Monday, January 24, 2011

Best Novels Of 2010

A recent perusal over my fiction shelves reminded me that I had not yet completed a "Best Novels Of The Year" list (a necessary deed once a year)! There's no time like the present. Unfortunately, I had shockingly little time to read this year, but in the time that I did have, I found some jewels. In no particular order...

Enemy Brothers by Constance Savery. Possibly the best book of the year. A beautiful YA story of a young Nazi taken in by an English country family during WWII, the novel filled my heart. The writing is marvelous, brief prose that evokes an amazing range of emotions, and the characters are fantastic. This will become a regular read.

The Empty Crown by Rosemary Edgehill. Actually three novels in one, The Empty Crown combines a snarky (and secretly lonely) New York librarian with an elf king on a mission who becomes stranded in New York. High fantasy with an active sense of humor. Anyone who loves books, history, or random facts will love this.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. This is technically a re-read, but I got so much out of it on the second go that it deserves to be listed. For anyone who (gasp) hasn't read it, it's... impossible to describe. Read it. Card's ability to tell stories of chilling despair, soaring hope, and unflinching truth through the eyes of children boggles my mind.

The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper. I enjoyed all the books in this series, but this one stands alone. It takes the basic premise of any fantasy (an unwilling young hero on a quest) and turns in into a modern, dark, frightening story of good and evil, written by a master wordsmith. This is one of those YA novels that defies age limits.

Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers. Another re-read, by my reaction to reading this was so dramatically different the second time that it needs to be listed. Sayers is a literary genius, and I believe this is one of her best. Here plot and character entwine perfectly. Although the mystery is central, the heart of the novel is the relationship between Harriet Vane and Lord Peter, and the surprises they discover inside themselves as they challenge evil. I discovered a few surprises inside myself while reading this one.


I also discovered Agatha Christie and her brilliant, timeless studies of human character, all wrapped up in witty entertainment, and as usual, read Chesterton, both fiction and nonfiction. Reading Chesterton, I know, will be a part of every literary year for me. :)

Another novel I loved this year was Day Of Ashes by Kelsey Kline. It didn't make the list simply because it's author stubbornly refuses to complete and share it. She should be warned... dreadful things happen to such persons.

What are the best novels you read this year?


Kelsey said...

ooooh guilt trip... :P One of my other friends was nagging me about that too the other day, I should get back to it, but it needs so. much. work... haha thanks though ;)

Enemy Brothers for the win!!!!

I read hardly anything this year either. Sad, sad. SS5 would definitely be on my top 10 list, though. :D

Anonymous said...

i still read yur writin on the rr site

Elisabeth said...

Unfortunately, this past year was part of a long lapse in recording what I read - I didn't start until very late in the year, so I missed recording my favorites. I'll do better next year! But off the top of my head, one of my favorite discoveries was early female Western author B.M. Bower - my favorites of her books are Chip of the Flying U, Tiger Eye and Her Prairie Knight.

Agatha Christie is one of my all-time favorite authors! I've read almost all of her books and only regret that there aren't more. Which are your favorites?

Eric Schonblom said...

Very pleased with your list of books! I happen to be re-reading Gaudy Night at the moment, Susan Cooper is a great favorite of mine, and I have a web site devoted to Constance Savery; Google "constancesavery" to find it. Catholic parents may suggest skipping Savery's novels about the persecution of Huguenots: Rebel Jacqueline, Scarlet Plume, and Silver Whistle. The City of Flowers is another title not recommended for Catholic children.

Nina Hansen said...

Kelsey: you should be on a major guilt trip. I hope you have nightmares. *sternexpression* ;) I love it that you love SS-5. :)

Cowboy: wow, that's old writing... I hope I've improved since then!

Elisabeth: never heard of BM Bower but now I want to check her out! :) So far my favorite Agatha Christie's have been her Miss Marple stories, though Murder On The Orient Express is fantastic. What are your favorites?

Eric: a whole website devoted to Constance Savery? I'm stopping by! Thanks for posting and sharing the link!

Elisabeth said...

My favorite are the Poirot novels - there's hardly a bad one in the bunch, although I did not like Curtain at all. Cards on the Table, Death On the Nile, Five Little Pigs, The ABC Murders...there's a lot of good ones. My favorite Marple is 4:50 To
(the American title is What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw) and A Murder Is Announced was good too.

Elisabeth said...

Excuse me, that ought to be 4:50 From Paddington. Maybe that's why they changed the title for Americans. :)

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