What follows is a list of My Top 10 Reads of 2010.  These were books not necessarily published in 2010, but books I actually sat down and read between January 1st and December 31st of last year (excluding Book of the Month Club picks).   My faves…

The Heroes, by Joe Abercrombie

I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of Joe Abercrombie’s latest foray into nihilistic fantasy and, damn is it great. Set in the same world as his First Law Trilogy, The Heroes charts the progress of several campaigns in the war between the North and the Union.  Epic in scope yet delightfully detailed in its tracking of the various players involved, it delivers what we’ve come to expect from Abercrombie: dark humor, multi-faceted characters, blood and battle. The dizzying cast requires careful attention be paid, but patience is rewarded in the form of some beautifully drawn personalities and relationships on both sides of the conflict.

The Somnambulist, by Jonathan Barnes

A washed-up illusionist and his imposing assistant battle to save London from dark forces in Jonathan Barnes’ witty, macabre, and all-out-bizarre novel.  There are surprises a plenty in a book in which no one can be trusted, least of all our narrator.

The Death of Grass, by John Christopher

This dystopian classic chronicles the disintegration of order in the wake of a global blight as seen through the eyes of a handful of desperate individuals.  Harrowing and shockingly brutal in its depiction of life after the fall and the lengths some people will go to in order to survive.

The Forest of Time and Other Stories, by Michael Flynn

I consider Michael Flynn one of the most underappreciated SF authors writing today.  I read and loved two of his novels, The Wreck of the River of Stars and Eifelheim, so took a chance on this collection of short stories and was rewarded with some terrific, thought-provoking tales. One of my favorites involves a doctor who believes he may have found the key to saving his ailing daughter (stricken with accelerated aging) in the form of an elderly woman who may – or may not – be 200 years old.  Each entry is followed by a short, insightful afterword that not only sheds light on his writing process, but offers up some great recommendations for further informative, non-fiction reading.

Misery, by Stephen King

My favorite Stephen King book. Taut, suspenseful, and thoroughly engaging, one of those novels it actually pains you to set aside.  It’s no surprise that this one speaks to me.  Having dealt with Stargate fandom over the course of my many years with the franchise, I’ve come across my fair share of cockadoodie Annie Wilkes types.  Scary as hell.  And one of those rare instances where the movie adaptation rocked as well.

Fool, by Christopher Moore.

In 2010, I finally discovered Christopher Moore.  What took me so long?!  Well, Fool was the perfect book to get me started.  It’s a ribald retelling of King Lear from the point of view of the court jester, an incorrigible rogue who proves endearing to some and positively infuriating to others as he navigates the salty, stormy seas of palace intrigue.  The funniest book I read last year.

Fear and Trembling, by Amelie Nothomb

This one came recommended to me by my old Tokyo travel buddy, Stefan, and I can see why it would have appealed to him.  The daughter of former ambassadors to Japan, Amelie returns to the country of her childhood to take a job at the prestigious Yumimoto company.  Unfortunately for Amelie, those fond childhood memories are in sharp contrast to her awkward, amusing, occasionally nightmarish lesson in Japanese corporate culture.  The fact that it’s an autobiographic experience makes it all the more effective.

Revelation Space, by Alastair Reynolds

Reynolds packs this novel with so many big, mind-boggling, uber-cool ideas that you almost feel the need to come up for air every thirty pages or so.  I never understood the attraction of space opera until I read this novel.  Brilliant.

Maus, by Art Spiegelman

Spiegelman interviewed his father, Vladek, a Holocaust survivor, then told his story in graphic novel form.  It’s a harrowing, heart-rending tale possessed of warmth and occasional humor that conveys so much in so many surprising ways.

The Third Bear, by Jeff Vandermeer

Vandermeer, one of the pioneers of New Weird fiction, doesn’t pull any narrative punches here.  The Third Bear delivers a selection of short stories sure to enthrall, entertain, and engender all sorts of nightmares long after these outrageously inventive tales have been read.

