Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010: The Year in Review

Wow, the first decade of the 21st century is over!  It completely flew by, didn't it?  And this past year flew by more quickly than all the rest.  I've had a lot of changes over the past year.  I moved to Michigan, started grad school, went camping for the first time, survived a quarter-life crisis... it's been an active year!  I also read a TON!  My count for the year is 100 books, which blows my 2009 record of 77 books out of the water!  This is, however, mostly due to the number of graphic novels and shorter stories I read this year.  Thank you to the Graphic Novel Challenge for pushing me to try this genre out- it was great and I'm so glad to be reading comic books now!

I also read more social history this year than ever before, and through that, got much more interested in fiction and non-fiction about women's lives and their struggles.  Thank you Women Unbound challenge for that!  I am so glad I read more about women's lives during the first half of this century in particular- it really brought to life how much the world has changed in the past 50 years or so, and how much more change is required.

Due to the Flashback Challenge (which I did not complete), I was able to re-read some of my favorite books this year!  Those are left off the Best Of lists below as they were not "new to me" reads this year, but I appreciated The Phantom Tollbooth, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Lions of Al-Rassan even more this read through than I did the first time.

And though I know I have lapsed with it in the past several months, I love the Spotlight Series and the way it brought attention to small press publishers.  I will be on top of that again early in the new year, I promise, once I get an internship squared away for the summer!  I am so excited that NYRB Classics has really taken off in blogosphere, as I am obsessed with their books.  I am also just glad in general to know more about small presses and the great work they publish.  I also checked more books out from the library, which was fabulous.

Want some statistics?  Probably not, but I do and find statistics really fun in these situations, so here goes:

Books read in 2010 that were already on my shelves by December 31, 2009:  32 - Somehow, I did way better on this front at the start of the year than at the end of it.

Male/Female Author Ratio:  48 Male/52 Female (Pretty good, I think)

Non-Fiction/Fiction Ratio (including memoirs, graphic novels):  19 non-fiction/81 fiction (eek!  And I was very proud of my non-fiction reads for this year!)

"Out of my comfort range" books (i.e., non-historical fiction and fantasy):  49 (YEAH!!  I am very proud of myself for this, though I am not sure I am consistent on my definition of "historical fiction.")

Books borrowed/begged/stolen- read but unowned: 30 (If that translates to 30 books I did not buy this year, I am very happy with this number)

Countries Visited:  Greenland, India, Vietnam, Lebanon, Palestine, Great Britain, Nigeria, Mexico, Afghanistan, Germany, Russia, Burma, China, Italy, France, New Zealand
But what books really hit home to me this year?  Which ones were memorable?  The good, the bad and the ugly?  Here's what made an impact:

Books that disappointed me: 
Sunishine, by Robin McKinley (way too much internal monologue); The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Lives, by Lola Shoneyin (way too much gratuitous flatulence); Bachelor Girl, by Betsy Israel (way too much judging single women for being single)

Books that made me feel smarter for reading them because I don't think I understood them fully:  The Bone People, by Keri Hulme; Memoirs of an Anti-Semite, by Gregor von Rezzori; The Vintner's Luck, by Elizabeth Knox

Book I thought would be way more intimidating and complicated than it was:  Dead Souls, by Nikolai Gogol

Books that opened my eyes a little bit more:  The Eyes of Willie McGee, by Alex Heard; Mornings in Jenin, by Susan Abulhawa

Rekindled Literary Crushes:  Ammar from The Lions of Al-Rassan, by Guy Gavriel Kay; Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

Best Books of the Year (in alphabetical order, and excluding re-reads):

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
The Arrival

The Bone People
The Eyes of Willie McGee
The Graveyard Book
The Hakawati (Review Forthcoming)
The Sparrow
To Say Nothing of the Dog

I do not have a TOP READ of 2010 because while I loved all the books above, I don't think any one stood out to me above and beyond all others.  They are all so different from each other that I don't think I can compare them.  And in a way, I'm glad about that.  I am very happy of how diverse my reading was this year, and I hope to achieve that type of balance in all areas of my life in 2011 :-)


  1. Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was fabulous and I also loved Mornings in Jenin (it's one of my top 3 for the year)

  2. Anonymous12/31/2010

    I love your blog for the variety of books you read:) I really need to read Sherman Alexie's book. I'm impressed that you read 32 books from your shelf. That's inspiring! Happy new year Aarti!

