Revisiting What I Read in 2010

I didn't write my first "What I Read Last Year" post until 2012, but I've been closely tracking my reading since partway through 2008. As we approach the end of 2020, I thought it might be fun to take another look at what I was reading a decade ago.

Some things that struck me as I typed out and expanded on the list below:
  • It never ceases to amaze me how many List books I got through in that first year of the blog's existence. If only I could've kept up that pace!
  • My thoughts on romance novels have really come a long way. I do still think that because the genre is so much bigger than every other one, and because there's no equivalent to the category romance novel that I'm aware of for any other genre, there may be an excess of low-hanging fruit of lower quality books available in it. But I've also come to realize that that's not really relevant.
  • It's interesting and a bit sad that after ten years, I remember very little about the majority of these books, beyond a vague feeling of having liked them or not. For many of the ones that I wrote about, I only remember what I wrote about them instead of having actual memories of the books themselves.
And here is the list, without further ado!


What I Read in 2010

The Secret History of Fantasy edited by Peter S. Beagle
I still have this short story collection on my bookshelf, after receiving it as a gift from my friend Anne. It's a great collection that I should probably revisit, but it's most memorable for a few essays in it about what fantasy is and how long it's been with us, and of course the novella that was developed into Mythago Wood.

Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How they Will Die edited by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo, and David Malki
This short story collection is also still on my personal bookshelf. I think about it all the time, though certain stories were certainly much more memorable than others. It has a sequel that was published in 2013, which for some reason I haven't read yet.

Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor
Second in a trilogy which is a gritty YA reboot of Alice in Wonderland (though not anywhere near as gritty as Christina Henry's Alice, which is a good thing). The final book in the trilogy was released in 2009, and I really should've read both books back then. Recently I was wondering whether I actually wanted to read the final book at all, and concluded I was pretty indifferent. I'll reread the original instead! One of these days! I borrowed this one from my sister, and I'm not sure whether she ever finished the trilogy either.

The Old Wives' Tale by Arnold Bennett
#87 of the Top 100, which I still look back on with extreme fondness. I've been wanting to read more Arnold Bennett ever since and still haven't gotten around to it, but hopefully soon.

Headcrash by Bruce Bethke
A book I don't remember at all besides that it maybe lampoons Snowcrash (on which more below) and features this hilarious device called the "procto-prod" which enhances the virtual reality experience. Also maybe the main character drives a terrible car which is looted progressively throughout the book when he parks in a bad neighbourhood, except maybe that's a different book. Possibly a nail in the coffin of my original book club.

The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen
#84 of the Top 100. I don't know if my 1/3 rating for this book was entirely fair, but on the other hand I have no memory of this one whatsoever. Given some of the beauty that I did pull out of it for my review, I'm curious whether I'd like it better if I revisited it. I certainly loved an Elizabeth Bowen story called "The Demon Lover" that I read a few years ago. Instead of going back to this, I'm going to try some of her other work instead.

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
#97 of the Top 100. I still pretty frequently ponder the fact that the main character of this book dies significantly prior to the end of the book. I don't remember much else about it.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Romance #7. I can't believe it's been over ten years since I last read this! Still my favourite.

The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
#98 of the Top 100. I need to read so much more by Cain, and I'd quite like to revisit this one. I couldn't wait to read more, in fact, so I picked up Double Indemnity in 2017. The next famous one is Mildred Pierce, which I should get to soon.

Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell
#91 of the Top 100. A book that grossed me out and that I didn't like at all and have mostly forgotten. Steinbeck got into some similar ugliness seven years later with The Grapes of Wrath but he allowed his characters more dignity.

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
#85 of the Top 100. Having read four Conrad novels for this project, Lord Jim is the one that I remember with the most fondness, although I have a sneaking suspicion that it was more, shall we say, racially problematic than I bothered to mention in my review. For a better nautical yarn (though maybe not so philosophical as this one), go with Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey & Maturin books.

The Single Dad's Virgin Wife by Susan Crosby
Romance #5. So this is a bit awkward. In the last ten years I've come a long way from slamming romance novels just because I could to acknowledging that the genre is just as valid as any other. I was so unnecessarily mean in this review! And I can't say I've really thought about the book at all since my initial reading of it.

In the Flesh by Livia Dare
Romance #6. I have thought of this book since I read it, mainly because I've since discovered that Livia Dare is a pseudonym (possibly only used for this book) of Sylvia Day, who is a huge name in the romance world.

Because of a Boy by Anna DeStefano
Romance #3. This was the only time my review of a book attracted outside attention and thus I'll never forget it, but I have forgotten basically everything about the book and what irritated me so much about it, and I'm not going to reread my review.

Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow
#86 of the Top 100. I've read this book twice and still barely remember it. While I suspect that a lot of what I think about the first part of the 20th century was shaped by this book, the book itself hasn't stuck in my memory. I do think I'll give Doctorow another try eventually.

The Ginger Man by J. P. Donleavy
#99 of the Top 100. This is one of the List books that I've often wondered whether I'd like better if I read it now, or if I should just trust my previous judgement. I wonder this because the quotes I saved are so poetic. And yet I did hate Sebastian Dangerfield so much that I've bothered to remember his name.

Camille by Alexandre Dumas, fils
Romance #20. I don't remember this one very well and I think I went too easy on it at the time. The romantic hero is a complete jerk and the heroine dies of consumption.

