had similar reactions. What a brilliant page-turner? Unfortunately, I've been underwhelmed by some of her other novels, but I've long recommended Fingersmith to anyone who's looking for a compelling read.

  5. Book Exchange Party? Oh, I wish I could come. I'm dying to come to NY and see you. It really has been too long. And we could bake pies and cross off lots of things from your 101 Things List.

    But I can't wait to hear about your party so please blog about it afterward.

  6. Some excellent choices, Karen! I really need to read The World That Was Ours and Miss Buncle's Book. And every Persephone out there, really :P Also, I love the cover of your edition of Nightingale Wood.

  7. What a great list! I've been having fun reading people's end-of-year lists and finding ideas ... I think we have similar tastes in books. I'll ne interested in what you think of The Tortoise and the Hare - one of my favorites in 2010, and a surprise too!

  8. What wonderful books you've read. And thank you for reminding me that I really must make time for Miss buncle and M Zola this year.

  9. I am glad Miss Pettigrew made the list so many times for you as that is the only Persephone I have and is waiting patiently for me to take it off the shelf. I think 2011 will be the Year of the TBR for me, based almost solely on time constraints and being a full-time student, so hopefully she gets into my hands pretty quickly!

  10. Audrey -- I'm about halfway through The Tortoise and the Hare but I have to put it aside for my two book group selections, grr. I like it so far but I'm so frustrated with Imogen!

    Fleur -- Miss Buncle is so worth it, it's a delight. I'll definitely read more Zola this year, I bought The Drunkard last year and I'm also reading Germinal with my classics group.

    Aarti -- Miss Pettigrew is a nice quick read so it should be a good break from studying. Do you have some intense library classes this year? I took an Adult Services class one semester which was basically Reader's Advisory, so it was reading for fun AND school. Best class ever!

  11. I really enjoyed Miss Pettigrew too but I'm flabbergasted by your mention of Miss Read books. They were very popular with elderly 'spinster' readers where I worked in the 1970s. It seems I've been missing something!

  12. This post is very helpful to find books to read!!
    Thank you so much. You are my book guru.^-^

    Book Exchange Party? Oh, I wish I could come from Tokyo!

  13. I love the questions you ask yourself! I love these wrap up posts. And cheers to an outstanding year of reading in 2011!!

  14. thanks for all the recommendations, I will check some of these out!

  15. Ooh...I just love Miss Read! I highly recommend The Christmas Mouse but you might want to save it for December. I hope you continue to enjoy her.

  16. Hi Karen, I love your list, and I still haven't done a recap on 2010 yet. Do you mind if I borrow/steal your format?

    As for a book exchange party, I've been hosting my own for the past 4 years at Thanksgiving and I can recommend it! Start one up and turn it into a new tradition of your own.


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