I always have trouble narrowing down my annual selection of favorite books. I limit it to books I have blogged (thus eliminating the wonderful “Winter's Bone” blogged by Dorothea and "Half of a Yellow Sun" blogged by Anna) and, as I look at the list, I try to choose those that didn't just entertain me but also left a lasting impression. (It's always a little depressing to have to re-read my blog in order to remember anything about the book). Books that allow me to peek inside a place I've never been (a culture, a profession, a country) always engage me. And I love a book that offers me a mystery to unravel even as it fascinates me with interesting characters and plot.
For a lasting impression nothing could top Agatha's Hoff riveting memoir Burning Horses (A Powerful Story), the story of her mother Eva's life in a Hungary turned upside down by World War II.
I read two books where characters worked for newspapers - The Imperfectionists (Reporting From Rome) and Not Untrue and Not Unkind (Reporting From The Congo) – and both offered very different pictures the underside of journalism.
Two books had me trying to fit together the shifting pieces of a puzzle as I read - Await Your Reply (Mistaken Identity) and Mr. Peanut (Marriage and Murder). And Cloud Atlas (Worth A Second Look) was the literary equivalent of a Russian matryoshka doll – each story opening on to another and then circling back again.
Two short story books gave me what I love about this form - fresh, unexpected glimpses of characters captured like a snapshot - Both Ways Is The Only Way I Want It (Short And Bittersweet) and If I loved you I would tell you this (Unexpected Slices).
And if you're just looking for laughs you can't go wrong with Headlong (Country Life).
A stack of of unread books awaits me as I cross into 2011. Happy New Year and Happy Reading. Make your own list of 2010 favorites.