Smugglivus Smugglivus Guest Blogger

Smugglivus 2010 Guest Blogger: Ana of Things Mean a Lot

Welcome to Smugglivus 2010: Day 23

Throughout this month, we will have daily guests – authors, bloggers and publishers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2010, and looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2011.

Who: Ana, of the (excellent, wonderful, amazing) Europe-based Things Mean a Lot blog. Hers is one of (our) Ana favourite blogs as (the other) Ana (thisi is getting confusing) reviews pretty much a bit of everything. For a taste of a non-review type of post, please do read this wonderful post on Reading Fantasy.

Please give it up for Ana (the other one)!

My Other Favourites of 2010

Every year, when I sit down to make a list of the year’s best reads, I come up with a couple of rules to make my task easier: I shall not pick more than one book by the same author; I shall endeavour to make the list varied genre-wise; and so on and so forth. These rules are helpful in the sense that they do make picking my twenty or so favourites of the year easier, but at the same time, they’re more than a little arbitrary. The inevitable result is that in the end, I could easily come up with another “best of” list that would be every bit as real as the first one.

So when Ana and Thea invited me to contribute to Smugglivus, I thought: why not actually put that alternate list together? I’ll be publishing my list of favourite reads of the year on my blog sometime next week, but in the meanwhile, here are ten books that I’m also perfectly happy to call favourites:

    The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery – Even more charming than the Anne books (yes, I’ve said it.). The Blue Castle is a delightful fairy-talesque love story, and also an extremely interesting book to think about from a subversion versus maintenance of the status quo perspective.

    A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly (known as A Northern Light in the US) – Awesome and beautifully written feminist YA. Need I say more?

    The Taste of Sorrow by Jude Morgan – A fictionalised retelling of the lives of the Brontë sisters that actually uses very little fiction. Morgan is an amazingly sensitive and insightful writer.

    Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters – This is actually my least favourite Sarah Waters novel, but it’s still Sarah Waters, which is to say: it’s still passionate and gripping and amazing and brilliant.

    The Unwritten Vols 1 and 2 by Mike Carey and Peter Goss – This series is SO GOOD. It’s both an amazing story and a meditation on storytelling and what it means to our lives. Any fans of Fables or The Sandman who have yet to discover The Unwritten are truly missing out.

    The Changeover by Margaret Mahy – Margaret Mahy was writing paranormal romances with a twist (which is to say, with complex, smart and independent heroines and in which consent issues are actually discussed) before paranormal romances were popular. Also, her writing reminds me of Diana Wynne Jones, and if you’re me that’s saying a lot.

    Kindred by Octavia Butler – A brilliant science fiction slash historical novel that examines issues of race, gender and power with amazing insight.

    Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton – A fantasy of manners set in the equivalent of the Victorian age, and where all the characters are dragons. Perhaps this sounds twee, but it isn’t. It’s smart, charming, and full of humour and social satire.

    The Odd Women by George Gissing – a 1893 novel about the plight of women who were not successful in the Victorian marriage market and were left with no way of supporting themselves. Very unconventional for its time, and full of food for thought even now.

Many thanks to Thea and Ana for inviting me to contribute to Smugglivus, and happy reading to you all in 2011!

Right back at you, Ana!


  • Nymeth
    December 23, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Thank you again for having me!

  • Carolyn Crane
    December 23, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    I am so going to read The Odd Women. Thanks for these recs!!

  • Tiah
    December 23, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    I am checking out The Odd Women, that sounds great. Awesome post!

  • Daphne
    December 23, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    What a fun list! I’m looking forward to your big round-up, too!

  • sakura
    December 23, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Some interesting titles there Ana. Anne of Green Gables is one of my favourite children’s books so I guess that means I must read The Blue Castle! Lots for my wishlist:)

  • Chachic
    December 23, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    Oh yay, she has The Changeover on her list! I loved that one and it also reminded me of DWJ. Sorry and Howl have some things in common. I’ve been curious about The Blue Castle for the longest time but haven’t found copies of the books locally.

  • Karenlibrarian
    December 23, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    Three of those are on my to-read list (Kindred, The Blue Castle, and Tipping the Velvet) and I just bought New Grub Street by Gissing so I’ll have to look for The Odd Women!

    I’ve been avoiding The Blue Castle because the only copy I could find has a really cheesey illustration on the cover. Isn’t that silly of me?

  • Joanna
    December 24, 2010 at 6:37 am

    Great idea for a list Ana! I always have books I want to mention but which don’t make my ‘top’ list too. So many of these ended up on my wishlist, thanks! 🙂

  • diana mack
    December 24, 2010 at 7:16 am

    i had to bully my way into getting my book club to read kindred and it still remains one of their favorites!

  • Stephanie
    December 24, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    I’ve just recently read A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly and loved it, too. I’d like to recommend Touched by Carolyn Haines, a superb book that is comparable to Donnelly’s with it’s time setting and strong-willed female protagonist.

    Thanks for sharing your faves, I’m definitely sold on Kindred & The Blue Castle and am looking forward to checking them out! 🙂

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