Sunday, January 2, 2011

Books I Listened to in 2010

I'm starting this with optimism: that I will finish it before December of 2011, that I will get all the books into this one post, that anyone will bother to read it (or skim it) to the end. I am nothing if not optimistic. (Several of TC's friends snort derisively.)

This was a big year for audiobooks. It was, for one thing, the Year of Harry Potter. Jim Dale...I've listened now to probably close to 150 or more audiobooks, and he is hands and feet and all other appendages down the best narrator out there. I tried reading these books, mind you...several times. Never got past the first few chapters of Sorcerer's Stone. But I absolutely ATE these up. Was entranced, from beginning to end. And I don't DO genre. Especially not popular genre. I'm just too snobbish. It's a fault. Jim and Harry are the overwhelming exception to my rule.

1. Persuasion by Jane Austen: I think this was the first time I'd read this; I thought I'd done a full Austen tour back in the day, but upon listening to the story, I realized I must have missed this one. Imagine my delight in getting to read a "new" Austen! Love. Her.
2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling: My journey begins.
3. Bonk by Mary Roach: Subtitled "The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex," this is, as many people have said, the kind of book you just want to stab yourself in the eye for not having thought of writing. The only problem with that would have been that the Mary Roach wouldn't have written it, and it wouldn't have been quite so pitch perfect.
4. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen: This is actually my least favorite Austen, by which I mean I'll only reread it incessantly *after* I've reread all her other books.
5. The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld: Sorry. I didn't love Prep, and I really didn't love this.
6. Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher: Two disappointments in a row. This wasn't a book; it was never supposed to be a book. Sorry, Carrie.
7. Fool by Christopher Moore: I really do love Christopher Moore. This had some off moments, but overall, it got me.
My first night of Hanukkah present.
8. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling: LOVE Dobby. Need I say more?
9. Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier: Here's the problem with leaving a lot of these descriptions until the end: I can't remember if I actually finished this book. I seem to recall giving up on it somewhere in the middle. If I didn't, then I can't remember the ending. So I hope I did.
10. Wild Child by TC Boyle: Boyle's a master, no doubt, but this was no my favorite of his colletions of stories. And I can't quite put my finger on why.
11. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling: Not sure who I love more, Sirius or Lupin. Of course, I know enough about this series to know that I shouldn't bother to become overly attached to either of them…
12. No One Belongs Here More than You by Miranda July: Quite possibly the most depressing stories I've ever read. Incredible writing; can't point out exactly why, but take my word for it. Incredible.
13. The Women by TC Boyle: I'm not sure I agree with a lot of his choices in this book. (Why go backwards? Why so much focus on Miriam in all the 'parts'? Why not tell Kitty's story?) And it took me a while to warm up to the story overall. And yet, I found a lot of it fascinating and gripping nonetheless.
14. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling: Ah, Mad-Eye. I'm so conflicted about my love for me.
15. You Better Not Cry by Augusten Burroughs: These just didn't do it for me; they have their moments, but overall...just not quite there.
16. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See: I generally hate books in which there is a lot of secrecy and lying and the potential for it to all explode. But I didn't hate this one at all. The ending flummoxed me, if only because it felt more like cliffhanger than anything else. (Is there a sequel coming?) And it didn't transport me the same way Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, in particular, did. But it entertained.
17. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield: I wasn't expecting much. Surprise! I got a really fun twisty 'ghost story.' I enjoy almost any book whose plot manages to surprise me, and especially those whose endings manage to satisfy me. This did both. Yay! A definite not-really-expected big ol' recommend.
18. My Man Jeeves by PG Wodehouse: Oh, Bertie. Oh, Jeeves.
19. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling: No, seriously. Did Harry give one real, genuine smile in this entire book? Have a single lighthearted moment? I think not. This was my least favorite, though it had some truly great lines. (Also...SOB. Oh, you who I won't name so I won't spoil it for the .23 people who have yet to read the series. I'll miss you!)
20. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger: I already wrote about this. But, to sum up, WTF, Audrey, with that ending? You had me--again, against my expectations, with yet another ghostish story--up until about the last quarter of the novel. But the end? Pissed. Me. Off.
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling: Now, see? This was a fun book, death and destruction and heartbreak aside, of course.
22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling: I always hate endings, but this one, after seven books and all those hours of listening, could have REALLLLY pissed me off. It didn't. It needed a big bang, a true conclusion, and a (relatively) happy ending. And it delivered.
23. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot: I write about science for a living; I've even written about HeLa (the cells, though, not the woman). Reading science books, to me, often feels like the proverbial busman's holiday. Not this time, though. Powerful story, emphasis on STORY. Bravo. If you read one nonfiction book this year or ANY year, this is the one to go for.
24. Here If You Need Me by Kate Braestrup: My new boss K recommended this to me; I was worried that a book about a minister--in no matter HOW cool a ministry, and a forest-ranger ministry is WAY cool--would just not quite do it for me. I was wrong. I like Kate. I want to be her friend and hang out with her. But not in a helicopter over dense forests. Just in case she was thinking of calling to ask me...
25. Angle of Repose by Wallce Stegner: I mentioned in a previous book post this week that I can never decide between this and Crossing to Safety when naming my favorite Stegner. Since this is what I listened to most recently, it's definitely this one. Masterful. And much more sweeping. Though Safety's pretty kickass too!
26. I Know I Am, But What Are You by Samantha Bee: Nope. Sorry, Sam. More shtick than substance. And I didn't really think of it as a memoir, because half the stuff didn't ring even slightly true; there were so many internal inconsistencies due to what must have been significant instances of exaggeration that...I just didn't laugh that much. And it was supposed, if not else, to be funny.
27. Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby: I will say this; I didn't expect to love this book, though I do love Nick Hornby in general. It's about music, and I'm not a music fan. But, oh, I loved it. It felt so true and insightful. Really, really good.
28. The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver: This blew me away. The last quarter depressed me; I didn't want what I saw about to happen to happen. And then it did. And THAT depressed me, too. But still. Beautiful. Real characters and fictional character meshed perfectly, and minor characters came completely to life. I was really impressed.

Woot! I did it!!!! In one go. In early January. Now I can sleep.

Thanks for reading. Or pretending to. I'll never know the difference.

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