Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Good Reads

Since its the last week of 2010 (Vancouver, can you believe that 2010 is almost over?! All those years counting down to the beginning of 2010 and now we're at the dawn of 2011!) I thought that this week might be an appropriate time for summations, and looks back. Traditional, end of year fare.

On today's agenda, Good Reads.

I set myself a challenge at the beginning of the year to read 75 books in 2010. I'm proud to say that I'm currently on my 75th book- clearly I'm going to have to up the ante for 2011. I urge you to join me in this valiant attempt. I thought that having read 75 books I could choose my Top 10 to share with you.

Choosing 10 out of 75 is no easy feat so I may have found a couple of ways to cheat. Nonetheless, here are my Top 10 Reads of 2010.

1. Jen Lancaster. I know Jen Lancaster isn't technically a book, but she's an author and she's changed my life. I relate to her in ways I didn't know were possible. It started with Bitter Is The New Black, continued with Bright Lights Big Ass and was solidified with Such A Pretty Fat. Since my celebrity news access has been blocked at the new job, Jen Lancaster's blog is the only thing that gets me through the bleak periods. If you haven't discovered the written power of Jen Lancaster I just don't know what you're waiting for!

2. The One Week Job Project by Sean Aiken. Perhaps you might remember when I wrote about the impact that this book had on me. Looking back now, in a strange way it gave me hope that there was more out there than a soul-sucking job for no money. The book was funny, the writing engaging, but the lessons I took away from that book are what will stay with me.

3. We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. First off, Lionel Shriver is a woman. A woman with the most insane vocabulary ever. And she writes some seriously disturbing sh*t. But sh*t in a good way because the things she writes about are things that need to be discussed. Like this one about the aftermath of a school shooting and what its like to be the mother of the shooter. We've all read about these incidents in the news, Lionel Shriver takes you inside, what it was like raising that child. Its a really intense read, the kind that you sit and think about for a while after.

4. The Millennium Trilogy  by Stieg Larsson. I can't claim immunity from the Lisbeth Salandar mania that seems to have gripped the publishing world this year. Every time I think about the kicka$$ heroine in these books I think about what a shame it was that Stieg Larsson never lived to see his books become publishing juggernauts. If you haven't jumped on board the Millennium train yet, please do. Just don't blame me when you're still up at 3am trying to finish one off.

5. Spooky Little Girl by Laurie Notaro. The first of 2 recommendations made by Jen Lancaster that I read this year (I'm not kidding when I say this woman impacted my life this year!). A truly original story that I read in 2 sittings. It made me laugh, it made me cry and it made me write to Laurie to tell her how much I enjoyed it (something I have NEVER done). She even emailed me back, solidifying my loyalty forever.

6. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte. Admittedly the Brontes are not everyone's cup of tea but what really struck me about this book was how modern it actually was. Alcoholism and spousal abuse are the main themes of this fantastic book about a woman just trying to start her life again. I can't imagine that there were too many novels addressing these themes at the time. An excellent classic for your reading list.

7. The Lost Life of Eva Braun by Angela Lambert. Only the second biography of Eva Braun ever written, the first by a woman. I've long been fascinated by the idea of Eva Braun- what kind of woman falls in love with the man responsible for the Holocaust? A naive 17 year old that's who. This portrait of Eva Braun made her relatable, gave her a human face and above all dispels the aura of mystery that has long surrounded her. I found this one at the library and as soon as the money starts to flow in more regularly I'm ordering a copy for my collection.

8. The Long Walk To Freedom by Nelson Mandela. I probably could not have chosen a better time to read this book than during the World Cup in South Africa this year. It was recommended to me by my good friend Mona and I can't thank her enough. Obviously I studied apartheid in school but that was just touching on it. I had no idea. I thought Mr. Mandela was a good man before I read this but I had no idea how much he sacrificed, how forgiving and how honourable a man he truly is before I read his book. Thanks Mona!

9. Orange Is The New Black: My Year In A Women's Prison by Piper Kerman. Another Jen Lancaster recommendation. I don't know about you but I've never given that much thought to the lives of women in prison. Its just not something that has crossed my mind. Piper Kerman made some bad decisions in her youth and a decade later those decisions come back and she has to pay the consequences. She writes about her fellow inmates with respect and humanity, paying tribute to their resilience and integrity. An eye opening read.

10. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Many times while reading this book I had to stop and remind myself that the author wasn't making any of it up, but that she had lived it. This is how she grew up. Its an unbelievable story- you won't believe any of what I tell you. You just need to read it for yourself.

Honourable mentions:

The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer. Not because they are well-written and life changing but because I spent 2 or 3 days holed up with all 4 volumes, ignoring everything else in my life just so that I could finish my lines of book coke.

Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. I'm not big on economics but what these guys do with economic theory is entertaining and thought provoking.

One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell. I didn't like Sex and the City as a book but every one of her books since then has gotten better. One Fifth Avenue is definitely the best of the bunch and I look forward to more.

If you're really lucky (and/or I run out of posting ideas in the next few days) I will post a complete list of all the books I read this year. But like I said, only if you're really lucky.

What was your favourite read this year?


  1. Thanks for listing your top ten reads of the year! I've got it bookmarked for the next time I need a book suggestion.

    My favorite read of the year was probably Memoirs of a Geisha. Beautifully written and very engaging.

  2. You picked Tenant of Wildfell Hall!! One of my all time favorite books! It's one of only a very few that I have read more than once. Because it was written by the "lesser known" Bronte sister, almost nobody I know has read it or even heard of it. It's a fantastic read and I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Tenant of Wildfell Hall is the best!

  4. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was so fantastic. I enjoyed Wuthering Heights and I love Jane Eyre but The Tenant of Wildfell Hall...so amazing. There's sarcasm! Will definitely be reading it again!