Let’s do this while I’m still sort of sober.
Looks like I didn’t blog a lot this year. Last year’s book post is still on the front page. Anyway, I didn’t finish quite as many books this year as I did then, but I surpassed my annual target of fifty; I finished fifty-eight:
On the Road Jack Kerouac
The Robber Bride Margaret Atwood
Does God Play Dice? Ian Stewart
The Pickwick Papers Charles Dickens
Prolog Programming for Articial Intelligence Ivan Bratko
Eating Animals Jonathan Safran Foer
Alias Grace Margaret Atwood
A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder James De Mille
The People’s Train Thomas Keneally
Le tour du monde en 80 jours Jules Verne
Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë
You Are a Mathematician David Wells
Why Evolution is True Jerry Coyne
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Arthur Conan Doyle
Cinq semaines en ballon Jules Verne
The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ Philip Pullman
The Blind Assassin Margaret Atwood
Northanger Abbey Jane Austen
A Clockwork Orange Anthony Burgess
And Another Thing… Eoin Colfer
The Graveyard Book Neil Gaiman
Cloud Atlas David Mitchell
River Out of Eden Richard Dawkins
The City Curious Jean de Bosschère
Discrete Mathematics Seymour Lipschutz, Marc Lipson
Byzantium Judith Herrin
Oryx and Crake Margaret Atwood
Hard Times Charles Dickens
Cradle to Cradle Michael Braungart, William McDonough
The Penguin Dictionary of Curious and Interesting Numbers David Wells
Surfacing Margaret Atwood
Blood Meridian Cormac McCarthy
The Book Thief Markus Zusak
Little Women Louisa M. Alcott
Year of the Flood Margaret Atwood
Unseen Academicals Terry Pratchett
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Mark Twain
Moral Disorder Margaret Atwood
Bodily Harm Margaret Atwood
Cows in the Maze Ian Stewart
The Lottery and Other Stories Shirley Jackson
Brave New World Revisited Aldous Huxley
Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson
Reading Lolita in Tehran Azar Nafisi
Writing Scientific Software Suely Oliveira, David Stewart
Science: a Four Thousand Year History Patricia Fara
Professor Stewart’s Hoard of Mathematical Treasures Ian Stewart
My Man Jeeves P.G. Wodehouse
Linear Algebra Seymour Lipschutz, Marc Lipson
The Bro Code Matt Kuhn
Cat’s Eye Margaret Atwood
The Black Cloud Fred Hoyle
The Fry Chronicles Stephen Fry
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle Haruki Murakami
Fight Club Charles Palahniuk
The Language Instinct Steven Pinker
The Elephant Vanishes Haruki Murakami
Two Treatises of Government and a Letter Concerning Toleration John Locke
I said that 2010 was going to be the year in which I read everything Margaret Atwood has ever written, but I didn’t manage that. I read everything she wrote that was available in Leuven’s bookstores, but she’s just written too damn much. Maybe I’ll round off the remainder next year, but I think I’m going to focus on Haruki Murakami instead; while his books haven’t changed my mind about reading in translation, the two I’ve read have been good enough to justify it.
As before, I’ve written individual reviews of nearly everything I read this year, but here’s a round-up anyway:
Better than expected
As said, Murakami. Despite its fanbase, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is legitimately good, and the short stories in The Elephant Varnishes were excellent as well.
Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne was also surprisingly good. I didn’t expect it to be bad, but I also didn’t expect it to be better than, say, Dawkins’ own The Greatest Show on Earth, which set out to do much the same thing as WEIT; but it is.
Judith Herrin’s Byzantium was nice as well, and a good introduction to what is often a blind spot in world history. I picked it up on impulse, because it was there rather than because I’d heard of it, and that usually doesn’t turn out well. It did this time.
Also better than expected was Fred Hoyle’s The Black Cloud, but my expectations of that were very low because I know what kind of a person Fred Hoyle was, and my opinion of science fiction is justifiably low to begin with.
And finally, Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. I wouldn’t necessarily call it excellent in its own right, but it’s a lot better than Austen usually is.
Worse than expected
Probably just Patricia Fara’s Science: a Four Thousand Year History. I only expected it to be good because of the pleasing heaviness of the paper and the quality of the print and the illustrations, but it turned out to be Mary Midgley’s strain of science- and scientist-bashing.
It’s by no means the only terrible book I read this year, but my expectations are very low in general. Maybe there should be another category.
Offensively but expectedly terrible
On the Road, Jack Kerouac; And Another Thing…, Eoin Colfer; Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell; Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy; Who Moved My Cheese?, Spencer Johnson; Fight Club, Charles Palahniuk; The Language Instinct, Steven Pinker.
Everything else was either “merely” and expectedly bad (Dickens, Burgess, &c.), expectedly alright (Atwood, Dawkins, &c.), or just pretty unremarkable (Keneally, Verne, &c.). More reviews at GoodReads.