2010 Year in Review

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I started my blog in November 2009, so 2010 was my first full calendar year of blogging.  Plugging into the book blogging community has provided me with endless recommendations for books, and my time spent reading has grown in proportion.  I read 86 books in 2010, including seven audio books and five graphic novels / coffee table books.

Of those books, 68 were fiction, 17 were non-fiction and 1 was a book of poetry.  I’ve usually thought of myself as a balanced fiction and non-fiction reader, but I guess not in 2010!

Of the books read, 58 were authored by women, 25 by men, two were husband/wife collaborations and another was an anthology of travel essays by men and women.

I did not read many books by people of color but I’ll give a shout-out to the POC authors I did read this year (hopefully catching them all): Edwidge Danticat, Banana Yoshimoto, Haruki Murakami, Pamela Young Samuels, Octavia Butler, Marc Fitten, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

I enjoyed so many books I read in 2010, but the ten that really wormed their way into my affections are, in alphabetical order:

1. The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett (technically a re-read, but it felt like I was reading it for the first time)

2. The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy

3. The Inimitable Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

4. Kindred by Octavia Butler

5. Middlemarch by George Eliot

6. Stasiland: True Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall by Anna Funder

7. The Summer Book by Tove Jansson

8. Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman

9. The Veil of Gold by Kim Wilkins

10. The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig

The above statistics and top-ten list is a traditional retrospective summation of my 2010 year of reading.  However, I’d also like to indulge in a less-traditional list: a list of great book ‘moments’.  This is partially inspired by my recent addiction to finely edited movie scene montages like this one.  There are certain passages or ‘scenes’ in books that stand out to me, for being particularly thrilling, moving, or funny and I’d like to pay tribute.  Here they are in no particular order:

– Katniss leaping through the woods in the Arena in response to Rue’s cry for help and taking action on the enemy.  Katniss is such a fierce avenger in this moment.  (Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins)

– Lt. Fick and his fellow Marines hear about 9/11 while on shore leave in Australia and hurry back to their ship. (One Bullet Away by Nathaniel Fick)

– Susie Gilman’s mother calls while Chinese police officials are in Susie’s hotel room and instinctively catches on that something is wrong, though Susie can’t tell her aloud.  (Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven)

– Tash cutely says goodbye to the letter ‘K’ in a letter to Ella.  (Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn)

– Tim Gallagher describes the lost great forests of the Southern United States so that I missed them without ever having experienced them. (The Grail Bird)


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– Em Hayward meets the Frost King for the first time and he tells her she is dying and that he can save her, but there is a cost.   (Veil of Gold)

– David Carroll hears the cry of a frog being dragged off by a snake and decides to intervene.  (Swampwalker’s Journal)

– Constantine heals Rae’s wound that she had received from the vampires. (Sunshine by Robin McKinley)

– An exhausted Ayelet Waldman is admonished by a stranger in a grocery store that breast-feeding is best, which brings Waldman to tears because her son has a defect where he is not able to breast-feed.  (Bad Mother)

– Dana’s husband runs across the plantation to get to her and she involuntarily travels back to the present before he can reach her.  (Kindred)

– Eleanor and Theodora hear the sinister sounds of something trying to get into the bedroom. (The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson)

– Bertie’s bedroom has inexplicably been filled with yowling cats and a fish head.  (The Inimitable Jeeves)


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Last list!  Here are some of the most evocative settings I experienced in 2010:

1. Antarctica as depicted in The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean

2. The Arena in The Hunger Games

3. Dunnet Landing, Maine and environs in The Country of the Pointed Firs

4. The islands in the Gulf of Finland in The Summer Book

5. Skaksi, the dangerous magical world in Veil of Gold

6. China, 1986 in Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven

7. The Farallons in The Devil’s Teeth by Susan Casey

8. The one-room schoolhouse in The Whistling Season

Thanks to all the people who stopped by my blog in 2010!  I hope you continue to enjoy reading my blog.  I love reading the comments posted here, and the sharing of recommendations back and forth.

I look forward to all the moments, places, characters of the books I will read in 2011!


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14 responses to “2010 Year in Review

  1. Thank you for reminding me that I want to read The Dud Avocado!

    We have a few favourites in common (Kindred and Middlemarch), and I also loved The Summer Book when I read it last year.

