I Spent My New Year in a Tow Truck (Plus 2010 In Review)

Yes I spent a good portion of my new year’s eve on the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere, about an hour from Melbourne. It was the hottest day of the summer of 39C and our car gave up (or blew up–I saw smoke). While waiting for the tow truck we were in pitch dark, me with a tiny torchlight on occasionally. Close to midnight the truck came and off we went to the closest small town. We cheered Happy New Year with the driver, who happened to be really nice. Then we finished off the night sleeping in the car. Woke up once because it got really cold (that’s Melbourne for you–four seasons in one day) and took our sleeping bags out. Spent new year morning in the garage parking lot with nobody at sight, because everything only opens on Tuesday the 4th.

But enough of the drama. At least we’re here in Sydney again, safe and sound, save the car and half of its content. We’ll have to go back to pick up the car later and I have yet to figure out when and how. Before the abrupt end of our journey though, I had the most fantastic time revisiting Melbourne. I lived there for 6 years before and it’s like my second home. It’s the place I live the longest in apart from my birth city. Had so much fun roaming around the city and revisited my favorite places.

melbourne central

What you may not realize is that all your year-end blog posts have kept me company during my darkest hours (literally) as I was reading them on my iPhone, praying for the battery to last longer. I love reading all of the Best Of 2010 lists and statistics and whatnot. Have not commented on any of them I believe, but I’ve been reading. So thank you all, for being around, not just in that pitch darkness, but for this whole year (and for some of you, even years before). I haven’t been the most active bloggers around as I struggle to juggle (hey that rhymes) all aspects of life but I know I want to keep this blog breathing. I get such fantastic reads and recommendations from book bloggers that it’s hard to imagine going through reading life alone ever again.

So talking about fantastic reads, the year of 2010 I believe has been my most successful. Not in numbers, definitely not, as I have only managed to read 35 books (in comparison with my highest number in 2009 of 57 books), but boy do I struggle to pick my favorites as I have so many of them! I gave so many 5 stars this year I thought I might’ve been getting soft. But really, why not 5 stars, if they’re all amazing?! I think as a reader I might just start to know which books are for me and which ones are not. Anyway let’s get on to the whole wrap-up thing. The format I took from my 2009 in review, which I think works quite well.

Favorite Books of 2010

Favorite Novels of 2010 (in the order of reading)

WaitingFlowers for AlgernonA Fine BalanceThe History of Lovealices-adventures-in-wonderland-and-through-the-looking-glass-and-what-alice-found-thereone hundred years of solitudeThe-Unbearable-Lightness-of-BeingThe Remains of the Day

  1. Waiting by Ha Jin
  2. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  3. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
  4. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
  5. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  6. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
  7. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  8. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Favorite Non Fiction of 2010

Banker to the Poornine-parts-of-desire-the-hidden-world-of-islamic-women

  1. Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus
  2. Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks

Actually, they’re the only 2 non-fiction I read this year (apart a couple of graphic memoirs), both my last books of the year (review pending for Nine Parts of Desire). But both are superb!

Favorite Graphic Novel/Comic/Manga/Picture Book of 2010

Pride of BaghdadThe Contract with God Trilogy

pedro and meOishinbo Ramenlost-thing

  1. Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon
  2. The Contract with God Trilogy by Will Eisner
  3. Pedro and Me by Judd Winick (memoir)
  4. The Oishinbo series by Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki (read two, can’t pick one)
  5. The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan (could’ve as well picked The Red Tree, but I haven’t reviewed that)

Did I just pick half of what I read in 2010 as favorites? Ah well, who’s counting right? Hope this year everything I read will be a favorite! Yes, I have great hopes!

How many books read in 2010?

I read 35 books and 16 short stories. A decline in number as I read 57 books in 2009 and 39 books in 2008, but a definite increase in quality!

How many fiction and nonfiction?

31 fiction (88.5%) and 4 non fiction (11.5%). Still struggling to increase the non fiction percentage.

Format breakdown?

20 all-text books (57%), 15 comics/picture books (43%). No audio book for me this year, I guess I’m just not really into it. The percentage is very similar with last year.

How many female and male authors?

1 male & female collaboration, 11 female (31.5%), 23 male (66%). Slightly better than last year, which was 25%/75% for female/male percentage, which shocked me.

How many new authors?

28 new authors (collaborating authors count as one). So only 8 books are not-new-to-me authors. That’s 80% new authors. I may try to keep this up in 2011 as there are a lot of new authors I want to try.

Favorite new authors?

Rohinton Mistry, Angela Carter, Nicole Krauss, Lewis Carroll, Eileen Chang, Gabriel García Márquez, Milan Kundera, Geraldine Brooks.

