Midyear roundup: best reads of 2010, thus far

July 31, 2010 at 2:35 am (Best of 2010, books)

Here are my favorites reads so far for 2010. As in the past. I’ve included books that were published prior to this year but that I’ve read since this year began. I’ve linked to relevant posts in this space.

An asterisk denotes a title I found especially outstanding – a probable candidate for “best of the best,” at the close of the year.




*Unfinished Desires – Gail Godwin

*A Week in December – Sebastian Faulks

The House in Paris – Elizabeth Bowen

Her Fearful Symmetry – Audrey Niffenegger

The Man in the Wooden Hat – Jane Gardam

*The Road Home – Rose Tremain

*Family Happiness – Leo Tolstoy

What Is Left the Daughter – Howard Norman

Mystery / Thriller

The Price of Malice – Archer Mayor

Wycliffe and the Tangled Web – W.J. Burley

The Cold Dish – Craig Johnson

*The Monster in the Box – Ruth Rendell

The Crossing Places – Elly Griffiths

The Serpent Pool – Martin Edwards

*A Sea of Troubles – Donna Leon

The Brutal Telling – Louise Penny

*The Dark Mirror – Barry Maitland

*The Girl Who Played with Fire – Stieg Larsson

*The Lost Art of Gratitude – Alexander McCall Smith

The Black Cat – Martha Grimes

*The Poacher’s Son – Paul Doiron

The Corpse in the Koryo – James Church

*A Stranger in the Family – Robert Barnard

*The Ninth Step – Gabriel Cohen

*The Silver Bear – Derek Haas

Nine Dragons – Michael Connelly


The Art of Time in Fiction – Joan Silber

Denial – Richard S. Tedlow

*Parallel Lives – Phyllis Rose

*The Poisoner’s Handbook – Deborah Blum

*Lives Like Loaded Guns – Lyndall Gordon

Contested Will – James Shapiro

The Metaphysical Club – Louis Menand

*A Midwife’s Tale – Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Sargent’s Daughters – Erica Hirschler


Author Gallery


Lyndall Gordon


Phyllis Rose

Alexander McCall Smith and Jill Scott, who plays Mma Ramotswe in the TV version of The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency. If you have not watched these films...well, drop everything and do so at once! (They are owned by the Howard County Library.)

Louise Penny

Donna Leon, a great novelist in any genre

Ruth Rendell - like Donna Leon, a writer of depth, irony, and subtlety

Craig Johnson, who, when not wielding a pen, seems equally at home wielding a chainsaw!

Archer Mayor

Gail Godwin, whose writing has given me much pleasure over the years

Richard S. Tedlow - a fine writer and a wonderful brother (to Yours Truly) as well


Jane Gardam

Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, by his constant portraitist Ilya Repin (1901)



  1. Weekend Bites: Sex and the City/Emily Gould, Les Mis, Julie Klausner on HBO, Gary Shteyngart Continues Talking, and More « Vol. 1 Brooklyn said,

    […] Books to the Ceiling give us their midyear roundup. […]

  2. Kay W said,

    I like most of the books on your personal list, but my own list would feature The Postmistress by Sarah Blake and Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier. And the nonfiction list would have to start with The Big Short (although that may have been published in 2009). Have you read any of these yet? I know, your pile reaches the ceiling already!

    • Roberta Rood said,


      First – thanks as always for reading & commenting on “Books ot the Ceiling.” I haven’t read the three titles you’ve mentioned but am interested in them – especially Remarkable Creatures.

      And boy, are you ever right about my “to read” pile!

      • Kay said,

        I think you’ll like Remarkable Creatures for several reasons, including the fact that the central relationship is not a romantic one but an unlikely bond between an educated middle-class spinster and an unschooled working class girl who has an uncanny knack for finding the rarest fossils. Then there is fact (which I hadn’t previously grasped) that the discovery of fossils was terribly threatening to religious conservatives of that period who believed that the world was created in one fell swoop exactly 4004 years before the birth of Christ. Fossils were strong evidence of evolution and change, and these two women found themselves in the thick of the controversy. I loved it!

      • Roberta Rood said,

        Thanks, Kay; I look forward to reading it! (BTW – We missed you at lunch yesterday.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: