Coming up with a definite number of books (say, 10) to sum up the past year is a difficult exercise. Past the very obvious choices that I could name without looking at my list – I’d fallen for them soon after the first pages and I’d enjoyed every sentence without reservation – the remaining titles to reach the quota is always the result of compromises and hesitations.
Should I go toward the challenging books, that I won’t forget anytime soon because they made me “think harder”, or challenged my comfy assumptions, even though I had my reservations about them? Should I prefer the most entertaining (but rather mainstream and well-known) books, because I know that I will buy the next installment, a sure sign that they were good? Should I instead highlight the little-known, the ones who had opened to me doors to new worlds? My second group tries to do it all.
This is the first group, in no particular order:
- Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
- Annie Proulx, Postcards
- Kossi Efoui, Solo d’un Revenant
- Nathan Englander, The Ministry of Special Cases
- Josephine Tey, The Daughter of Time
- Because it made me cry: Ethan Canin, Carry Me Across the Water and Emmanuel Carrère, D’Autres Vies Que La Mienne
- Because it made me discover a new poetry genre: Tawara Machi, Salad Anniversary
- Because it made me laugh: Kathryn Miller Haines, The War against Miss Winter
- Because a graphic novel can be just as subtle as a written one: Posy Simmonds, Tamara Drewe
As you may notice, I haven’t “properly” reviewed this last title, but I have a more ambitious project for 2010: to read side by side Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, which inspired Simmonds, and her graphic novel, a perfect candidate for a second reading.