(top) 10 (or 11, and more, plus grousing and ramblings) in 2010

So here it is: your obligatory best books of 2010 list. Lots of good reads this year, though, I feel like I’ve yet to read some very important novels that were published this year. I’ll give them a I-will-read-you-some-day mention at then. But now: the wieners!

Light Boxes, by Shane Jones: This dreamy little novel about a town that experiences permanent February and banned balloons and kites mixes light, dark, emotion, and imagination. Earnest without being twee or sentimental. Such a fun and twisted book.

–Two from Stephen Graham Jones: It Came from Del Rio and The Ones That Got Away: Del Rio is a short novel about a dude who becomes a zombie cupacabra, wearing a bunny head, and was caught doing some smuggling of space rocks over the Mexican border. Yeah, sounds nuts, but Stephen plays it straight and–as always–mines painful and authentic emotional territory. His short story collection is one of the must read collection of this or any year. Dark, funny, disturbing, and completely original.

One Bloody Thing After Another, Joey Comeau:  The first of our Canadian invaders! What’s not to like when you mix a loyal dog, a basement kept zombie Mom, a ghost, and dysfunction galore. Witty, smart, and at times, genuinely creepy.
Sarah Court, Craig Davidson/People Live Still in Cashtown Corners, Tony Burgess: More Canadians. Two from CZP. Davidson’s novel in stories follows the intesecting lives of dreamers and losers in an Ontario neighborhood. Davidson shocks us with cruelty and honor among his hopeful damned. Tony’s novella is a first person account of a mass murder that reads like a surrealist true crime book. Both books will stay with you, I promise.
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Aimee Bender: The novel of the year, says me. A girl wakes to find she can taste the food preparer’s emotional state (when they made the food). Aimee explores the ramifications deftly and leaves the reader unsettled, informed, and exhilarated.
Occultation, Laird Barron: Laird’s second collection is as wonderful and scary as his first. Better, even. With Occultation, Laird’s thematic vision expands, as does his willingness to explore characterization without skimping on the shocks and scares. One of the most important horror writers working today.
The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, Philip Pullman: Retelling of gospel events, with Jesus and Christ as twin brothers. Didactic, maybe, but it worked for as a powerful statement about organized religion and what it means to be human.
Bury Me Deep, Megan Abbott: Compelling feminist-noir based on a real case from the 30s. Fantastic period piece with voice, style, and twists galore.
The Caretaker of Lorne Field, Dave Zeltserman: Small New England town has hired a dude to weed this one field for generations. If he doesn’t weed the field, the weeds grow into monsters and we’re all dead in a week. Or the dude is nuts. Dave takes this twilight-zone set up, sprinkles noir, and plays the reader like a fiddle until the very last page. You can’t help but love this book.
other musings:
Bonus non-fic pic: They Live, Jonathan Lethem.
Favorite Rediscoveries: The Cormorant, Stephen Gregory, The Tenant, Roland Torpor
Favorite books from first time novelists
Each of these were outstanding and could’ve easily made my top ten list.
The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart, Jesse Bullington
Transubstantiate, Richard Thomas
The Orange Eats the Creeps, Grace Krilanovich
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, Charles Yu
Most disappointing:
The Unnamed, Joshua Ferris
The Great House, Nicole Krauss
Our Tragic Universe, Scarlett Thomas
Books from 2010 I will read at some point:
Working Backwards from the Worst Moment of My Life, Rob Roberge
If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This, Robin Black
You Were Wrong, Matthew Sharpe
Next, James Hynes
The Physics of Imaginary Objects, Tina May Hall
Room, Emma Donoghue


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6 responses to “(top) 10 (or 11, and more, plus grousing and ramblings) in 2010

  1. Wow, thanks Paul, I’m honored to make the list. So glad I wasn’t in the MOST DISAPPOINTING category, had to check twice to make sure.

    And as far as The Physics of Imaginary Objects, get that right away. It’s one of my favorite books of the year, you’ll love it, I guarantee it. It’s part Aimee Bender part Cormac McCarthy part Karen Russell.

  2. thelittlesleep

    You’re welcome, and well deserved!

    I do plan on getting Imaginary Objects. Looking forward to it.

  3. Amen on The Unnamed. I couldn’t get through it.

  4. Very interesting list. I’ve been meaning to pick up THE PARTICULAR SADNESS OF LEMON CAKE, but kind of held off because I didn’t love WILLFUL CREATURES, although now I can’t quite remember why.

    • thelittlesleep

      I think Aimee’s first collection The Girl in the Flammable Skirt was stronger than Willful, fyi. But yeah, give Lemon Cake a shot.

  5. Pingback: 2010 in review (blog stats!) | The Little Sleep’s Blog

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