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Yup, it’s that time of year again: here’s my 2010 books wrap-up!
I’ve made a photo of some (not all!), of the books I particularly liked!
Two of the books read this year were comics, five graphic novels, meaning 22 were either novels, novella’s or collections of short stories.
It took me a while to decide on my favourite read of the year. There were two candidates but I finally figured it out. So… let’s hear the drumroll!
Best Book of 2010
The Very Best Book I read in 2010 is The Wasted Vigil, by Nadeem Aslam. It’s absolutely gorgeous and I hate myself for not picking it up earlier, since I’ve had in on the shelf from the moment it came out in 2008. I had equally loved Maps for Lost Lovers when I read it so Aslam now deserves to be listed among my (few) favourite authors! That’s a spot right along David Mitchell, Barbara Gowdy and Haruki Murakami: novelists of whom I’ve read, or will read, each and every book. So I’m waiting for Aslam’s 1993 début to arrive in my mailbox: Season of the Rainbirds. Don’t you just love that title? ;)
Second Best Book of 2010
Close upon the heels of The wasted Vigil is (not surprisingly) The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, the latest novel by my all-time favourite David Mitchell. It was a real tiebreak but I figured I was probably a teeny weeny bit unfairly favoured to Mitchell just because I love his work so much and had been looking forward to his new book since Black Swan Green, in 2006. Then again, that might speak in favour of ‘Jacob de Zoet’ because novels eagerly anticipated often disappoint.
List of books I read in 2010
For those of you who are curious, or just plain addicted to lists (like me), here’s the complete pile of books I read in 2010. The ones that particularly stand out looking back on my reading adventures, I’ve given a bold title.
- Trespass, Valerie Martin (2007)
- The Best of Mutts, Patrick McDonnell (2004)
- The Housekeeper and the Professor (Hakase no aishi ta sūshiki 博士の愛した数式, translated by Stephen Snyder), Yoko Ogawa (2003/2008)
- De avonden (1) (The Evenings), Gerard Reve; Dick Matena (1947/2004)
- The Rapture, Liz Jensen (2009)
- In the Shadow of No Towers, Art Spiegelman (2004)
- Careless in Red, Elizabeth George (2008)
- I Am a Cat III (Wagahai wa neko de aru 吾輩は猫である, translated by Aiko Ito; Graeme Wilson), Natsume Sōseki (1907)
- Een stoomfluit midden in de nacht (Yonaka no kiteki ni tsuite / ‘A Steam Whistle in the Night‘, translated by Jaques van Westerhoven), Haruki Murakami (2003 (2006))
- Het Hoofdkussenboek van Sei Shōnagon (Makura no Sōshi 枕草子 / The Pillow Book, translated by Paul Heijman), Sei Shōnagon (1002/1986)
- Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (Mekurayanagi to, nemuru onna, translated by Philip Gabriel; Jay Rubin), Haruki Murakami (2005)
- Her Fearful Symmetry, Audrey Niffenegger (2009)
- The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, David Mitchell (2010)
- Silence (Chinmoku 沈黙 , translated by William Johnston (?)), Shusaku Endo (1966)
- The Sea, The Sea, Iris Murdoch (1978)
- Affinity, Sarah Waters (1999)
- The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (1998)
- The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger (1951)
- Persepolis (translated byMattias Ripa), Marjane Satrapi (2003)
- Persepolis 2 (translated by Blake Ferris), Marjane Satrapi (2004)
- Remainder, Tom McCarthy (2007)
- Mutts: Dog-eared, Patrick McDonnell (2004)
- Het volgende verhaal (The Following Story), Cees Nooteboom (1991)
- Isabelle Avondrood: Isabelle en het beest (Adèle et le bête, translated by René van de Weijer (?)), Jacques Tardi (1976)
- Isabelle Avondrood: Allemaal monsters! (Tous des monstres, translated by René van de Weijer), Jacques Tardi (1994)
- Soulless, Gail Carriger (2009)
- Het Gouden Paviljoen (Kinkakuji, translated by C. Ouwehand), Yukio Mishima (1966)
- The Wasted Vigil, Nadeem Aslam (2008)
- The Christmas Quilt, Thomas J. Davis (2000)
Which of these books have you read? Did you like them?
There are several classics in the list, including Japanese. Graphic novels and comics were a new adventure in 2010; although I tried my first during the October 2009 read-a-thon, I read many more this year — upgrading my level from Beginner to Intermediate in the Graphic Novel Challenge.
