Monday, January 2, 2012

Year End Book Summary 2011

In 2011 I read 21 books. Not a stellar amount but at least it is consistent with the 20 that I read in 2010.

Some books I just jam through and some I lag and don't read as often as I should (as is the case with a book I am currently reading). I only gave 5 books a rating of 3 stars, most of them 4 stars, and only 5 with 5 stars.

Let me tell you about these 5 faves of mine.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - I set a goal for myself in 2011 when I turned 30 to read as many of the 'classics' as I could by the time my 40th birthday rolls around. I don't have a set list I am referencing but just when I hear about this book or that book or a book I never read but probably should have, I am making a note of it or downloading it to my kindle. This was the first classic that I read (mainly because I saw a trailer for a movie that came out in 2011 that looked good) and I was absolutely shocked at how much I loved it right off the bat. My instant reaction upon finishing Jane Eyre was this: I thought I would get bored with the book and never finish it. Instead, I was instantly entertained, curious, and interested in Jane, her surroundings, her view of the world, her cohorts, etc. The story surprised me a few times, and I never did get bored. The ending left a little something to be desired, and in a way I just wanted the story to continue. I wanted to know about her and Mr. R. growing into old age, and I wanted to learn about their children and wanted to meet Adele as a grown lady, etc. I take not wanting a book to end as a sure sign that I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I can understand why this is a classic!

Tinkers by Paul Harding - I didn't know much about this book but for some reason I kept wanting to read it. Finally I dug into it and was so glad that I did. It was gorgeous and sad and as I wrote initially upon finishing Tinkers: About half way through this book I wanted to start over from the beginning and pay more attention. I will definitely be re-reading this one. 

The Help by Kathryn Stockett - I know everyone and their mother read this book in the last couple years and finally I gave in to the hype. I expected it to be hokey and ridiculous but instead I really loved it. I laughed, I cried, I didn't want it to end.

Room by Emma Donoghue - This was the first book I purchased for my kindle and it took me a few months to actually decide to read it because I was scared it would be too depressing. I loved it right away as is usually the case when I read books told from the perspective of a child. I find it so refreshing to look at things in a fresh, if slightly naive, light once in a while. While this story is pretty sad, Jack's view of his own life isn't and that is what kept it from being too hard to read. I really wanted to give Jack a big hug. I wrote when I had just finished reading Room:  I found it very easy to feel immersed in Jack's world. I could totally understand why he felt scared/anxious about everything, wanting to return to comforts he was familiar with, though they seemed crazy and scary to everyone else. I was a pretty scared little kid, very afraid of the unknown and quiet, so I could relate to Jack in a way. At the end of the book, I wished it would have kept going.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami - I love everything Murakami does, and I might build him up a bit much to people sometimes because I just love his books so very much. Maybe he is not for everyone but I simply can't imagine someone not liking his style of surreal things taking place in a very realistic world. I had been waiting for this book to be released forever, in fact I preordered it about 6 months before it was released so I would be sure to get the first US edition. 1Q84 was not a disappointment and I read the more than 900 pages in one month, which for me is no small feat. My first impression upon finishing 1Q84 was this: I loved this book from the start, had a hard time putting it down, and couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next. This was a perfect combination of Murakami's amazingly magically surreal style and a sweet love story. I was sad to reach the end and could have read 900 more pages.

I really liked a lot of the other books I read in 2011, and honorable mention goes to Galore by Michael Crummey even though it was much different than I expected it would be. I also really liked The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins!

(If you would like to read reviews for all of these, here is My GoodReads page.)

Here is a fancy grid of the books I read in 2011:

The Hunger Games
First Love
A Confederacy of Dunces
Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman
Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef
The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show: A Novel
The Corrections
The Magician's Assistant
Silas Marner
The Help
This Side of Paradise
Great House
The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Imperfectionists
Jane Eyre
The Dirty Parts of the Bible

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