Best of 2010

2010 has been a pretty good year for reading. Although I still accumulated many more books that I haven't had the chance to read, I've managed to read and review a whole lot of them for GeekDad, and it's been a lot of fun getting to know some folks at various publishing companies. As a result I haven't requested nearly as many books for our local library (although I haven't given up entirely, either).

It's been hard sometimes, feeling responsible for writing up all the review copies I get for GeekDad, to read things purely for my own pleasure or benefit—and there are some which I've forgotten to write about entirely, but I try to post most of them here or a link to my GeekDad review. I've since given up on trying to write double reviews.

One of my favorites this year is How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu. The book itself is fantastic and will have your brain in knots with its chronodiegetics and time travel plot. But a big part of my enjoyment of it stems from meeting Yu at Comic-Con and getting to "discover" the book before I'd read a bunch of press already. Instead, I got to be part of the press that helped it get noticed.

And in the theme of time travel, another mind-bending book was Jason Shiga's choose-your-own-adventure comic book Meanwhile. The construction of the book is ingenious and the story is brilliant.

Two non-fiction books grabbed my attention this year: Switch by Chip and Dan Heath is all about effecting change and really got me thinking about the various things I do here in Tribune and the ways I try to get the community (and sometimes myself) to change. Lots of food for thought there, and highly recommended. Extra Lives by Tom Bissell is maybe a little less weighty—it's all about video games—but not by any means less serious. Bissell is an excellent writer and he writes about video games intelligently and is quite thought-provoking.

I don't have a lot of picture books on the list here, but two were quite charming. Oh No! by Mac Barnett and Dan Santat is a cute and awesomely illustrated story about a little girl and a science project gone awry. It's a Book by Lane Smith is pro-book propaganda for little kids (though the "jackass" line at the end still irks me).

For middle-grade readers, there were two stand-outs: The Brixton Brothers Mysteries (One and Two) by Mac Barnett are a hilarious spoof of Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown. This series is fantastic for boys and walks the fine line between parody and homage. The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi blew me away with a fantastic world to explore with the little girl Eva Nine. I eagerly await the sequel.

A late entry for this year is Ted Chiang's The Lifecycle of Software Objects, a novella about artificial intelligence that just really hit the spot. Chiang hasn't written a lot, but everything I've read of his so far really packs a punch.

And finally: occasionally, I go back and read things that I've already read before. As long as my "to read" pile is, it's actually pretty rare for me, but this year I re-read two excellent books. The first was The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, which has long been a favorite. I got to share that with Ridley this year (and then found an almost new copy at a library book sale to replace my falling-apart copy). The second was The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban, which I read back in 2003. I was so impressed with it again that I wrote about it for GeekDad as well.

Well, that's it for the year. I've got some great-looking books on my shelf waiting to be read, so I'm looking forward to 2011!

Fed to jonathan's brain | December 30, 2010 | Comments (0)


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