So, here’s the thing. I normally round up my top ten of the books and sometimes in the past years it was harder and sometimes it was easier. I didn’t read quite as much in 2010 than in the years before nor did I keep track as meticulously as I did before, so I don’t know exactly when I read what and there might even be one or two books that I forgot in my booklist.

I though that this might make it easier to come up with my favorite books of the year 2010, but going through the list I realized that while I only read about half as many books as I used to, most of them were actually pretty good. So while the quantity left something to desire, the quality did not so much.

I find it very hard to come up with a top ten, but I’ll try. I have no problems however to name you my favorite book of the last year. That is such an easy decision, it’s ridiculous. Even half way through the book in question I knew that it would be nearly impossible to find a better book. That has been the case with „The Time Traveler’s Wife“ and „The Raw Shark Texts“, and it was the same here.

So, let’s see what I can offer you for this year. And don’t focus too much on the order of the lower ranks, I just to come up with an order and it doesn’t mean too much.

10. The Woman in the Cage by Jussi Adler Olsen: So apparently the Scandinavian crime phase didn’t stop with finishing the Millennium series in 2009 for me. I originally bought this for my husband, who is a more avid thriller reader than I am. He recommended it, though, and it was actually really good. There are a couple of clichées that are a bit annoying, plus about every review I read shared the feeling that halfway through the book you just know what the supposedly big twist is. But that didn’t really disturb the reading experience so I would just let it slide and say that it’s a pretty good thriller from the small country of Denmark.

9. Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager by Michael Lopp: Maybe a bit strange choice, but I really enjoyed reading this. I didn’t know Lopp’s blog Rands in Repose before I picked up the book. Though the book is intended for software managers it really also is a good read for everyone in the software business who’s not a manager and would like to know about the many, many problems a manager might face when having to deal with these strange creatures called software developers. It’s a quick and fun read and highly enjoyable.

8. Light Boxes by Shane Jones: I read this in about one day, which is understandable considering that the book is pretty short with even shorter chapters. It is also strange and I wouldn’t swear that I understood all of it. But then again there might not be anything to understand. If you want a summary, it’s a modern fable about a village where flight has been forbidden since the village has been taken by the mean and cold month of February. Yeah. Huh? You gotta read it, I guess.

7. Zeitoun by Dave Eggers: I will read anything by Dave Eggers, I think. Anything. I just love him so much and I love most of what he writes (his short story collection wasn’t that amazing, though). Zeitoun is a non-fiction story about the family of the protagonist Zeitoun who are caught both in the middle and in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. The book is just amazing on so many levels that I wouldn’t know where to start.

6. Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist: Again with the Scandinavians. And again I got this for my husband, not really remembering what I had read about it. It’s hard to describe, but it ultimately is a vampire story, but it might also be a sociocritical drama. Or a crime story. Or a horror story. Not sure. we both liked it so much that we also got the movie (pretty good as well). (And my husband made it all the way through the book, although vampires really aren’t his things. Or so he says.)

5. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane: I have yet to see the movie which is supposedly awesome, but the book is awesome as well. So there. I might have decided to rather read the book than watch the movie, because movies scare me easily and the trailer looked like I would be hiding my eyes behind something for about half of the duration of the movie. So, does anybody still need to know a summary of the story. Detective story in a strange asylum for the mentally ill on a spooky island. There’s your summary. Now you just need to read it.

4. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood: Apparently I dig post-apocalyptic settings. I didn’t realize halfway through the book that this was the setup to Oryx and Crake but to my defense I would like to add  that it’s been three or four years since I’ve read that one. There’s just so much post-apocalypse and dystopy and science-fiction and awesome weird stuff in here, there’s no way I couldn’t enjoy this immensely. That reminds me that I wanted to re-read Oryx and Crake.

3. Perdido Street Station by China Miéville: Yeah. Miéville. He can name his cities whatever he wants, I still see some messed-up version of an upside-down London there. This is one of these books where there’s nearly too much stuff in there and too many characters to keep track of. You also have to get through about 400 pages before you actually get a glimpse of where the story is going. Not Miéville’s best one (though apparently one of his most famous ones), but still pretty good.

2. Anathem by Neal Stephenson: Might be my favorite Neal Stephenson book, if only for the strange way he manages to create a world in which scientists live in seclusion like monks, while the technology is seen for the common people. Plus, a book which has its own glossary can’t really be bad, can it? You have to excuse my lack of better summary, because there’s a) too much going on in a Neal Stephenson book and b) it’s been almost a year since I read it. It’s a Neal Stephenson book. It’s pretty terrific science fiction. It’s Anathem. Do you need any more?

1. The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway: Oh my god, what an amazing book. And it had everything. Everything. Like science fiction. And strange wars. And drama. And story twist that actually were unexpected. And the scene with the sheep. I LOVE the sheep. This book is amazingly fantastic and funny and sad and full of surprises and… did I mention amazing? This was by far the best book I read and there was never a question about it. In fact I might want to read it again soon. If just for the sheep.

So, that was it. I’ll give you the other categories soon. But don’t expect too much, since I have a limited list of books to pick from this year. As long as you pick up The Gone-Away World, all is fine by me, though.

Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 238 user reviews.

My husband and I started to watch American Idol again yesterday. We were unsure whether to tune in after Simon Cowell left, but we gave it a shot.

I must admit that we were pretty impressed with the way it worked. While we both miss Simon a bit, both Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez work extremely well as jury members and Randy seems pretty content on Simon’s seat. I never really missed Paula abdul after she left and Kara was getting on my nerves for a couple of seasons now. I liked Ellen a lot as a person, but unfortunately she didn’t really have anything remotely relevant to say.

I was initially surprised by the choice of the new judges, actually I was unimpressed if not mildly disappointed. Season 9 started with guest judges for each audition and I particularly loved Neil Patrick Harris and Kristin Chenoweth and hoped that either one if not both of them would be considered as a permanent judges. On the other hand, who knows how busy they are with their other projects, so they might be a thousand reasons why they are not sitting in a judge’s chair now.

It doesn’t matter so much now, because as I said, both my husband and I were pleasantly surprised by the new judgery. A few things I noticed though and then we’ll wait and see how the rest of the season turns out.

1. It seemed like they put through a lot more people than in the seasons before. There were a couple of people who I think wouldn’t have made it past Simon Cowell’s approvement, sometimes for good reason. I’d write this off as the new guys trying to settle down in their new role and am not particularly unhappy with it.

2. On the plus side I noticed that there’s no more „A million billion percent yes!“ anymore. I didn’t notice how much this had bugged me until it was simply gone this season. Mostly it’s just „I say yes!“ and we’re done with it. Although I agree that Steven Tyler needs a new word for beautiful somewhen soon.

Mostly I’m glad that the departure of Simon Cowell didn’t ruin AI for us. So that’s something and we’ll see how the rest of the season will go.

Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 274 user reviews.