Christa’s Best 9 Books of 2010

First, a few words: Sometime early in 2010, I promised myself that this list — which I totally love making and think about year-round — would be comprised of only things that were published in 2010. This seemed totally do-able. There were month-long pockets of reading where I believed bad writing was extinct, now, suddenly. It was like a lit version of auto tune had been invented, but it wasn’t annoying and plastic, like real auto tune. There was beauty, creativity, humor, and innovative writing being fired from a proverbial T-shirt gun into the stadium of the world. I sighed over so many words in the past 12 months, that I damn-near asphyxiated myself.

Unfortunately, I failed in my goal. A goal that ultimately means nothing, but along the way kept me ogling new releases like a stalker. And I guess that was the point all along: I will be really good at the Books from 2010 category on “Jeopardy!” But instead of 10 Best Books of 2010, I have the 9 Best Books from 2010.

Here is my list. Only some of it is in order:

1. A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan: Next to the awesome characters, and the never-dull plot-ish like thing, my favorite thing about my favorite book of the year is its pure inventiveness. Egan having the balls to take a linear story, and sweeping the table, scattering the chapters and putting them back together in a new order. That each chapter can stand alone as a short story is like (insert brain explosion here). {review}

2. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen: Whatever. I’m one of the herd that believes this epic history of the Berglund family is simply fantastic. So fantastic that even some of the super boring parts about Walter are tolerable. {review}

3. Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart: This almost future futuristic story is such a riot. And from everything I’ve read about Gary Shteyngart, he also wins the award for writer I’d most like to run into in a dark bar with a primed top-shelf Vodka kisser. {review}

4. Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer Haman: I read most of this book while sitting on our deck this past summer. Something about the mix of leisure, the pace of this book, and reading it when I had a renewed interest in the world really kicked me in the pants. This sweeping coming-of-age story about love, friends, alliances, and life was a soul tugger. Absolutely beautiful. {review}

5. House of Tomorrow by Hot Pants Bognanni: This superfun book about a sheltered kid growing up in a geodesic dome is totally cute and clever and has enviable dialogue. {review}

6. By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham: This is a late add to my best-of list, and it had some striking sensory similarities to Anthropology of an American Girl. Although where that is a coming-of-age story, this is a coming-of-middle-age tale with some of the most wonderful sentences to ever be manufactured in a human brain. {review}

7. Scott Pilgrim series by Bryan Lee O’Malley: Not only is O’Malley’s series about the lovelorn and dopey Canadian slacker slash rock star Scott Pilgrim a super fun series filled with pop culture old and new and charming characters, it will be forever known as my gateway drug into graphic novels — one of my new favorite things. This is a bit of a cheat, as only the finale was published in 2010. {review}

8. Rat Girl by Kristin Hersh: This year-in-the-teenage-life of a young Throwing Muser is captivating and artfully selected moments from Hersch’s life and so so lovely. Starting the band, signing deals, swimming, pregnancy, all told in an even tone by someone who seems throughout the book to be genuine, and genuinely surprised she has fans. {review}

9. Bad Marie by Marcy Dermansky: Step one: Take your disbelief and hide it in the closet for the day. Crack open this pleasure cruise about a very naughty nanny, the Frenchman she seduces, the tot she lifts, and other amazing adventures in the land of the baguettes. De. Lish. {review}

A Common Pornography by Kevin Sampsell: Or, as I like to call it, 101 ways to get a handy. {review}

Also, I’d like to compliment Tao Lin for not landing on my worst-of list. He lucked out because I decided to humor him this go-round with Richard Yates. A warning to Nicole Krauss: If this had been about the best books I read in 2010, A History of Love would have made the cut. But I would have felt obligated to add Great House to the bonus worst list to balance things out. Check yourself, lady. That hot mess is coma food.

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  1. amyabts 27.Dec.10 at 2:08 pm

    nice! you have to read “just kids” though. seriously.

  2. christa 27.Dec.10 at 3:11 pm

    I know! It’s going to be the next book I read as an “Infinite Jest” time out.


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