Other genres outside my usual reading nook: Apocalyptic (The Rapture), GLBT (Affinity), paranormal romance (urban fantasy) / ghost stories (Soulless, Her Fearful Symmetry).
All of these I particularly enjoyed!
Read in translation or the original language?
Century of publication
Except for a challenge wrap-up post, that’s about it for 2010. Book-wise I mean: I’ll need to work on my list of movies next! How are you doing evaluating last year?
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the unveiling of my Secret Santa and what she gave me for Christmas 2010!
Thank you so much Zee (a.k.a. @zommie) from Notes from the North!
Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods was one of the first books on my Bookdepository wishlist so it’s awesome to finally get my hands on it! :)) Zee’s twitter alter ego @zommie wrote she had no trouble deciding at all since it was one of her favourite books of 2009! Knowing that makes this gift even more special.
I haven’t seen a note about Zee’s Secret Santa yet… I hope she got something nice herself too! :) I guess anything Scandinavian will do, since she’s hosting a 2011 Nordic Reading Challenge! ;)
Of course I was allowed to play Secret Santa too (that’s part of the deal ;) and I thoroughly enjoyed finding the right gifts for my Santee: Iris from Iris on Books, whom I’ve known and liked for quite some time now. She did a very nice blogpost about her Persephone & Book Blogger Holiday Swap presents.
Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge 2011
I told you before I plan to read all books by Haruki Murakami. I am lucky enough to live in The Netherlands, where the first two volumes of his new novel 1Q84 came out in June this year, earlier than in other parts of the world. We got this treasure right away but the weird thing is… I still haven’t read it! Good thing tanabata from In Spring it is the Dawn decided to host a Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge in 2011. :) She made two awesome buttons which I can’t seem to choose from and will alternate between.
The level of participation I’m choosing is ‘Toru’: read 5 of Murakami’s works. That seems appropriate since Toru is the main character of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which is how I came to know this fabulous author. It also really constitutes a challenge for me because that comprises almost 25% of the amount of books I can currently read in a year! But who knows, I might even upgrade later this year if I feel like finishing the rest of his oeuvre as well. ;)
The books I plan on reading:
- Hear the Wind Sing
- Pinball, 1973
- The Elephant Vanishes (buddy-read with Elsje, just like we did with Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman)
- 1Q84 – part I
- 1Q84 – part II
The list is not in any particular order, except that I wish to read Hear the Wind Sing before ‘Pinball‘, and part 1 of 1Q84 before the second. ;)
Books read and to-be-read
I finished reading Nadeem Aslam’s The Wasted Vigil — which will probably end up real high on this year’s list of Best Reads — and Thomas J. Davies’ The Christmas Quilt (a warm blanket of a cozy x-mas story), just like I planned.
*pats herself on the shoulder*
Today I’ll start in my online book group’s December read: Kalme chaos (Caos calmo), by Sandro Veronesi. It’s quite a chunker and I don’t think I’ll be able to manage all of it this month, but I might at least get the ball rolling, so to say. I’ve heard raving reviews as well as people getting bored and/or annoyed, so I have no idea what to expect! Don’t you like it when that happens? :)
Are you free to read this week? What books are on your stack?
Today I’m joining in again with Book Journey’s It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? meme. Yesterday I had other priorities than to write a Sunday Salon post, like putting up Christmas decorations (my Secret Santa gift is now under the tree!) and READ. There was a low-key mini-readathon going on in Twitterverse and although I only got to read 4 of the 12 hours, it’s more than I would have done otherwise!
I’m now at 1/3rd of Nadeem Aslam’s The Wasted Vigil and it’s absolutely fabulous. Aslam has a great way of saying things — I try to absorb each and every word he says.
It’s an intriguing story, broadening my horizon; about the lives of five people who come together in post-9/11, war-torn Afghanistan.
Marcus, an English doctor whose progressive, outspoken Afghani wife was murdered by the Taliban, opens his home—itself an eerily beautiful monument to his losses—to the others: Lara, from St. Petersburg, looking for evidence of her soldier brother who disappeared decades before during the Soviet invasion; David, an American, a former spy who has seen his ideals turned inside out during his twenty-five years in Afghanistan; Casa, a young Afghani whose hatred of the West plunges him into the depths of zealotry; and James, the Special Forces soldier in whom David sees a dangerous revival of the unquestioning notions of right and wrong that he himself once held.
