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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reading in 2010 - What a year it was!

For a few years now, I've kept a running list of the books I've read throughout the year, and it's always a pleasure to read back over it and remember the wonderful hours when I've been swept away into another world. This year had a different mix than in years' past. Not sure why as my tastes haven't changed - I still LOVE a good story, and I base my "favorites" list on the books which had great writing and characters who've become my friends - friends who still stop in for a mental visit now and again.

That said, I'm splitting my faves into three groups: Memoirs, Debut Novels, and All The Others. There's no top pick and I listed them in the order in which I read them.

MEMOIR: Is it just me or are there more people writing Memoirs? My hat goes off to these authors for their courage to examine their lives and give the world a peek at their hurts, their joys, and their heart-stirring stories. My top five for 2010:
  • To Own a Dragon by Donald Miller. Just love this guy and his writing. 
  • Thin Places by Mary DeMuth. My friend and one of the dearest people I know. If your life is scarred from a terrible past, this book offers hope. 
  • Without a Word by Jill Kelly. Also my sweet friend who has written a touching account of her son who changed the lives of many though never able to speak a word in his eight short years on this earth.
  • The Pulpwood Queens' Tiara-Wearing, Book-Sharing Guide to Life by Kathy Patrick. This is like a breath of fresh air as Kathy shares her passion for literacy and making people feel good about who they are.
  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. This book rendered me speechless, and even now I'm still processing the lovely writing of this heart-wrenching, but amazing story of love within a totally dysfunctional family. I will read this book again and again.
DEBUT NOVELS: This is always a favorite category for me. Knowing how hard it is to finish a book and the get it published makes me want to champion debut authors everywhere. Holding your "firstborn" in your hands is an experience like no other - Hmmm, I wonder how I know this?? Nevertheless, there were some really amazing debut books this year, and all these authors are dear to my heart. Bravo!
  • Walking on Broken Glass by Christa Allen. Christa's voice sparkles in this book about alcoholism and the road to recovery. 
  • A Distant Melody by Sarah Sundin. Oh. My. Stars. I loved this book and the second in the Wings of Glory series which also released this year, A Memory Between Us. This is historical romance done right. Authentic with just the right amount of detail and characters that I simply adored. A Distant Melody has already been named to the Booklist Top Ten for 2010.
  • Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes. A tender story of the love between a dying mother and her young daughter. Gina has captured the right balance between angst and tenderness, but with touches of humor that keep it from spilling into melodrama. Lovely prose.
  • Snow Day by Billy Coffey. A series of vignettes that combine into a simple, but profound story about what matters most in this world. 
  • Someone to Blame by CS Lakin. A psychological mystery that at times reads like true crime with deep exploration of both the primary and secondary characters. I enjoy a book I can really sink my teeth into and this one's a delight.
ALL THE OTHERS: I'm faithful to my favorite authors which I just realized when I was pondering this list. They shine through book after book inspiring and giving me that rush of adrenaline because of beautifully wrought prose, story depth, and as always, unforgettable characters. Only one new author (to me) this year. No explanations forthcoming as these authors are in a class of their own.
How about you? What was your favorite book this year? Do you keep a log of what you've read?

Here's to a great look back at 2010. May 2011 be The Year of Reading Pleasures for you!

Happy New Year!

14 comments:

christa said...

Thanks, Carla. I'm honored to be on this list!

Richard Mabry said...

I read several of those, Carla. I'm afraid I didn't keep a log of all my reading during the year, but I'm glad you did. Happy New Year.

Debra E. Marvin said...

Thanks for sharing your list, Carla. I take these very seriously when I'm looking for a book in the store.

Have a wonderful 2011!

Cheryl Barker said...

Carla, I keep a log of my reading for the year, and I think my favorite was The Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. I would say a few came in second, and your Chasing Lilacs was one of them along with Mary DeMuth's Defiance TX series. Am looking forward to reading your second novel one day!

carla stewart said...

Christa, sometimes the books that came out early in the year get covered up by later releases, but yours definitely shone through. You're just fun and sassy and a great storyteller.

Richard, I keep a log because I'm likely to forget something really great that I've read. I'm also remiss in not reading either of your books yet. My TBR pile is at a lethal level right now. My husband, however, did enjoy your debut book.

Thanks, Debra, for stopping by. In all the world of promotion, word of mouth is still the best tool available, and I pay attention to what others are saying too. I tend to read mostly inspirational women's fiction and good literary fiction. Not too many romances or mysteries on my list, and I know there are a lot of really great ones out there in those genres.

Thanks, Cheryl! You've been a great supporter, and I appreciate it. I think I read Same Kind of Different as Me last year. It is a great book!

Leah Morgan said...

I share some of your favorites who are on my list every year like Lisa Samson, and some who are by my bed in an iron basket waiting to be introduced - Charles Martin and Susan Meissner. I have a new love I discovered this year - Dale Cramer. I loved Bad Ground and chased it down immediately with Levi's Will. So happy when I find a new voice that sings a melody in just my key. I enjoyed your separate categories and the input on the memoirs.

Leah Morgan said...

I share some of your favorites who are on my list every year like Lisa Samson, and some who are by my bed in an iron basket waiting to be introduced - Charles Martin and Susan Meissner. I have a new love I discovered this year - Dale Cramer. I loved Bad Ground and chased it down immediately with Levi's Will. So happy when I find a new voice that sings a melody in just my key. I enjoyed your separate categories and the input on the memoirs.

carla stewart said...

Leah, both my husband and I love Dale Cramer. I just didn't happen to read one in 2010, but at this very moment, Max is reading PARADISE VALLEY, Dale's brand new novel! I've heard great things about it.

I read a LOT of memoirs this year which I've never done before - just a quirky thing I think. I'll be posting a list of what's on my 2011 TBR list in the next week or so.

Sounds as if we love the same authors. Thanks so much for chiming in.

Brittanie said...

The Lisa Samson book is on my favorites list too.

brandyreneebruce said...

This year I published my first novel, Looks Like Love. I received my copy right before Christmas. Such a special moment. So for me, I'll always remember 2010 as the year my dream came true!

Check it out at http://www.amazon.com/Looks-Like-Love-Brandy-Bruce/dp/1449707017/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1292465847&sr=8-1

vvdenman.com said...

What a great list. Thanks for reminding me of several titles to add to my 2011 reading list.

Myra Johnson said...

Great list, Carla! Next time I'm searching for book recommendations, I'll have to give this another look! You always pick the best books!

I used to faithfully keep a book log but got behind a year or so ago and never caught back up. I still track my reading on my Goodreads account, though--or try to!

carla stewart said...

Brandy, congrats on your first book - there's nothing like it, is there?

VV - thanks for stopping by. I'll be highlighting more great reads throughout the year.

Myra - I just keep a log in an ordinary journal. name, author, month & year read. The last couple of years, I've started adding a little star if I loved the book and a "D" if it was a debut. At the end of the year, it's easy to pick my faves and their categories. Goodreads is a great place for everyone to see what you've been up to also!

Patti Lacy said...

Great list! Gina's book is on my list.

I recently snuck in "Catching Moondrops" right as the New Year gonged! WONDERFUL writing!

Patti