Wrapping Up a Year in Reading 2010

December 23, 2010 | 2 books mentioned 10 2 min read


The holidays are here, and so we can bring to a close another entertaining Year in Reading. We at The Millions would like to thank all of those who participated in the series for their generosity in sharing their private acts of reading with a reading public thirsty to hear about them.

We hope this series captures, here in this sometimes impersonal medium, a glimpse into the personal reading lives of some writers and thinkers we all admire. Based on the generous feedback we receive (thank you; it means a lot), it seems clear that you find value in these glimpses. We have also experienced a very sincere form of flattery as we’ve noted that in the seven years since we first began our series, the likes of The New Yorker Book Bench, The Guardian, and now Bookforum and The Atlantic have embarked on series similar to our own.

Before we wrap this thing up for good, a few highlights: We loved Sam Anderson’s ingenious Year in Marginalia, Ed Champion’s championing of no fewer than 13 underappreciated books, and we also enjoyed the opportunity to take a peek into the reading lives of some of our literary heroes, including John Banville, Margaret Atwood, Aimee Bender, and Sam Lipsyte.

Other favorite moments included everyone still loving Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, Hamilton Leithauser extending The Millions’ obsession with Stoner for another year, Rosecrans Baldwin on a short, upsetting, foxy novel called Why Did I Ever, Laura van den Berg on “two deliciously strange novels,” and Stephen Elliott wishing his 2010 had been like his 2009, or 2008, or 2007, and so on…

If you enjoyed reading our series as much as we enjoyed putting it together (and indeed if you’ve enjoyed The Millions all year), we ask that you please consider supporting this project of ours (there are five cheap (even free!) and easy ways to do so on our Support page) and help us prove that smart cultural coverage is viable online!

And so, as we enjoy the last few days of 2010, we invite all of you to take part — if you haven’t already in the comments of the series intro or on Twitter, or even if you have — in A Year in Reading by finishing this sentence in the comments or on your own blog: “The best book I read all year was…”

created The Millions and is its publisher. He and his family live in New Jersey.


  1. Oh Oh Oh did we love this series. First one at the computer in the morning hollered out the author’s name of the most recent posting. We each have a list for reading ideas going into 2011 with many overlapping titles. Our huge thank yous to one and all.

  2. My most entertaining read was William Gibson’s “Zero History” but I’d say the best was the n+1 book “Diary of a Very Bad Year: Confessions of an Anonymous Hedge Fund Manager”

    If I’d managed to get a copy of Adam Levin’s “The Instructions” that might probably have made the list, but alas I only read some excerpts.

  3. Slaughterhouse 5 ( my first Vonnegut), Hemingways’s A Moveable Feast, and Twain’s The Mysterious Stranger.

  4. I spent most of last year, and a couple years before that, working against Mark Twain’s observation that a classic is a book that everyone knows about, but that nobody has read. Needless to say, most of what I read was not contemporary.

    I finished a multi-year project to finish “In Search of Lost Time” by downing “The Prisoner”, “The Fugitive”, and “Time Regained” in succession. I’m really glad I did it, and it wasn’t really difficult at all. I discovered that I love Proust the most when he is writing about other people, and find him mostly annoying when writing about himself, or rather the protagonist of the novel is. All in all, I’d put Proust in the same class as “War and Peace”, those books that appear much more inapproachable from without, than from within.

    This year, I also made my first essays into the works for Balzac (“Lost Illusions” and “Pere Goriot”) and Thomas Hardy. I think “Far From the Madding Crowd” may have been my favorite book all year. Something about the passion and tragedy of Batsheba, Boldwood, and Gabriel Oak even more compelling than of the charecters in the others I read (“Mayor of Casterbridge”, “Return of the Native”, and “Jude the Obsure”. I loved both authors, and plan to delve in much more deeply.

    My strictly-2010 reading was limited to Justin Cronin’s “The Passage”, which while entertaining, didn’t live up the expectations I’d raised reading many of the reviews. I thought it was a good, very entertaining read, but not quite up to my standards of literary-genre cross-overs like “Kavalier and Clay”, “Year of the Flood” or “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell”

  5. Here’s a top 5

    Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, Tom Franklin
    Sunset Park, Paul Auster
    Through Black Spruce, Joseph Boyden
    Generosity, Richard Powers
    Freedom, Franzen

  6. I can’t limit it to one. The top books of my year of reading: Mrs. Bridge, by Evan S. Connell, Sterne’s fabulous Tristram Shandy, the incomparable Henry Green’s novels Nothing and Doting, Ernst Weiss’ Georg Letham, Physician and Murderer, The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll, several novels by Edith Wharton, and John Williams’ Stoner.

  7. Non-fiction: Nothing to Envy, Barbara Demick
    Fiction: Blame, Michelle Huneven (although it came out in 2009- does that still count?)

  8. I finished my last year of nursing school during 2010, so haven’t had much time for reading anything other than text books, but was able to get through the Your Face Tomorrow trilogy of Javier Marias which was my read of 2010. Other notables, in no particular order, were:

    The Twin by Gerbrand Bakker
    Stoner by John Williams
    The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry (I wish this author would get more key presses on the blogospere than he has thus far).
    Summertime by J.M. Coetzee

    A notable author in general I discovered this year was the Wisconsin David Rhodes.

    In the week since graduation, I made my way through The Blindness Of The Heart by Julia Franck. Highly recommended for those Millions readers who enjoy literature in or around World War II (I generally don’t), or literature by Elena Ferrante, or the film ‘The White Ribbon’ by Michael Haneke. I found this novel to be everything that Sofi Oksanen’s Purge was not.

    Wishing all The Millions readers the best in 2011!

  9. Love this series which I just discovered and plan on reading all the previous years entries. Though I’m getting way too many ideas of books to read, but mainly it has been reenforcing ideas of what to read for books I already have on my shelves! Hopefully this will inspire me to read more, as I’ve read an embarassingly paltry number of books this year. I don’t even want to give a number. But I’ve read some that will remain favorites:

    The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet – David Mitchell (favorite)
    Far North – Marcel Theroux
    Neverwhere (Graphic novel) – Mike Carey, Glenn Fabry
    Sea of Poppies – Amitav Ghosh
    To Say Nothing of the Dog – Connie Willis
    Three Men in a Boat – Jerome K. Jerome
    Becoming Odyssa – Jennifer Pharr Davis
    Paradise – Toni Morrison
    Romancing Miss Bronte – Juliet Gael
    The Help – Kathryn Stockett

    Runners up:
    Wild Sheep Chase – Haruki Murakami
    Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood
    Corvus – Esther Woolfson

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