A few years ago I read his previous book Maps for Lost Lovers and loved it so much I had to get The Wasted Vigil as soon as it came out. Weirdly enough it stayed on my shelf for another two years! :-o But now I’m thrilled to find myself in 2005 Afghanistan while sitting safely on the couch.
It’s probably not too early to say that Nadeem Aslam now officially belongs to my favourite authors!
I hope to read a lot this week — so what am I doing blogging??? — finishing The Wasted Vigil in a few days. I’ve been saving a book especially for the upcoming holidays you see, ever since I got it from velvet in January this year: The Christmas Quilt by Thomas J. Davies. Now is the time to read it!
BTW Two more book-shaped parcels appeared mysteriously under the Christmas tree last night… Oh goody! ;)
Subtitle: What on earth would we do without podcasts??? :)
What a coincidence: the day after I had recommended some podcasts to my online book group, Weekly Geeks 2009-42 asked about our favourite book podcasts as well! It must be in the air ;)
Podcasts anyone? Share with us a podcast you love, preferably book related, but not necessarily so.
The top 3 bookcasts on Hopi (my purple iPod nano) are:
- Book Reviews with Simon Mayo
A weekly show on BBC radio 5 Live in which three book reviewers talk about 2 books in the company of the authors. A fun feature is that the book analysis usually starts with a description of the book cover: it really gives an extra dimension to the review, especially on ‘radio’, read: podcast ;) It sometimes happens that the author believes the evaluation ends here… and (s)he is not amused. Most times it is pretty nerve wrecking for them to be present as it is ;)
It is nice that the authors often have read each other’s books as well. And we’re not talking only debutantes here, but established writers like Margaret Atwood, Nick Hornby, Patricia Cornwell, Will Self and Fay Weldon as well. I actually get some great tips from this program, like The Crossroads by the Italian writer Niccolò Ammaniti or The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. I would have picked up The Wasted Vigil by Nadeem Aslam anyway (because I loved his book Maps for Lost Lovers), but it was great to hear him reviewed by the Mayo Book Panel as well :)
- Number 2 will only be a favourite for a while, since it is going to end at some point: the latest book by Iain Banks, Transition, is available as a free podcast in the UK iTunes store. No link, since you’ll have to go find it via your iTunes application. And you know what? I heard of this podcast in an extra edition of Simon’s book show :)
- At the moment I am also enjoying the — to my ears very American — podcast of the Books on the Nightstand blog. Two Random House employees talking about books (on their own accord), usually themed around a topic like graphic novels, YA (Young Adult), cookbooks or challenges. This podcast is like a little snack ;) I especially like the presenters’ personal book ecommendations at the end.
A podcast that doesn’t please me is the Guardian Books Podcast; somehow I have a hard time keeping up with that — I’m not sure what the problem is. Also I am sorry that the BBC Radio 4 Book Club archive is not available as podcast, since I would love to listen to the episodes about David Mitchell, Barbara Kingsolver and Jonathan Franzen, but I don’t seem to get to that when I’m sitting behind my computer… I have other things to do then, like blog ;)
Other favourite podcasts
Go check them out!
This week’s Booking through Thursday asks everyone to share their Mt. TBR. Well, here’s mine!
As you can see my Mount To Be Read contains 14 books. 14? Not 15? No, better look closely and count again! :)
From top to bottom, small to large:
- Away (Amy Bloom)
- The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (Michael Chabon)
- Travels in the Scriptorium (Paul Auster)
- The Brooklyn Follies (Paul Auster)
- Drivetime (James Meek)
- Dead Air (Iain Banks)
- The China Lover in Dutch (Dromen van China, Ian Buruma)
- Butterfly in the Wind in Dutch (Vlinder in de wind, Rei Kimura)
- Dreaming Water (Gail Tsukiyama)
- The Language of Threads (Gail Tsukiyama)
- The Street of a Thousand Blossoms (Gail Tsukiyama)
- The Mapmaker’s Wife (Robert Whitaker) — just starting this one
- The Wasted Vigil (Nadeem Aslam)
- The Gargoyle (Andrew Davidson)
This stack shows what you might consider my ‘priority reads’. I have some more books lounging unread in several spots in my home, like The Chosen (Chaim Potok) and Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck). Hm, I really should put those higher on the list since they are part of several personal reading challenges ánd they are Bookcrossing books that like to travel!
