Jodi’s favorite books of 2010

Making a year-end best of list is the kind of exquisite torture that nerds of all stripes love to put themselves through. Some make arbitrary rules to extend the pain, others just dive in willy nilly with nary a second thought. I’m of the willy nilly party of list making. While this makes the list a little less painful to make, it is often laden with regret. Usually, mere moments after publishing the list of all to see, I worry. How could I not include Where the God of Love Hangs Out? If “Gravity” by John Jodzio was the best short story I read all year, how can the entire collection not warrant a place? What about . . .

The questions will plague me until December 2011, when I start making a new list.

So here I am, willy nilly, with the ten best books I read in 2010 (with a few minor cheats) listed alphabetically by author.

1. The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni: The only bad thing about this one is that “Hot Pants” Bognanni doesn’t have another book that I can devour with unmitigated glee. This novel about sheltered, different Sebastian discovering rock & roll, girls, and independence is the most charming book I read all year. {review}

2. Bad Marie by Marcy Dermansky: This is the book that I recommend to every one who will listen to me. In a year filled with boregeous (thanks Ayette Waldman for the term) books — beautifully written novels where nothing happens — Bad Marie kicks all their asses. I cannot honestly tell you if the writing is beautiful in this novel about a nanny on the run in France with her former employer’s husband and daughter because the story is so engaging and moves so quickly I didn’t have time to notice. Probably the most fun I had reading a book that didn’t include pictures. {review}

3. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan: Rock & Roll, interwoven short stories, experimental writing without the whiff of bullshit lingering around the pages? Hell yes! Egan’s novel/collection was full of awesome. {review}

4. Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self by Danielle Evans: I didn’t read as many short story collections this year as I have in years past. However, the ones I read were really good. What I liked so much about Evans’ book was that her writing and her stories are so fresh. While I’ll never be a smart, black 20something in a big city, after reading this book I fell like I know just the teeniest bit about what that must be like. {review}

5. Slut Lullabies by Gina Frangello: Here’s what I love so much about Frangello, she writes about sex and smart people and how those two things need not be mutually exclusive. Like Mary Gaitskill, Frangello explores how giving in to your baser desires doesn’t mean you have to check your brain at the door, even though sometimes you do. {review}

6. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan: If they gave out Academy Awards for best supporting character in a Young Adult Novel, that award would go to Tiny Cooper. This is one of those books I listened to in the tub, and finished laying in bed with tears streaming from my eyes. It was kind of corny and a little sappy, but managed to balance that so wonderfully I couldn’t help myself but cry at the end. {review}

7. Rat Girl by Kristin Hersh: This memoir by the former Throwing Muses front woman is the most beautifully written book I read all year. {review}

8. Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley: I don’t think I can accurately put into words my affection for the 20something Canadian slacker/ninja and his love affair with Ramona Flowers. I can, however, tell you two things that might illustrate how awesome this six-volume graphic novels series is and why you should read it. First, it got me to go to the movies. I think I saw exactly two movies in the movie theater in 2010. One was Toy Story 3 and the other was Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Second, I dressed up as Ramona Flowers for Halloween. {review}

9. Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shtyengart: I tried with all my might to dislike Shtyengart’s novel about the not-so-distant and wholly terrifying future. I failed miserably. {review}

10. Fablesby Bill Willingham: There’s something inherently intriguing about what happens to our favorite fairy tale characters once happily ever after doesn’t quite pan out. From murder mysteries to political intrigue to battles for homelands, the Fables series is unendingly fascinating. {review}

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