Twelve (ish) books of Christmas: Day One

Lovely book blogger Carly Bennett has come up with a 12 Days of Christmas book idea I just had to pinch (with her permission, of course). Carly’s picked her twelve favourite books of 2010 in her first post, but I’m doing something a bit different – writing about my favourite books/authors of 2010 (in no particular order) over the next twelve days. First up? Curtis Sittenfeld.

I took against Curtis Sittenfeld the very first time I heard of her, thanks to this review, which she wrote in 2005. The opening lines (“To suggest that another woman’s ostensibly literary novel is chick lit feels catty, not unlike calling another woman a slut — doesn’t the term basically bring down all of us? And yet, with The Wonder Spot, it’s hard to resist.”) kicked off a furore and made me dislike Sittenfeld intensely.

But then I read rave reviews of Sittenfeld’s latest novel, American Wife, and decided to get over myself and read it. And I absolutely loved it. It’s loosely based on the life of Laura Bush and it’s just fascinating. Gripping, emotional, beautifully written.

So then I read Prep too. And I loved it. Doh. The most amazing thing to me was how much of it sounded like me. I’m 39, I know that many of the fears and insecurities you have as a teenager aren’t, as you think at the time, exclusive to you, but SO MUCH of it sounded like me that it actually freaked me out a bit. I felt like Sittenfeld had been spying on me. In fact I thought, “This sounds so much like me. How did she know… Wait. Does EVERYONE feel like this?!” Again. Doh. The other thing I loved about it was that it all seemed completely real. I didn’t feel like I was reading a book, I felt like I was spying on Lee’s life.

I hesitate to call Sittenfeld one of my favourite authors – I haven’t entirely forgiven her and I also haven’t read her second, chick lit-sounding book, The Man of My Dreams – but I can’t argue with the fact that two of the best books I read in 2010 were written by her.

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3 thoughts on “Twelve (ish) books of Christmas: Day One

  1. Yay for Christmas joy :). I’m glad you liked the idea! Prep is a book I’ve been wanting to read for absolutely ages but it’s one I keep forgetting to order. I’m going to pop over to Amazon now and get myself a copy before I forget again!

    Will be back tomorrow to see your next pick 🙂 x

  2. I really liked Man of My Dreams. I don’t think it’s any more chick-litty than Prep, although the events are a little less dramatic. I think Prep might be my fave of the 3 though — it was one of those books you just have to get back to, for me.

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