Tuesday, January 04, 2011

2010: The Year in Fiction

I thought I read more books this year than I actually did. I guess that's because two-thirds of the novels I read this year were read in the last two months--all on my new Kindle. Love that thing, especially for reading while nursing or while running on the elliptical!

I spent most of the time before Jude's birth reading nonfiction; for a few months there, it was nothing but counseling books and childbirth-related books. But after Jude was born, and Steve got me a "thanks for having my baby" present, I dove into the world of fiction again, and thoroughly enjoyed the last four books I read.

I can see that the Kindle is going to be really good for my goal of reading more classic books. In fact, it turns out that five of the six novels I read were written more than 50 years ago. Most of the old classics are available free for Kindle because the copyright has expired, so I'm extra motivated to download them instead of having to drop the cash for a contemporary novel. I'm also super excited that Amazon recently enabled lending for the Kindle! So if you have a Kindle, we can lend books back and forth. Can't wait to try that with my mom.

Without further ado, the novels I read in 2010. My rating system:
***** - Loved it. Excellent, would read it again.
**** - Liked it. Very good, would recommend.
*** - It was okay.
** - Didn't really like it.
* - Ugh, this was terrible.

The House of Mirth – Edith Wharton****
I often feel stupid when I read classics. I also felt like I did this one an injustice by breezing through it, rather than studying it in a lit class with people who could tease out the profound themes that seemed to float just above my head. Still, after a slow start, I ended up intrigued and absorbed by this book—clearly Wharton is gifted and able to tell a story that's much more dense than simply an engaging plotline.

Perelandra – C.S. Lewis****
Lewis is brilliant as usual. I'm not typically into the fantasy genre, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one for the second time (had to reread it to substitute-teach for a homeschool co-op last winter). The beautiful way he describes a different world and the provocative statements that come out of characters' mouths illuminate familiar thoughts and theology in surprising, elegant ways.

Bleak House – Charles Dickens*****
Loved this. It was the only Dickens I've read other than Great Expectations in freshman HS English, and I was apprehensive, especially given the size. But I loved the characterization especially. I'd like to go back and read this one again to pick up all the things I missed early on in the story.

A.D. Chronicles #9: Ninth Witness – Bodie and Brock Thoene*****
One of the main characters was a little boy named Jude! That made me smile. This series continues to frustrate me with the diminishing length of each book for the same price...but continues to delight me with the writing. This fictionalization of Luke 2:41-52, Mary and Joseph taking Jesus to Jerusalem as a young boy and leaving him there, had many surprising twists--a very different perspective on Jesus "being about His Father's business." It was completely unexpected, but so fitting and satisfying.

The Jungle – Upton Sinclair****
I've been curious to read this ever since hearing about it in American History in high school. It was appalling, disgusting, heartbreaking--not only the descriptions of the meatpacking plants, but the story of the Lithuanian immigrant family who found their dreams crushed instead of fulfilled in America. Compelling, but the last few chapters were dissatisfying—I wasn't expecting it to turn into a Socialism manifesto at the end.

Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen****
Austen doesn't disappoint. This isn't one I'd reread, like Pride and Prejudice, but I still enjoyed the characterization and the satisfying romance.

What was the best novel you read last year? What should I add to my list for 2011?


Danielle said...

I read Bleak House a couple of years ago and enjoyed it. I'd like to try The House of Mirth, although the movie was rather tedious. No doubt the book's better

litabug said...

More Dickens! Please, please read A Tale of Two Cities. :)

Ashley said...

Jane`Eyre by Charlotte Bronte!

Donna G. said...

The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien - I read this for the first time last year and really enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

You would love, anything by wendell Berry. Hannah Coulter is a good one to begin with.

Happy New Year