My Year in Books – 2010

I blatantly stole this idea from my friend Tony Alicea, who posted his own list a couple of days ago. People who like to read like to see what other people read – it’s one of our little things. So, below are the books I finished in 2010.

Actually, these aren’t all the books I read, because I wasn’t keeping track as I went along, and I honestly can’t remember some of them, especially the ones I checked out from the library. (I own most of the books I read – almost all of them were bought on clearance or from my favorite used bookstore, for anywhere from 50 cents to four dollars.)

I was surprised by how many books I managed to finish, given that my reading time has shrunk to the hours when my boys are unconscious or absent – and they’re rarely absent. Or unconscious. Also, writing has cut into my reading time, this year. Also, almost every month, I read the following magazines: Oprah, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Guideposts, and Better Homes and Gardens. Also, I read about 30 back-issues of Architectural Digest this year.

(All of this does explain why my house is not quite as tidy as it could be.)

(I also started several books that I just couldn’t finish – for various reasons. I won’t bore you with those.)

Here are the ones I remember:

I rarely read bad fiction these days – I’ve gotten pretty adept at being able to tell if a book is going to be good or not, before I even start it. That said, there were two clunkers on this list. Since my blog is not about bashing books that other people have enjoyed, I’ll leave it up to you to imagine which two they were.

Freedom, by Johnathan Franzen
Under the Dome, by Stephen King
So Brave, Young, and Handsome, by Leif Enger
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Nanny Returns, by Kraus and McLaughlin
The Friday Night Knitting Club, by Kate Jacobs
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Shaffer and Barrows
Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
Hyperion, by Dan Simmons
The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
The Night Manager, by John le Carre
The Best American Short Stories 2007
The Best American Short Stories 2008
Beach Music, by Pat Conroy
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, by Anne Tyler
Bright Shiny Morning, by James Frey
Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett
World Without End, by Ken Follett
Vanishing Acts, by Jodi Picoult
The Tenth Circle, by Jodi Picoult
New England White, by Stephen L. Carter
The Help, by Kathryn Stockett
Every Last One, by Anna Quindlen
The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing, by Melissa Bank

Most of the books below were very good; many were excellent. With such limited time to read these days, I have zero tolerance for bad non-fiction.

Secret Windows, by Stephen King
Unbroken, by Lauren Hillenbrand
Disturbing the Universe, by Freeman Dyson
Traveling Mercies, by Anne Lamott
Katherine and E.B. White, by Isabel Russell
The Prince of Frogtown, by Rick Bragg
My Losing Season, by Pat Conroy
Traveling with Pomegranates, by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor
Home, by Julie Andrews
The Music Room, by William Fiennes
When You Are Engulfed in Flames, by David Sedaris
Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
The City of Falling Angels, by John Berendt
My Life in France, by Julia Child
S(Tori) Telling, by Tori Spelling
Mommywood, by Tori Spelling
Spoken From the Heart, by Laura Bush
Going Rogue, by Sarah Palin
Service Included, by Phoebe Damrosch
A Homemade Life, by Molly Wizenberg
I Feel Bad About My Neck, by Nora Ephron
The Fourth Star, by Leslie Brenner

Currently reading
Okay, this looks bad, I know. Before the kids came along, I only read one book at a time, come hell or high water. But now, my attention span has withered away to almost nothing. I often start something, set it aside and start something else. However, each of the books below is good/great, and I will finish them. Just give me a minute.

Colonel Roosevelt, by Edmund Morris (just started it – I plan to read it straight through)
Heaven, by Randy Alcorn
A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking
The Spiral Staircase, by Karen Armstrong
Letters of E.B. White, by White
Bad Dirt, by Annie Proulx
Dreamers of the Day, by Mary Doria Russell

If you have a question about anything you see here, I’d be more than happy to answer it. Except, I’m still not going to tell you which two books stunk.

Update: if you are considering reading a book on this list, and you want to make sure it was not the stinker, I will verify that for you. I’m not trying to be mysterious. I just don’t like to bash books.


19 thoughts on “My Year in Books – 2010

  1. I’m going to start looking to you for my fiction recommendations. I read way too many duds and I don’t have the time for that. My goal is to hit 35 books this year. But now I’m terrified that the ones I pick from your list will be your clunkers!

    I’ve seen that Sedaris book for awhile and it looks intriguing.

    • Okay, I sent the clunkers to your FB page. But you weren’t in any danger of reading either of them!

      The Sedaris book is side-splittingly funny. BUT, warning: he uses pretty bad language, and gets a little vulgar. If you can handle that, he is hilarious.

  2. It kills me that you have such good taste in books, and yet we’ve only read one book in common this year (Under the Dome.)

    “I also started several books that I just couldn’t finish – for various reasons. I won’t bore you with those”

    …. Oh, bore us…please!


