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“I remember downcast eyes and secret whims”: Books Read in 2010

Seeing how I’m only pages into the 1000+ page novel The Instructions and likely won’t be finished anytime soon, now seems like an appropriate time to review my year in reading. Again, discounting the many articles and chapter selections that have been thumbed, read, and annotated, here’s a breakdown of what my reading time was spent with:

Books read in 2010: 108

Comics and graphic novels included in reading total: 17

Books of poetry included in reading total: 
5

Books reread included in reading total: 3

Academic & Education related books included in reading total: 23

YA and Junior Fiction books included in reading total: 19

A few thoughts and highlights (maybe you wan’t to compare them to last year’s):

The single best short story collection I’ve read in a long, long time is Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang. If you take no other recommendations, I strongly recommend seeking this one out.

In terms of highlights, my year ended with a run of rather fantastic fiction that came out this year. In particular, Skippy Dies and Room were tremendously fun reads I can’t imagine anyone disliking. Enough praise (and criticism) has been heaped on Freedom to make anything else here seem like hyperbole. Be that as it may, I struggled getting through the first third or so of this book before it completely enveloped me and left me just awed by the end – the last sentence perhaps the apotheosis of a stellar text. Along the lines of popular novels, I am left wanting to know Larson’s larger plot arc for the Millennium series. As formulaic as the texts were, I’ll admit to having been caught up in all three when reading them.

A fitting addition to the BSRAYDEKWTDWT collection, Tree of Codes is as beautiful as it is perplexing a read. The process of creation (both by the author and the publisher) is thrilling and the end result is as much art-ifact as it is poetic narrative. This post’s title and image are representative of the lucid wakefulness that is evoked through the cobweb-like pages that stick and pull from each other.

I also spent a significant chunk of reading time on YA and junior fiction, which is probably one of the best tips I can give to newer teachers; having a handful of tomes you can book talk to the most wayward of readers will go miles in keeping reading sustained throughout the year. As much as I flew through popular works like the Hunger Games Trilogy, I Am Number Four*, and the Uglies, I would point to Looking For Alaska as the title I keep coming back to. Just a great read as a whole and I can’t say that John Green’s other works have disappointed both in the classroom and as leisure reading. Going Bovine is also a quick read, despite its heft. For a slightly younger audience, Neil Armstrong is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me is great. The ending felt telegraphed from the opening chapters and yet I still felt myself caught up emotionally in the way Marino pulls the plot together nicely in the concluding pages.

Essex County is a great graphic novel – so different from Lemire’s current series, Sweet Tooth. I recommend both as entry points for people that don’t consider themselves comic book readers.

Oh, I’m pretty sure that Stoner is heaped with praise annually by anyone that encounters it. That being said, it is just incredible. If you don’t believe me, the singer of the band that put out my favorite album of the year also agrees [music of 2010 post to follow shortly].

* The story behind this series, its author, and his marketing plan are a pretty fun (if somewhat infuriating) read too.

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