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In the past year, I’ve read over a hundred books, ranging from kids’ chapter books to adult novels and nonfiction. I manage to keep a pretty accurate (okay, religious) record of what I’ve read, using a combo of an old notebook, my iPhone, and GoodReads.com. Here’s a list of favorite adult books—old and new—that I read in 2010.
- The Grifters by Jim Thompson. I’m crazy about Jim Thompson’s well-written, absorbing crime novels and this is one of the best (along with the phenomenal and surreal Savage Night).
- True Grit by Charles Portis. This suspenseful western features one of the toughest, smartest female characters I’ve ever encountered (and she’s all of 14 years old!).
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy. This bleak father and son survival story kept me riveted ‘til the very last page.
- The Ballad of the Sad Café by Carson McCullers. Amelia, a stoic loner in a small Southern town, falls in love with a selfish hunchback dwarf.
- Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain. Mildred Pierce, a Depression-era divorcee and businesswoman, is tough as nails—except when it comes to her spoiled, conniving daughter.
- Double Indemnity by James M. Cain. A housewife seduces an insurance salesman into committing an almost-perfect murder.
- The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Bookish Daniel Sempere must solve a complicated mystery in this gorgeous story, set in 1950’s Barcelona.
- The Incognito Lounge and Other Poems by Denis Johnson. Remarkable poems by the author of Jesus’ Son and Nobody Move.
- The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain. A passionate man and woman commit the ultimate crime to be together. Cain’s writing is precise and powerful; there are many simple, yet unforgettable lines throughout the novel.
- Warren Oates: A Wild Life by Susan Compo. A hefty, thorough, lovingly written bio about one of the best film actors ever, Warren Oates (The Wild Bunch, Two-Lane Blacktop, Stripes).
I’m not just stuck in the past, honest! These are some books published in 2010 that were especially memorable.
- Role Models by John Waters. Waters is always a funny read, and he never fails to expose me to fascinating new things: obscure books, outsider art, expensive and distasteful fashion, and other renegade filmmakers.
- Life by Keith Richards. The Stones guitarist documents many a hair-raising adventure in this candid and vivid memoir. Plus, how could I not love the newsworthy tidbit about his personal library and literary leanings?
- Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. A satisfying end to this futuristic teen trilogy.
- The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. I’ve written before about how much I liked this bittersweet coming-of-age story.
Karen Choy, Youth Services Librarian, is currently in the middle of four different books and wishes there were a way to read while asleep.