2010 has been a year of change and good fortune. For the first time in my memory, I aced my New Year’s Resolutions instead of abandoning and forgetting about them two months into the year.
1. Eat more vegetables. Check. I started having spinach salad every day for lunch, and now it has become a habit. Sometimes I eat spinach as a snack, straight out of the bag. This is not disgusting. It’s healthy. I am like Popeye in a skirt (see 2).
2. Stop being so weird about my knees. Check. For years I wore almost no skirts, shorts, or dresses, because I thought my legs in general, and my knees in particular, were weird and unattractive. In 2010 I made a conscious effort to wear more clothes that showed my knees, faintly hoping that I would become resigned to their weirdness. Halfway through 2010, I noticed that I no longer cared at all about my knees. They are perfectly normal. Moreover, it turns out that wearing a dress cuts down substantially on the stress of picking out work clothes. I have no idea what my problem was, and I feel I could have looked far cuter in high school and college than I chose to look. Hooray for positive body image!
3. Make a Career decision and then take a significant step toward achieving it. Double-check, because I got my internship in the summer of 2010, and my job in the fall. I have some feelings of ambivalence about this move to New York, but I love, love, love the job. The people here are nice and interesting, I get bagels on Friday mornings, and I am working on this one project in particular, which has been difficult and stressful in some ways, but which I feel is very worthwhile and I am proud to be part of it.
As far as this blog goes, I am generally pleased with myself there too. I finally switched to a pretty header, which I’ve been meaning to do for, oh, three years now. I hosted my first bloggy event, Diana Wynne Jones Week, in August, and it was great fun. On the down side, I wanted to read more books by and about people of color, as well as more books in translation. I was doing well on this at the start of the year, but then I guess I lost steam. Damn. I will start again in 2011, although I am not formalizing it into a New Year’s Resolution, because I think that’s just going to set me up for failure.
Book of the Year
Could you ever doubt that I was going to say Monsters of Men for this? After the genius of the first two Chaos Walking books, I equal parts knew Monsters of Men was going to blow my mind, and feared that it would not. I shouldn’t have worried. Patrick Ness is incredible. I have read the whole Chaos Walking series twice this year, and I fancy reading it again now. It is just that good. I cannot ever thank Ana enough for putting me onto these books.
The no-brainer answer to this would be Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, which gripped me as much or more as it did the first time around (in 2005), and I read it twice in two weeks and later got to meet Tartt at my very first author event! The Time of the Ghost runs a close second, though, if only because after nearly a decade, I finally came to love it.
Best Books I Should Have Read Ages Ago
Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series. I feel like I have spent a lot of time in the last few years wishing I had listened to Legal Sister sooner. Legal Sister read the Queen’s Thief books when we were still in grade school, and it has taken me until now to get around to them. However, I am learning! When she said she rather liked Veronica Mars, I got on that immediately.
Just in terms of being the exact reading experience I wanted at the time of reading them, I’m giving this to Kage Baker’s Company novels. Not to say that I won’t end up rereading Megan Whalen Turner’s books more frequently; but reading the Company novels for the first time was like running downhill at top speed — breathless and fun and amazing. Thanks, Trapunto! Honorable mentions go to KJ Parker’s Fencer trilogy and Jo Walton’s Still Life with Fascists trilogy.
Best New Author Discovery
Leaving aside the people I’ve already mentioned, I would say Helen Oyeyemi (thanks, Eva!) and A.D. Nuttall. Helen Oyeyemi if I had to pick one, because she is young and I cannot wait to see what she produces next.
Best Children’s/YA Book
Well, Monsters of Men. But I’ve already said it’s the best book of the year, so I’m giving this to a book that made me cry nearly as hard: Kekla Magoon’s lovely, tear-inducing The Rock and the River. Particular props to Magoon for piquing my interest in the Black Panther Party, a topic about which I previously knew virtually nothing.
Best Graphic Novel
2010 was not my year for comics. The Unwritten was damn good, but since it’s still a work in progress I cannot pronounce on it definitively. In the new year, to remind me that graphic novels can rock my world, I’m going to reread the whole of Sandman, and get my greedy little hands on I Kill Giants.
I have read a ton of superb nonfiction this year. Contested Will, Up Against the Wall, Watching the English, The Unlikely Disciple, and Wartime were all strong contenders. For containing the most brand-new-to-me information, I’m giving this to Up Against the Wall. In terms of rereading potential, it’s probably Watching the English. I miss England.
Mary Renault’s Promise of Love, just because I didn’t expect ever to be able to get hold of it. Also Amitav Ghosh’s gorgeous Sea of Poppies, which at first blush appeared intimidatingly and unlovably long and confusing. It was not. I would have mentioned Sea of Poppies in the best new series category, except Ghosh has only written one of the books in the series so far. Unfair? TOO BAD. (I can sometimes be unreasonably resentful of unfinished series.)
Nicest Bookish Thing That Happened This Year
Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer’s (unofficial) flash mob wedding in Jackson Square. I absolutely unconditionally love Neil Gaiman, I am very fond of Amanda Palmer, and I think they are a very sweet couple. If you are ever wondering what the best way to a Louisiana girl’s heart is, I can tell you that it is expressing affection for her home state. So I, like, triple love these two for being so fond of New Orleans.
P.S. Neil Gaiman got a lamp-post for Christmas and installed it in his snowy snowy backyard. Since I have wanted to do this exact thing since I was a little bitty girl (but been foiled by living in Louisiana), I guess I forgive him for being mean about Aslan in “The Problem of Susan.”