Hmmmm.  Someone I know may be looking for a good home for their french bulldog.  I know, I know.  I’ve got my hands full.  Still, I do have the room and I hate the thought of that poor little guy ending up who-knows-where.  I know at least one pug who’d love the company…

For about an hour anyway.

Well, can’t say I’m feeling better today.  Just – different.  My stomach issues have subsided, I’ve more or less conquered my insomnia, and while those seemed allergy symptoms haven’t disappeared, they have lessened somewhat.  Now, I’ve moved on to my next mystery ailment = slight dizziness.  Yes, doctor’s appointment tomorrow!

36 thoughts on “January 5, 2011: My Top 10 2010 Reads!

  1. I’ve only read excerpts of Maus (I took a class in college on the history of comics) and it’s been on my “to read” list (some day). I married a man with an English degree and we have so many bookshelves, I stopped dreaming of putting pictures on the wall.

    I am curious now after your statement on the King book – what is the freakiest experience you’ve had with a fan?

    Have you ever read anything by Connie Willis?

  2. I call foul at the Heroes. It’s a 2011 book, and just because you got an advance copy is no reason to add it to the 2010 list. I went to the store today to pick it up only to find I’d have to advance order it. As consolation I did pick up a Christopher Moore book, though Fool wasn’t available. I’ll be looking over some of the titles and checking them out, along with trying to honor a resolution to go through my collection and knock down as many unread books as possible.
    Thanks for the list and here’s hoping the doctor laughs at you for being a hypocondriac, rather than coming back into the exam room with a dark look on his face and informing you you’ve ingested brain sucking liverworms when eating one of your more exotic meals in Tokyo. And that you will have to get twice daily injection in the buttocks for the next 4 months to rid yourself of the infestation. Looking forward to the next update.

  3. Hope you are feeling better soon Mr M.

    There is a possibility that the airliner you flown back in might have been fumigated with banned insecticide before or during the flight.

    Did you you see one of the flight attendants using a spray can near the exit doors? It’s legal and required as far as I know for agriculture pest control in many jurisdictions. Especially for trans-oceanic flights.

    Unfortunately most of the bug sprays used are simply diluted nerve agents use in chemical warfare! They trigger all sorts of adverse medical reactions.

  4. Out of curiosity… could your stomach and other issues be a result of unconscious stress. I know that happens to me. I don’t have a solution for that problem though aside from addressing whatever could be causing the stress. oh well just a thought.

    Good luck to you good sir hopefully you’ll find out what’s causing your digestive issues.

  5. Have them check your ears. I sometimes get dizzy too when I’m stressed, or if that cold or allergies has decided to settle in my inner ear. Keep drinking those liquids too. That will definitely help.

    Thanks for the reading list. Lots of things to pick from. I absolutely love Christopher Moore. Glad you liked him.

  6. Dear Joe,
    I’m your number one fan! Now, you just better start showing me a little appreciation around here, Mr. MAN!

    (And I mean that in the nicest way possible)


    P.S. Do feel better soon!

  7. Hi Joe,

    How’s your balance? Stand on one leg with your eyes closed. How long can you last? Can you recover your balance or do you faceplant? Maybe get Ivon to watch you. I think he would enjoy that.

    Are you worried about something? Oh yeah life and big decisions. Maybe get a piece of paper and write down everything you’re scared about. Then write down what you are going to do about it. Then shred the piece of paper and go cuddle the dogs.

    In the meantime to help you out with the life decisions – I love a good flowchart so I googled to see if I could find one that might help with your big life decisions.

    I found Virginia’s Big Decision Flow Chart. It might help.

    Lastly, you know that you and Akemi and the dogs are always welcome to come and visit us in Melbourne. It’s Summer here..you could write on the beach. It might be problematic if y’all stayed at my place as it’s only a 2 bedroom unit and the 2nd room is housing some junk and I have a psycho cat but you are very welcome. We could have a massive BBQ..what do you think Narelle, Riley, Lisa (PaganX), Chelle (OrientalLilly)? Of course my back courtyard and pergola isn’t finished but I do have a BBQ.

