2010 Year in Reading

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!

  1. The Rise and Fall of Alexandria (2006) by Justin Pollard & Howard Reid
  2. Prehistory (2007) by Colin Refrew
  3. The Bible: A Biography (2007) by Karen Armstrong
  4. Martian Time-Slip (1964) by Philip K. Dick  (3rd time)
  5. The Caves of Steel (1954) by Isaac Asimov  (2nd time)
  6. Endymion (1996) by Dan Simmons
  7. Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928) by D. H. Lawrence
  8. We, Robots (2010) edited by Allan Kaster
  9. Darwin’s Origin of Species (2007) by Janet Browne
  10. Earth Abides (1949) by George R. Stewart (2nd time)
  11. The Edge of Physics (2010) by Anil Ananthaswamy
  12. Farewell, My Lovely (1940) by Raymond Chandler
  13. Wake (2009) by Robert J. Sawyer
  14. Needle (1950) by Hal Clement
  15. The Windup Girl (2009) by Paolo Bacigalupi
  16. The Lovers (1961) by  Philip José Farmer
  17. Watch (2010) by Robert J. Sawyer
  18. Jesus Interrupted (2009) by Bart D. Ehrman
  19. The City & The City (2009) by China Mieville
  20. The Last Picture Show (1966) by Larry McMurtry (2nd time)
  21. Julian Comstock (2009) by Robert Charles Wilson
  22. Classic Women’s Short Stories (2005)
  23. Food Rules (2009) by Michael Pollan
  24. The Dragon Masters (1963) by Jack Vance
  25. Riders of the Purple Sage (1912) by Zane Grey (2nd time)
  26. Out of the Silent Planet (1938) by C. S. Lewis (2nd time)
  27. Little Brother (2008) by Cory Doctorow
  28. Texasville (1987) by Larry McMurtry
  29. Boneshaker (2009) by Cherrie Priest
  30. A Practical Handbook for the Boyfriend (2007) by Felicity Hoffman & Patricia Wolfe
  31. Duane’s Depressed (1999) by Larry McMurtry
  32. When the Light Goes (2007) by Larry McMurtry
  33. Hunger Games (2008) by Suzanne Collins
  34. Rhino Ranch (2009) by Larry McMurtry
  35. Beatrice and Virgil (2010) by Yann Martel
  36. Bonk (2008) by Mary Roach
  37. Catching Fire (2009) by Suzanne Collins
  38. Mockingjay (2010) by Suzanne Collins
  39. Packing for Mars (2010) by Mary Roach
  40. Robert A. Heinlein v. 1 (2010) by William Patterson
  41. The Catcher in the Rye (1951) by J. D. Salinger (2nd time)
  42. The Visitors (1980) by Clifford Simak
  43. What the Dog Saw (2009) by Malcolm Gladwell
  44. Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women (2010) by Harriet Reisen
  45. Freedom (2010) Jonathan Franzen
  46. The Fountains of Paradise (1979) by Arthur C. Clarke
  47. Monument (1974) by Lloyd Biggle, Jr.
  48. A Great and Terrible Beauty (2003) by Libba Bray
  49. Starman Jones (1953) by Robert A. Heinlein (6th time)
  50. Rendezvous with Rama (1972) by Arthur C. Clarke (2nd time)
  51. Mindswap (1966) by Robert Sheckley (2nd time)
  52. Talent is Overrated (2008) by Geoff Colvin
  53. The Warrior’s Apprentice (1986) by Lois McMaster Bujold

Favorite Novel Read This YearDuane’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 YearJesus 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 YearThe 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 YearLady 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 YearThe 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 YearThe 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 YearTalent 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

4 Responses

  1. Congratulations on an interesting and varied reading list. I count myself honored to be included.

    Best wishes for 2011,

    Harriet Reisen

  2. That’s an impressive list, Jim. I don’t keep track like that, but I don’t read anywhere near that many books these days. I used to, but not anymore.

    And I read very few modern books, unless I already know and like the authors. Yeah, I’m getting old, and I’m not fighting it. Then again, I fight off brain rust in other ways, I guess. Or I try, at least.

  3. [...] normal reading year for me where I read 58 books, more than I did in 2008 (45), 2009 (40), and 2010 (53).  I’m in three book clubs.  One for science fiction where I read two books a [...]

  4. [...] yearly averages for books read usually runs around four a month.  See my past years 2011 (58), 2010 (53), 2009 (40), and 2008 [...]

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