One of the requests received for new topics is a list of my favorite books from 2010. While I generally try to keep a pace of a book a week, last year I barely read a book a month. Every other book I read in 2009 was brilliant, but 2010 found me in a reading rut, where nothing really wowed me. Carl Hiaasen and Elmore Leonard are my fallback writers, as I try to balance any heavier reading with one of their thrillers. They ended up being the highlights of my reading year.
Fortunately, the new year changed my fate on the reading front. Long-time Sports Illustrated readers know Steve Rushin primarily for his witty columns, always seeing things from a different angle than expected. Rushin leaving SI left a hole in my reading life. Lucky for me, his hiatus (he's back at SI with a weekly column) resulted in the very clever The Pint Man.
The Pint Man follows Rodney Poole, an unemployed guy in his mid-30s who spents most of his time at his favorite local pub. As a spoilerphobe, I hate to give away too much of the plot, but plot is secondary to wordplay. The story moves along nicely, but Rushin's love of language comes out in Rodney, who can't help but break down every sentence he hears or sees. My only concern in recommending this book is that it could possibly be so perfectly suited to me that others will not share my enthusiasm. My brother gave me the book for Christmas and told me the protagonist and I share a lot of similarities. Thankfully, I am employed and do not go to the bar every night. Beyond that, Rodney and I do have a lot in common, most notably with a shared sense of humor. At times I wanted to punch the guy for being so stubborn, something none of my friends and family would ever do to me, though they may be tempted at times. I hope Rushin's return to Sports Illustrated does not preclude him from writing more novels. And soon.
Book #2 of 2011 scarcely could have been more different from book #1. I like variety in the books I read. I generally shy away from reading books that achieve a lot of mainstream popularity, thanks mostly to my attempt at reading one of those awful Dan Brown novels. My mind should be more open, but Angels & Demons is next to unreadable. After much trepidation, I finally started The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. My only problem with the book is the fact that I kept having to put it down and do other things. The hype, for once, is warranted. Again, I do not care to give away too much of the plot, affectionately referred to in my family as "pulling a Mr. Limpet". The unraveling of the main mystery, as well as a family's history, kept me enthralled from start to finish and has me seriously contemplating waiving my usual policy of not reading the same author back-to-back. I suppose I will finish a couple of the books I'm reading now before I pick up The Girl Who Played with Fire. Not likely, though. I want to go further into the lives of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander right away. A trip to the bookstore tomorrow is probably in the offing.
Here's hoping book #3 can hold a candle to the first two.