    Cheers, Chev

  8. Hi Joe!
    2 questions –
    Where were built the first stargates? In the Milky Way? Or in the Ori’s home galaxy?
    In the movie “The Ark of Truth” is a mural (in the ornately decorated room, where the Priors have placed the Ark on a wooden table), which depicts the stargate and a group of people in front of this.
    That really means is the mural?

  9. I am having the same symptoms! Although i have a summer cold; its nice and warm and sunny here 🙂 . Maybe it was from all that drinking and spending time in the pool….hmmmmm.

    Question time: There was a season 3 SG-1 episode where the team came across a medieval village, which was very strange considering the type of people usually taken by the Goa’uld (Egyptians etc). Anyway theres a theory going around that this village was one of the ones King Arthur set up, do you think this theory has credibility?

  10. Joe, I’m wondering if the dizziness could be benign positional vertigo. That may explain the stomach upsets too since it can cause nausea. I have had that off and on the last few years and sadly it’s just a sign of getting older. When I first got it I was pretty freaked out before I knew what it was. It worse in the mornings and there were a couple of mornings I actually just fell down after getting out of bed. If you google it, you’ll find quite a bit of information about it.

  11. I borrowed Masked from my local library recently and just finished reading Downfall. It was a great story and i thoroughly enjoyed it. However, I know there is supposed to be something significant about the box that smelled like jasmine and sandalwood but i just can’t figure it out. Can you explain?

  12. I’m no doctor, but I’m going to prescribe two things. No more House episodes for the next 6 months, and no googling medical symptoms for the next 3. We already know you have a reasonably active imagination, or you wouldn’t be in the line of work you are in. No need to feed that imagination. Otherwise you’ll end up in hospital and we, your faithful fans, will end up overwhelming the Vancouver psychiatric system trying to get into your group therapy sessions. Or at least laughing at the thought of you being treated for hypochondria.

  13. Joe, I told Mr. Das about your health concerns this morning, and without missing a beat, he said, “That’s what he gets for chasin’ all those Japanese women around.”

    So, maybe you have gigoloitis, or something. 😉

    I have a different theory, however… I think that it’s all that absinthe you were drinking. Either that, or it’s worms.


  14. @Just online googling my symptoms.

    Joe, as much as google can be useful for things like that. They can also cause people un needed worry and concern when they think they have something they don’t.

    Nothing beats a real doctor

    Personally I’ve had the whole dizzy thing when feeling tired/not getting enough sleep.

  15. Wow, what if you picked up something in Tokyo? I heard the docs at my day job talking about pathogens, parasites and why they don’t eat sushi. Suffice to say they ruined my love of truck stop sushi.

    I hope you find a happy home for that pug. Awesome books; with my year of Quato Hell I haven’t had a chance to enjoy more of Alastair Reynold’s work. I’ll check out Revelation Space, thanks for the reminder on that.

    I am starting on Iron Hunter and getting into that world; love it so far; you fall right in and I love that I’m having to pause to absorb all this new weird world. It so refreshing to discover a new mythology.

    Is it possible to catch a stomach bug via blog? My tummy is feeling poorly; I was up writing late, and after I got into bed and I got another flood of great ideas. Had to crack open the laptop and spew it all out, and now my body is paying for it. Thank god for ginger ale.

  16. I had to put Misery down and go do something else for half an hour at the point where she was about to hack the guy’s feet off with an axe. The only time that has happened to me while reading a book.

  17. It’s called Libra affective disorder aka stress. Feel better, hope your doc is more helpful than mine ie no pills thanks.
    I liked some of those books.

  18. Hubby had a virus and spent Christmas morning in the ER after his guts exploded in both directions. He got better in time for our vacation, which was not fun for me as I came down with a cold/flu thing. Spent most of the time in the room. Fortunately, I’d splurged for a room with a hot tub on the balcony, so I could soak in hot water while watching the snow fall on the red rock cliffs. Dramatic scenery. Like bacon. Home now, still sick, but improving. On day ten now. Kick ass bug.

