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2010 Year Of Reading Round-Up

This year I read 60 books, surpassing my goal of doubling last year’s 27. Of those I wrote 43 reviews, some yet to be posted.

I’ve been thinking of how I should tackle this post ever since summer. You see last year’s post was easy enough as there weren’t so many books to talk about so I mentioned them all. But as much as I’d love to do the same this year I figure I could possibly bore you all to tears so against my artistic and organisation hopes I’ve decided to do it rather differently and listed books by rating with only my top 5 including a summary.

As always, books that have been reviewed have a line underneath them and the title links to the review.

The Best Of The Best

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  • Alex Bell: The Ninth Circle – When Gabriel wakes up on the kitchen floor all he knows is that he’s been bleeding and there’s money on the table. Who is this man who befriends him and what is the deal with Gabriel’s shelves of books on Hell? The book is all about religion and theology and the way Bell handles it is brilliant, she presents it from an objective view point meaning that no matter what you believe, as long as you are open to different interpretations, you should be able to enjoy it.
  • Catherine Ryan Hyde: Second Hand Heart – A girl has a heart transplant and falls in love at first sight with the husband of her donor. This husband knew it was probably a bad idea to meet the recipient but felt the need to regardless. The ways in which both must learn to live are different yet strangely strung together. What’s interesting about this book is that the main character can be annoying and yet it never bogs the story down. Ryan Hyde throws some very poignant ideas our way.
  • Charlotte Brontë: Jane Eyre – Neglected during childhood, Jane takes up a position as governess for a girl who’s guardian is peculiar but captivating. But there’s something going on at Thornfield Hall and it seems no one knows what it is. I don’t think Jane is the best character ever but it doesn’t matter as Rochester is first rate and the story is just something else, mixing numerous genres and providing something for everyone.
  • Jane Austen: Pride And Prejudice – Two men enter the lives of a family of five girls causing havoc in the heart of one and belated havoc in the heart of another who takes them more at face value. This book has been an eye-opener, having read some incredibly boring books at school I had lowered my expectations, but Austen is just something else entirely.
  • Lisa See: On Gold Mountain – Lisa See presents the story of her Chinese-American family’s rise to business success from the initial journey of her great-grandfather to America in the late 1800’s to the present day situation of his descendants. A fabulous tale of adventure, hardship, forbidden love, antiques and lingerie sharing the same space, and the birth of modern-day America written with the poetic language of a novel. Because of the writing style you don’t have to have a particular interest in the creation of America, See has made her otherwise-unknown family famous. Perhaps it’s weird, because these people are real people, but they are some of the most memorable characters for me this year and the book is one I’m going to have to re-read at some point in the future.
The Rest Of The List

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This year for me and reading was all about the classics, I vowed early on that I would make a start on Austen, the Brontës, and any others that came to mind and were interesting. This last part didn’t happen as the only other one that came to mind was Dickens and I’m not interested in him right now. But in reading blogs and reviews I’ve discovered Gaskell, Zola, Trollope, and also Frances Burney.

I signed up to two challenges, but the host of one of them stopped updating her site as soon as she’d organised it so I forgot to let her know of my progress. That was the Tudor Challenge, I signed up to read about 8 books but only read two, The Other Boleyn Girl and Innocent Traitor. I did better at the Historical Fiction Challenge, reading 11 out of the 20 I signed up for.

Quotation Report

If Silk of The Belgariad complains about the makeshift camp being too domestic don’t listen, he’s going to go and get some clothes that need repairing regardless. Belgarath may ask others why 2 and 2 makes 4 but when it comes down to it, he hasn’t a clue himself. And Garion will say that he hasn’t been peeking at the naked Ce’Nedra but when the second voice in his head tells him it’ll help confuse the evil god he’ll blush, and the voice reckons it’ll irritate the god as much as it irritates himself anyway, so it’s not all bad.

Elizabeth Bennet of Pride And Prejudice knows it’s probably not a good idea to go against your mother in 19th Century England, but if your father says that he will never speak to you again if you do marry Mr Collins, what option do you have? And speaking of mothers, Alice of Love Rules made a faux-pas by saying “bloody” in her mother-in-law’s presence; while Saul’s thinking that if he clicks on that dodgy-looking link he might get a sexually-transmitted computer virus. Lucky then that he knows the site is far from the one he’s looking for.

Personally it doesn’t take my fancy, but Lyra of His Dark Materials found a piece of seal-meat in her pocket, another’s coat it seems, and enjoyed it very much. And if David Eddings is anything to go by, the excitement to oneself caused by your characters suddenly making swift progress up a steep hill results in most words of a sentence ending in -ly.