The Magus by John Fowles
#93 of the Top 100. I have very fond memories of this literary psychological thriller (of sorts) and it prompted me to pick up Fowles' other novel, The French Lieutenant's Woman which I think I liked even more, have on my shelf, and plan to read again. I'd like to explore more of his work as well, with The Collector being next up on my list.

The Farmer Takes a Wife by Barbara Gale
Romance #1. This was my first time reading an entire category romance novel, and I didn't like it much and haven't really thought about it at all since. Basically a woman ends up stranded and is cared for by a farmer who is also smart and fit and charming.

Loving by Henry Green
#89 of the Top 100. I barely remember this book and won't be revisiting Green's work. Too many other things out there that I'm way more interested in.

Rules for a Lady by Katherine Greyle
Romance #19. Another romance novel I haven't thought about at all.

Mr. Right Next Door by Teresa Hill
Romance #2. My second ever category romance novel, which I do recall liking better than the first due mainly to the presence of a cat.

Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay
The last Guy Gavriel Kay novel I read, prior to finally revisiting his work in 2019. I mostly remember this book being boring. It's about a couple who are in one of these reincarnation love stories (or maybe it's a reincarnation love triangle?) but I found it pretty bloodless if I recall correctly. Should I reread The Fionavar Tapestry soon? Probably.

Ironweed by William Kennedy
#92 of the Top 100. If I'm not mistaken, this was the most recently published book of the bunch and (perhaps you'll sense a pattern) I have virtually no memory of it. It's a book that, reading my review of it, I wonder if I'd maybe like better now with a bit more empathy under my belt for a character who's as down on his luck as this one (he's a bum in the 1930s) but I'm insufficiently curious to revisit it anytime soon.

The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
A selection from my first book club, I remember a lot of the ideas from this sf novel about a society of anarchosyndicalists but I also remember being very bashed over the head with those ideas. I still haven't decided just how I feel about Ursula K. Le Guin, but she's a writer I certainly need to read more of.

The Call of the Wild by Jack London
#88 of the Top 100. 2010 actually marked my second read through this book but the first time it knocked my socks off. I have not explored the recent film starring Harrison Ford and don't plan to (I've heard Togo is the better dog story put on screen recently anyway). I have added this book to my shelf and will pick it up again when the wild calls me.

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
I really feel like I read this book less recently than ten years ago. Say it with me again: I have no memory of it. It may have been the first book that I read using Project Gutenberg. It's also partially responsible for igniting what I'm starting to recognize as a love of old timey children's novels.

The Pendragon series #1-4 (The Merchant of Death, The Lost City of Faar, The Never War, and The Reality Bug by D. J. MacHale
I'm actually kind of amazed that it's been a decade since I read the first books of this series. It's a sort of late middle grade/early YA series about a boy who can travel through alternate worlds, his friends and allies, and their battle against evil. I very thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing, and it's so fun and action packed. This is another one that I'd like to revisit eventually.

Highland Rebel by Tess Mallory
Romance #4. Another early romnov that I read for the blog and haven't really thought of since.

I Thee Bed... by Jule McBride
Romance #18. I don't remember anything about this really, either, except that it was definitely one of the sillier romnovs I read.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Another selection from my original book club. One of the bleaker post-apocalypse books I've ever read, in fact almost certainly the bleakest. I still remember a lot of detail from this book, both because it's really impactful and thanks to discussing it with others.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Romance #10. I didn't call out the racism in this book nearly enough (or at all) in my original review of it, but I've been less and less able to look past that racism over the years. Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler are both marvellous literary creations, it's just a shame that they're in such a "problematic" book.

Under the Net by Iris Murdoch
#95 of the Top 100. I know I keep saying this, but I really have no memory whatsoever of Under the Net. I couldn't tell you a single thing that happens in it or even the broad strokes of what it's about. Would I "get it" more if I read it again? I don't care enough to find out. However I've heard of a few of Iris Murdoch's other novels that I'm sort of interested in (The Unicorn and A Severed Head, maybe just because of the titles), and I think I'll give her another shot sometime.

A Bend in the River by V. S. Naipaul
#83 of the Top 100. The book is about the post-colonial period in Africa from the perspective of an Indian man and I hated it so much. I'm looking forward to never reading another word of Naipaul's.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
#94 of the Top 100. A deconstruction of Jane Eyre from the perspective of the madwoman in the attic that I didn't want or need but that's probably better than I've given it credit for.

Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
#90 of the Top 100. I enjoyed this artful history of India's independence so much and would definitely love to revisit it at some point. I keep wondering if I should read more Rushdie or not.

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
This was a selection from my original book club that I quite enjoyed and still think about the concepts often. Some of them were silly and some of them were prescient. The book has an odd reputation and is dated in certain ways but I'm glad I read, so that I know people are talking about when it comes up on a regular basis online.

Sophie's Choice by William Styron
#96 of the Top 100. There were some things in this book about a holocaust survivor, her mentally unstable boyfriend, and the young aspiring writer who learns her story that went over my head, but I think a lot of the problem was that this is an incomprehensibly tragic story told by the wrong person.

Twin Temptation by Cara Summers
Romance #9. Another book I don't remember.

Shaman King, Vol. 1: A Shaman in Tokyo by Takei Hiroyuki
A manga I read with my brother's encouragement. Action manga don't do too much for me, apparently, and I didn't continue with this one.

Apache Nights by Sheri Whitefeather
Romance #8. By far and away my favourite of the category romnovs I read at the beginning of the project, but I have no real memories about it either, other than it was silly and fun. Maybe I should try more of Sheri Whitefeather's work?!

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