Thursday, January 13, 2011

the books of 2010

Last April, I found and joined an excellent website - It's a combination of a book review site, library management tool, and Facebook, where you can mark/sort/rate/review books you own or have read and share these with those who you friend. While I'll probably never manage to put every book I've ever read into the site, it's been wonderful for tracking books I've read as you can sort by "read by" date. I used to write mini reviews of books I read when I had a LiveJournal (well, I still have it...I did pay for a permanent account!), but after a while I got tired of doing them and stopped. This site is great because you don't have to put in a review, but it does prompt you to do so when you mark a book as read. There is an option to keep a "books to read" list, and between that and the matching Goodreads app on my iPhone, that has helped me immensely in keeping track of books that catch my interest for later reading.

In February of 2009. I purchased a Kindle after the second generation version came out. It's been one of my best purchases to date, and I've purchased over 160 books so far - being able to carry a hundred or more books in less than the space of a trade paperback has been very addictive. I've even given a Kindle to my mother as a gift, keeping her on my account so that we can share books! With the advent of the Kindle 3 recently, and the lack of global access on my original Kindle 2, I bought myself a new one a few weeks ago and gave my older one to Chris. Just last night the new skins for them arrived and I was able to put them on - purple lacquer for me, and red fire for him!

Travel with a Kindle is definitely easier as well, as I no longer have to practically pack an extra suitcase just for the books! I haven't missed paper books too much, although there is no digital replacement yet for the beautiful full color cookbooks and sewing books that I use (and received many of for Christmas!), as the Kindle is so small and light that even the slimmest trade paperback is large and heavy by comparison. Love, love, love my Kindle!

So back to the books - since I joined Goodreads last April, I've marked up as read 51 books (although I didn't mark up any of the truly trashy novels that I can read in an hour!). I'm guessing I probably read around 90 books last year, which is a bit under previous years' book counts, but I've traded off some reading time for quilting and Warcraft time.

The best book that I read for my book club last year was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot which delves into the story of the origination of the HeLa cell line from a young black woman in the 1950s, bringing up all sorts of interesting ethics and rights questions along the way.

The best fiction book I read last year was Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, which uses an excellent time-travel mechanic to place a woman from 1947 into the mid 1700s before the Jacobite Risings in Scotland. The historical references have been fascinating and the character development excellent, and I'm about a third of the way through the sixth book in the series.

Probably the worst book I read last year was Piers Anthony's Climate of Change, a long-awaited final entry in his Geodyssey series. Like the also long-awaited entry into his Incarnations series, Under a Velvet Cloak, it seems that the author has given up on the vivid settings and characters he's written in the past in order to concentrate solely on tawdry sex. While sex has been a thread of several of his earlier books, it's never been as central (and as boring) as in these two novels. When your reader is thinking "oh god they're having sex AGAIN and it has nothing to do with the plot!!" you're doing it wrong.

I'm looking forward to seeing how many books I read this year - and maybe with a Kindle, Chris will read more this year too!

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