    • I know! I’d love to see your list. 🙂

      Well, some of the ones I didn’t finish were: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (after a few hundred pages of dog minutiae, I gave up), 3 different Dan Simmons books (I adore Simmons, but his books are SO long and I kept running out of time, and they were library books), Better Off (about the guy who went to live with the Amish for a year…great premise, but it started to drag…I still have it, though), and The Hour I First Believed, by Wally Lamb (I still have that one, too…I got a hundred pages or so in, I think, and he STILL hadn’t gotten to the point.)

      Ever since having the boys, I am super sensitive to writers who can’t get to the point, as Stephen King hammers home! I always notice, now, when they “wander off into thickets of description.” I just have too little time to read.

  3. I posted my list today as part of my yearly Summing Up. I keep track of my books two ways: I have a little journal and also I have a separate page on my blog on which I list a book soon as I finish it. Works for me. 😉

    I’m concerned that we have very few books in common and that a couple of the books you liked, I didn’t finish. (I NEVER finish books I don’t like.) Oh well, as Emerson said: no two people read the same book.

    I, too had trouble with the Edgar Sawtelle book. A good friend sent it to me with the highest praise. I got about a third of the way in and stopped, thinking I’d go back but I never did. I feel a bit disloyal, but – see Emerson quote. I’m not good with books in which I suspect dogs are going to come to a bad end, anyway. Then someone told me this is really a re-telling of Hamlet and I thought, yikes! Doesn’t everyone die at the end in that? Yup.

    I will say this though, several of the books you listed I plan on reading, so there’s hope for me yet. Ha!

    And by the way: Happy New Year to you and your family!

  4. Good grief, woman…121 books? I guess that was the old me, though. And you don’t have toddlers underfoot, anymore. 🙂

    Which of my books didn’t you like? (Remember, there were a couple I didn’t like, either!) But you’re right…no two people read the same book. I’ll have to remember that one!

    Happy New Year to you and yours! We’re spending a quiet evening in, as usual…

    • Not only do I not have toddlers underfoot anymore but I’m a pretty fast reader. Not as fast as I used to be, but fast enough. And it’s not as though I read 121 classics at 400 pages each. 🙂

      Books from your list I didn’t like: (You asked for it.)
      Didn’t like THE HELP, THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE and PILLARS OF THE EARTH. I did finish THE HELP, though. One of the few times I finished a book I was not really enjoying.

      I plan on reading some David Sedaris this year. So far I’ve only read ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY and loved it. And I’ve been meaning to read THE LETTERS OF E.B. WHITE and MY LIFE IN FRANCE by Julia Child, also LIFE OF PI.

      I loved the Guernsey book.

      I have another Roosevelt book here that I bought a while back and been meaning to read. Not the Edmund Morris series, though. This one is called TR The Last Romantic by H.W. Brands. Do you know anything about this? I think it was reviewed pretty highly.

      I’m also looking forward to reading the biography of artist N.C. WYETH by David Michaelis.

      It’s going to be a great reading year, that’s for sure. 🙂

      • Yes…I’ve already decided I need some sort of plan: like, at least 2 un-read classics a year, or something.

        I have not read The Last Romantic. I sure love reading about Teddy, though…what a character!

        David Sedaris is utterly hysterical.

        I had a few people tell me they didn’t like The Time Traveler’s Wife. I am mixed on it. I didn’t love it…but I was so impressed with the way she was able to keep track of all the time details, and ages, with all the hopping around…I gave her bonus points for that!

        I did like The Help and Pillars of the Earth, though.

        Did you read/like The Historian? I did.

  5. Glad I stumbled upon your site from twitter. One of my goals this year is to read at least 1-2 books a month. I’ve been in graduate school, so my reading was limited to textbooks. I have so many stacked and more on my wish list! Currently reading “The Lincoln Lawyer” by Michael Connelly.

    • Glad you came by, Kelli! I look forward to chatting with you. 🙂

      I do not read as much as I used to, since having the boys. My friend Yvette, above, read 121 books last year…that was probably my average, pre-babies. I sure do love it.

      I don’t think I have read any Michael Connelly…let me know if you like it!

  6. I don’t have a whole lot that sounds intelligent to add, but I just finished a book you might enjoy. It’s called THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS by Rebecca Skloot. It’s a true story, scientific and biographical in nature. I also started Unbroken but it was due back at the library and it has a huge wait list.

    • I have heard good things about that book! I almost did a post about that story…still might some day.

      I nearly read Unbroken straight through. Couldn’t put it down. It’s hard to get new releases from the library…they want them back so fast!

  7. You have a slightly higher BPM (books per month, and yes, I think about this) rating than I do. Damn. Well, if I weren’t spending so much time selling them, I would read more.

    Also, whenever I come across The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society it makes me think of The Tornado Ashes Club, the made-up book from How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely. If you haven’t read H.I.B.A.F.N., you need to. Like, yesterday.

    • (…just a minute…jotting down…BPM…)

      Okay, well, I would read for 6 hours a day, if I could. I used to tear through a couple of books a week. And then I had babies…

      I actually loved Guernsey…but it might be a chick book.
      Never heard of Hely…I will check it out!

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