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Reading in 2010

8 January, 2011

Time for the second of my looking-back-at-2010 posts, this time on the subject of the books I read. Most of them weren’t actually published in 2010, but as this isn’t a book review blog, I’m going to ignore that and just talk and what I particularly enjoyed.

Trying to pick out favourites is incredibly difficult, as I’ve read some great books this year, so I’m simply going to put them in order of when I read them in the year. Starting in January…

‘The Magicians’ – Lev Grossman This was the first thing I read in 2010 and damn good it was too. I remember thinking it was somewhere between the plots of Harry Potter and Narnia, but far more adult and distinctly bittersweet. The fact that I didn’t particularly like any of the characters but still loved this book is a testament to how strong Grossman’s writing is.

‘Above the Snowline’ – Steph Swainston I wrote about this after I’d read it, so I won’t say much here. Suffice to say, reading more of Jant’s adventures is always a highpoint of my year and ‘Above the Snowline’ was no exception.

‘The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms’ – N.K. Jemisin This comes in as one of my absolute favourites of the year and I can’t wait to get hold of the sequel. Complex, compelling, elegant, great characters, fabulous world-building… Well, I could go on, but I won’t. I will say that Jemisin is one of the best debut authors I’ve come across in a while and I love finding new female authors too. This is a must-read for all fans of epic fantasy.

‘White Crow’ – Marcus Sedgewick One of very few YA books I read this year but also the most chilling (of everything I read, actually, not just the YA stuff). ‘White Crow’ is a masterclass is building mood and tension and creepy characters without a single wasted word. You can read it in an afternoon but it’ll stay in your mind far, far longer.

‘Wildwood Dancing’ – Juliet Marillier This is the closest thing I’ve read to a fairytale in a long time and it was just as enchanting as a good fairytale should be. Beautiful writing and one of the most compelling main characters I’ve read all year. I was desperately wanted Jena to succeed and I think that’s the mark of a good character.

In writing this, I’ve realised just how many more books I could add to the list, including some classics. ‘The Anubis Gates’, anyone? ‘The Crystal Cave’? Jim Butcher and Liz Williams and Lian Hearn? (And Marie Brennan, and Ellen Kushner, and Anthony Francis etc. etc.)

There were really only three massive disappointments, one I was expecting and two I wasn’t. The former was ‘Twilight’ which I read just to see what the fuss was about. I think I only kept reading to see how much more dire it could get. What pained me most of all was the terrible writing. Yet another description of Bella getting ready for bed, driving or deciding what to make for dinner? Do Not Need. The other two were ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ (slow, tedious, waffly and with random, unnecessary scenes of extreme violence that added nothing to the story) and ‘The Eye of the World’. I’d heard so much good stuff about early Robert Jordan books, but I just couldn’t finish this one. I got about two-thirds through before I finally got bogged down in the endless descriptions. There simply weren’t any scene breaks – every little excrutiating detail of travel was in there and, whilst it was well written, it just wasn’t for me.

So, that was my year in reading. What did you read that you loved… or hated?

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