Friday, December 31, 2010

Reflections 2010

Looking back, 2010 was a very satisfying reading year - no challenges, top priority to book club choices, and scaled back commitments. While my 'numbers' are far from impressive,  I enjoyed the books I read more than ever. 2010 will be remembered as a year of group reads and read-alongs, and the year I  tackled some classics and made new friends in the process.

The year began with Woolf in Winter and a personal victory. After three failed attempts, spaced over 25 years, I finally finished Mrs. Dalloway - and loved it! But instead of continuing To The Lighthouse with the rest of the group, I chose to reread The Hours by Michael Cunningham.  Perhaps I will return to Woolf, and To The Lighthouse, this winter.

Next, I joined my first read-along. Jill from Fizzy Thoughts lead us through Wuthering Heights, which was far from the love story I was expecting. The book proved to be just okay, but the read-along group was the best - definitely a highlight of my year!

An unplanned French fixation developed around the same time. It began in March with Julia Child's My Life in France, continued through Emile Zola's The Ladies' Paradise (read for The Classics Circuit), and culminated with Paris in July.  I read short stories by Guy de Maupassant and Zola, and Cheri and The Last of Cheri by Colette. Finally, there was Frances' group read of Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert and Lydia Davis' gorgeous new translation.  I'm not finished with the French... there will be more Zola and Colette in the near future.  Davis' translation skills even have me considering Proust.

Completing Bleak House was the biggest accomplishment of the year. Although it started out as a read-along, I fell behind almost immediately and continued at my own pace. At 989 pages, this was my longest book of the year. It was a combination book/audio for me, and I learned that I especially enjoy listening to Dickens' novels.

Finally, on to my favorites...


Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, translated by Lydia Davis
The Group by Mary McCarthy
The Ladies' Paradise by Emile Zola
Doreen by Barbara Noble


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
My Life in France by Julia Child


Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
Pavilion of Women by Pearl S. Buck

"A Lovely Time" by Dorothy Whipple
"A Doll's House" by Katharine Mansfield
"Good Neighbors" by Jonathan Franzen
"The Name of the Game" by Colm Toibin
"Why I Live at the P.O." by Eudora Welty
"Farewell" by Guy de Maupassant

And just for fun...

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf 
The Hours by Michael Cunningham

Summer by Edith Wharton
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton


Mariana by Monica Dickens
Summer by Edith Wharton
Molly Fox's Birthday by Deirdre Madden


The Group by Mary McCarthy
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
Pavilion of Women by Pearl S. Buck

And there it is, 2010 in review.  Thank you all for reading this blog and sharing the ongoing book discussion. It's become an enjoyable part of my life, and I look forward to more book talk in 2011.


  1. Looks like you had some great reads! I'm trying to be cautious with read-alongs, because so often I give up. Next year I want to read longer books, which will mean fewer books overall, and that's OK. I have too many chunksters on the TBR shelves that need attention.

  2. Happy New Year! Happy Great Year of Reading! Bleak House, huh? I didn't do any readalongs, well- I tried one but my partner and I couldn't get on the same schedule. I hope I try another this year - some of the ones I've seen are just too intimidating. oh well.
    congrats and I am so glad you liked Mrs. D. I adored To the Lighthouse. I can't wait to get to more Woolf.

  3. Hi JoAnn. Just popping in to wish you and your family a Happy New Year. May 2011 be filled with good books, good friends, good health and much happiness. It's nice to see people reading Pearl Buck. I loved all of her books.

  4. Joanne, I love seeing CUTTING FOR STONE on your best of 2010 list. It was definitely one of my favorites for this year too. Wishing you and your family a very Happy New Year! May 2011 be filled with much joy and great reading!!

  5. This is a great list and I'm glad you enjoyed The Group and I can't wait for your review! :) The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and Cutting in Stone are books I'm looking forward to reading myself. And I totally understand how no challenges takes the pressure off reading. I signed up for too many in 2010 and did a bad job of it all with work interrupting. I've signed up for only one challenge for 2011 and one that I'm confident I'll finish (S.Krishna's South Asian Challenge)

    Happy new year and have a lovely time :)

  6. Totally, 100% with you on Henrietta and LTGWS. I'm listening to Freedom right now...jury is out on how I feel about it (which is exactly how it worked with The Corrections). I must say that I am really very impressed with your eclectic readings this year - very well-rounded!

  7. I read and loved Madame Bovary this year too. I share your opinion on Wuthering Heights, for me it was a bit of a disappointment and a struglle to get through the last 50 or so pages.

  8. You read some great books this year!

  9. What a great year of varied and interesting reading you've had, JoAnn! I must look into some of these, they look fantastic!

    It's great when you finally tackle a book you've been struggling with for years...I think Henry James will be my Virginia Woolf this year!

    Happy New Year to you and your family!

  10. What a great reading year indeed! I love that you read so many classics, including The Group which is one of my favorites as well! Here's to 2011!

  11. Happy New Year!

    Great books on your list - I loved Cutting for Stone too and I think I'm going to have to try Franzen in 2011.

  12. I hope to have the opportunity to participate in a read-along in 2011. It sounds like such fun - and a great way to connect with fellow readers.

