I’ve read thirty-nine books this year, and hope to finish at least two more before the year’s end. Not a particularly brag-worthy number, but I suspect it’s higher than average. Looking over the list, I realized that only ONE of those books was published in 2010. It was, of course, Mockingjay, and I concur with Justin’s assessment of the trilogy’s conclusion, by the way.
Three or four of my 2010 reads were published in 2009: Testimony by Anita Shreve, as well as Too Much Happiness by the amazing, inimitable Alice Munro. Throughout the year, I read some Bukowski, Crime and Punishment by that Russian guy, four “religious” memoirs, two Holocaust stories, two stories about polygamist Mormon cults, one lesbian love story, and one ghost story. I finally got around to reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. Again. I’m not going to say what time it was.
It was an interesting year of reading.
Freedom, the “it” novel of 2010 (and not just because Oprah said so), was purchased for me upon its release and I think it’s the last book I’ll read this year. (Even though I never finished The Corrections.) Unless, of course, I find something else that catches my eye. I am a fickle reader.
The Atlantic published a rather scathing review of Freedom. B. R. Myers compares Franzen’s writing to the “sacrosanct” style of Don DeLillo, who has never impressed me much.
Myers writes the following about Freedom:
Countless pop-cultural artifacts are name-checked, in the most minimal sense of the term. When Joey and a girl fly to Argentina, Pirates of the Caribbean is playing on the seat backs in front of them. Facile, yes, but Franzen knows his market. Many people who eschew great books for the latest novels do so because they want precisely this kind of thing. (Every new book we read in our brief and busy lives means that a classic is left unread.)
I will not agree with Myers’ review until I’ve actually read the book myself, but I must take umbrage with his comment that “every new book we read in our brief and busy lives means that a classic is left unread.”
This supposes that “classics” are no longer being written. And that is an utterly depressing thing to suppose.
The thing is, I very rarely rush out and purchase a book as soon as it’s released. Unless, apparently, it’s a YA phenomenon like The Hunger Games or Harry Potter. (But not Twilight. I did read the first one. Meh.) Hardcovers are terribly expensive and difficult to curl up on the couch with.
But I still love to read end of the year “best of books” lists. And I feel genuinely happy, especially, for breakout authors who have written words of such exquisite beauty or of such searing truth that their book receives adulations from book critics and readers across the globe. And if I happen read such a book, it doesn’t bother me (too much) that I didn’t read Dickens that year.
Have you read any 2010 publications? What books have you rushed out to purchase?
I highly recommend Literary Saloon, one of my favorite book blogs, for a compilation of “best of books in 2010” lists.