The Books of 2010

That Old Cape Magic by Richard RussoSo many books, so little time—part four.

This was the year I started keeping my list in Excel format. I think I also got an iphone and was able to read digitally in those car pool lane, doctor’s office waiting room, etc. moments that moms seem to have so many of. My favorite books included That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo (always a favorite author) and Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker.

title author last author first
The Daring Game Steele Danielle
Kindred in Death Robb J.D.
Where Angels Go Macomber Debbie
The Ivy Chronicles Quinn Karen
Confessions of a She-Fan Heller Jane
Dirty Girls Social Club Valdes-Rodriguez Alisa
The Last Summer (of You and Me) Brashares Ann
What My Mother Doesn’t Know Sones Sonya
Starter Wife Levangie Grazer Gigi
Princess Charming Heller Jane
Everyone Worth Knowing Weissenberger Lauren
Easy on the Eyes Porter Jane
Away Bloom Amy
What I Did for Love Phillips Susan Elizabeth
Allie Finkle’s Rules For Girls Cabot Meg
Life of Pi Martel Yann
Good Faith Smiley Jane
Chasing Harry Winston Weissenberger Lauren
Three Willows Brashares Ann
The Women Boyle T.C.
Lost in the Meritocracy Kirn Walter
B is For Beer Robbins Tom
Sleeping Arrangements Wickham Madeleine
First Lady Phillips Susan Elizabeth
An Uncommon Reader Bennett Alan
Speaking With the Angel Hornby Nick
Natural Born Charmer Phillips Susan Elizabeth
Ain’t She Sweet? Phillips Susan Elizabeth
Fever Pitch Hornby Nick
Things I’ve Learned From Women Who’ve Dumped Me Karlin Ben
Snobs Fellows Julian
Just Imagine Phillips Susan Elizabeth
Sweet Potato Queens’ First Big Ass Novel Conner Browne Jill
The Thirteenth Tale Setterfield Diane
Not a Star Hornby Nick
Lady Be Good Phillips Susan Elizabeth
Starburst Pilcher Robin
Life Sentences Lipman Laura
Quilters Homecoming Chiaverini Jennifer
Nurture Shock Bronson Po and Ashley Merryman
Manhood for Amateurs Chabon Michael
What Now Patchett Ann
The New Year’s Quilt Chiaverini Jennifer
Animal Husbandry Zigman Laura
The Girl Who Played With Fire Larsson Stieg
This Book Will Change Your Life Homes A.M.
Bright Lights, Big Ass Lancaster Jen
The Quilter’s Legacy Chiaverini Jennifer
The Debutante Divorce Sykes Plum
That Old Cape Magic Russo Richard
Mr. and Mrs. Anonymous Michaels Fern
The Safety of Objects Homes A.M.
Summer Reading Wolitzer Hilma
The Geometry of Sisters Rice Luanne
Basic Black Black Cathie
Best Friends Forever Weiner Jennifer
Little Giant of Aberdeen County Baker Tiffany
Dune Road Green Jane
Bright-Sided Ehrenreich Barbara
Savor the Moment Roberts Nora
Glitter Baby Phillips Susan Elizabeth
The Hummingbird’s Daughter Urrea Luis Alberto
Heart of the Matter Giffin Emily
Bed Rest Bilsten Sarah
The Carrie Diaries Bushnell Candace
Agnes and the Hitman Crusie Julie and Bob Mayer
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Shaffer Mary Ann and Annie Barrows
Angels at Christmas Macomber Debbie
Comfort and Joy Hannah Kristen
How to Read Literature Like a Professor Foster Thomas C.
The Search Roberts Nora
The True and Oustanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters Robinson Elizabeth
How to Santa Barbara Graffy de Garcia Erin
The Lost Quilter Chiaverini Jennifer
Animal Kingdom Greenleaf Barbara
The Mum Hunt Hunter Kelly
The Winding Ways Quilt Chiaverini Jennifer
The Wedding Sparks Nicholas
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest Larsson Stieg
The Aloha Quilt Chiaverini Jennifer
The Sugar Camp Quilt Chiaverini Jennifer
The Dead Joyce James
Annie Freeman’s Fabulous Traveling Funeral Radish Kris
Circle of Quilters Chiaverini Jennifer
Anybody Out There Keyes Marion
Juliet Naked Hornby Nick
The Christmas Quilt Chiaverini Jennifer
Never Let Me Go Ishiguro Kazao
Fantasy in Death Robb J.D.

