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Top 10s of the decade: Books

Yes, yes, I know the decade isn't really over, but all these lists coming out have sparked an interest in compiling my own lists :)

First, I can't believe it has been nearly 10 years since people were freaking out about Y2K, 9/11 hadn't happened yet, and I was still in college, not yet having realized that I had already met the man I was going to marry.

And so much has happened in those 10 years -- I've graduated college, moved four times, traveled to Europe twice, gotten married, held two full-time jobs, rescued two cats and have overall settled securely into my life. It's amazing when I think about it.

So here are my top 10 lists -- I'm sure I will forget about something obvious, leave something off, etc. -- off the top of my head (from 2000-2009), of the things that have shaped the first 10 years of my adult life, in a series of posts.

Top 10 books

1. Harry Potter. I'm going to lump all the HP books that have come out this decade into one entry because they would take up nearly half the list otherwise. I got into Harry Potter books in the summer of 2000 during my first internship. I was working at a newspaper, and GoF was released that summer to some coverage. Someone gave me a copy of one of the earlier books, and I regret that my memory is so hazy now that I don't remember which I read first. I'm fairly certain it was CoS, but after I read it, I got all the books that were out and read them again in order. They were fantastic!

It's also funny to me because I had no idea at the time that I was IMing all summer with a guy I would marry on the day that the next Harry Potter book would come out. And that we would end up going to the bookstore right after the wedding, still in our wedding finery, to pick it up for me to read on our honeymoon to London.

The books, in addition to being amazing books to read, also brought people into my life who I would have never met otherwise. I have some amazing friends across the country now because of HP, and I have had an awesome community experience online because of it. And somewhere along the way, I truly started becoming a part of Fandom in all its glories. (Because reading and writing fanfic is no fun unless you have other obsessed fans to share it with.)

And I swear, the entries on my lists won't all be this long :)

2.Nickle and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. If you read no other nonfiction book, read this one. Very few books have stuck with me as concretely as this one has. It's an amazing account of a woman attempting to live on minimum wage for a year, and how she discovers it's impossible to do so. There are so many things I have never had to think about, like where I'm going to get $20 to get a prescribed medicine, to how much people in those positions depend on things like tips and overtime to get food on the table, and this book makes me keep that in mind. You'll think long and hard about leaving less than a 20 percent tip after reading this book.

3. Y: The Last Man. This was the series that made me a graphic novels convert. It has everything that a "real" book has -- good writing, well-pace plot, interesting characters -- plus amazing artwork. It's the story of what happens when all the men on Earth die, except one. If you've never read graphic novels before, I hesitate to tell you to start with this one -- because your expectations will be forever spoiled.

4. The Time Traveler's Wife. This is what I get for ignoring a book I wrongly assumed to an Oprah's pick for so long. I finally picked it up recently, and it was a fascinating read. It's the story of two people in love, and how the man's forced time travelling affects both of their lives, past, present and future. And yet I wouldn't classify it as a romance or chicklit -- it's an uncomfortable read at times, but always engaging.

5. The Road. I hesitate to put this on here simply because one of my definitions of a great book is one that I will read again and again -- and this is a book I will never read again. Not because it wasn't amazing -- it was lyrical and elegant and beautiful and tragic and everything you want in a post-apocalyptic work of art -- but because I don't think I could stomach reading it again. It was so depressing and stuck with me for so long, I doubt I'd put myself through it again. But I am grateful that I made the journey once.

6.The Thirteenth Tale. I actually "read" this one by way of audiobook, and I would urge you to listen to it whether you've read it or not. The narrators are amazing storytellers and draw you in from the first sentence. As for the book itself, it's a well-written ghost story with wonderful characters, a story where you can't wait to find out what happens on the next page, and one where even I didn't expect the ending. Also, the descriptions of books and reading will resonate with any true bibliophile's heart.

7.The Sookie Stackhouse books. A white trash waitress as the heroine of a series of books about vampires? It works, and amazingly well. I read my first Sookie novel a few years ago when we got a free copy at the newspaper, but it wasn't until this year that I sat down and read them all in a row. Charlaine Harris paints a world like few do, and it's as rich and full of detail as the Harry Potter books. Even if you pooh-pooh vampire novels, you should pick these up -- they're as far from Twilight as you can get.

8. Hominids. Speculative fiction at its best. Robert J. Sawyer (who also wrote FlashForward) is a master at writing science fiction that is well-researched, sounds plausible, and brings up the philosophical, moral and ethical questions that truly make you think. In this first book of his Neanderthal Parralax series, humans find that there is a parallel world where the Neanderthals flourished and humans died out when a Neanderthal scientist crosses into our world. Most authors would have been content with just this as a plot, but for Sawyer, it's just the beginning. Murder, interspecies relationships, and what justice entails are just a few things covered.

9. Escape. A fascinating nonfiction account of how one woman escaped the FLDS (the crazy fundamentalist Mormons) with her 8 children, despite being one of the wives of a high-placed man in their church. It would be a great read even if it were fiction, but the fact that it's all real gives even more impact to the story. The FLDS is not a group I had known a lot about, and it helped me learn a lot about the difference between the extremist Mormons and the normal ones, when I had wrongly assumed that they were all the same group. Just a cautionary tale, too, of how any religion can be horrible when taken to extremes and when a group of people are indoctrinated from birth to believe crazy things.

10. Stray and the other Shifters books. In a field that is overly crowded, this is the pinnacle of the shifters/werecats/supernatural genre. What else do you need besides a kickass female shifter who's bucking against a patriarchal system, a well-crafted mythology and awesome writing/plotting/pacing? While most of the books in this genre focus on the romance, that's only a small part of this series that has yet to disappoint.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 15th, 2009 05:00 pm (UTC)
Lovelovelove Nickel & Dimed. ♥
Dec. 15th, 2009 11:37 pm (UTC)
Thanks for giving me a reading list. I haven't read a few of these.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )