Thursday, December 29, 2011
Books of 2011
So I got a Nook at the beginning of this year, thus touching off a year of reading unlike any other of my married life. Finally my two biggest hurdles to reading were cleared: the expense of buying a book I'd finish in a day or two, and the inconvenience of making it to the library, once to check out the book, and once to return it. I also work at an elementary school, giving me the opportunity to read a lot of Young Adult or Children's fiction, marked with (YA) on my list.
I love book lists, but feel like it would take forever to review everything I read this year! I'm going to start by listing them by their stars I gave them on Goodreads, and then if my kids aren't back in from the snow yet, I'll go back and add some notes!
I tend to gravitate toward family-type dramas, but those rarely actually end up on my favorites lists. I am trying to branch out and try some new things! I went through several periods of not reading at all this year, so I'm hoping to read even more this year. I also didn't rate anything as 1-star because I generally don't finish books I'm not liking, and I didn't bother to list all of those.
5-STAR (IT WAS AMAZING)
*Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand: This was a great book about a runner who goes to fight in World War II, and his bomber crashes in the middle of the ocean, touching off a long, excruciatingly difficult journey. While this book was a little on the long side, it was interesting and educational, and one of my favorites of the year.
*The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein: A story of a small family and its ups and downs, told by the perspective of the family pet. Because it mostly tells the story of the husband (and is narrated by a dog?!?), it wasn't one that normally would have appealed to me. But it was emotionally well-told, and kept me turning pages until I was done. Couldn't put it down.
*The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin: Non-fiction account of the author's year of setting goals to bring her more happiness in her life. Loved her insights, and it made me seriously re-evaluate some things about myself. Didn't hurt that it had an emphasis on goal-setting, which I love!
*The Help, by Kathryn Stockett: I think most people know this story already. Loved the characters, loved the story, even loved the movie. Can't get better than that!
4-STAR (REALLY LIKED IT)
*Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen
*No Time to Wave Goodbye, by Jacquelyn Mitchard
*Every Last One, by Anna Quindlen: This was a SAD book about a family tragedy, told from the perspective of the mother. I love tear-jerker books, and this was well-written and compelling.
*The Birth House, by Ami McKay: A story of a midwife's apprentice in the time of World War I, and addresses the choices and opportunities women were dealing with in terms of their choices in birth control and childbirth. Well-told and interesting.
*Countdown, by Deborah Wiles (YA): Coming-of-age story of a 12-year-old girl who lives in Washington DC in 1962. The whole country is worried about the Cuban Missile Crisis and doing air raid drills, while Franny deals with family issues, political stress, and drama with friends and boys. Told in kind of a "scrapbook" style with lots of actual pictures, news clippings, quotes from political figures, etc. I actually learned a lot about that time period!
*Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick (YA): Cool book - two intertwining stories set 50 years apart. One is told entirely through beautiful illustrations, the other told traditionally in words. Both main characters are children who are deaf, adding another layer of interest to the book. It's long, at about 650 pages, but I made it through it in just a night since so much of the book is illustrated.
*Maniac Magee, by Jerry Spinelli (YA)
*Shanghai Girls, by Lisa See
*The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls
3-STAR (LIKED IT)
*Labor Day, by Joyce Maynard
*The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy, by Stieg Larsson: These were interesting books, but so much language and graphic sexual violence, I had a hard time with them. I did read the whole trilogy though, so I guess that says something.
*The Stuff That Never Happened, by Maddie Dawson
*The Climb and The Contest (Everest series), by Gordon Korman (YA): I'm actually embarrassed at how into these books I was. I read them at school during silent reading time, and couldn't wait to get back to them each afternoon. They weren't super well-written, but I did want to see where the story went!
*The Giver, by Lois Lowry (YA): I think I would have liked this better if I'd read it before The Hunger Games. Just not quite as exciting in terms of a futuristic society type of book.
*Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli (YA)
*Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Olsen and Learned to Love Being Hated, by Alison Arngrim
*Bossypants, by Tina Fey: I wanted to like this book more than I did. It was my first book I've ever actually purchased for the Nook. It had some great parts, like her prayer for her daughter, but otherwise I found it just okay.
2-STAR (IT WAS OKAY)
*Harvesting the Heart, by Jodi Picoult
*Picture Perfect, by Jodi Picoult
*Going Rogue, by Sarah Palin
*A Reliable Wife, by Robert Goolrick
*Beginner's Luck, by Laura Pedersen