Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Favorite Books of 2010:

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.

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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.


  1. Oh, man! What a great reading year for you! Some of my favorite books and authors are up there. If you enjoyed Cather's O Pioneers, you should defniitely read her A Lost Lady - I LOVED it. I'm looking forward to quite a few of these in 2011, including Sherlock Holmes and Lolita. I might have to add The Painted Veil to my pile, since I loved Of Human Bondage.

  2. I can't tell you how much I love this list!! Lolita, The Painted Veil, Dorian Gray, An American Tragedy, Brave New World...sigh.

  3. Fantastic list. The Mill on the Floss is my favorite George Eliot.

  4. I'm really glad to hear that Villette is absolutely fabulous. I read Jane Eyre last month and ADORED it. Jane was very much a character who I'd have a drink with (coffee, tea, or wine *smile*) I picked up Villette shortly after completing Jane Eyre and it's on my list for 2011.

    The rest of the books listed are wonderful as well. I plan to read The Painted Veil after falling in love with the movie. I read Of Human Bondage YEARS ago and it was brilliant.

  5. Dorian Gray made my list too! Such a fantastic read.

  6. This is such a great list. The Dollmaker looks really interesting to me. I just checked and it is on Amazon, I think I might buy it.

  7. I could dive into any one of these (that I haven't yet read). I have such an affinity for the classics, and I downloaded several Maugham's and Trollope's on my Nook this weekend.

  8. So many claps for Lolita and The Painted Veil. SO MANY!

  9. I'm listening to Lolita right now, and Jeremy Irons is perfect as HH. I struggled with the printed version, but the audio is absolutely lovely.

  10. Aw, I just missed out on being your 200th follower! I just reached 200 yesterday and I was like "yahoo!" I'm not one for reading classics but I did love the movie version of "The Painted Veil".

  11. Wonderful list. I didn't realize until this year that the movie A Place in the Sun is based on An American Tragedy. I was kind of disappointed, because I've already seen the movie, but I hadn't read the book yet. Persuasion is definitely my fav Austen, so glad you loved it.

  12. Great list! I'm inspired by all the classics. I loved Lolita and enjoyed both Gone with the Wind and The Picture of Dorian Gray; many of these others are on my TBR list already!

  13. What a lovely list. I can't imagine why you had trouble narrowing it down! There's quite a few there I want to read sometime soon, or re-read. I read The Picture of Dorian Gray in high school, actually, although not for a class, but I can see it as being a perfect fit for an English class. Overall, a very inspiring list!

  14. Excellent choice! But I am no fan of Austen!!!

    I could read only 96 books in 2010. But that's ok. I was in a reading slump for more than four months.

    Here are my Best Reads of 2010.

  15. great list. i swear, every book on here is one i've read and loved (lolita, mill on the floss, the painted veil, persuasion) or one that i plan to read (the brothers k, an american tragedy). just found your blog for the first time and am def looking forward to reading your reviews...it looks like our reading tastes line up really closely.

  16. I am so glad you loved Persuasion enough to put it on your "best of" list. All the other books you mentioned are going on my wishlist :)

  17. You've inspired me, I'm so afraid of Dostoevsky but maybe I'll give him a shot this year. And I'll have to give The Mill on the Floss another try -- I read it in high school and ended up hating it. But I loved Middlemarch so I may try again someday.

    And I'm so glad you gave Cather another chance -- I've read both My Antonia and O Pioneers and loved both of them. I really want to read more of her work this year. And Villette. Too many books, darn it!

  18. I haven't read most of the list but so many are on my TBR! And I didn't love the Painted Veil but I'm definitely interested in trying more Maugham....

  19. A great reading selection-I would personally suggest moving from Lolita to Pale Fire as your next Nabokov-it is just an amazing book

    Villette-you are the only person I know who read this before Jane Eyre-parts of Villette-those set in the school are totally great-