It’s that time of year to look back over my reading log and analyze my bookworm habits for the year. In my 2009 Year in Reading I declared I wanted to read twelve to fifteen books published in 2010 as they came out during the year. Well, I failed to do that because I read only nine books, but I read ten from 2009, so that makes me feel somewhat better about keeping up with current books. I also wanted to read less science fiction, and I failed miserably at that!
- The Rise and Fall of Alexandria (2006) by Justin Pollard & Howard Reid
- Prehistory (2007) by Colin Refrew
- The Bible: A Biography (2007) by Karen Armstrong
- Martian Time-Slip (1964) by Philip K. Dick (3rd time)
- The Caves of Steel (1954) by Isaac Asimov (2nd time)
- Endymion (1996) by Dan Simmons
- Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928) by D. H. Lawrence
- We, Robots (2010) edited by Allan Kaster
- Darwin’s Origin of Species (2007) by Janet Browne
- Earth Abides (1949) by George R. Stewart (2nd time)
- The Edge of Physics (2010) by Anil Ananthaswamy
- Farewell, My Lovely (1940) by Raymond Chandler
- Wake (2009) by Robert J. Sawyer
- Needle (1950) by Hal Clement
- The Windup Girl (2009) by Paolo Bacigalupi
- The Lovers (1961) by Philip José Farmer
- Watch (2010) by Robert J. Sawyer
- Jesus Interrupted (2009) by Bart D. Ehrman
- The City & The City (2009) by China Mieville
- The Last Picture Show (1966) by Larry McMurtry (2nd time)
- Julian Comstock (2009) by Robert Charles Wilson
- Classic Women’s Short Stories (2005)
- Food Rules (2009) by Michael Pollan
- The Dragon Masters (1963) by Jack Vance
- Riders of the Purple Sage (1912) by Zane Grey (2nd time)
- Out of the Silent Planet (1938) by C. S. Lewis (2nd time)
- Little Brother (2008) by Cory Doctorow
- Texasville (1987) by Larry McMurtry
- Boneshaker (2009) by Cherrie Priest
- A Practical Handbook for the Boyfriend (2007) by Felicity Hoffman & Patricia Wolfe
- Duane’s Depressed (1999) by Larry McMurtry
- When the Light Goes (2007) by Larry McMurtry
- Hunger Games (2008) by Suzanne Collins
- Rhino Ranch (2009) by Larry McMurtry
- Beatrice and Virgil (2010) by Yann Martel
- Bonk (2008) by Mary Roach
- Catching Fire (2009) by Suzanne Collins
- Mockingjay (2010) by Suzanne Collins
- Packing for Mars (2010) by Mary Roach
- Robert A. Heinlein v. 1 (2010) by William Patterson
- The Catcher in the Rye (1951) by J. D. Salinger (2nd time)
- The Visitors (1980) by Clifford Simak
- What the Dog Saw (2009) by Malcolm Gladwell
- Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women (2010) by Harriet Reisen
- Freedom (2010) Jonathan Franzen
- The Fountains of Paradise (1979) by Arthur C. Clarke
- Monument (1974) by Lloyd Biggle, Jr.
- A Great and Terrible Beauty (2003) by Libba Bray
- Starman Jones (1953) by Robert A. Heinlein (6th time)
- Rendezvous with Rama (1972) by Arthur C. Clarke (2nd time)
- Mindswap (1966) by Robert Sheckley (2nd time)
- Talent is Overrated (2008) by Geoff Colvin
- The Warrior’s Apprentice (1986) by Lois McMaster Bujold
Favorite Novel Read This Year: Duane’s Depressed by Larry McMurtry. This novel meant a lot to me because it was about a man my age coming to grips with getting older. Duane’s Depressed is third of Larry McMurtry Thalia novels, with the first being the beautiful The Last Picture Show.
Favorite Non-Fiction Book Read This Year: Jesus Interrupted by Bart D. Ehrman. Historical analysis of the New Testament brings up many theological questions but answers even more secular questions. I felt it goes a long way to explaining the origins of conservatives and liberals, if you look at this book with the right slant.
Most Fun Fiction Read This Year: The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I don’t know why, but YA novels are often the most gripping page turners I read. I was amazed by Suzanne Collins’ skill at developing characters and plotting. She never took the expected route and always dazzled me.
Literary Read of the Year: Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence. It’s famous for the sex and dirty words, but it has lasting power because of its deep insight into human nature. The story also chronicles the divide between the pastoral past and the early days of technology in the 20th century.
Most Admired Science Fiction Novel Read This Year: The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. I wished they’d make a movie of this book because it’s so visually imaginative. It would also show the world outside of written science fiction where it’s at. Movie science fiction needs to get beyond 1930s space opera.
Science Book of the Year: The Edge of Physics by Anil Ananthaswamy. This is the only science book from 2010 that I read this year, but it was an inspirational one. Ananthaswamy took a tour of the world writing about the big physics experiments going on today that are exploring the edge of reality.
Inspirational Read for the Year: Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin. Like last year’s The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, this book is about how brilliant people become brilliant, not through innate talent, but hard work. Last night I watched a documentary about Glen Gould, the pianist, and he fit Colvin’s pattern perfectly. It really helps to have the right parents, not for their genes, but for their dedication to raising a successful child. There are probably no genes for specific talents like music, chess playing, mathematics, physics, finance, etc. But I wonder if brilliant people have genes for the ability to concentrate on one topic so intently. Or, is even that. just a conditioning of hard work learned at an early age. I recommend this book to anyone who is a parent and to anyone who wants to be a success at any task.
Goals for 2011
Again I want to push myself to read more contemporary books. This year I returned to contemporary music and I feel very excited about music again. I’m fighting a tendency of getting old of looking backwards and living in the past. It’s quite delicious to cherish old favorite works of art but it’s also a kind of death trap. Part of the vitality of youth is surfing the cutting edge of pop culture. I don’t expect to rejuvenate by keeping current, but at least I hope to fight off brain rust.
JWH – 12/28/10