Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Best books of the year? Who cares?

Last year, I posted some of my favorite books of 2009, and I was thinking about making it a tradition.  But, the more I thought about it, the more I rebelled against the idea.  I write regularly about the books I like.  I could bore you by telling you, yet again, that you should read Super Sad True Love Story or Skippy Dies.  I could ask if you've yet discovered Maggie O'Farrell's writing, especially her new book The Hand That First Held Mine and, if not, why.  I could remind you, just in case you forgot, that The Solitude of Prime Numbers and The Story of a Marriage both prompted me to use the phrase "achingly beautiful" and that Room creeped the bejeebers out of me (but in a really good way).  I decided, though, that the repetition could be annoying and, frankly, all of the end of the year activities have me too worn out to make the list. 

Instead, I'm going to admit something to you that we book bloggers sometimes keep close to the vest: there are a lot of books I've not read this year.  A lot.  But, since the point of this little post is to avoid work, it wouldn't really do to list all of the books of the year that I've not read. I'm going to let others do the heavy lifting.  Any person or organization that has a connection to books, however tenuous, feels compelled to put out "Best of" lists (check out the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, or NPR's lists).  This year, in what is perhaps destined to be my new curmudgeonly tradition, here are the top three "Best of the Year" books that I can't bring myself to read. 

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen -- I know, I know.  It's the book of the century.  But I found The Corrections to be an overwrought, overwritten, overhyped tale of family dysfunction and disdain for the Midwest, so I can't quite muster any interest in this title.  Am I wrong?  Is it really as great as the hype? 

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larssen -- I know, I know.  It's the series of the century.  I'm a little apprehensive in part because of how much I've heard it described as very, very dark, and partly because once something is such a part of the social consciousness, I wimp out.  It's easier to be the person who has never read book X, rather than be the person who really hates book X (which is why I've still never seen a full episode of The Simpsons).   

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman -- I don't know why.  I checked it out.  I picked it up and promptly put it back down without even opening the cover.  No reason, I just wasn't interested.  Is it worth overcoming my apathy and checking out again? 

I'm quite serious when I ask: can you convince me that I'm wrong and that I should give them a try? Or, are there books that are your favorites of the year that I might have missed that you think should've made it to the "Best of" lists?

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