Best Books of 2010

Best Fiction

This was an excellent year for fiction:

Best Literary Novels

Phillip Pullman – The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ
Sarah Waters – The Night Watch
Honorable Mention: Priya Basil – The Obscure Logic of the Heart

Best Comfort Reads

Patrick Dennis – Auntie Mame
D. E. Stevenson – Miss Buncle’s Book

Best General Novels

Curtis Sittenfeld – American Wife
William Nicholson – The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life
May Sarton – The Small Room
Honorable Mention: Richard Bausch – Thanksgiving Night

Best Humourous Novels

Lissa Evans – Their Finest Hour and a Half
David Nicholls – Starter For Ten

Best Bittersweet Novel

Dorothy Whipple – Someone At A Distance

Best Trash

Jacqueline Susann – Valley of the Dolls

Best Classic

Jane Austen – Persuasion

Best Modern Classic

Vladimir Nabokov – Lolita

Best Crime

(Not a great year, however, in this category, lots of half-disappointing reads)

Dorothy L. Sayers – Strong Poison
Honorable Mention: James Anderson – The Affair of the Mutilated Mink

Best Non-Fiction

Best General Non-Fiction

Michael Chabon – Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing the Borderlines
Adam Philips and Barbara Taylor – On Kindness

Best Memoirs

Vivian Gornick – Fierce Attachments
Honorable Mention: Ruth Reichl – Tender At The Bone

Best Biographies

Frances Osbourne – The Bolter
Frances Wilson – The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth

Best Group Biography

David Laskin – Partisans

17 thoughts on “Best Books of 2010

  1. I love your categories for your favorite reads of the year–I’m not sure my reading has been varied enough to fill all the categories. This year hasn’t been a good year for nonfiction and I think I’m going to note your favorite humorous reads as I can always use those. I want to read The Bolter, but after reading about Alice de Janze from that Kenyan set I’m not sure I can take another heavy dose of their wild lifestyle so soon. I see a few titles on your list that will be on mine as well and a few more that are going on my ‘want to read’ list for next year. These best of lists can be dangerous! Pity about not reading many good crime novels–but there’s always next year. Hope the holiday preparations aren’t dragging you down and you’ll get a break, too.🙂

  2. I like the various categories – specially the best trash (which I read as a teenager!!!) I have read your best classic and best modern classic and thats it! lots more to read obviously.

  3. Will be printing this list out and taking it to me to the bookstore for all the after Xmas sales…(Although not Valley of the Dolls. Just couldn’t get through it when I tried. I will substitute Kathleen Woodiwiss or somebody).

  4. Wow, great list, very inspiring for 2011. I have a May Sarton waiting for me for next year, after the very interesting discussions at the Slaves. Hope you find better luck in crime novels next year!

  5. Some new and familiar titles for me…just finished American Wife, which will be on my “best of” list as well. I like the idea of categorizing…I’ll have to look through my list and see if I can follow a similar pattern.

  6. Persuasion was on my favorites list last year. I do love that book. I love that you have a category for best trash. That’s great.

    I have been reading a lot of great novels lately and so I’m putting my Favorites list off until the very last moment.

  7. Yay! I LOVE this! I’m printing it out. So glad to see Ruth Reichl made your list. Though I haven’t read that book, I’ve read her stuff. And I”m working up the nerve for Sarah Waters NIGHT WATCH – ghost story, right? I had to laugh at Susanne’s VALLEY/DOLLS as best trash – it is indeed! (and what made you read/dig that one up? Hilarious.) I haven’t read Chabon yet though my hubs has; maybe i should pick it up.
    Anyway, this is a Christmas gift and look forward to unwrapping (reading) the selections that I’ve missed!

    Merry Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  8. Danielle – I’ll tell you a secret – I choose my categories to fit my reading! And honestly, there was nearly no crime one this year. I need some recommendations from you as I love my crime fiction and didn’t read anywhere near enough satisfying murders! I absolutely understand how you feel about The Bolter. I’d like to read the biography of Alice de Jantze – but not just yet.🙂

    Mystica – I felt very teenager-ish, I can tell you, reading Valley of the Dolls. I had a blockbuster season in the spring, reading The Thorn Birds and Sidney Sheldon too. It was so like going back in time. I was going to read Gone With The Wind, but that has somehow been saved over for next year.

    Lilian – you are welcome. I love everyone’s lists, although they do damage to the tbr…

    Emily – or take it to the library! I never feel comfortable with the thought of recommending books that readers might buy and then maybe dislike. It’s so much about picking the right book at the right moment!

    Smithereens – thank you! I will read more Vargas, who I love. And I really hope you enjoy May Sarton.

    Ben – lol! Just recently I decided that my best ever job would be as a personal book shopper. If you come into millions and want to give up your job to read, do consider me as a potential literary advisor.🙂

    Becca – Really glad you enjoyed American Wife – and looking forward to your list, too!

    iliana – isn’t it hard to find the right moment? I didn’t want to leave it until the very end of the year, but then I wasn’t sure if I’d leave off something vital! I reserve the right to rave about a book between now and December 31st.🙂 Looking forward very much to seeing your list when you are ready.

    Oh – This Sarah Waters is a WW2 story, it’s The Little Stranger that’s the ghosty one. Although by most accounts, both are equally good! As for Valley of the Dolls, I read a whole bunch of blockbusters last spring and just loved it. Still got Gone With The Wind for next year…. Have a wonderful Christmas yourself, my friend, and I look forward to more blog chat in 2011.

  9. I shall have to read the Pullman book. I’ve seen so much about it and if you’ve put it on your best of list, that clinches the deal. Happy Holidays to you!

  10. An update – I just finished Miss Buncle’s Book and was absolutely delighted. So much so that I have ordered Miss Buncle Married. Thank you so much for doing this review. It was exactly the book I needed this evening. I also have The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth and much looking forward to it.

  11. There’s lots on this list I’d like to read! Especially the Dorothy Wordsworth one and Partisans. And also Dorothy Whipple and the Michael Chabon. I’m glad the Sarton made your list and also the Sittenfeld — both books I loved.

  12. I am always tempted by “bitter sweet”. Fortunately I already have Someone at a Distance. I ordered Bausch’s novel after having read your review and also The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life… I don’t know why American Wife does not tempt me at all… I have to read my first Sarah Waters soon.

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