10 June 2010

Top Books of 2010 (January to June): Part I

It's summer again! Which means that I am back at my summer job and already zzzzzzz-ing about alphabetizing evaluations. But! It also means that I can return to my poor, neglected blog and talk about some of the truly fantastic books I've read since I last posted (so long ago!).

(BTW, I am working my way toward reading one hundred books in a year, and as of Sunday night, I finished #68. I might actually make one hundred this year!)

Having read 68 books in six months, you'd think my best-of list would be longer, but (1) a number of my books were read for a grad class in Romantic and Victorian Children's Lit and (2) I've apparently gotten pickier about what I read and how much I like it. I also don't think my reading has been quite as eclectic as usual (in part because the aforementioned grad class combined with the numerous ARCs I've managed to pick up at NCTE in November and ALA in June have led to a glut of YA in my reading rotation). But! I'm saving a number of long-anticipated books for my upcoming vacay with BFF Jess (including but not limited to coveted ARCs of Pegasus by Robin McKinley and Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld), so I imagine my July to December list will be longer.

Anyway... to part one of the best of!

This is my favorite book of the year so far -- one of my favorite books of all time, in fact. I read it as a paired text with The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling for Romantic and Victorian Children's Lit, and it was amazing. Gaiman deftly straddles the line between life and death, comedy and tragedy, beauty and horror. It's a lovely, bittersweet coming-of-age tale that brought me to tears.

Now this is how you do vampires. I think Sunshine was written before Twilight became less a series and more a craze, but either way, McKinley builds an intricate world in which the supernatural is everyday, though strictly regulated by the government. Rae is an incredible heroine -- funny, cynical, brave, and independent -- and I love how her imprisonment with (and ultimate rescue of) Con is only the beginning of her adventure into understanding herself and her world.

3. Z For Zachariah by Robert C. O'Brien

My love for end-of-the-world stories is well-documented, and Z For Zachariah is a beautifully written addition to my collection. You have to suspend your disbelief a bit (fallout from nuclear war somehow manages to float over a particular valley?), but once you do, Anne's story is both frightening and moving. O'Brien writes from Anne's point-of-view in journal form, and I'm pretty impressed at how realistic and gripping the narrative is.

I read Westerfeld's Uglies series, and while I wasn't always thrilled with the plot, I loved his world-building. Leviathan marries that amazing world-building with a gripping and fascinating plot and characters (Deryn and Aleks) that I loved following through both their individual and intersecting plotlines. Like I mentioned above, I got my hands on an ARC of Behemoth, the sequel to Leviathan, at ALA, and I can't wait to read it!

I have more top books, but my work computer is crazy slow -- apparently it takes issue with performing any action in less than five minutes -- so I will continue praising lit another time!