Originally posted January 5, 2011.

Click to read The Books of 2009.

Click to read The Books of 2008.

Click to read The Books of 2007.


Books I Wish I Had Written

Photo by stockimages,

Photo by stockimages,

I seem to be in a minority, but I’m more amused than annoyed by all of the navel-gazing that happens on Facebook.

One of my favorite features is the “best book lists” that people post on their profiles. Reading them feels like spending an afternoon browsing through a great, used bookstore, or a morning at a bibliophile’s estate sale-and, okay, occasionally like an evening at a very pretentious cocktail party.

You can learn a lot about your friends by eavesdropping on their virtual bookshelves.

Not only have I gotten turned on to excellent but obscure books I never would have picked up-thanks to Heidi for The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken and to Dan for Beginner’s Greek by James Collins—but I’ve been re-reminded of some of my favorite authors who have fallen off my radar screen.

Still, it’s almost impossible for me to create a list of my favorite books. Two of my favorite writers, Jane Austen and Nora Roberts, have written almost 200 books between them! There are way too many to choose from. A favorite book list seems like a daunting task.

Instead I’m going to take a stab at a mere fraction of the “Books I Wish I’d Written.” In no particular order, here are five of the books that I am mesmerized by and in fact worship to the point that they could easily turn me into a ginormous green-eyed monster if I didn’t like their authors so darn much.

The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler—Tyler makes it look deceptively easy to portray the complexities of relationships in this book about a guy who recovers from mourning the death of his son with the help of a very quirky dog trainer. Incidentally, he writes travel books for people who don’t like to travel but are forced to, hence the title. I’ve read everything Tyler’s ever written and I am constantly awed by her ability to bring characters and relationships to life with her minimal but letter-perfect prose.

Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott—I doubt there has ever been a more honest, hilarious and brutal depiction of early parenthood than this book, which is a journal of Lamott’s son’s first year of life. Forget the baby booties and the bassinets; Operating Instructions is my favorite baby shower gift for expectant parents.

Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume—This book could have been called “Are You There, God? It’s Me Leslie” when I read it in 6th grade, that’s how strongly I related to her treatise on training bras, menstruation, first kisses, zits, and bratty little brothers and sisters. Unlike many classic books that are better to have read than to actually read (the ones you suffer through to pass an English test or to not be ostracized out of future water cooler conversations), this is a REAL classic.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling—Granted, I’ve only read about half the series and have been more than satisfied with watching the movies and updates from my son, but is there anyone in this world who doesn’t wish they had come up with this jackpot of an idea? So what if I’m only marginally interested in fantasy books. Rowling is a real life Cinderella story, complete with a Scottish castle to stash all of her millions. Between that and getting so many kids excited about reading, how could I not want to have written this book and its six successors?

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby-Remember mix tapes? This book-a story about a “bloke” who runs a London record store and his reluctant ascendance to adulthood-is one of those perfect mix tapes combinations I wish I had thought of, a funny, sweet and endlessly interesting argument about growing up, falling in love and arcane pop music. Hornby’s writing is both brilliantly thought provoking and accessible. As a writer, he’s everything I look for as a reader, and everything I want to be when I grow up.

When Leslie’s not reading or writing, she’s usually on a hunt for her next favorite book. Send your recommendations to For more columns visit Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on August 28, 2009.