Wednesday, December 22, 2010

1. Best book of 2010? The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.

2. Worst book of 2010? The Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow into the Impenetrable Loisada Jungle - It was required for a class or I would have dropped it after page 5.  The Golden Compass - okay, so it has one nifty idea (daemons).  Otherwise, it's way preachier than Narnia; I hate books with this obvious of an agenda, especially when they're geared toward kids who don't have the intellectual ammunition to see what's going on.

3. Most Disappointing Book of 2010?  Eat, Pray, Love.  Way too self-indulgent for me.

4. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2010?  An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears.  No one told me it was about rhetoric!

5. Book you recommended to people most in 2010?  Probably Bel Canto.  I was astonished by how well it captured my feelings about music in words-- something I hadn't thought was possible.

6. Best series you discovered in 2010?  I suppose it would have to be the Hunger Games series, even though that's what everyone else will say.

7. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2010?  David Foster Wallace, who I knew of but hadn't read until this year; Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, of whom I had the most incorrect mental image.

8. Most hilarious read of 2010?  A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again.  Literally, I laughed until my nose ran.

9. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2010?  The Hunger Games books.  But that's not always a good thing.

10. Book you most anticipated in 2010?  The Devil to Play by Jasper Rees.  It didn't disappoint me.

11. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2010? 

12. Most memorable character in 2010? Finn, without a doubt!  Runners up: Katniss Everdeen, David Foster Wallace, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.

13. Most beautifully written book in 2010? Bel Canto by Ann Pratchett.

14. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2010? Hard to tell, but I think I'll return most often to A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again.

15. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2010 to finally read?  Cross Creek.


Other book highlights
I bought a Kindle!  My first Kindle, purchased in August, gave up the ghost in late October.  Not a very good record.  To Amazon's credit, they replaced it the next day and the second one has worked flawlessly.  I haven't yet finished a book on kindle; it tends to be my "waiting at the doctor's office" read, not my everyday read.

I've started to do Paperback Swap and find it pretty addictive; the only thing that keeps me from spending all of my money there is 1) I have set a strict limit for myself of $15/month and 2) I'm waiting for other people to request my books to get credits-- I'm not going to buy them!

Library Thing is still my go-to book site and my favorite website overall.  I use it for my to-read list, to keep track of series, and as a record of what I've read.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Top Ten Movies of the Year 2010

Really, I only care about books.  But I love Top Ten lists, so in the spirit of that affection, here are the top 10 movies I saw this year.  I watch 90% of my movies on DVD, so if it didn’t come out this year, that’s just too bad—this year is when I first saw it.

10. The Proposal—a decent romcom
9.  Julie & Julia—pros: Julia; cons: Julie
8.  Young Victoria—closest I got to a drawing room romance this year
7.  Rent—my son’s pick, but I loved the music.  How could I have missed seeing it for so long?
6.  Letters to Juliet—a better than decent romcom
5.  Robin Hood—pros: Russell Crowe; cons: too much fighting, not enough laughing
4.  Scott Pilgrim vs. the World—loved this movie, but it just didn’t have enough substance to make it to the top three
3.  Prince of Persia—like this movie had enough substance.  It really didn’t, but it did have this line “ostriches have suicidal tendencies.”  Enough to push it over the edge.  Plus I really liked the ending. 
2.  Toy Story 3—pros: I laughed; cons: I cried
1.  Avatar—It may have had a story; I was too busy looking at the visuals to pay attention

Monday, December 20, 2010

Best Reads of 2010

I always do a Top Ten Books I Read This Year list; below are the honorable mention books that were in contention but didn't quite make it this year.  There were so many good ones, I didn't want to leave any out.
  • Ethics and infinity-Levinas
  • Florida poems-McGrath
  • People of the book-Brooks
  • In the palm of darkness-Montero
  • In the lake of the woods-O'Brien
  • God of the hive-King (I love all of her Mary Russell books; this was my favorite from this year).  Apparently she didn't quite comprehend the honor I gave her by including her in this list.  I got this sniffy tweet from @Mary_Russell: "I suppose Honourable Mention is a compliment, so thank you."
  • Jack of Kinrowan-deLint (I love everything he writes)
  • Angel Time-Rice
  • World according to Bertie-Smith (I love everything he writes too, all of the Botswana books, the Isabel Dalhousie books, and the Bertie books)
  • South of Broad-Conroy (another of my favorite authors)
Here are the actual Top Ten, in the order that I read them, not preference:

Bel Canto-Ann Patchett.  A house full of dignitaries is taken captive by guerillas.  The opera singer who was to entertain them is the central character in this beautiful evocation of music's effect on the soul.

Johannes Cabal, the Necromancer-Jonathan L. Howard. Definitely not horror, but not quite humor either, though very funny.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society-Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Sorry if this one is a little predictable, seeing as it was on the bestseller lists and all.  I just can't resist this kind of story about nice people being nice to each other.

Thirteenth tale-Diane Setterfield. This is the perfect gothic novel; I don't even like gothic novels, but I loved this book!

Instance of the fingerpost-Iain Pears. The best fiction about rhetoric I've ever read.

Borrowed time-Paul Monette. This memoir, written near the beginning of the AIDS era, was sad, sad, sad, but still haunts me. 

Devil to play-Jasper Rees. How could I resist the story of someone who decided to pick up the horn again after many years of not playing? 

Hunger games trilogy-Suzanne Collins. Another predictable entry, I suppose.  I've been a fan of Collins since her Underworld books; these create an even more realistic world, but they were too dark, tense, and violent for me to choose them as the absolute best I read this year.

Yearling/Cross Creek-Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.  I'm cheating again by choosing two books, but it's my list, so I'm allowed.  I had to read Rawlings for a class; I'd always resisted reading her because, I guess, I thought she was one of those writers who targeted kids who love animals.  Boy was I wrong.  Not only does she write about Florida better than anyone else I know, I feel like I would have loved to have her as a friend.

Finn-Jon Clinch.  This book just won't let me go.  I lay in bed at night and imagine I'm on the banks of the Mississippi in Finn's house, watching the river traffic.

Have you read them?  Do you like them?  Or am I way off?
One thing this list shows is that I'm way behind on my to-read list; very few of these were actually published this year.  Blame graduate school!