    I would say 2010 was an awesome reading year for you - and I know that you will continue that streak into the new year.

  13. I agree with Sandy - you had a great "well-rounded" year! Hope next year is good for you as well!

  14. What a great review of your reading year! We share a lot of favourites by the looks of things - discovering Virginia Woolf was definitely one of the highlights of my reading year.

  15. I loved reading about your year and the quality of books that you read is so awesome!! I'm bookmarking all of my fave blogger's lists of their 2010 reads and hopefully I will be able to read something from your list!

  16. I liked reading your wrap up post JoAnn. I also loved Cutting for Stone and the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and liked Freedom as well.

    It sounds like you year was all that you hoped it to be. Continued reading pleasure in 2011. Happy New Year JoAnn.

  17. I like the way you reviewed your year in reading. I admire the reading you did and sure hope next year is even better. Happy New Year to you and your family.

  18. Oh, I think my heart broke a little when you wrote that Wuthering Heights was just ok. It's one of my favourite books of all time, but I seem to be in the minority. :) I can't believe you managed to wade all the way through Bleak House; I've been bogged down in that tome several times. I hope you do read To the Lighthouse, because it's a fabulous novel. Also, I haven't read the new translation of Madame Bovary yet. I'm saving it for the right moment. The cover is just so gorgeous, isn't it?

  19. you had a wonderful reading year and did a great job posting on it-happy new year and wishing you great books and blogging in 2011-I look forward to reading your 2011 posts

  20. It was so nice to "meet" you in 2010 and I hope to read a lot more of you in the new year. Happy 2011! May it have many more great reads.

  21. Amy - There are an awful lot of chunksters on my shelf, too... hoping the TBR Dare with motivate me to pick them up!

    Care - Wish I could remember who suggested I try To the Lighthouse on audio, but I have it along with the book and hope to read it next month.

    Kaye - A very happy new year to you, too! I think I'll be reading more Pearl Buck in 2011.

    Kay - It's so good to see you! Wishing you all the best for 2011.

    Kals - Everybody seems to love Cutting for Stone, I haven't seen one negative review. Henrietta Lacks was fascinating and heartbreaking. Hope you enjoy both of these. Happy 2011!

    Sandy - Your initial reaction to Freedom is so interesting, and seems to fit with what I've been them or hate them, readers seem to feel the same way about both of Franzen's books.

    Sam - The best part about Wuthering Heights for me was the read-along experience. What a great group we had... I met several new blogging friends.

    Lisa - I went for quality over quantity this year, and was not disappointed.

    Rachel - I hope you can read Henry James this year. Daisy Miller seems to be a good place to start. It's quite short and the sentences aren't as convoluted as they become in his later work.

    Amused - I just love classics, and The Group is one I discovered through other bloggers.

  22. Cat - Happy New Year! Cutting for Stone seems to be universally loved, but reaction to Franzen seems to vary quite a bit. Will be interested to see what you make of him...

    Molly - The readalongs were definitely a high point of my reading year. Hope you get to try one this year, too!

    Rhapsodyinbooks - Thank you! It seems like such a wide variety of books grabbed my attention in 2010.

    Karen - I went on a VW buying spree after finishing Mrs. Dalloway... more Woolf for 2011!

    Staci - These end of the year lists have me adding so many books to my wish list. It's amazing how much more I'm enjoying the books I read since I began blogging. Bloggers are the best for recommendations!

    Diane - Our reading tastes seem so similar.... I always pay close attention to your reviews. Happy reading in 2011!

    Margot - It's been such a pleasure to share book talk, and food talk, with you this year! Happy 2011!

    Violet - Didn't mean to wound you with those words about WH ;-) My expectations were so different from what I found...I did enjoy the book, it just wasn't a standout. Don't think I would have made it through Bleak House without the audio. I should have added a favorite cover category to this post - Madame Bovary would have been an easy choice!

    Mel U - Happy New Year to you, too! I look forward to following your reading adventures in 2011.

    Iris - 2010 will be remembered as a year I discovered so many wonderful new bloggers! I always enjoy reading your posts. Happy 2011 to you!

  23. What a wonderful list of favourites! I have only read Cutiing for Stone, but I loved it. I hope to read The Group and Bovary at some point and I hope I enjoy them as much as you did. Have a wonderful 2011!

  24. Jackie - When you do get to Madame Bovary, make sure it's Lydia Davis' new translation. There is just no comparison! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

  25. Great picks!

    I read 95 books, not bad, considering I was in a reading slump for more than four months.

    Happy New Year to you and your family. Have a great reading year in 2011!!!

    Here are my Best Reads of 2010

  26. Gautami - 95 books is amazing, especially with a reading slump. Happy New Year!

  27. I think there's a lot to be said about reading deliberately and the enjoyment that you get out of it. Although I didn't have as many winners in 2010 as you did I enjoyed the reading process much more--especially during the readalongs.

    Listening to Dickens books, huh? Maybe I'll try the combo act with some of his longer ones and see how that goes. I did purchase Bleak House for the readalong but was too entrenched in Brothers K to read any of it. Maybe this year! ;)

  28. Trish - I think the readalongs were really popular with a lot of bloggers in 2010. Dickens on audio works really well for me... probably even better than in print. Give it a try!


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