best of 2010

Best Book of 2010 (fiction)--The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

Mitchell is my favorite author writing in English today. Set in Shogunate Japan at the turn of the 19th century, it is both his most and least ambitious work to date. Least, in that it is not the genre-hopping, voice-shifting, globe-spanning experimental work that Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas were, and most, in that he tries (and succeeds, I think) to explore many of the same themes as those books within the constraints of a pretty conventional historical novel. As before, it is beautifully written--Mitchell is clearly in love with language--and a cracking good story that is pretty much impossible to anticipate. I can't recommend this book enough.

Honorable mention: Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

The collapse of the American empire has never been funnier.

Best Book of 2010 (nonfiction)--Hitch 22 by Christopher Hitchens

Love him or hate him, Hitchens is one hell of a writer. Even the chapters overloaded with name-dropping and digressions are worth your time. The footnotes are often priceless. The rapier wit and fierce moral clarity for which he is alternately loved and loathed shine throughout. His account of an American soldier who had volunteered for and died in the Iraq war inspired by Hitchens' writing left me nearly in tears.

Honorable mention: Game Change by Heilemann and Halperin

Basically a long-form US Weekly for political nerds.

Best TV Show of 2010--Mad Men

To be fair, there are only a handful of TV seasons produced in 2010 that I actually watched in 2010, so this may be subject to revision at a later date. But seriously, if you are one of the 298 million Americans not watching this show, it's your loss. We watched Don descend into a pathetic alcoholism and I still want to be him because that's how fucking cool he is.

Honorable Mentions: Party Down and Archer

By the time anybody noticed Party Down, it was already over. Find the DVDs and laugh your ass off. Archer is so funny it hurts, and I can't wait for it to come back next month.

Best Film of 2010--I'm pretty sure I haven't seen it yet. I'm waiting for a lot of DVDs. After blowing too much money seeing colossal disappointments like Alice in Wonderland and Iron Man 2, I just lost most of my motivation to go to the theater. I enjoyed Inception, but I don't think it would stand up to repeated viewing. Shutter Island was way overrated.


Gino said...

Hitch-22 is on my short list. has been at the top of that list for a very long time, and i'm just now realizing i havent read a damn thing since last winter.

that should change this week, since i'm off work for the month,now.

Lauren said...

I only have one (minor) bone to pick. I'm reading The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet because you and another friend both said in independent postings/conversations that it was "good down to the sentence." And then there was an intense illustration 3 pages in that prevented me from using it as bedtime reading for weeks. A warning would have been nice... :)

Brian said...

Lauren--you've been lurking around my blog all this time, and you honestly think I'd pull that punch? :)

(Besides, I know what you do for a living...)