The Best Books of 2010

The BookDepository

This time last year I produced a list of my favourite books of 2009 . I found the comments really useful for highlighting some fantastic books that has passed me by and so I thought I’d repeat the process this year. I’ll produce a post with my favourite reads of 2010 at the end of the year, but here is a list of my favourite books published in 2010.

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…asks important questions about what makes us happy and the way we look after our children.

Room – Emma Donoghue

I will remember this book for the rest of my life.

Beside the Sea – Veronique Olmi

I loved the way my initial opinions were slowly changed, leading me to question the way I look at crime and how often the perpetrator is a victim too.

Rupture – Simon Lelic stars51

The astonishing twists were reminiscent of Fingersmith and I am sure I will remember this book for a very long time.

Stone’s Fall – Iain Pears stars51 (2010 paperback)

It captured my heart from the very first sentence.

The Wilderness – Samantha Harvey stars51 (2010 paperback)

The writing was impressive, managing to make me laugh out loud as often as I found myself thinking deeply about our society.

Generation A – Douglas Coupland stars51 (2010 paperback)

I felt as though I was part of the story.

The Book of Negroes – Lawrence Hill (2010 Paperback)

I could spend hours discussing it.

The Cuckoo Boy – Grant Gillespie

…it added a whole new dimension to the typical crime novel.

The City & The City – China Miéville (2010 paperback)

This book works on so many levels…

Skippy Dies – Paul Murray

…it is rich in period detail and the plot is gripping throughout.

The Harlot’s Progress: Yorkshire Molly – Peter Mottley

….an amusing, insightful and ultimately uplifting tale.

I Do Not Come To You By Chance – Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

If you have any interest in child birth then this is the book for you.

The Birth of Love – Joanna Kavenna

…one of the most original books I’ve ever read.

Bad Karma – David Safier

….a must-read for anyone interested in Hitler or the causes of WWII.

Young Hitler – Claus Hant

Note: Several of the books were published in hardback in 2009, but in paperback in 2010. I was torn about what to do about these books as I read half of them in 2009 and half in 2010. In the end I decided to include them all and have made a note beside the title.

Other books that I have heard wonderful things about, but haven’t managed to read yet:

Which is your favourite book published in 2010?

Are there any 2010 releases that you think I should squeeze in before the end of the year?


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51 Comments

  1. Jackie….I’ve only read Room (liked it a lot), but had added several of these to my wish list at one point. When I have a minute, I need to come back and read your reviews. I like doing a post like this but usually do it the end of Dec.

    You certainly had some great reads.

    1. Jackie says:

      Bibliophile By the Sea, I’ll do my favourites reads of 2010 post at the end of the year, but it is good to know which recently published books I should be prioritising.

      I think Room will be top of a lot of lists this year :-)

  2. sakura says:

    I’ve only read The City & The City and Beside the Sea both of which I loved. I was a little hesitant to try Generation A as I’d seen lots of mixed reviews but I adored Generation X so will definitely try and read it at some point. I love posts like this which reminds of lots of titles I need to jot down to read in the future:)

    1. Jackie says:

      Sakura, I haven’t seen any negative reviews for Generation A – in fact I haven’t seen any reviews recently :-( All the initial reviews were positive so perhaps they were all from Coupland fans. I think you’ll love it :-)

  3. Jackie – this list is a combination of some of my favorite (Room) and much of my TBR! I’ve started working on my favorite reads list already, but I hope to add one or two more as I finish my award reading this year.

    1. Jackie says:

      Carrie, I really hope I can update this list with more favourites in the next few weeks, but looking at my TBR pile I suspect my favourite reads will all come from previous years. I’d love to be proved wrong though :-)

  4. Lyndsey says:

    Hey Jackie – you’ve posted some really interesting reads and some that I wasn’t familiar with at all – so that’s brilliant. Would you consider maybe nominating some for the book bloggers independent literary awards? Details are here. http://indielitawards.wordpress.com/
    Sorry to do a plug – am keen to get a really exciting shortlist!
    Thanks so much,
    Lyndsey

    1. Jackie says:

      Lyndsey, I’ve already done my nomination for literary fiction – the only genre I feel I’ve read enough books to nominate in. I’ll help you to spread the word though :-)

      1. Lyndsey says:

        Oh gosh, so you have! So sorry :) Room is proving a hugely popular choice. I’m actually putting off reading it because it looks like it’s a dead cert for the shortlist.

  5. Jackie, this list looks great. I have not read even one of those books, though! Terrible. I could just lift the books off this blog onto my wishlist quite happily. But it’s so crowded there already. Some of the books are on my wishlist already, actually. The rest… I’ll keep them in mind.

    It’s great to see that you have found so many great books for this year. Obviously a good year.

