I credit the A to Z Challenge and POC Reading Challenge with being the reasons I read so broadly in 2010. While I picked a couple of books solely based on the author’s last name, I read so many more that I’d been putting off for years. Choosing my favorite reads is a little dicey, because there were a lot of good ones, several of which will be in my forthcoming fiction favorites of 2010 post. In order to “cheat” and mention more books, I won’t the same book twice in this post. And since I recently talked about my least favorite books of the year–it goes without saying that those were my least favorite books of the challenges–I won’t include them in this post either:
There were three options for the A to Z challenge: read 26 books alphabetically by author, 26 by title, or 52 by author and title. I went with author last names. I kinda shouldn’t be wrapping this challenge up yet because I haven’t read my “D” book. That’s intentional, because I want to end my year with Junot Diaz’s Drown. But consider it done.
Okay, so favorites: I’m madly in love with Elfriede Jelinek’s The Piano Teacher. I haven’t reviewed it yet because I just finished it a couple of weeks ago, but *swoon*. Another favorite, which I’ve mentioned before, was The Crime of Father Amaro by José Maria Eça de Queirós. My final pick is Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Loved it.
My second-least-favorite book of the challenge was Chris Cleave’s Little Bee. I was going to include it in my Not-So-Favorites of 2010 post, but there’s nothing so egregiously bad in the book that would justify listing it in that hall of shame. All the same, I hated Little Bee. My friend and I, for the life of us, cannot understand the love that book gets.
Now that the year is coming to an end, it’s time to start publishing my wrap up posts for all those reading challenges I signed up for! I actually finished the Chunkster Challenge a couple of months ago, but I waited until now to a wrap up because I knew I still had a couple of chunksters (books longer than 450 pages) left on this year’s TBR list. After some reshuffling of my TBR pile, I think I’m pretty much done with chunksters for 2010.
The books I read for this challenge were:
- The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen – 568 pages [review]
- The Crime of Father Amaro by José Maria Eça de Queirós – 480 pages [review]
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy – 817 pages
- Freedom by Jonathan Franzen – 562 pages [review]
- Some Sing, Some Cry by Ntozake Shange & Ifa Bayeza – 558 pages [review]
- The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie – 576 pages
My goal was to read 4 chunksters, but as you can see, I ended up reading 6. Believe it or not, I actually didn’t intend to double down on Jonathan Franzen this year, either. But since I did, I can say with certainty that I like The Corrections more than Freedom (though Freedom is awesome too), and I appreciated it more on my second reading.
You’ll be hearing more of The Crime of Father Amaro some time next month, but I will say that it was one of my favorite books of the challenge!
My least favorite book of the bunch was Some Sing, Some Cry because of the transition/ plot issues I mention in my review, but it was still an entertaining and enjoyable read.
Final thoughts: YAY! I finally read Anna Karenina, which I’d read about 200 pages of like 8 years ago, then never returned to. I loved what I’d read back then, but at the time I was a full time student with a demanding schedule, and I just never got around to finishing it. I’m also quite pleased I read The Satanic Verses this year because it had been on my TBR list for a long, long time. But I have yet to write reviews on these two, so I’ll stop here.
This is my first post for the Paris in July challenge:
Song of the week: Rufus Wainwright – Les Feux D’Artifice T’Appellent
Anyone who knows me knows I love me some Rufus. Heck, I even named one of my cats after the guy! So duh, I’m not gonna miss my chance to kick off my first Paris in July post with this song! Unfortunately, YouTube removed my favorite video of him singing it, so this is the next best thing. It’s from his French opera, Prima Donna.
Film of the week: Paris 36 (2008)
Starting with a New Year’s Eve murder, Paris 36 is about a group of unemployed men who try to revive the neighborhood theatre they once worked at, the Chansonia. Led by Pigoil, a father who desperately wants his son back, the men renovate the place and try to put on a succesful musical starring a young woman named Douce.
The film is set in the 1930s, and my favorite thing about it by far is the costumes! It is directed by Christophe Barratier, whose last film, The Chorus, I absolutely adore. I wish I could say the same about Paris 36: while the film certainly had its charms (Nora Arnezeder, who played Douce, was terrific), overall the film was a bit lackluster.
Short story of the week: N/A. I’d hoped to read “Mademoiselle Cocotte” by Guy De Maupassant, but I’m still working on Anna Karenina right now, so that’s where all my reading focus is geared. Hopefully, I’ll be done with the novel by Monday night!
A word on Anna Karenina, though: the characters often switch to French whenever they’re talking about something they don’t want the servants to hear. I took 2 years of French in high school, 2 more years of French in college, and still can’t speak a lick of it, but I love coming across these little French sections in the book. There’s translations in the footnotes, but I love trying to decipher what these sentences mean before jumping to the translations. Granted, I’m about 7 years out of practice (not counting all the French films I watch), but I have about a 30% success rate. Which…better than nothing, I suppose.