Friday, December 31, 2010

My Favorite Books of 2010

My reading has suffered this year. According to my LibraryThing tags (which probably isn't the most accurate measurement), I've read 47 books this year. While this isn't bad, it is still lower than my tally in past years. However, I can honestly say that the books I did read in 2010 were, for the most part, very good. Here are, in no particular order, my favorites from the past year:

Finishing the Hat by Stephen Sondheim: My favorite theatre composer/lyricist published a compilation of his lyrics up to 1981's Merrily We Roll Along. This is a must-have for any theatre lover, and I am eagerly awaiting Sondheim's follow-up book, Look, I Made a Hat, which is supposed to be published in the fall of 2011.

The Glamour of Grammar by Roy Peter Clark: A well-written, thoughtful, and fun look at grammar and language. When I received this book as part of LibraryThing's early readers program, my boss gently teased me because: 1) I was reading a book about grammar, 2) this book was selected for me because my book collection on the site suggested that I would enjoy a book about grammar, and 3) I really, really liked this book.

Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife by Francine Prose: When I was getting my master's and doing my student teaching, I found myself having to teach The Diary of Anne Frank (the play) to a bunch of surly eighth graders. This experience, and a prior experience serving as the technical director for the play, made me develop an aversion to Anne Frank. However, Prose's thoughtful and well-argued analysis of the diary encouraged me to revisit the diary and look at as both a piece of literature and a historical document.

Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin: Yes, I know that this book is very gossipy, but it is also fascinating and well-written. Furthermore, even though I find it hard to completely buy into Heilemann and Halperin's narrative since they don't cite their sources, some of the revelations that have come out in the time since the 2008 election (such as George W. Bush's reaction to John McCain's puzzling behavior in the wake of the financial crisis) help verify their claims.

The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell: Although Sarah Vowell has been on the literary scene for a while, I hadn't read any of her works until this year, and I am a little sad that it took me this long to read them. Assassination Vacation and The Wordy Shipmates are both very good, but I have a soft spot for The Party Cloudy Patriot, since it helped keep me (relatively) sane and happy during my interminable wait at the air port in November.