I feel like its safe to post this, since the two books I am currently trying to finish most likely won't make the cut. No offense to either, but I read some wonderful books this year!
I had a hard time narrowing it down to ten, so I figured I would simply write about the books that I loved, no matter what the number. These are all books that I read in 2010. Let me know what you thought of any of these titles if you read them.
The Dollmaker by Harriette Arnow.
I absolutely adored this novel. It was one of the books on my list that I knew hardly anything about, but I fell in love with the prose and subject matter. I liked the depiction of Detroit during the war, and the hardship of the family. I was so moved by this book that I cried like a little baby at the end. It is simply beautiful. I highly recommend it (but I have heard that it is hard to find).
Persuasion by Jane Austen.
This was the one Austen novel I hadn't read going into this project and I am so glad I picked it up for the April readalong. It is definitely a more mature Austen novel and I loved the more mature love story that is the focus of the story. And the love letter? Melted my heart. It is no wonder that so many cherish this as their favorite Austen.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.
This was one of the books I was most looking forward to. It had always been on my radar, but its subject matter always put me off. Imagine my surprise when I found myself reading it and enjoying the novel! I found it to be beautifully written, if not slightly disturbing. I am looking forward to Pnin in the coming year.
O Pioneers! by Willa Cather.
I was surprised by how much I absolutely fell in love with Cather's writing, especially considering I absolutely HATED My Antonia when I read it in high school. This time around, Cather surprised me with this simple story of life on the American prairie and on impulse, I picked up a bunch of her other work a few weeks later at the used book store. I have a feeling that Cather will become a favorite in the future.
The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham.
I am so glad I decided to read this a couple weeks ago. I had never read anything by Maugham and I was in love with his prose from page one. This is a beautiful story of a woman trapped in a marriage (because of her own stupidity I think). She grows and changes and while at points you despise her, you love the tale. Simply beautiful and I can't wait to read more by Maugham.
Villette by Charlotte Bronte.
My first jump into Charlotte's work was simply beautiful. I felt I related to Ms. Lucy Snowe on more than one level in this lengthy exploration of a lonely woman with no one to turn to. It was moving and powerful and a wonderful first jump with Charlotte. I cannot wait to finally pick up Jane Eyre to see what all the fuss is about.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.
This is a novel that I really want to teach. I think it would be especially great at an upper high school level. Lessons of deceiving appearances and selfishness would offer great discussion in today's classrooms. For my first foray into Wilde in a long time, I was surprised and enthralled.
The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot.
This was another title by a favorite author that I was "saving" for a rainy day. And for such a chunker of a book, I flew through it at break neck pace. Once again, I was floored by Eliot's ability to craft such beautiful stories and characters. This title definitely surpassed all her other work as my favorite and I cannot wait to read it again.
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky.
My second jump in Dostoevsky was a grand success with this title. I had figured that the only reason I flew through Crime and Punishment was because it was the second title I read for this project and I was simply excited. I know that isn't the case, since I was in love with this title too. I cannot wait to get my hands on The Idiot in 2011.
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.
I always assumed that Mitchell's masterpiece was some silly piece of romance that I would never be interested in. Instead, I was surprised when I started reading to find that it was a portrait of a very ugly time in American history. While of course there are issues with the language and some issues of racism, I love Mitchell's depiction of the south.
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser.
I was a little frightened of this mammoth title when I picked up a copy nearly a year ago, but I soon fell into the rhythm of Dreiser's writing about a true American tragedy. It was certainly a lengthy book, but getting into the mind of a nasty and determined criminal absolutely fascinated me.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.
I had started this a few years ago, setting it aside as "too confusing." But as the October readalong flew along, I found myself truly engaged in the story. A slightly creepy and pessimistic view of the future, I was unsure how I was going to react. Instead, I was floored by the emotional slap in the face of a future gone wrong. This one is a definite recommendation!
The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
I had always meant to read the Holmes stories and finally succeeded this year! 56 short stories and 4 novels later, I have read all of the stories about the master sleuth. And while some were certainly better than others, I now know why Holmes is such a cultural phenomenon.