I’m not much for best-of lists. My memory is not good enough for them and I don’t find them very useful when other people write them, and so am too lazy to bother. I did, for the first time, keep a fairly accurate list of what I read this year. Was 367 books. I liked the vast majority of them, so it would feel wrong to only list ten or so, and to list more than that would defeat the purpose of a best-of list.
At least half of what I read this year came out before 2000. It was almost uniformly good (in contrast to the new stuff, which was more like 60/40). Which is another reason a best-of list would be unhelpful. You have undoubtedly already read many of my favorite reads from this year. I spend a lot of time bemoaning my youth and wishing I was sixty already, but one advantage to being young is that there are still piles of good books I haven’t had time to read yet.
Anyway, I will make one list, in honor of the year I decided not to be scared of long books anymore: My Top Five Books Over 500 Pages of 2010 (Even Though Only Two Came Out in 2010). These would all make the hypothetical best-of list. Do you think it’s that long books are more likely to be satisfying? Or do you think that one is more likely to want long books to be satisfying to justify the time one spent reading them, so they have an unfair advantage? Whatever, I loved all these books and feel unnaturally driven to proselytize them.
- Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. If I couldn’t do this book justice in thirteen blog posts, I’m not going to manage to do so here. Just…read it if you haven’t already, okay?
- Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes. Why is this book not getting the attention it deserves? I know it has gotten some attention, but I want it to have, like, WaterForElephantsEatPrayLoveTwilight-levels of attention. I don’t care that the book is so depressing that I couldn’t sleep properly for weeks. Everybody should read this book. Please, please.
- The Instructions by Adam Levin. Reviewed here.
- Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. This book is crazy. I don’t want to spoil anything for anybody but let’s just say that knowing that this book has sold twenty million copies makes me secretly hopeful both for the future of this country. And also for my personal future, in which Scotsmen will finally get the hint that they are very much desired in this part of the world and emigrate en masse and call me Sassenach. If you have read it please come by the store soon so that we may freak out about the opium scene, which I am still wrapping my head around, months later.
- The Autobiography of Mark Twain by himself. I don’t care what Garrison Keillor has to say about it, this is a fun read. Excerpted in several parts starting here.
So there you go. If you’re looking for a great book that you won’t be able to travel or commute with and won’t want to hold for more than half an hour at a time because your arms will start to go numb, please consult this list.
(Oh, and a quick shout-out to Stoner by John Williams, which I, like a jerk, keep giving to people for presents because I am that girl, the one who foists books on you that SHE wants you to read, not that YOU want to read. Except that Stoner is so good that it has been met with a 100% approval rate from those receiving it. So there! Stoner: buy it for yourself today, or risk being unsurprised when I give it to you for your birthday.)