Wednesday 29 December 2010

Top Ten of 2010

I've been enjoying the top ten (or however many) lists which have been popping up all over the blogosphere recently. Making my own is always a highlight of the last days of December - scouring back through the wonderful reads I've been treated to throughout the year.
As usual, far more than ten were worthy of being heralded, but I have whittled it down to just ten. And, yes, it is in order. The order is subjective, in terms of my appreciation, rather than objective quality - and would doubtless change if I made this list again next week, but I do love a list. Click on each title to take you to my review of them. Here it is, in reverse order:

10.) The Good Earth - Pearl S. Buck
The first of two book group reads which made my list, this tale of a Chinese farmer and his family is told simply but so well.

9.) Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
And this is the second. Having tried and failed to read this back in 2004, was pleased to try again - and was swept away.

8.) Being George Devine's Daughter - Harriet Devine
A wonderful gift from a fellow blogger, and a captivating tale of childhood among theatre's greats.

7.) The Man Who Planted Trees - Jean Giono
Enchantingly simple. Giono's name is in the list, but it is Michael McCurdy's warm, striking woodcuts which make this book special.

6.) The Loved One - Evelyn Waugh
I'm glad I persevered with Waugh, as this short, hilarious look at the American funeral industry is an absolute joy.

5.) The Vet's Daughter - Barbara Comyns
Comyn's surreal but poignant style never lets you down, and this spectacular novel is no exception.

4.) Wait For Me! - Deborah Devonshire

Mitford mania continues apace here at Stuck-in-a-Book, as you'll have seen in my recent review. Don't forget to enter the draw for a copy.

3.) Travelling Light - Tove Jansson
The only book to appear on both this list and Project 24, Tove Jansson's gentle touch and incredible insight into human nature is nigh-on flawless. More translations, please.

2.) Loitering With Intent - Muriel Spark
My favourite novel read this year, told so cleverly and with inimitable talent.

1.) Nella Last's War - Nella Last
An early read in 2010, but my lasting favourite - a very talented writer who, but for Mass Observation, would never have had courage to put pen to paper. I'm looking forward to reading her later diaries in 2011.


  1. I love it when a book gets a second chance and ends up being a favorite! Poor Hardy has a bad reputation I think, but I would love to read more of his work. I have one of Tove Jansson's books lined up for January and want to read more Muriel Spark--and now I can see I will need to get a copy of Nella Last's War! Thanks for sharing your favorites!

  2. As a Hardy lover, I am so pleased to that Jude won you over at the second attempt. Some books work at anytime and some just need the right moment.

    And I am terribly impressed that you can pick out ten and put them in order too. My book of the year are still a large, disorderly jumble in my head. I recognise a few books I love and a few that I have added to my wishlist since you wrote about them.

  3. I haven't done my list of 'Top 10 books' yet, but 'The Vet's Daughter by Barbara Comyns, is definitely going to be in it.

  4. Am so glad you dsicovered Nella Last this year Simon! And like Jane, I'm impressed that you can pick out a list of books and put them in order.

  5. Your top 5 were already on my TBR list so now I'll have to think of adding the rest (save for Jude, the only one of your picks which I've actually read)! I'm deeply impressed that you were able to rank them; I'm thinking about my top reads of the year right now and narrowing them down - nevermind ranking them - is proving a bit of a challenge! I think it's more likely to be a top 15 rather than 10 at the rate I'm going.

  6. I haven't read Nella Last yet but I've heard so many good things about her writing - a must for next year. I'm glad you enjoyed Jude this time.

  7. I have several of these on my "future reading list," but haven't read any of them. I love all the end of the year list making. :)

  8. I read a lot of Sparks this year - what a great find she is, a delightful repast.

  9. Ah, I really want to read Travelling Light... Also Jude the Obscure. I also started once (very tentatively, and years ago...) but set it aside due to, well, boredom. Seems like I ought to give it another shot.

  10. Danielle - I don't understand Hardy's bad reputation among many - I found Jude surprisingly easy and compelling to read, having been told by people what a struggle it was. And I hope you enjoy all the other recommendations you want to follow up - which Jansson are you reading?

    Jane - It does make me wonder about the books I haven't enjoyed in the past, and whether I'd love them a second time around? I re-read a bit, but not very often... all those gems I could be missing!

    Spangle - I enjoyed reading your list, and glad to see The Vet's Daughter there - I must read more Comyns this year... still a few unread on my shelves.

    Verity - I do love a list! I love reading them and making them, and it never feels quite the same unless they're in order... even if the order would doubtless change tomorrow.

    Claire - There was an 11-15 on my list, but I decided to be vicious and cull them. Last year, I think, I did a top 15 as there were too many good books not to mention.

    Jodie - I think more or less anyone interested in the WW2 period would find Nella Last's book rewarding reading.

    Susan - it's such fun, isn't it? Do let me know what you think of any of the ones you read!

    pburt - indeed! Although I'd read two of her books before, I still think of Spark as one of my discoveries of 2010. Several more now on my shelf...

    Biblio - I am testament to it working better the second time!

  11. thanks for the recommendations, I will check some of these out!


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