Angela Carter and Eileen Chang’s books didn’t quite make it to the top list, but I’d definitely love to read more of them. GGM book wasn’t a new author to me, but One Hundred Years of Solitude secured him on my favorite authors list. Some of my favorite books’ authors are not here because I have a feeling they might just be a one-hit wonder (e.g. Waiting, Flowers for Algernon), but I could be wrong!

Most read author of the year?

Shaun Tan (3 books). Who’s surprised?

Biggest disappointment of the year?

I would say Mouse Guard Fall 1152 by David Petersen and Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett didn’t quite meet my rather high expectations. But they’re not bad books.

Breakdown of Publication Years?

2 from 1800s (5%), 16 from 1900s (46%), 17 from 2000s (49%). Expected.

Oldest book read?

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)

Breakdown of Ratings?

2010 ratings

Definitely the best so far! I read so many excellent books and no bad books! A happy reader I am!

How many challenges completed?

11 challenges (link will bring you to my Challenges and Projects 2010 that I just collected yesterday)

Perpetual Projects Progress

The individual project pages are on my side bar if you’re interested.

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die

I read 9 books from the list in 2010, a slight off from the ideal 10 as I couldn’t finish the last one before the end of year (I read 12 in 2009). But I’m okay with that. It increased my percentage of 2.8% of the original 1001 books list to 3.7%. Slowly slowly getting there to 5%, maybe will reach that in 1012.

  1. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
  2. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
  3. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  4. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  5. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
  6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  7. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (this is actually a short story, don’t know why it’s on the list. You can read this quickly to up your number :)
  8. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  9. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I must say they’re all great books that I read this year. Several of them made to the top of my favorites of the year as you can see!

Reading the World

New countries added in 2010: Bangladesh, Canada (really?), Czechoslovakia. Pretty bad. Hope to add more countries to the list in 2011.

Pulitzer Prize

  1. Waiting by Ha Jin (Finalist 2000)
  2. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Winner 1961)
  3. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (Winner 1932)

Loved all of them.

Booker Prize

  1. Room by Emma Donoghue (shortlist 2010)
  2. The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (longlist 2010)
  3. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (shortlist 1996)
  4. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (winner 1989)

All great books. The Slap is my least favorite, but it’s alright.

Commonwealth Writers’ Prize

This is a fairly new award that I just paid attention to last year, so I haven’t made much progress on it (full list here). But it’s an award that I would keep my eye on this year. Books read in 2010:

  1. The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (SE Asia and South Pacific Best Book and Best Overall Book 2009)
  2. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (Canada and the Caribbean Best Book and Best Overall Book 1996)

Nobel Laureates in Literature

  1. Gabriel Garcia Marquez: One Hundred Years of Solitude
  2. Pearl S. Buck: The Good Earth (new-to-me author, sort of)

Special mention: Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus (winner of Nobel Peace Prize in 2006)

Orange Prize

  1. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (shortlist 2006)

The History of Love is on my favorite books of all time. But Orange Prize and me don’t seem to connect well, as not many books seem to interest me.

Disney Literature Challenge

Just one: Disney vs. Carroll on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Couldn’t get to Pooh. This year I’m sure! Peter Pan might be next.

I might add Guardian’s 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read to my Perpetual Projects. Like I don’t have enough, eh?

If you’re still here. Congratulations, you made it! :) Thank you for staying with me and Bookie Mee up to this point. Here’s to more excellent reading years ahead!

Update 4 Jan ’11

A couple more stats that I picked up from others, just for my own notes:

Where did the books come from?

Own 19 books (received from publishers 3 books, from other–Claire–1 book) (54.5%), 16 books from the library (45.5%).

Translated books?

7 books (20%)


17 books (49%)

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18 thoughts on “I Spent My New Year in a Tow Truck (Plus 2010 In Review)”

  1. Happy New Year Mee!! Thank you for being with me through my darkest hours too (and there are a lot of them in 2010).
    I don’t think you are going soft, on the contrary all that you read are great classics and wonderful books. Although the trend of 5 stars chart is rather unusual, but it is what it is, right? :D I am waiting, waiting, waiting for the day I could read “Waiting”… If you love it, I would too! see I have decided to read from your top 8:

    Waiting by Ha Jin
    Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
    A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
    Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
    One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
    The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

    6/8, the other 2 not included because I have read them.

    Have a wonderful new year. :D

    1. JoV, the rating chart is definitely unusual for me. It usually peaked at 4 stars and sloped down both sides. Hope to get a very similar chart this year!
      Happy to know you want to read that many books from my top list lol. Really hope you’d like them all!

