Well here we are at the last night of 2010 -- a time when I can reflect upon the 50 books I read this past year. There have been a few that I really did not enjoy [Mantissa by John Fowles, The Purest of Human Pleasures by Kenneth Radu] but overall -- it's been some terrific reading.
It's difficult to pick out only a few to highlight, but I've given it some thought over a couple of Sapporos by candlelight, and here is my conclusion.
My Top Five Reads of 2010 are as follows:
1. Affinity by Sarah Waters. 
This compelling, eerie book just had everything I like most in fiction. Gothic setting [late 1800's / Victorian England], suspense, psychological labyrinths, intellectually satisfying. I cannot recall an author so completely making me believe in the unbelievable. Sarah Waters had me as bamboozled as her protagonist in Affinity. My #1 unforgettable read of 2010.
2. Under The Skin by Michel Faber. 
I could not put this book down and walk away without it nagging at me. I was telling everyone at work about every step along the journey through the novel. In Under The Skin, [soon to be a movie starring Scarlett Johansson] sci-fi meets literature in a head-on collision. A tantalizing, horrifying, somewhat dystopian, "what-if" sort of story. Faber is a genius.
3. The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles. 
Wow, I gobbled this book up. Again, some of my favourite features present here… Victorian England setting / thwarted love -- eroticism. Interesting authorial digressions [I don't mind that] -- exquisite dialogue. An ending that produced in me perhaps my most pensive day of 2010. It made me go for a [deliberate] long walk in the rain.
4. The White Bone by Barbara Gowdy. 
A book not only about elephants, but narrated by elephants. You could say that this is a look into the psychological depths of disoriented pachyderms struggling to reunite after a brutal attack from the "hindleggers" [humans]. It is a searing, emotionally engaging work of staggering genius. Especially if you like animals, as I do.
5. Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan. 
Prepare for liftoff, all ye who pick up this book. It's set in two worlds, and it seems that neither of them is really ours. What if the perfect world you envision [and create] is not necessarily as beneficial to others as it is to you? Would you want to remain there, at their expense? Not since C.S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces have I read such a vivid exploration of the ideas of selfish and healthy love.
There have been so many other great novels I have read in 2010 -- I could go on forever about them.
I would speak of The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, and Beatrice & Virgil by Yann Martel, both of these authors proving to me by way of their most recent novels that I want to buy their next book even before they write it!
Friends, is there any end?
Any end to the wonderful world of reading available to us in 2011?
You know it as well as I do --> the answer is "No".
We are hapless victims of the most inexhaustible obsession known to mankind!
The reading of good books!
And so it is that I can say this final thing with 100% Sapporo-induced-conviction...