Sunday, March 11, 2012

A bibliophile's work is never done

I did a movie re-cap a few days ago so I guess it's time for a book re-cap. I usually do this in January, part of my New Year's Resolutions, to summarize the books I read last year and then to make some projections for the new year. I can't believe I've done neither. So, a few months late, here's my 2011 book reading experience in summary.

I think 2011 was the year of the blah books for me. In the previous years I've been able to spout titles of some of the greatest books I read that year but in 2011 I can't seem to find any that just make me scream, "WOW THAT WAS AWESOME!!!!!!!!" I also know it was one of those type of years because I actually re-read some of my favorite books in the entire world like 19 Minutes and The Smoke Jumper. That being said, there were some standouts. So my votes for the best books I read in 2011 are:
  1. The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian, with its twist ending and its tie to The Great Gatsby.
  2. And I thought Ella Minnow Pea was super cute, about the island of people to started banning certain letters from the alphabet.
  3. Everlost, a YA book about a land of children who died in this world but are still alive in another one. And it wasn't creepy!
  4. Bliss Remembered was just a wonderful fictional story of a dying woman who was sharing her memories of WWII and the Olympics when she had a chance to swim for the USA
  5. The Paris Wife is probably my favorite book for 2011. It's a piece of historical fiction about Hemingway and his first wife and their time in Paris.
  6. State of Wonder is probably second favorite book of the year. It's a wonderful tale of a trip into the Amazon and science and the characters are amazing, the words are textured and rich. I loved it!
  7. South of Superior is about a woman who goes to the UP to care for a relative and about what she learns of herself and her family during her time in this isolated place
  8. Burnt Mountain is a strong novel with complex characters and storylines that all run together to make this story come alive.
Honorable mentions: Case Histories, a thriller that's Cold Case TV style but with one PI instead of the police; Shiver, the first book in a YA trilogy about a girl and a wolf and a boy; Mourning Gloria, part of the China Bayles series of mysteries which is always a favorite of mine; The Midwife's Confession about people left in Noelle's life after he suicide and her friends and family discover who she really was after her death; The Ninth Wife is about a woman who is proposed to and discovers that if she says yes then she'll be the 9th wife so she goes on a journey to discover if this would be a mistake or not (and it's not chick lit); Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult who is one of my fav author's ever; Sisterhood Everlasting, which is the latest and probably the last in the Traveling Pants novels which finds all the girls now 29 year old women; Then Came You by another fav author Jennifer Weiner who explores woman and child baring and family make ups; and finally, Smokin' Seventeen about bounty hunter Stephanie Plum and her crazy crew in this mystery series.

My least favorite reads of 2011:
  1. I didn't like Room. Reading an entire novel in the voice of a 6 year old was enough to make me scream.
  2. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake had such potential to be an AMAZING book. A girl can "taste" the feelings and emotions of the people who make the food she eats. This could've been astounding but instead it sucked.
  3. The End of Everything- creepy, creepy book.
  4. Last Night at Chateau Marmont- stupid chick lit and i want Lauren Weisberger, author, to write another smart, sassy, grab you by the hair novel again like Devil Wears Prada and she doesn't in this one. Not even close. I would rather have worked for the Devil without Prada for a year than have read this book.
Here's my other dilemma. I'm looking at titles of books I read that I either gave 4 out of 5 stars on my Goodreads account OR I gave a high B or even an A on my books blog and without reading my own review, I can't remember what it was about. How could I have liked a book so much that I rated/ ranked it that high but here I am months later and I can't remember a single detail. In all honesty, if I wasn't looking at my own list, I probably wouldn't even remember reading it at all!!! These books would be The Peach Keeper, Red Hook Road, and Friendship Bread. WTH? I don't remember any of these. If I rated them so high, shouldn't I be thinking these are the best books of 2011??????? Ack!

I also, occasionally, pick a theme through the year or get on a certain kick whether it be an author, a subject, a genre. At one point in 2011, I tried to read as many books as I could IN A ROW with a female in the title: Gatsby's Girl, The Reliable Wife, The Zookeeper's Wife, The Postmistress, The Paris Wife, The Weird Sisters, and The Bird Sisters. And ironically enough, all of these had something else in common: they all took place during WWII or right before or after WWII and WWII influenced the storyline.

Because I'm a librarian in a high school, which was a new gig to me in 2011, I read LOTS of young adult fiction (YA) and that's out of my normal realm. I think that while I enjoyed some of it, I'm not the target audience as I like to say, so I think it's hard for me to feel astounded by some of that writing. I read 2 YA trilogies and I thought the first ones in each trilogy were AMAZING and then didn't particularly care for the rest of the books (the Skinjacker trilogy in which Everlost is the first book, and the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy in which Shiver is the first.)

So that was my 2011 reading year. I miss 2010 when I read astounding books so I have high hopes that 2012 is better!

See ya in the stacks,

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