The First Of Many: The Times' Books of the Decade

Oh dear, we are going to be inundated with "The Best XYZ of This Decade!" lists, aren't we? One of the first Best Books of the Decade list comes from the Times (thank you, kimfobo) and is an eclectic mix of high- and low-culture, fiction and non-fiction, and Anglophone and translated works. I am not quite sure what the editorial guidelines were - maybe "try to include stuff people have heard of"? Anyway, allow me a moment of indulgence as I track the ones I have read:

  • 97: The Brief, Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I posted about this book earlier this year. Generally favourable towards it, still.
  • 66: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. It is not my favourite Mitchell novel (which is either yet to be written or Ghostwritten, depending upon my mood) but CA is great. Still cannot believe anything this clever ended up as a serious contender for the Booker Prize (miaow).
  • 62: Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. I still have not made up my mind regarding Sarah Waters as a serious novelist, but her Victorian novels are very entertaining.
  • 61: The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst. Or, That Gay Novel Wot Won The Booker. I said it then and I'll say it now: Hollinghurst writes exquisite English and his sentences are ever so beautiful, but he still needs to find the right plot for his style. I will read Hollinghurst just for the way he uses the language.
  • 46: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. Maybe I should try this one again because I didn't get the hype surrounding it.
  • 30: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Okay, I read this one for work, mkay? Sentimental drivel of the worst order with incredibly implausible plot points. Mawkish and horrid. No, I didn't like it and I don't care if this book changed your life, omg.
  • 29: The Accidental by Ali Smith. This one really got book people talking but I left my copy at Aberdeen Bus Station on purpose as it left me absolutely cold.
  • 25: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. For some people this book was a revelation (you know who you are). I couldn't connect with it (which is rather apt for a book about autism, I guess).
  • 22: The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman. This is a bit like Marmite, I suppose. Some people love this book; others could not get into it all. For the record, this is one of the few books that reduce me to tears every time I read it. Go on and mock me.
  • 19: The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. Or, Yet Another MAJOR North-American Novel That Karie Just Couldn't Get Into At All.
  • 17: Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling. My favourite is still the Prisoner of Azkaban, but Deathly Hallows did make a Saturday at work pass that much more quickly. I actually cannot recall the plot.
  • 12: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. Dear The Times, Eggers has become an incredibly influential publisher and he does very wonderful things with the-book-as-object, but we can surely agree that he should never ever be allowed to write another book. AHWOSG is one of the worst books I have ever read in my entire life - and I have read quite a few.
  • 10: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. When compared to Eggers' novel, The Da Vinci Code comes across as an astounding piece of literature with a keen eye for detail, a witty turn of phrase and an intricate plot. When compared to standard literature, Brown's novel is an overblown piece of ludicrous prose, flat characterisation, ridiculous plotlines and simplistic thinking. I read it for work and got exactly what I thought I'd get: an airport novel which earns brownie points for not having a picture of Tom Hanks in an awful wig on the cover.
  • 9: Atonement by Ian McEwan. I get the feeling that I would not get on with whoever edited this list because this book is yet another one of my literary pet hates.
  • 2: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. Is this chosen for its literary qualities or because of its cultural significance (i.e. "omg, the Iranians are people too!"). I enjoyed reading this but I wouldn't put it second on such a list.
  • 1: The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I described this novel as "superb" and it continues to nudge me ever so often. Exquisite sparse prose and incredibly moving, I have no qualms about this being called "the book of a decade".