But wait a minute… where are Revolutionary Road and Easter Parade by Richard Yates???
Good thing Booking Trough Thursday made me check my Mount! I guess I I have some rearranging to do — I don’t think my (literal) bookshelf will hold any more copies without coming off the wall.. So, bye for now!
In 2006 I read 39 books, amounting to a total of 11.762 pages. I put 3 books aside without finishing, all nonfiction. If I’d count the number pages that I did read of these books, my total would pass 12.500!
Glancing over my list you can probably guess what my personal reading challenge was? If not, look again and pay special attention to the bold titles ;)
- Canal dreams , Iain Banks ( 1989 )
- Dietrich: mijn moeder ( Marlene Dietrich ) , Maria Riva ( 1992 ) nonfiction (biography); abandoned
- The kite runner , Khaled Hosseini ( 2003 )
- The ninth life of Louis Drax , Liz Jensen ( 2004 )
- The fourth hand , John Irving ( 2001 )
- Driedaagse reis ( Three day road ) , Joseph Boyden ( 2005 )
- De Verdieping van Nederland: duizend jaar Nederland aan de hand van topstukken , Koninklijke Bibliotheek en Nationaal Archief (  ) nonfiction
- Not on the label , Felicity Lawrence ( 2004 ) nonfiction; abandoned
- Een verhaal dat het leven moet veranderen , Hans Goedkoop ( 2004 ) nonfiction
- A traitor to memory , Elizabeth George ( 2001 )
- After dark ( Afutaa daaku ) , Haruki Murakami ( 2004/2006 )
- De collectie (Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen) , Erik Beenker ( 2005 ) nonfiction
- Black Swan Green , David Mitchell ( 2006 )
- The tattooed map , Barbara Hodgson ( 1995 )
- The man who cast two shadows , Carol O’Connell ( 1995 )
- Canongebulder , K. Paling ( 2006 ) nonfiction; abandoned
- Slaughterhouse-Five , Kurt Vonnegut ( 1969 )
- A dry white season , André Brink ( 1979 )
- Everything is illuminated , Jonathan Safran Foer ( 2002 )
- The woman in white , Wilkie Collins ( 1860 )
- The Great Gatsby , F. Scott Fitzgerald ( 1926 )
- De grote wereld , Arthur Japin ( 2006 )
- Brokeback Mountain , Annie Proulx ( 1997 )
- Ongelukzoekers ( Fools of fortune ) , William Trevor ( 1983 )
- The Murder Room , P.D. James ( 1983 )
- Less than zero , Bret Easton Ellis ( 1985 )
- Lunar Park , Bret Easton Ellis ( 2005 )
- Dead famous , Ben Elton ( 2001 )
- Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde , Robert Louis Stevenson ( 1886 )
- Mary Reilly , Valerie Martin ( 1990 )
- The third man / The fallen idol , Graham Greene ( 1950 / 1935 )
- When we were orphans , Kazuo Ishiguro ( 2000 )
- Hong Kong Souvenir , Lisa Bresner ( 1995 )
- The night watch , Sarah Waters ( 2006 )
- A short history of tractors in Ukraïnian , Marina Lewycka ( 2005 )
- Maps for lost lovers , Nadeem Aslam ( 2004 )
- Zuidvleugel (Rijksmuseum) , Annemarie Vels Heijn ( 1996 ) nonfiction
- One flew over the cuckoo’s nest , Ken Kesey ( 1962 )
- Eight cousins , Louisa May Alcott ( 1875 )
- On beauty , Zadie Smith ( 2005 )
- Studio Zes ( Studio Sex ) , Liza Marklund ( 1999 )
- Seven up , Janet Evanovich ( 2001 )
Although there were several favourite reads, the best by far was Maps for Lost Lovers by Nadeem Aslam. Just beautiful. *sigh* Other highlights: Black Swan Green (of course), The Woman in White, A Dry White Season, Slaughterhouse-Five (!) and The Ninth Life of Louis Drax.
Even though I had seen the movie adaption of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest some 20 years ago, I kept seeing Jack Nicholson while reading the book. (Oh, he’s on the cover, is he? ;) Still, that was a memorable read as well.
Some stats to end with…
Female authors: 15
Male authors: 23
Unknown authors: 1
Dutch authors: 5