    1. Jackie says:

      Judith, I do seem to have found more good books this year. I love the way that bloggers spread the word about fantastic books. :-)

  6. Wow, great list! I have been meaning to read ‘I do not come to you by chance’ for ages but just haven’t got round to it. I would include The Help by Katheryn Stockett and Crimson China by Betsy Tobin in my top books for 2010 as well.

    1. Jackie says:

      book caterpillar, The Help was on my 2009 list – such a good book :-)

      Crimson China is a book I have seen a couple of times, but I haven’t been tempted to add it to the wishlist yet. I’ll have to look into it now that you say it is one of your favourites.

  7. Amy says:

    My favorite read from 2010 so far has been Annabel by Kathleen Winter. I seriously cannot say enough good (great) things about that book.

    It’s a good thing I read the comments because I was going to plug the indie lit awards as well :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Amy, Annabel isn’t released in the UK until March, but I have high hopes for it being on my best of 2011 list :-)

  8. Verity says:

    Ooh – some good recommendations there! I’m not really sure what I’ve read this year that was new and loved – did you read Still Missing – one of the Persephone books from May? I think you might enjoy that as it is very powerful.

    1. Jackie says:

      Verity, I haven’t read Still Missing yet. I’ll have to see if I can get hold of a copy :-)

      1. Verity says:

        The only other book I’ve read released this year I think is definitely not your cup of tea – the latest Shopaholic book by Sophie Kinsella!

  9. Charlie says:

    I’ve heard of many of those but not read them. You’re reading one of my favourites from this year at the moment though, The Wilding. I thought I had the plot worked out and then… Other than that I really loved Second Hand Heart by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

    I’ve still not got round to reading Beside The Sea. I saw it in the bookshop and now wish I’d just bought it.

    1. Jackie says:

      Charlie, I’m half way through The Wilding and really enjoying it, but I thought I had the plot all worked out. It is great to knew there is a twist. Perhaps it will end up on this list too :-)

      I haven’t heard much about Second Hand Heart before. I wonder if I’ll find it overly sentimental?

  10. Shannon says:

    The Book of Negroes was my favourite read from last year. The book is brilliant.

    Room just won the Writer’s Trust Award here, I’m so glad to see she was awarded for her work after being passed over for the Giller.

    1. Jackie says:

      Shannon, It is really nice to see that Emma Donoghue is starting to win some literary prizes. I’m really looking forward to reading some of her other books.

      Lawrence Hill is Canadian too – Canada produces some of the best books :-)

      1. Shannon says:

        LOL, we do produce great works! Lawrence Hill grew up in a neighbourhood just up the street from my current one. It’s nice having that connection when you read a book, even if it is a small one.

  11. Some great books there Jackie – I share your love of Room, Skippy Dies, The Book of Negroes and Beside the Sea. This year I have also really enjoyed The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O Farrell and Blue Eyed Boy by Joanne Harris.

    1. Jackie says:

      Teresa, I haven’t read The Hand That First Held Mine yet, but I’m afraid I wasn’t a fan of Blueeyedboy – it was a bit too experimental for me. It is great to see that we share so many favourites :-)

  12. I have trouble with making such lists because often I don’t get to a book until a year or so after initial publication, and furthermore, don’t record the year in my notes. I really should however, because I love reading these lists!

    1. Jackie says:

      rhapsodyinbooks, You should start making some notes as I love lists :-) It would be great to see some lists for the best books from a decade ago – the fact that you read them over several years would make the list more interesting.

  13. Ooh, what an awesome list. I’ve read exactly none of them, so I got to record the whole list as potential reads. In particular, I am thrilled to hear of Kavenna’s The Birth of Love. You might remember I am pursuing some research on birth stories in fiction, so I will be getting my hands on this one ASAP. I’m currently reading David Grossman’s To the End of the Land, which includes birth retellings as well, so it’s been a good week for the informal side of my research. Thanks!

    1. Jackie says:

      Sara, I do remember your quest for books with birth scenes, but I’m afraid I haven’t found any others recently. I bought See Under: Love by David Grossman last week so am looking forward to sampling his books for the first time soon. I hope that you enjoy The Birth of Love :-)

      1. Sara, have you got The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell on your list yet? It starts off with a birth story, although that might be the only one in the book. I can’t remember for sure if there are one or two more later on.

        1. Well, I have the Mitchell on my shelf, but I haven’t read it yet. Thanks for the heads up! I’ll look forward to getting to it.

  14. Ah, I’ve officially dubbed Skippy my favourite read of the year – SO FAR! There’s still some last-minute holiday reading to go, of course. From your list, I’m also a fan of The Cuckoo Boy and Generation A, which I just read.