Apparently, if Polly of The Magician’s Nephew is anything to go by, if you bring an evil witch queen from one world to your own, it’s fine to go home to dinner and leave her where she is. No matter if she’s intending to start her take-over of your world in the morning. And Elinor of Sense And Sensibility reckons it’s fine to tell your sister she can’t write a letter to her mother on the same day you do, no matter if you’re both at an age where petty issues like this should have ended long ago. Though you should trust her if she tells you never to wait in a shop queue if the man currently being served is looking for a toothpick case. He might be a while.

If you use Shasta of The Horse And His Boy as your case of reference you will never explore the area to the south of your home because if you go just a little way, a little little way, south, and find it uninteresting then surely further south will be just as boring. Of course this does not apply to you if you live by the sea – exploring the sea would be interesting, and possibly fatal. And while the majority of the world’s population would agree that when you’re dead that’s it, Lasaraleen of Calormen, the country south of Narnia, thinks that a good course of action is to kill a traitor and then, afterwards, feed them only bread and water. Edmund, the King of Narnia, at the time of Prince Caspian, shows us that the phrases we think are modern aren’t always so when he says “it will be more of a sucks for him if I win, and less of a let-down for us all if I fail”. And Lucy points out that girls don’t have maps in their heads like boys because their minds have a bit more substance.

In accordance with the thoughts of Lex of Lex Trent Versus The Gods, one of the biggest reasons for being a king is to be able to annoy school children down the ages who will have to copy out your name in the list of kings when they’re learning about dynasties. While Lady Luck, of the same book, knew all too well that if she let a witch in the forest the kings would would go on the hunt straight away because kings love hunting just as much as they love taking royal mistresses. And if you want to be really romantic, do as Lex’s grandfather did and name a huge hulking beast, preferably a griffin, after the person you love.

A young Jane Austen, on writing Memoirs Of Mr Clifford, believed that a man wanting a big meal to be shared with his servants would be satisfied with an egg. And Austen’s character in the short story Love And Freindship believed that because a girl was plain and called Bridget there was nothing worth talking to her for. While Vida of Second Hand Heart makes the poignant point that love isn’t like Valentines, it’s often ugly like a real heart.

In After You an expectant mother gets teary over a nappy commercial, and in Jane Eyre, Mr Rochester suggests that his dog is more like him than the girl he is guardian of. But perhaps Rochester has better manners than said dog, who waits for no one – when it’s his dinner time he’ll gladly leave his human love birds to their conversation in the middle of a meadow, and trot off back home.

Another of Rochester’s beliefs is that you may never think of hating someone whom you already despise. And just to let you know that if you ever venture to Thornfield Hall you may find his cook in the kitchen looking like she’s about to spontaneously combust from the work given her.

In The Wilding, though it may be a factual reference to plant life, it’s still rather funny to read that Jon walks out into the ha-ha.

According to Emma of One Day, Dexter tends to introduce his girlfriends to her by bringing them as a dog does a pigeon and in Murder On The Down Low, a man who rarely smiles finds he’s lost the ability to bring such an expression to his face.

Lastly, in Wyrd Sisters, a freelance robber dresses up as blackbeard for full effect and a witch suggests cornflower to improve the thickness of a grimy cauldron mix.

The next few days will be dedicated to setting out my reading intentions for this new year and I may also post about the films I saw.

What was your favourite/were your favourite books you read in 2010?



January 1, 2011, 1:04 pm

Ah, Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice both made the list! And I see Second Hand Heart did as well, I guess I had better read that one soon.

Happy 2011!

Charlie: It sounds rather cliched, but I couldn’t not add the classics! I think you would like Second Hand Heart. Happy new year!

Catherine Ryan Hyde

January 1, 2011, 5:12 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you. What a great way to start my new year!

Charlie: Well deserved! Happy new year!

Jackie (Farm Lane Books)

January 2, 2011, 11:18 am

I love the way you have displayed all your reads in this way – so helpful!

I am very tempted to get Second Hand Heart after seeing your recommendation.

Charlie: Thank you, Jackie. I really wasn’t sure if it was a good way to structure it or not. I reckon you would like Second Hand Heart, thinking of what you’ve reviewed and liked in the past.


January 2, 2011, 5:27 pm

I enjoyed Second Hand Heart too, although it didn’t quite make my best of 2010 list. I’m glad to see Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice are in your top 5. I love both of those! On Gold Mountain sounds fascinating too – I’d like to read that one.

Charlie: I can only say that reading On Gold Mountain is a good idea ;)


January 5, 2011, 5:23 am

Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice are at the top of my classics project list for 2011! I’m glad to hear you loved them enough to rank them at the top of the heap. And The Book Thief…*sigh*, possibly my favorite book ever. It seems we loved different books of Chronicles of Narnia, though overall it seems we both liked the series.

Charlie: I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of the former two! Regarding The Book Thief I’m still wondering if there is any book that uses a similar written structure, it really is something else. Together we like the whole of Narnia then! Maybe that’s not quite what Lewis had in mind but my opinion of him has changed…



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