And I’m back! Finally, order has been restored in my little corner of the world. I apologize for the sporadic blogging — the year had a crazy start: I’ve been battling with a bad allergy for over a month (subsiding now, thank goodness, after a small fortune spent at the drugstore and a huge pile of specialized creams and beauty products); one of my biggest campaigns kicked off at work; and the family marked a major event: my 48-year old uncle’s wedding!
I feel like the year is just beginning on my blog (and technically, it is…), so here’s a recap of my best and worst reads for 2010:
1) Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett – “I didn’t expect to like this book because I had preconceived biases against it (ergo yes, I judge books by their covers!)… Well, I read it, got hooked, and all those biases were just thrown out the window!”
2) The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson – “I lost a lot of sleep reading the Millennium trilogy, and felt deeply satisfied after finally finishing the series — no small feat for 3 books nearly 2000 pages combined! Lisbeth Salander is my hero(ine)!”
3) The Mysterious Benedict Society – “no magic, no vampires or supreme beings, no love triangles or famous personalities, the books highlight good old-fashioned ingenuity with a delightful cast of offbeat characters, challenging puzzles, codes and ciphers, and a clever, twisty plot that’s full of surprises.”
4) Shamanka by Jeanne Willis – “I’ve read a lot of books on magic, but Shamanka is one of the most original. Willis just keeps surprising and there is never a dull moment from start to end!”
5) Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman – “It’s a candid account of a teacher’s life, alternately depressing and comical and touching, and it provides great insight into the vocation, as well as wisdom and inspiration to those in the field of teaching or are seriously considering it.”
6) Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn – “Ella Minnow Pea is one of the smartest novels I’ve ever read, and it’s highly entertaining too — I wanted to break into applause after I finished the book! We don’t often think about the impact of one letter, but the novel proves just how big a difference one letter can make.”
7) Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard Feynman – “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! is an edifying look into an amazing character and a brilliant mind. If I’d read this book when I was moaning and groaning over high school physics, perhaps I would have been more inspired.”
8) Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco – “Ilustrado is not your typical Filipino novel, eschewing carabaos in the fields and sunlight the color of mangoes in favor of epistolary-style metafiction that uncannily mirrors Philippine culture, history and politics.”
9) Princess Academy by Shannon Hale – “It’s definitely a far cry from all these newfangled edgy novels, but it’s a breath of fresh air in an oversaturated market. Sometimes, a well-written story is really all you need.”
10) The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins – “Collins has the talent for creating sympathetic characters that the readers come to love and remember long after the book has been closed. I’ve read few series with characters as memorable as the Underland Chronicles.”
1) The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan- “Spectacular effects, sure — there’s lots of mysterious magic the characters don’t even know they are capable of, but beyond the flashiness, nothing much propels the story.”
2) The Twilight Graphic Novel by Stephenie Meyer / Young Kim – “Twilight fans will buy it for their collections but anyone who’s read any of the popular manga or graphic novels will be able to tell that there’s not much more than fandom riding on this book.”
3) Love in the Time of Taffeta by Eugenie Olson – “I was waiting for a redeeming factor in the novel but even as Iley’s life falls into place I couldn’t muster any affection for the book.”
4) Rose is Rose comics (License to Dream, Red Carpet Rose, and Right on the Lips) created by Pat Brady – “If comics can ‘jump the shark,’ I’m guessing Rose is Rose jumped the shark when Pasquale started talking!”
5) Private by James Patterson – Yes, it’s all too good to be true, but for these types of books, I should think that’s already a given.”
Several weeks back, in January, the Flippers had our traditional Best and Worst discussion, this year at Libreria Bookstore in Cubao. Here are the titles that cropped up:
Best Books: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (4); The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery; The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins; The Call of the Wild by Jack London; Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel; Verbal Arts in Philippine Indigenous Communities by Herminia Menez Coben; The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot; High Fidelity by Nick Hornby; The Lord of the Flies by William Golding; The Colossus of Maroussi by Henry Miller; Conversations with My Sixteen-year-old Self by Gerese Axalan; When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead; Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco; The Valkyries by Paolo Coelho; Feed by Mira Grant; The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman; Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier; Till We Have Face by C.S. Lewis; Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett; Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon; Big Sister’s Guide to the World of Work by M. Difalco and J, Greenky Herz; In the Shadow of Man by Dr. Jane Goodall; The Virginian by Owen Wister; Letras y Figuras by Jaime Laya; Paper Towns by John Green; 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene; The Dugtungan Novel et al; Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro; The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne; A Little Piece of Ground by Elizabeth Laird; Fool by Christopher Moore; The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky; The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson; The Wind Singer by William Nicholson
Worst Books: Darkness Chosen series by Christina Todd; The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova; The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold; Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal; Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (3); Rising Sun Blinking by Jose Maria Lacsamana; I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore; The Centaur by John Updike; I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak; It’s a Girl Thing by Jan King; Where Bold Stars Go to Die by Gerry Alanguilan; Pretty Face by Mary Hogan; Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffeneger; Veronika Decides to Die by Paolo Coelho; Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase; Cemetery Dance by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child; Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon; Love in the Time of Taffeta by Eugenie Olson; The Return of the Time Machine by Egon Friedell;; The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger; Mine ’til Midnight by Lisa Kleypas; Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell; The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness; Your Blue-eyed Boy by Helen Dunmore; Only if You Can Find Me by Patricia Laurel; The Accidental Billionaire by Ben Mezrich; Specials by Scott Westerfeld
The annual Best and Worst is always fun, as we get to see what books other Flippers like or don’t like, make mental (ok, I’ve recorded it here) notes about them, and more often than not, eventually try out the books for ourselves to see whether we agree or disagree.
I’m looking forward to reading more books — both on my own and with the Flippers — this year. I’ve made pretty good headway in my reading thus far (20 books and counting), and here’s hoping 2011 will be another great year in books!
Photos courtesy of Rhett, best and worst title recap courtesy of Peter.