End of the Year Reading Recap

At the end of the year it seems only natural to recap and recommend books I’ve read over the year. Looking over my goodreads list, two things struck me about it. First: wow, I read a lot of books. Second: I liked a lot of books too. I think I doled out more five stars this year than any before. There are a lot of great books out there.

Since I am rubbish at book reviews you won’t really find any here. What you will find is a list of a few of my favorites and me gushing about why I liked them. Some of these books I connect with on a very personal level. They may be brilliantly written, complexly plotted, and have a million other qualities going for them, but in the end I just liked it.

So here we go…

YOUNG ADULT FICTION

Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly — I just finished this book, so it’s still fresh in my mind. This is definitely one of my favorite books of 2010. The writing is simply gorgeous. The characters are so very real and different. I was completely engrossed in the story within a matter of paragraphs. But I think part of what continues to draw me to this book is that I get Drea. Drea, the main character, has a number of issues that may or may not be Asperger Syndrome, anxiety, or ADHD. She’s never fit in and she doesn’t get the unspoken social rules everyone seems to abide by. Kelly conveys that so marvelously that Drea doesn’t come across as someone with issues, but as someone who exists inside all of us.

The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti — Deb Caletti is an author I probably should have discovered years ago instead of just this year, but I’m so glad that I did. This was my first and, like many things, you never forget your first. It started me off down a path of reading The Six Rules of Maybe, Honey Baby Sweetheart, and The Nature of Jade, all of which I loved, but none quite as much as Secret Life.

Honorable mentions:
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
Struts and Frets by Jon Skovron

FICTION

The Help by Kathryn Stockett — I lost three days to this book when it was assigned as a book group book. I started it one night and simply could not put it down until I’d finished it. Three voices tell the story of life in 1960s Mississippi. I have to admit to not being a huge fan of multi-voice books, but this one completely won me over because each one was so different and offered such a unique perspective on the story. If you have a mother or aunt that you are still in need of a gift store, check out The Help. I hear the audio books are amazing as well.

Room by Emma Donoghue — Warning: this book might not be for the faint of heart. I discovered it after its Booker nomination and was intrigued by the premise. The book is told from the point of view of five-year-old Jack, who has spent his entire life confined with his mother to one room. Jack’s voice is eerily realistic and through it, Donoghue manages to convey not only a terrifying tale, but emotional truths about growing up and loosing one’s childhood innocence.

Honorable Mentions:
The Scott Pilgrim series by Bryan Lee O’Malley
We Agreed To Meet Just Here by Scott Blackwood

NONFICTION

The Writer’s Tale: The Final Chapter by Russell T. Davies and Benjamin Cook — As a fan of the new series of Doctor Who, I may be a bit biased about how awesome this book is, but prejudice aside, the book is a fascinating look at the writing process behind a major television show. There’s a lot here for fiction writers as well. The book is the collected email correspondence between Cook and Davies and essentially begins with Cook asking Davies how he gets his ideas. In the 700 pages that follow, the question is answered and then some. Davies speaks frankly about his writing process and you watch as drafts of stories get revised, thrown out, rewritten, and finally produced.

Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn — This is, perhaps, the most important book I read in 2010. It started out as a book group pick (and one I wasn’t particularly excited about) and it turned into a book I wanted to get for everyone on my shopping list this Christmas. It’s a tough read as it contains many awful stories the oppression of girls and women in the developing world. Where Half the Sky differs from other nonfiction issue books is that it not only offers hope, it offers a solution. While similar books present solutions in the form of “the government should…” or “if world leaders would…”, Half the Sky puts solutions in your hands. It list grassroots organizations and micro finance opportunities that are directly working with the women in developing countries. I have never felt so empowered after reading a book like this.

Honorable Mentions:
On the Outskirts of Normal: Forging a Family against the Grain by Debra Monroe
Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table by Ruth Rendell

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