In the accent-less world of textual communication, where the addition of the occasional (possibly unnecessary) “u” to certain words acts as verbal camouflage, you might never know that I am American.  But, there it is.  As an American abroad I will be celebrating Thanksgiving this week.

Most Americans use this holiday as an opportunity to do what we rarely do anymore, sit down together as families and friends and break bread.  Although many of us may not spend much time talking about the things we are thankful for, the very act of sharing the day with loved ones is an embodiment of that thanks.  As I am spending this Thanksgiving amongst fellow bibliophiles, I have decided to augment my celebration with a list of the top ten things (and people) I am personally thankful for in the book and blogging world this year.

 10.  Joe Abercrombie and Charles Stross

2010 has been marked by a return to my childhood reading roots, science fiction and fantasy.  These two authors are my favourite new finds in the genres. 

9.  The Book Bench: The New Yorker’s Book Blog

Full of interesting tidbits about authors and new titles, as well as quirky news items, the New Yorker’s book page is as engaging as the print magazine.



8.  Librarything, Goodreads, and Other Web-based Book-sharing Sites

With the advent of e-books, it often feels like the book world is a battle between the printed and the digital.  These sites, however, are a great way of celebrating the former via the latter.

7.  Project Gutenberg

Although (as #8 suggests) I am not a full e-book convert, the availability of file versions of public domain classics makes an e-reader seem worth it.  It’s also oddly comforting.  If, somehow, all the print copies were destroyed, the file versions would still exist somewhere in the ether of cyberspace.

 6.  Popular Penguins

These affordable editions with their simple yet attractive orange and cream covers help satisfy my cravings for classic texts.  Most recently I have enjoyed Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, and Hunter S. Thompson’s Hell’s Angels (which is the book I bring on tramping trips).  These editions are fantastic for travel as they are (mostly) smallish and easy to pass along to a friend before you head back home.


 5.  Google Reader

Despite my forays into the blogosphere, I am still learning to be more internet savvy.  Google reader provides an easy way to receive updates from favourite websites and, thus, is a great way to keep track of current book news.

4.  Alice Waters

2010 is my first year setting up house in an actual house.  As such I have found myself dithering with all kinds of cookery and sustainable house-keeping books.  At the start of the year I read Thomas McNamee’s Alice Waters and Chez Panisse.  It impressed upon me the cooking aesthetic and values of this seasonality icon.  Waters’ The Art of Simple Food has likewise become an invaluable reference on how to turn a well-stocked pantry and a few seasonal items into enjoyable daily dining.  It will be a long time before I am skilled enough in the kitchen to not rely on the written words of others for guidance.  It is reassuring that until then, I have Alice’s firm but joyful words at hand.

3.  John Updike

In a way I have the Popular Penguins series to thank for my newfound love of Updike.  Their edition of Rabbit, Run converted me.  Since then I have collected Updike’s novels like a squirrel hoarding nuts for the winter, peppering my shelves with Rabbit, Memories of the Ford Administration, Marry Me, and the rest.  Simply fantastic.



2.  Beautiful 2010 Picture Books

This year has provided some real gems including


and my personal favourite of the year so far:


1.  Bookman Beattie

Beattie’s blog is an excellent way to keep up on book news, especially what’s going on in New Zealand.  The sheer volume of posts is truly impressive and as a judge of the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, his reviews are well-thought-out and insightful.


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