  2. So sorry to hear about your traumatic NYE! Tony and I actually had a bit of a crash due to snow and slush on our way up to Minnesota on Christmas Eve Day, so I understand that pain of waiting for tow trucks (though our wait was done in a ditch). In situations like that, really all you can say is thank goodness no one was hurt!

    Love so many of your favorite books of this year. I have a copy of Waiting so I’ll certainly need to break it out and give it a read!

    1. Steph, true on the positive side no one was hurt, so it was alright. Have an extra story to tell people for years to come on top lol. Sorry to hear about your Christmas Eve Day too, hope you had a great Christmas day and break! And hope you get to read Waiting soon!

  3. Mee, your organized post reminds me to read The History of Love, which I purchased because of your review quite a while ago! I’m glad you’re okay, after ending the old year in a semi-traumatic but memorable manner. Here’s to a great, new year of reading!

    1. Susan, thanks. Hope you get to read The History of Love soon. I think I actually made a few people read the book with my post, so happy! :D One book that I bought because of you was the Book Thief and I haven’t got to it too yet. *shame*

  4. Oh Di, I would feel sad for you but then you actually had an awesome adventure on NYE! Anyhow, I’m so happy about your list, because 6 of your 8 books are also my faves! The other one, Waiting, I have on the tbr, so it’ll be read this year for sure. Happy happy new year, dear friend!

    1. claire, haha I guess you can call it an adventure. I’m sure I’ll have a good laugh about it in a couple of months. At the moment we’re still worrying about bringing the car back interstate. Hope to resolve it pretty soon.

      Wow 6 of the 8 books are also your faves! There’s a good chance you’ll like the other 2 books then! :D

  5. I’m sorry to hear about your car disaster, but glad you’re safe now.

    I’m really pleased to see Flowers for Algernon and A Fine Balance on your list of favourites. I haven’t actually read any of the others on your list, but I own almost all of them. I will try to read as many as possible in 2011 and hope I enjoy them as much as you did.

    Have a wonderful 2011!

    1. Jackie, I thought Flowers for Algernon would go into your top 2010 books but it didn’t! Hope it was a close miss. Hope you’ll enjoy the others on my list. They’re all quite different with Algernon or A Fine Balance though, as in the style or pace, so I can’t really guess what you’ll think of them.

      From your top list I’ve only read The Road and Never Let Me Go. I’ve been eyeing The Prestige, The Dark Side of Love, and Cutting for Stone since your reviews, so who knows I might be able to fit them in this year. Have a wonderful 2011 too!

  6. Happy new year mee ,sorry you had a awful new years eve hope it looks up from there ,love the graphics and figure wish I was able to sum up like that ,all the best stu

  7. Great round-up Mee…you beat me to it ;)
    I am also planning to write my best book of 2010…but put it on hold for a while to do a movie list.

    I have To Kill a Mocking Bird ready to be read after my current read.

    Btw, Selamat Tahun Baru :)

    1. Novroz, I’m planning to do my top movies of 2010 too. I look forward to your list! Hope you enjoy To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s a good read, though it felt like there wasn’t much going on at times.

      Selamat tahun baru juga! :)

  8. Just think, you’ll never forget this new year’s and you can laugh about it in a few years’ time;P You’ve read some pretty amazing books in 2010 and I have to mention that Remains of the Day is one of my favourite books. Also, although I wouldn’t count A Fine Balance as a favourite read (because it’s probably the most depressing book I’ve read), it is indeed a fine and brilliant book. Wonderful choices!

    1. sakura, haha yea it was unforgettable new year for me!

      A Fine Balance is a very sad book, but somehow I remember mostly the fond things about it, the happy times, the friendship. Hence it became my favorite. Hope to read more books from India and its surrounding this year!

  9. How scary about the car disaster! I lived in Melbourne for 13 years… definitely understand 4 seasons in a day! I miss Melbourne (now in the US).

    Since you like Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, if you want to read a non-fiction book this year, I enjoyed Algernon, Charlie, and I: A Writer’s Journey by Daniel Keyes. I read it after I read Flowers for Algernon last year, and it give me an insight on why he wrote the book and how he got the idea. Here’s my review: http://mentalfoodie.blogspot.com/2010/08/book-review-algernon-charlie-and-i.html

    1. christa, wow 13 years! That’s even longer than me.

      Thanks for the recommendation for Daniel Keyes book. I had never heard of it before. Sounds interesting, I’m gonna keep it in mind. Glad to know you enjoyed both that and Flowers for Algernon.

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