Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Books of the Year 2010

I've historically posted my books of the year post after the year was over, but this misses the Christmas shopping season, so this year, I'll provide my books of the year recommendations now, and start the 2011 book list from the next book I review.

All in all, this has been a great year for reading. I got in about 57 books (58 if you include the below-mentioned book of the year), which is a bit more than a book a week. This is on par with the previous year despite my not having a full-time job. But keep in mind that I also wrote a book or two this year, and there were some times when I was just burned out on reading or writing. I'll also note that I don't review magazines or periodicals that I read.

I'll cheat for the overall book of the year and point folks to Hyman Minsky's Stabilizing an Unstable Economy. Due to the timing of last year's "Book of the Year" recommendations, it just missed the cut, so I need to name it again. If you don't understand the term "Minsky moment", this book will explain it to you in spades. Runners up in the non-fiction category include: The Big Short, ECONned, and Chasing Stars. In particular, Chasing Stars is definitely worth a read if you want a good understanding of how important the environment is for nurturing performance.

On the fiction side, the best book I read this year was Perdido Street Station. I don't usually recommend a book when I'm unable to get past the first chapter the first time I tried it, but I'm glad I gave it a second (or was it third) try. Once I got into the plot China Mieville's writing drew me in and sucked me in as though I was watching a movie. It also helps that Mieville has a huge vocabulary, and is good at coining new words that let you understand what he means right away. If like me, you couldn't get past the first chapter of Perdido Street Station the first few times, try The Scar, his second novel. It's a bit of a slower start, but it too does provide the sense of wonder that science fiction and fantasy is supposed to give to us in spades. In general I had a bad year for fiction this year, and the only other book that I think is worth a read is The Windup Girl. Sure, the science is probably all wrong, but the characterization and correct depiction of South East Asia makes this book a great read.

Finally, I'll echo previous years' recommendation for Fables. If you haven't read it, you just don't now how good comic books can be as a narrative form.
Post a Comment