My Favorite Reads of 2010: #1

January 14, 2011 § 2 Comments

1. A Mercy by Toni Morrison

Some thoughts:

Having never read any Toni Morrison before, I didn’t know what to expect when I first opened this book. The dust jacket was vague about the plot, which can be a blessing or a curse (a blessing, in this case). Needless to say, the story absorbed me from the first second and kept my attention to the end. It has all the elements of a great book: distinct characters, an effective plot, and polished writing.

Then, there’s the time period. Set in 1680’s Virginia, Morrison really captures the unharnessed lawlessness of a land and people not yet settled. If you’re anything like me, most of what you know about the 1680’s in America can be boiled down to what you learned from that five-slide Powerpoint presentation in high-school history class entitled “Everything That Happened In North America Before the Revolutionary War”. It was enlightening to sit with a book and consider what effect such a foreign place in history would have had on characters like these.

Overall, I think the reason this book claims the number one spot would have to be the repercussions it had for my identity long after I put the book away. At its heart, A Mercy is a story about what it means to be an American—what it means to be connected to our past, our future, and all of the ugliness and beauty we represent as a nation, have always represented.

Read it if:

  • you’re in the mood for a primarily female perspective
  • you like multi-character voice
  • early America interests you

Shelve it if:

  • you don’t like historical fiction
  • dialect gets on your nerves
  • you’re looking for something with a traditional plot structure

So there you have it! My top ten picks. I hope you found something on this list that intrigues you. What was the best book you read this year?

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§ 2 Responses to My Favorite Reads of 2010: #1

  • Carrie says:

    Unfortunately I didn’t read very many books this year, but my favorite has to be Fables for Our Time and Illustrated Poems by James Thurber. Delightful is best word to describe it. Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman was another favorite (apparently I read a lot of short story collections).

  • Thurber and Gaiman have always proved to be reliable reads for me, as well. You should check out Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book”. Fun and goth-y.

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