Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year! & Highlights of 2010’s Reading

Happy new year, dear blog readers! I hope you find lots of enjoyable books, new and old, to read in 2011!

I’ve enjoyed starting this blog in 2010: it’s been a fun way to meet new reader friends and keep me reading English-language fiction after a six-year stretch of reading mostly Russian-language novels. It’s nice to get caught up on the rest of the world! Here are some highlights from my 2010 reading:

Two favorite translated books: I read a lot of translated fiction, so couldn’t choose just one! I particularly enjoyed these two: Bragi Ólafsson’s The Ambassador (previous post), thanks to wonderfully absurd situations and references to Gogol’s “Overcoat,” and Alain Mabanckou’s one-sentence Broken Glass (previous post), thanks to its narrator’s storytelling, humor and irreverence. (These review copies came courtesy of, respectively, Open Letter and Soft Skull.)

Favorite book by a Maine writer: I still have a good feeling when I think of Ron Currie, Jr.’s, Everything Matters!, a thoroughly enjoyable novel about life under the threat of apocalypse. I loved it. (previous post)

Other favorite book written in English: Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go starts slowly but builds momentum as it look at moral questions related to how we live and die. (I’m being vague here because I don’t want to reveal too much.) It’s beautifully put together, and the end is crushing. (previous post)

What’s on the way for 2011? I don’t make goals or resolutions for anything but I’m especially looking forward to a couple of review titles on the shelf: Copenhagen Noir, a collection of short stories, and Tim Davys’s Tourquai, a Swedish crime novel about stuffed animals. The books came from Akashic and Harper Collins, respectively.

I’m also looking forward to the Eastern Europe Reading Challenge that Amy is hosting on The Black Sheep Dances. I’m going to try to read something from every country on her list… Some countries – especially Russia – already have big presences on my shelves, but others, like Moldova and Latvia, will be new for me. I’m hoping the challenge will encourage me to finally read a few of the books that have been waiting in my bookcases for years, like Péter Nádas’s A Book of Memories and Josef Skvorecky’s The Miracle Game.

That’s it for this year! Thank you for all your visits and comments. I’ll be back again soon in 2011, whenever I finish Mathias Énard’s Zone, a book that takes some time. I enjoy it but the one-sentence structure requires considerable concentration, which results in short spurts of reading. Happy new year to all!

Sparkler photo from raichinger, via


  1. What a wonderful year of reading you seem to have had in 2010. I share your feelings about Broken Glass. I also have The Book of Memories on my shelf so maybe will join the Eastern European Reading Challenge. Happy New Year.

  2. Thanks to both of you for the comments and kind wishes!

    @Chick: It's going to be coffee and a book for me soon, too! I appreciated your advice about starting with electronic readers... I ordered an Ectaco Jetbook, a low-priced reader that sounds like the easiest for reading Russian, and it should arrive on Monday. I'm a big notetaker so love paper books but I'm excited because there are so many Russian books I can't buy as physical books that are available in various legal electronic formats. Enjoy your reading, Nook and otherwise!

    @Kinna: I hope you do join the Eastern European Reading Challenge -- there are so many good books from that region! (And I notice you also mentioned on your blog that you have some Czech writers on the shelf...) Yes, it was a great reading year, and I'm looking forward to lots more fun books in 2011.

    Happy new year and happy new reading to everyone!

  3. Congratulations on such a great 2010 and all the best in 2011.

  4. Thank you, Amy! And happy anniversary to you on your blog.

  5. just stumbled on your site looking for reviews on Tourquai. i too review books for Harper, Tourquai is in my pile and i was curious about it.

    i share your love for Never Let Me Go. it's an amazing read, in part b/c of how he crafts a world that feels so real despite the system.

    if you're curious, my 2010 top reads are here: my blog isn't just books, but there's a tag that links to book posts

  6. Thank you for stopping by, clg1213! Yes, I've also been curious about Tourquai and the mysterious author...

    The world in Never Let Me Go felt very real to me, too, though I know lots of readers criticized Ishiguro, saying the characters were too passive. I just can't agree! (And won't say more since I don't want to reveal anything...)

    Happy reading!