What follows is a list of My Top 10 Reads of 2010. These were books not necessarily published in 2010, but books I actually sat down and read between January 1st and December 31st of last year (excluding Book of the Month Club picks). My faves…
The Heroes, by Joe Abercrombie
I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of Joe Abercrombie’s latest foray into nihilistic fantasy and, damn is it great. Set in the same world as his First Law Trilogy, The Heroes charts the progress of several campaigns in the war between the North and the Union. Epic in scope yet delightfully detailed in its tracking of the various players involved, it delivers what we’ve come to expect from Abercrombie: dark humor, multi-faceted characters, blood and battle. The dizzying cast requires careful attention be paid, but patience is rewarded in the form of some beautifully drawn personalities and relationships on both sides of the conflict.
A washed-up illusionist and his imposing assistant battle to save London from dark forces in Jonathan Barnes’ witty, macabre, and all-out-bizarre novel. There are surprises a plenty in a book in which no one can be trusted, least of all our narrator.
This dystopian classic chronicles the disintegration of order in the wake of a global blight as seen through the eyes of a handful of desperate individuals. Harrowing and shockingly brutal in its depiction of life after the fall and the lengths some people will go to in order to survive.
I consider Michael Flynn one of the most underappreciated SF authors writing today. I read and loved two of his novels, The Wreck of the River of Stars and Eifelheim, so took a chance on this collection of short stories and was rewarded with some terrific, thought-provoking tales. One of my favorites involves a doctor who believes he may have found the key to saving his ailing daughter (stricken with accelerated aging) in the form of an elderly woman who may – or may not – be 200 years old. Each entry is followed by a short, insightful afterword that not only sheds light on his writing process, but offers up some great recommendations for further informative, non-fiction reading.
My favorite Stephen King book. Taut, suspenseful, and thoroughly engaging, one of those novels it actually pains you to set aside. It’s no surprise that this one speaks to me. Having dealt with Stargate fandom over the course of my many years with the franchise, I’ve come across my fair share of cockadoodie Annie Wilkes types. Scary as hell. And one of those rare instances where the movie adaptation rocked as well.
In 2010, I finally discovered Christopher Moore. What took me so long?! Well, Fool was the perfect book to get me started. It’s a ribald retelling of King Lear from the point of view of the court jester, an incorrigible rogue who proves endearing to some and positively infuriating to others as he navigates the salty, stormy seas of palace intrigue. The funniest book I read last year.
This one came recommended to me by my old Tokyo travel buddy, Stefan, and I can see why it would have appealed to him. The daughter of former ambassadors to Japan, Amelie returns to the country of her childhood to take a job at the prestigious Yumimoto company. Unfortunately for Amelie, those fond childhood memories are in sharp contrast to her awkward, amusing, occasionally nightmarish lesson in Japanese corporate culture. The fact that it’s an autobiographic experience makes it all the more effective.
Reynolds packs this novel with so many big, mind-boggling, uber-cool ideas that you almost feel the need to come up for air every thirty pages or so. I never understood the attraction of space opera until I read this novel. Brilliant.
Spiegelman interviewed his father, Vladek, a Holocaust survivor, then told his story in graphic novel form. It’s a harrowing, heart-rending tale possessed of warmth and occasional humor that conveys so much in so many surprising ways.
Vandermeer, one of the pioneers of New Weird fiction, doesn’t pull any narrative punches here. The Third Bear delivers a selection of short stories sure to enthrall, entertain, and engender all sorts of nightmares long after these outrageously inventive tales have been read.
Hmmmm. Someone I know may be looking for a good home for their french bulldog. I know, I know. I’ve got my hands full. Still, I do have the room and I hate the thought of that poor little guy ending up who-knows-where. I know at least one pug who’d love the company…
Well, can’t say I’m feeling better today. Just – different. My stomach issues have subsided, I’ve more or less conquered my insomnia, and while those seemed allergy symptoms haven’t disappeared, they have lessened somewhat. Now, I’ve moved on to my next mystery ailment = slight dizziness. Yes, doctor’s appointment tomorrow!