  2. It sounds like you had an amazing year of reading. There are a bunch of books here that are on my own TBR list…looks like I should get to them soon! Hope 2011 is another great year of reading as well!

  3. I haven’t read any of your favourites, but would like to try The Dud Avocado and Undress me in the Temple of Heaven. I’m also planning to read Ella Minnow Pea soon.

    I hope that you have a wonderful 2011!

  4. I absolutely adore how you have this broken down into scenes that you really remember and evocative settings! Best wishes for 2011!

  5. Nan

    I looked up The Grail Bird, and was pleased to read that there is hope of restoring those forests, at least partially. I hadn’t heard of this book, and I thank you.
    Dunnet Landing is very alive in my consciousness too. I love that book. Have you read the biography of Sarah Orne Jewett? I read it last year and thought it wonderful. I wrote a bit about it here:
    And Wodehouse is my favorite, favorite, favorite. I’m reading Something Fresh just now on my Kindle.
    What a great idea to post your scenes, and settings. They were so interesting to read and a great way to lead a reader to the book.

  6. I love your “best moments” list — what a cool idea! I’m going to steal it next year when everyone has forgotten who did it first. :p

  7. I love this post! It’s interesting to read the great moments from the books you read in 2010. Also, The Dud Avocado and Beloved are two books I enjoyed very much. I’m off to read your reviews of the books I haven’t read that made your list.

  8. Wonderful year-end wrap, Christy! 86 books is wonderful! Congratulations! I loved the best-moments and best-evocations parts of your post – a beautiful and novel idea 🙂

    I loved your list of favourite books! I want to read Tove Jansson’s ‘The Summer Book’ 🙂

    Hope you have a wonderful reading year in 2011! Looking forward to reading your thoughts on books, this year too 🙂

  9. nymeth – Glad to remind you of Dud Avocado – it’s such a fun and spirited book!

    Samantha – The end-of-the-year lists often do remind me of books I have been meaning to get to, but haven’t yet.

    Jackie – Of course, I think those are all great books. Ella Minnow Pea was a read-a-thon read, and probably my favorite of that bunch.

    Trish – Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed the list of scenes. I wasn’t sure how well it would connect with readers.

    Lit Omnivore – Thank you and the same to you!

    Nan – Glad I could alert you to The Grail Bird. I have not read anything else by or about Jewett. It’s interesting to know from your review that Jewett was so widely-traveled! It does make some sense. She gives her narrator in Country of the Pointed Firs an outsider perspective, which perhaps she herself identified with. The Inimitable Jeeves was my first Wodehouse, so I’ll definitely have to delve into more.

    Jenny – You have my blessing as I would like to read such a list from you. 🙂

    Brenna – Glad to hear from another Dud Avocado fan! Hope you make a new ‘find’ from among my other favorites.

    Vishy – Thanks for the comment Vishy! Oh definitely read ‘The Summer Book’! It is so wonderful.

  10. I like the list of your favorite scenes! Very cool idea. I also have big plans to read Octavia Butler and Tove Jansson this year, and I’m glad to see both made your list of favorites!

  11. Eva

    I bet all of those blogging recommendations is what made you read so much more fiction! It’s much more rare to come across bloggers gushing about nonfiction, in my opinion. 😉

    I’ve got Country of the Pointed Firs on my shelf somewhere: I need to give it a go! And isn’t Middlemarch incredible?! Stasiland was already on my wishlist after your earlier review: thanks for reminding me about it.

    Your great moments were fun to read, and now I’ve added Grail Bird to my TBR as well. 🙂

  12. Ah we are very similar I also started by blog at the end of 2009 and so 2010 my real first year of blogging as well!

    I love your individual lists especially of locations you got to read about, a really refreshing round up post. Of those books mentioned I think I definitely need to read The Hunger Games at some point, as everyone already seems to have read them, even my little brother!

  13. Aarti – Thanks! And enjoy Butler and Jansson. I want to read more of them myself.

    Eva – That is very true, I hadn’t thought about the effect of bloggers on my non-fiction intake. The Country of the Pointed Firs is so lovely, a good book to curl up with. I really think you and Stasiland would be a reader/book match.

    Jessica – Oh wow, I didn’t realize our blogs were about the same ‘age’! I’m glad you liked the lists of moments and locations. I think I’ll try and repeat that for next year’s round-up. And yeah, Hunger Games is everywhere!

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