  3. I really want to read The Sparrow and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. So many bloggers whose opinions I trust have loved them!

    Also, I feel exactly the same about reading more social history about women's lives this years. It was eye-opening in so many ways, both about the past and about the present.

    Happy New Year, Aarti!

  4. Anonymous12/31/2010

    I hope you have a great 2011!

    Like Ana, I want to read both The Sparrow and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian..

  5. 100 books.. wow!! and your male:female author ratio is so enviable. Have a fabulous 2011!

  6. Happy new Year :D
    Good year for you, and I hope your studies are going well!

  7. You had great stats for this year! But I know what you mean about non-fiction - I ended up with a similarly shocking low ratio of books I used to read the most of! Best wishes for a great upcoming year!

  8. Happy New Year, Aarti! I haven't read any of your books of the year but they all sound interesting. I'd love to read The Sparrow and To Say Nothing of the Dog.

    Have a great 2011!

  9. Lions al-Rassan made one of my top five spots of this year as well, and I have you to thank for that!! I also hated Baba Segi's Wives for much the same reason, and felt my brain stretch at The Bone People and The Vintner's Luck, so all in all, I think we picked some pretty good reads to share! It's very cool that you got to read so many untried genres, and that you were able to read so many from the shelves. I hope to do more of that this coming year. It sounds like you have had a really good year in books, and I look forward to reading more with you in the upcoming year. Happy New Year, my friend!!

  10. Wait - you have a picture of Daddy Long Legs but didn't include it in any of your lists...where does it fit? I think I remember you liked that one (again, I think I'm the only person on the planet to hate that one).

  11. I hear so many great things about Lions of al-Rassan - I'm destined to break down and read it in 2011!

    Hope you have a fantastic year, for reading, blogging, and otherwise!

  12. Blankets is such an amazing graphic novel, so I'm glad you liked it. And nice job of reading outside your comfort zone more - I didn't do that much, but maybe next year.

  13. Great reading this year. Happy New Year and Happy reading!

  14. The Phantom Tollbooth actually made my top ten list this year. It's such a unique read, especially for younger people.

    My male-female ration is always pretty even as well for some unknown (but surely karmic) reason.

  15. Helen- Those were both excellent! I especially adored Part-Time Indian.

    chasingbawa- Aw, thanks, that means a lot as I don't think I had a great deal of variety before this year ;-) And I was pretty surprised with 32 books from my own shelves, too! That was higher than I expected.

    Nymeth- I think you would love both those books, so when you have a spare moment, get on it! I also hope to continue the social history trend.

    Iris- Ooh, you two reading those together would be fun! Bet they would be great reviews :-)

    Bedazzled- I was pretty shocked by the number, too, but I was doing volunteer work for most of the year, not working, so I think that accounts for it! I don't know why, but I think my male/female ratio is usually pretty on the mark. Possibly to do with the amount of epic fantasy I read.

    Blodeuedd- Happy new year to you, too!

    rhapsody- Maybe next year, I'll do better on the non-fiction front, but I somehow doubt it. While I enjoy reading it when I already have the book open, I tend not to pull it from the shelves in the first place...

    Helen- Happy new year to you, too! To Say Nothing of the Dog was one of my most fun reads of the year and The Sparrow was very intense in a year full of intense reads.

    Zibilee- Happy new year to you, too! As I was making my lists, I realized that a lot of the most memorable ones were ones we read together :-) We'll have to keep that up!

    Amanda- Wow, you caught me out. So... I got really lazy trying to match the book images with the actual lists, and so finally I just started putting random pictures of books I read up there. I originally had a list of books that I read based on specific recommendation, but then I took that one off. Daddy Long-Legs fit for that list.

    Lana- I love Lions of Al-Rassan! I highly recommend it, especially if you like histfict.

    Kim- There is always next year :-) Though honestly, if you are happy in your comfort zone, then I don't think you need to go much further, personally. I just started to feel like I was missing out on a lot of stuff I would like, so made a conscious decision to spread the love.

    bookmagic- Happy new year to you, too!

    Trisha- YES, I love that book! It would make my list, too, except it was a re-read for me. I also assume I read males and females in equal ratios for karmic reasons determined by the universe.