    So, Misery. Yes, I agree. But is this a plea for fans to build their own sets, kidnap you, and force you to write episodes they act and film themselves? Yikes, Mr. Man.

  19. Worms? Ick! 🙂 All that booze should have “pickled” any worms you might have ingested 😉 .

    I hope you feel better soon! Good luck at the doc’s office.

    I love the book list you provided. Misery was a hard read for me. (cringe) I couldn’t bring myself to watch the movie.

    If the new dog doesn’t fit in with your crew, I’m sure you could “foster” him for a while. He should be easy to find a home for.

    There is a new dog at the humane society. A beautiful golden retriever. Unfortunately, he is a very loud golden! My ears are still ringing. The good news, he has a home already (goldens go fast) but the bad news, they can’t take him for two weeks! I sense ear plugs in my future.

  20. Hey Joe, nice blog. I was searching my local library catalog for The Death of Grass, and it was also been published as No Blade of Grass, which seems to be more available here in the US. Thanks for the book recommendations, you have introduced me seriously great authors, Scalzi and Haldeman especially. I can’t believe I missed out on The Forever War as a kid. Get well, we need you writing! After reading Downfall, I’m looking forward to your inevitable novel.

  21. Dammit, I told you NO Googling symptoms! *waves hands around*

    Oh hey, are you using Instagr.am for photo editing? Or a software program?

  22. I’m french, so I’ve only read “Fear and Trembling” (which is called “Stupeur et tremblements” en Français 🙂 ) . I don’t know how it is traduced in English, but it’s quite funny, I liked this book, and I’m reading other books of Amélie Nothomb ! 🙂

  23. I am about 2/3 of the way through the Vandermeer collection right now and it is great. I had high expectations, but it has exceeded those.

    I have yet to read Revelation Space, though I count Chasm City by Reynolds as one of my favorite books of the last decade. I do have this on my shelf with a handful of his other books and need to get to it.

  24. Coucou !! Comment ça va ?

    Moi trés bien 😉

    Sympas cette petite séléction de bouquins, je n’ai lu que “Stupeur et tremblement” et j’ai vraiment adorée!

    Mais bon c’était un livre imposé par le lycée, je ne lis pas beaucoup, ma dernière lecture c’est le Tome 8 de Buffy contre les vampires lol…donc vous voyez..

    ..tiens en parlant de Buffy…j’ai appris la triste nouvelle R.I.P =(

    Passez une bonne journée!
    Gros bisou!

  25. Well, after approximately 6 or 7 years of lurking I’ve come from the shadows for the sake of books. The only Christopher Moore I’ve read is The Island of the Sequined Love Nun which was a riot. Based on your glowing reviews I’m going to check out his other works.

    The real reason I surfaced was to tell you of the book I’m reading now but started before the First so that technically makes it a 2010 read. Chris Kimball of Cook’s Illustrated fame wrote Fannie’s Last Supper chronicling his 2 year saga of recreating a 12 course Victorian dinner from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook on a coal stove he converted to wood and all authentic techniques, going so far as to make his own food coloring since there were no little bottles of McCormick’s in 1896. The dinner, served in his 1856 restored Boston home complete with period table settings and uniformed staff, was filmed for PBS and aired in November. Alas, I knew nothing of it and must keep checking to see when it will air again.

    Thanks for all you do for us eternally (in my case) grateful fans. We really do appreciate the efforts you put forth to keep us happy.

    p.s. If, heaven forbid, this really is the end of Stargate as we know it, will you ever reveal the particulars of the personal lives of Jack and Sam? This shipper is shamelessly begging to know concretely what has transpired.

  26. I’m hoping to have a patch release ready by the end of next week for the 1/1/11 bug. I’ll forward it to you. It’s going to be a little byte-y so have a Jaigermeister chaser ready.

  27. 3/4 of the way through Revelation Space, thanks for the recommendation! When it comes to my reading list i’m usually more of a nonfiction person but this is GREAT!

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