Monday, June 28, 2010

Top 10 Literary "Things" of 2010...So Far

Here we are, already at the midpoint of 2010. So let's take a post and look back at the Top 10 most interesting, funny, and stupid book-related events, stories or general happenings of the first 180 days of the year.  

10. Jonathan Safran Foer on The Colbert Report — It's very rare that a literary novelist makes an appearance on a mainstream TV talk show, so this was exciting. Let's just conveniently ignore the facts that Foer's Feb. 8th appearance was on a "fake" talk show to discuss his non-fiction book, Eating Animals, okay? Foer kept up with Colbert pretty well, which is significant as Colbert almost always gets the best of his guests, or at least flusters them to some degree. It's just a great clip. "Since you seem to be very interested in animal love-making..." 

9. Publish or Perish — This mid-April New Yorker piece laid out the e-book landscape and explained how iPad is changing it. The article is as complete and interesting as any piece you'll find on the changing publishing culture.

8. Walter Kirn Snubbed for Oscars (at first) — Note to readers: If you ever publish a novel, and that novel is adapted into a screenplay, and that screenplay is made into a movie starring George Clooney, and that George Clooney is nominated for Best Actor (and the movie is nominated for Best Picture), your invitation to attend the ceremony is far from a sure thing. Up In The Air novelist Walter Kirn eventually did get to attend the Oscars, but his initial snub seemed like a huge slap in the face to the real creative genius behind many movies.

7. Dan Brown is MIA — I don't have a link for this one, but in my view, when it comes to Dan Brown, no news is good news. I must say I find it refreshing that after the initial publicity bounce from last year's deplorable The Lost Symbol, we seem to have collectively decided to ignore Dan Brown. Kudos to us! 

6. Tinkers, by Paul Harding Wins Pulitzer; Heads Are Scratched — Though I still haven't read it, I have it on good authority that Tinkers is actually a very good book. Still, it seems very bizarre that the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, awarded in April, was awarded to a novel actually published on January 1, 2009 and that it was a book very few had heard of and even fewer had read. 

5. R.I.P. J.D. Salinger and Jose Saramago —  The Catcher in the Rye novelist, also famous for his reclusiveness, died Jan. 27. Saramago, the Portuguese Nobel Laureate, probably most famous for Blindness, died June 18.

4. This Just In: Christopher Moore IS Funny — I'd put off reading Christopher Moore for years, but finally got around to Lamb in January. I absolutely loved it! On another note, because I love books and I love music, I thought, naturally, I'd love books about music — but I wasn't really a fan in my first foray into Nick Hornby. 

3. Sparks to Readers: Stop Miscategorizing Me! — And we have our leader in the clubhouse for the 2010 "Totally Un-Self-Aware Award." Nicky Sparks, who clearly didn't understand that photo-posing with Miley Cyrus wouldn't help his cause when attempting to make himself appear smart, tried to make the case that he's a literary, not romance, author. Anyone who knows anything about books (and terrible romance movies) laughed heartily after reading this March USA Today article, and then went about their day. 

2 . Millenium Series on Cover of Entertainment Weekly — Especially as EW has increasingly toed the People/US Weekly line, it was refreshing to see a novel show up on the front cover of a pop culture mag, as it did for the June 25th issue. I really gotta get to these Stieg Larsson books, or you're going to start wondering about my literary cred.

1. Amy Greene's Bloodroot is the Best Book of 2010...So Far Bloodroot is simply mesmerizing.You should definitely check it out. If you do, I'll read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Deal? 

So what has caught your eye so far in 2010? What did I miss here? Any nominations of your own for Best Book of 2010...So Far (must have been published in 2010)?


  1. Ohhhhh, Bloodroot has been on my wish list at paperbackswap for three months now . . . apparently I should only have to wait about 59 more weeks before I receive a copy. I'm so jealous that you have gotten to read it already! Maybe I just need to nut up and buy it.

  2. Well,I didn't read Up in the Air but I think the snubbing had more to do with backlash against Clooney and company rather than the merits of the book(it's a shame when someone else has to bear the brunt of a feud they had nothing to directly do with). Just bad luck,that's what I chalk that up to.

    I was pleased to see The Girl With series being the lead story at EW and it got me to finally hunker down and start reading the first one. It's the kind of book that makes you say to yourself "what took me so long to read this?" When you get to it,Greg,you'll see what I mean.

    Justin Cronin's The Passage is a notable item on the book beat for 2010(I know it's heading into those "too trendy to be worth reading" waters but it's one of the best things I've read this year)and having read To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time in my life,the 50th anniversary of that Little Book That Could is another big highlight of the year,in my opinion.

  3. My favorite part of this entry is us ignoreing Dan Brown. Other than that this is a pretty great list. I love Foer, and the huge article EW did on Larssons trilogy.

  4. This may be my favorite post of the far. :)

  5. Great top 10! Now I am going to have to find some time today to check out all the links :-)

  6. Oh I love that Sparks/Cyrus article. That made my year :-). My definite best book so far of 2010 is Phillip Pullman's The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, I can not recommend it enough. A very close runner up is the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness (the last in the series published this year) - books for children but destined to become classics I'd bet my life on it. And I hope you do read TGWTDT, I don't like crime novels per se, but I read it due to all the hype and it is a good read. I haven't read the other two yet but plan to soon.

  7. Terrific post!

    I justed added "Bloodroot" to my hold list at the library. Looking forward to reading your review of TGWTDT.

    Couldn't agree more about Brown and Sparks. :)

  8. the best of 2010 so far? i'm still reading 2008 books! i had to make this deal with the husband, no more new purchases until i finished everything i've bought and not read! *sigh*

  9. Nicholas Sparks is to literature what Jim Belushi is to acting.

  10. @Kathy - I can't emphasize enough how good Bloodroot is! I'd highly recommend buying it. ;)

    @ladyT - Yeah, I vaguely remember hearing that Kirn's snub was political in some respects. What a strange world it is out there on the left coast. Tattooed Girl - What you said is exactly what I keep hearing. I'll be mad at myself for waiting so long. The thing about the Passage: It's the first in a trilogy, so despite its buzz and good reviews, I'm sort of inclined to wait the several years for the others and then read them all in a row. It's one of my bookish neuroses.

    @Letter - Actually, ignoring Dan Brown is my favorite story of the year, too. ;)

    @Trisha - And that may be my favorite comment of the year!

    @Becky - Thanks!

    @mummazappa - I've heard great things about the Pullman novel - thanks for the recommendation. Added to my wishlist!

    @Janna - Sparks and Brown are such clowns. Glad you agree. ;)

    @savannah - Wow, if I followed that rule, I'd be still reading 1990 books!

    @Ken - Nice analogy. I think I'd go with Keanu Reeves. Or Nic Cage.

  11. I have to say the Colbert selection was my favorite, although he was priceless with Sherman Alexie as well. Sherman actually one-upped him and left Stephen flustered.
    I read somewhere that Stewart and Colbert should be recognized for their part in helping raise book awareness, fiction and nonfiction. They really are something! Love the blog Greg!

  12. I can't wait to read Bloodroot - so happy you loved it. I did read Tinkers and didn't enjoy it much. My book club reads the Pulitzer every year and we are opting to read something else this year.

    Great list!