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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Top Five Books of 2010 versus Top Five Older 2010 Reads (by Liviu Suciu)

(click through for a larger image)

While there is more than a month in 2010, I thought it instructive to look at my top five 2010 novels versus the top five older novels read by me in 2010.

Top five 2010 novels:

1. Surface Detail (rv) by Iain M. Banks (sf, standalone within the loose Culture series)
2. The Invisible Bridge (rv) by Julie Orringer (historical fiction, debut)
3. The Scarab Path (rv)/Salute the Dark (rv) by Adrian Tchaikovsky (fantasy, Apt #4/5)
4. The Folding Knife (rv) by KJ Parker (fantasy, standalone)
5. Aurorarama (rv) by Jean-Christophe Valtat (sf, English original, standalone though the author plans more books in its milieu)

Top five older novels read in 2010:

1. The Opposing Shore (rv) by Julien Gracq (sf, standalone from 1951)
2. The Notebook (rv) by Agota Kristof (historical fiction, first in a trilogy from the 1980's)
3. Altai by Wu Ming (Italian language only for now and free online, historical fiction from 2009, sequel to the celebrated Q which is available in English free online too - FBC Rv of Q)
4. The Affirmation by Christopher Priest (sf, standalone 1981)
5. Wanderers and Islanders by Steve Cockayne (fantasy, first in a trilogy, 2002)

The Opposing Shore is my overall choice for #1, followed by The Notebook and then the top 5 2010 novels in that order and then more 2010 books before the older #3-#5.

Edit: 11/24 Just read The Old Capital by Yasunari Kawabata (1960's, second edition translation 2005/6) and it moves to #4 here


Joel said...

Invisible Bridge didn't quite work for me, but I picked up The Folding Knife based on your enthusiastic review and have been enjoying it. I'm also going to give Shadows of the Apt a try starting with book one.

Liviu said...

Invisible Bridge is very different from most books I tend to enjoy (even in the historical fiction space) and very different from the rest of the books here (even Altai has more in common with sff in its political overtones, world building...) and one of those "one off" books that just resonated with me strongly - The Children's Book of last year and Room of this year are other examples, while something like Wolf Hall, Empire/Saylor, Distant Hours or Thousands Autumns are much more sf-nal

I hope you will like the Kinden books - the first 2 while with lots of goodies show they are first books in the narrative walls encountered in pov transition, but from book 3 on the flow is there too

Hélène said...

I'll give a try with Altai (I loaded it on their site) but my italian is unreliable at best! I heard a french translation is projected so I hope I'll be able to "check".

Liviu said...

I never studied Italian (or Spanish) formally but especially Italian is so close to Romanian that with a little practice, it's easy to read almost anything; Spanish is a little farther so it takes me more time to read it, but I can manage; never tried Portuguese though

I studied French and I read quite a few novels in it, though of course I am still far from the instant comprehension in English or Romanian

As for Altai while a sequel to Q in so far the multi-named narrator of Q appears as an enigmatic character- from the POV of Altai's narrator at least -, you do not need to read Q for it. This one has the same theme of freedom for the oppressed and its practical impossibility, but it follows a top-down attempt to approach it from the "hawk" of the title, the Altai aka Don Joseph Nasi aka Don Joao Miquez as seen through the eyes of the conflicted Emanuele de Zante aka Manuel Cardoso

Carl V. said...

I just picked up Aurorarama this past week because it looked and sounded so fascinating. Great to see that it was one you enjoyed this past year. I'm strongly leaning towards reading it as soon as I am done with Jeff Vandermeer's short story collection, The Third Bear, which is (thus far) outstanding.

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