    And still need to read The City & The City!

    Other favourites for me: Boxer Beetle by Ned Beauman, Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro, and Atlas of Remote Islands (a strange little non-fiction creation, but a perfect beauty of a book).

    1. Jackie says:

      Lija, Skippy was a fantastic book so I can see why it would top your list. I haven’t heard of Atlas of Remote Islands before *heads off to look it up* but Boxer, Beetle sounds very good.

  15. Ohhh I loved reading through this list! I’ve only read 1, 2 are on my iPod, 2 are already on my TBR list and now I’ve added 3 more from your Best Books of 2010 list! Looks like I have great reading and listening ahead of me. :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Thoughts of Joy, It is great to know that you have so many in your TBR. I really hope that you enjoy reading them all :-)

  16. vivienne says:

    ooh the China Mieville one looks good. I read Un Lun Dun this year and loved it, so I will definitely add this one to my list. I still need to read Room.

    1. Jackie says:

      Vivienne, I haven’t read Un Lun Dun yet, but plan to one day. I hope I enjoy it as much as you did.

  17. Matt says:

    I created my own hype knowing how much I have enjoyed her previous works. Then comes the interesting premise that it’s told in the perspective of a five year old. The one-sitting magic didn’t work for me, and in fact, I found the book very tedious to begin with, and I put it down for other choices. I’ll come back to it…eventually.

    I hope I’ll have better experience with Skippy Dies.

    1. Jackie says:

      Matt, I found the first section of Room quite slow too, but the second half really gripped me. With hindsight the first half was very clever and I’m pleased it was slow. I think it is worth the effort and I hope you enjoy reading it at some point.

  18. litlove says:

    Really interesting list. I wasn’t so keen on the Iain Pears (which was a shame as I’ve enjoyed other books by him). It was a bit slow in places for me, although the end of each of the sections was beautifully wrapped up. I’ve just ordered that China Mieville novel and am really looking forward to it. Of course my mind has gone blank now as to what I’ve read from this year’s publications but ooh I’ve got one, the Phillip Pullman rewrite, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, although I’m not quite sure it’s got enough emotional punch for you. But it was good. I also enjoyed Priya Basil’s The Obscure Logic of the Heart and Robert Edric’s climate change disaster novel, Salvage.

    They start to come back when I think about it!

    1. Jackie says:

      litlove, I agree that some sections of Stone’s Fall were slow, but I loved the details in these parts. The ending was so good that it made up for any minor problems I had with pace.

      I was lucky enough to win a copy of Pullman’s book, but am wary of bringing relion onto the blog so haven’t read it yet. I haven’t seen anyone else mention the other two books so it is good to know that you really enjoyed them. Hopefully I’ll read them one day :-)

  19. Rebecca Reid says:

    You know I don’t read a lot of modern fiction but I keep seeing SOMEONE KNOWS MY NAME (the US title for THE BOOK “OF NEGROS) at the library where I work and I am really pleased you liked it so much. I should read it.

    1. Jackie says:

      Rebecca, I think that you’d really enjoy Someone Knows My Name. It is a really good story that teaches us about a little known area of history. Enjoy :-)

  20. stujallen says:

    I not sure what my book of year is so far going to go back and look over books i ve read got lot of favourites ,I loved beside the sea ,all the best stu

    1. Jackie says:

      Stu, Besides the Sea is such a good book. I’m so pleased it has received so much love in the blogging world :-)

  21. Alyce says:

    My favorite out of those on your list was Stone’s Fall. I wish that more people would give it a chance because it was an awesome book. I think most probably pre-judge it because part of the plot deals with finance and because it’s so long. I loved it though.

  22. Dan Holloway says:

    So glad to see Beside the Sea right up there at the top of your list. A dazzling, standout achievement of a book. There are two books I loved so much I set up a micro-press to publish them
    http://eightcuts.wordpress.com/
    Oli Johns’ Charcoal, the story of a teacher in Hong Kong obsessed by suicide and philosophy who reads about the suicide of a model in a Paris apartment and wonders if there is any way he could go back and save her; and Cody James’ The Dead Beat, the story of a group of addicts trying to make sense of their lives in the San Francisco of the late 90s. Both painfully intimate, personal accounts of lives falling apart, but with a humour and humainity that sets them apart

  23. Beth F says:

    Gosh I haven’t even begun to think about best books.

  24. stacybuckeye says:

    I haven’t read any of these, but Room and Strone’s Fall are both on my tbr list.

  25. Jenners says:

    I’m with you on ROOM … it is making my 2010 best of list too.

    And I’ve added two of your other picks to my TBR list.

  26. Tomcat says:

    Yess! Great to see China Meiville here. Why, oh why, oh why isn’t he more famous????

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