Showing posts from December, 2010

Nomadreader's Favorite Books of 2010

2010 was a wonderful year of reading. I wanted to be a deliberate reader, and looking back on the books I read this year, I'm quite pleased with the quality of them. I stuck to literary fiction for the most part. I tried to read from the award lists, and I discovered many of these books on the award lists. Without further ado, here are my favorite books of 2010 (when I made my list, there happened to be ten!) All the books I read in 2010 were eligible regardless of when the books were published.(Clicking on the links will take you to my full, original review. Clicking on the book cover will take you to it's page on Amazon.)

10.Trespass by Rose Tremain (longlisted for the 2010 Booker Prize)
I will remember 2010 as the year I finally read Rose Tremain. This hauntingly beautiful novel has stayed with me.
Favorite passage: "Even here, where life went along more slowly than in England, she could sense the restless agitation people felt to make real and tangible to them the fugiti…

movie review: The King's Speech

The backstory: Already nominated for multiple Golden Globes, Screen Actor's Guild, Critic's Choice Award and Independent Spirit Awards, I was eager to see The King's Speech when it came out on Christmas. It went on to win 4 Academy Awards, including Best Picture at the 83rd Oscars.

The basics: Colin Firth plays King George VI of Britain as he tries to stop stuttering to lead England.

My thoughts: With no disrespect to Jeff Bridges, I think Colin Firth should have won the Best Actor Oscar last year for his performance in A Single Man. I think he finally will win Best Actor this year for his amazing performance in The King's Speech. I was mesmerized by his performance. Geoffrey Rush was similarly amazing, and the scenes with the two of them were magnificent. The screenplay was well-written. It captured enough background to place the film in context, but it never let the story get bogged down with its history. I laughed, I cried, and I joined the rest of the audience in spo…

graphic novel review: The Alchemist

The backstory: I've only read one Paulo Coelho novel (Eleven Mintues), but I enjoyed it, and I was eager to read the much-talked about Alchemist in its new graphic novel form.

The basics: "Andalusian shepherd boy Santiago travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within." (Publisher's description)

My thoughts: I was somewhat familiar with the plot of The Alchemist even though I haven't read the book, and I think the prior knowledge was helpful. The story flowed quickly, but I really had an aversion to the artwork; it didn't suit the story. The artwork was a…

book review: Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

The backstory: I am not a reader who eagerly awaits the latest Jodi Picoult book. In my pre-blogging days, I read and loved Keeping Faith. Last year, I read My Sister's Keeper and liked it. Then I read Handle With Care and didn't much care it. Still, I appreciate her advocacy for literacy and women authors. When I heard her latest book (coming out in March 2011) tackled issues of gay rights and infertility, I was doubly intrigued.

The basics: Sing You Home is the story of Zoe Baxter, a music therapist who has struggled to get pregnant for years; her husband Max, a recovered alcoholic who owns a lawncare business; Max's brother and sister-in-law, devout Christians who have also struggled with fertility issues; and Vanessa, a high school guidance counselor.

My thoughts: In typical Picoult style, this story is told from multiple points of view. It was a diversion for her, however, as most of the action lies with Vanessa, Zoe and Max. For me, the story wasn't compelling or c…

book review: The Warden by Anthony Trollope

The backstory: Anthony Trollope is one of my father's favorite authors, and when I heard the December theme for the Classics Circuit was Trollope, I found the perfect excuse to finally read one of his novels. Yes, I picked the shortest one, but it's also the first in a series, and I'm fascinated to tales of clergy in the British countryside.

The basics: I'll let Modern Library treat you to a synopsis: "The first of Trollope's popular Barsetshire novels, set in the fictional cathedral town of Barchester, The Warden centers on the honorably cleric Septimus Harding, one of Trollope's most memorable characters. When Harding is accused of mismanaging church funds, his predicament lays bare the complexities of the Victorian world and of nineteenth-century provincial life."

My thoughts: For a book with only 209 pages, the reading experience was quite varied for me. There were times I adored Trollope's language:
Mr. Harding had fully made up his mind to tel…

Holiday Swap fun!

I adore this time of year, but one of my favorite new traditions is the Book Blogger Holiday Swap. Last year, I didn't know my giver or receiver. This year, I didn't know the person I shopped for, so I was thrilled to get a package in the mail from Beth at Bookworm Meets Bookworm, a book blogger I communicate with frequently through Twitter and our blogs!
Here's what I found inside my gorgeously wrapped package:

homemade cocoa mixa sweet and beautiful handmade carda GORGEOUS, homemade bookmark in my favorite color of blueThe History of Love by Nicole Krauss, which is on two of my TBR lists: Orange Prize shortlist and New Yorker 20 Under 40 (plus it's one of Beth's all-time favorite books!) I can't wait to dig into The History of Love, and I hope it will be one of my first 2011 reads. Thanks, Beth!

Waiting on Wednesday: I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive by Steve Earle

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine to highlight an upcoming release you can't wait to read.
My pick this week is I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive by Steve Earle. Those who know me know I've had a long love of Steve Earle. He's one of my favorite singer-songwriters, and his album Transcendental Bluesremains one of my all-time favorites. Bonus point: my favorite song on Transcendental Blues, "I Don't Want to Lose You Yet," was the first song my husband and I danced to at our wedding. (Yes, we did get married at the Country Music Hall of Fame Research Library, and I think Steve and Hank Williams would be proud of the first dance song choice there.)
When I read this week's Library JournalPre-pub Alert, I actually squealed when I read that Steve Earle had a novel coming out in May. The description sounds amazing too:  "One of the last people to see Hank Williams alive and said to have given him that last, fatal dose o…

book review: The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud

The backstory: The Sentimentalists, the first novel from Johanna Skibsrud, won the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize, which recognizes excellence in Canadian fiction.

The basics: In some ways, The Sentimentalists is a war novel. In other ways, it's a daughter's ode to her father. Ultimately, my inability to share basic plot details of a short novel is a testament to how much power Skibsrud packs into those 224 pages.
My thoughts:  I read The Sentimentalists in one sitting, which is remarkable enough alone for me, but this single sitting is made more remarkable because I started it on a Sunday night at 11 p.m. when I got home from an exhausting night waiting tables and had to be at work at 9 a.m. Monday morning. I lost sleep for this one, and it was so worth it.  Skibsrud's writing grabbed me from the earliest pages:  "My father was a great reader and a great rememberer of things, though he never remembered anything in the right order, or entirely, and always had just littl…