BookElf Reads 2010

In the Great Tradition of last year…

Not published this year, just read this year, savvy?

Discovery of the Year

Jane Smiley- A Thousand Acres, The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton. I got A Thousand Acres, a Pulitzer winning re-telling of the King Lear story, from a book swap and I don’t think I read a more beautiful book this year. Smiley’s strength lies in her ability to transport the reader to a world totally alien to them in such a way as to make it their home for two hundred pages. Smiley made me want to travel across Middle America almost as much as Fannie Flagg, and that’s saying something, and I cannot believe I have never read any of her work before this year. Shows the power of the book swap, if nothing else does.

Series of the Year
The Daisy Dalrymple Series- Carola Dunn
Ooo I’m gonna upset some with this one as I’ve read some amazing series this year. As well as the unquestionably brilliant Chronicles of Ancient Darkness and the, well, strange, cut and paste shagathons of Anita Blake I’ve added another to the Shardlakes and recently introduced myself to a certain Inspector Wallander (give it all up to the Mankell Massive). However, I have chosen to celebrate Daisy, purely purely because of how many bloody people now love it! Originally bought the first three off (evil evil tempting money suckers, lent to N and P, who both loved and continued to buy the whole bloody series. Recommending via Twitter has led to something of a Daisy Appreciation Society amongst my followers and, in a world that loves to take retro to its logical conclusion, it’s easy to see why. The Hon. Daisy Dalrymple is the posh of voice and good of heart wannabe journalist and sometime detective living in 1920s London, though she ends up in all sorts of country house scrapes with her trusty sidekick Detective Fletcher. The books are just gorgeous, and lovely to collect, murder mysteries for the most part. The plots are not hard, but do cover several Themes, which I like, and they are just such lovely relaxing books now loved by so many from one throwaway impulsive buy it feels wrong not to honour them.

Up All Night Award
Burial-Neil Cross

Well, it had to be, really. Scariest book I think I’ve ever read. Got out of bed, checked all the doors and windows, got back into bed, stared at ceiling trying to bring heart rate back to normal. Cannot recommend enough. Addictive reading. Apparently this guy writes for Spooks, I can see this.

Best Debut
A Kind of Intimacy- Jenn Ashworth
Continuing my incessant fangirling of Jenn Ashworth, whose new book Cold Light is due out this May, I have chosen a book that, like last year’s Wetlands, spoke to me a woman who likes weird shit. Telling the tall of a lonely, obsessive, compulsive woman who tries desperately to live a “normal” life and gain the love of her next door neighbour, this darkly funny brilliantly up-put-downable book was a clear favorite this year and I can’t wait for her next one.

The I-Know-I-Know-It’s-Brilliant-But Award
The Finkler Question- Howard Jacobson

I’m supposed to have finished this for Book Club in a couple of weeks and I will but I can’t because its so unendingly dull. How is this a comic novel? How? It’s a)not funny and b)actually quite depressing. As far as I can figure out a load of boring old men who never appreciated their wives until they died sit around whilst one of them, who has two sons whose mother’s name he can’t remember (which apparently makes him some sort of libertine hero as opposed to a Bastard) wished he was Jewish because some woman mugged him. Or have I got that wrong? Seriously, if you’re a fifty year old Guardian reading “man”, you’ll enjoy this book. Cos that’s what the Booker’s there for and a decent book by a girl (urrr they smell) won last year. Sorry if that’s a bit harsh but its dull as fuck.

Best Recommended Read

Persepolis-Marjane Satrapi

In fact this entire blog post is dedicated to @Lingmops without whom it would never have come about (mwah love).
Brilliant, is the term graphic novel? True story of a girl growing up in Iran and then in Europe in the 80s, told simply but evocatively in beautiful black and white. Really enjoyed, and will def be getting my own copy.

Worst Book of the Year

The Klone and I- Danielle Steel
My defending of Danielle Steel and why there’s nothing wrong with reading “trashy” novels kind of fell apart during September’s Steelathon, when half the books I read (ten in two weeks, failing miserably by target of book-a-day, but it was the beginning of term) turned out to be amongst the worst, or at least the ones that made me the most angry. This book however was just bad. The story of a woman who falls for a scientist who leaves her a robot-clone of himself to entertain her whilst he is away on trips which she proceeds to have sex with in the most uncoservative manor, even Steel’s hardest fans hate this book and I would avoid it at all costs. Unless you like that sort of thing, obs.

So yeah, good year. Approx 106 books read, most of them Not Shite. Now onto 2011!

Happy Reading!
BookElf xx


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