  16. I'm impressed that you were able to read so much while in school! During my college years I probably read a total of 5 books purely for fun. Though I did read a lot of short stories.

  17. Lenore- I only started school in September. I actually haven't read much during school at all- just before school started as I was volunteering for most of the year, and now on break, quite a bit, too. But otherwise... it's basically textbooks for me!

  18. Happy New Year! I'm glad to see that we have two of the same books on our "best of" lists. Happy New Year!

  19. I really enjoyed being a part of the Spotlight Series this year and am glad you are going to continue with it this next year, Aarti. I read some great books I might not have otherwise read because of it.

    One of these days I really will read The Sparrow. I also want to read The Graveyard Book and Hakawati. Oh, and The Bone People. They all sound good.

    I hope you have a wonderful New Year, Aarti!

  20. Vasilly- I'm glad, too :-)

    Literary Feline- Oh, I'm so glad to hear that! Thanks for making my day. And I highly recommend all three of those books :-)

  21. I adore your questions that you asked! I'm going to steal them and do a part 2 to my summary.... :)
    Congrats on your busy year and thriving in your reading. I didn't finish the Flashback Challenge either but I still did better than I expected and what's even sweeter is that I ENJOYED re-reading. so THANK YOU.
    You are pretty cool, ya know that?
    May 2011 treat you very well, indeed.

  22. Wishing you all the best in 2011. I've greatly enjoyed your blog this year!

  23. I feel like I need to give THE SPARROW another go. I've been trying to psych myself up for it, but I keep coming back to Emilio's hands. I honestly don't know if I can stand to read about them again. I'll keep trying, though, since everyone else says the book is fantastic and worthwhile.

  24. Happy New Year and congrats on all of the reading you did in 2010! I enjoyed reading your best lists!

  25. Care- Ha, great! I look forward to seeing yours, too :-) I think the Flashback Challenge proved the same to me, too- that I like re-reading things! Which is nice to know. And you're worth 5 slices of pie to me, too.

    Kathleen- I've enjoyed yours as well. Happy New Year!

    Memory- Ooh, yes, the hands are VERY disturbing, I absolutely agree. They freak me out when I dwell on them too much, too.

  26. We share many favourites, so I've added several of these others to my TBR list. And I love your "Rekindled Literary Crushes" category: I think that will be in the back of my reading mind as this year rolls along...I'll be watching for them!

  27. Wow, quite an impressive year, and so eclectic! Happy New Year!

  28. What a really great wrap-up post! I love the way that you organized it. Also, congrats on so many reads out of your comfort zone - that is incredible :)

  29. I'm so impressed you still managed to read so many books with everything else going on!Happy New Year.

  30. Anonymous1/02/2011

    Great balance between male and female authors! I just glanced through my books from the last year, and I was heavily slanted toward female authors this year, like a 3:1 ratio. :/ Happy New Year!

  31. This is a great list!! I'm working on mine right now.

  32. Anonymous1/05/2011

    Haven't read any on your best of list, but I will check them out.

    I agree about Atticus Finch. I read To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time this year, and I'm so glad I did!

  33. I liked The Sparrow a great deal but haven't managed to read the sequel yet.

    Interesting mix last year! Almost half out of your comfort zone too.

  34. I loved the Alexie too and it sounds like you had a really great year in books! Love the sheer variety!

  35. Happy New Year Aarti!

    I was very glad to see Connie Willis on your list! Can't wait to read Doomsday Book with you when you are ready!

  36. Anonymous1/11/2011

    To Say Nothing of the Dog and The Sparrow are both books I'm thinking of reading early this year. The Hakawati was indeed great. I read it a couple of years ago. I love your paranthetical notation regarding Shoneyin's book. I also remember your review of Bachelor Girl very clearly. Your category of Books that make me feel smarter . . .is fantastic and one I may have to institute in a future wrap-up post.

    - Christy

  37. Aarti -
    I do hope you start up the Spotlight Series again.

    I started The Sparrow in audio finally and was loving it but my ipod croaked.. glad to hear it was on your favorites list.

    I do need to get your blog back onto the active list since I have you in the blogger bone yard listing on my blog.

    I hope your well and enjoying your new year. :)


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