I Like Big Books And I Cannot Lie: What I Read in 2011

Sometime around this time last year, I made a committed decision to try and read two books a month. Two books a month? you're thinking. That's child's play! Why, I read two books before I've even had breakfast in the morning, and then I read a third while I'm brushing my teeth. 

(You're not really thinking that, are you? And how many times have you accidentally splattered your toothpaste on the pages? Do you wear a bib when you do this? You're crazy, man.)

So I decided to try and read two books a month, and I decided to write down the title of each book—in my planner, on the last day of the month in which I'd read it—so I wouldn't forget what I'd been reading all year. This happens to me often, by the way: on more than one occasion, I've brought a book home from the library, got two or three chapters into it, and then realized that I've read it several months or years before. And yes, I know that Goodreads was invented specifically for this very purpose, but I've tried (and failed at) Goodreads several times over and I didn't fail at this, which I guess just means I like the lo-fi experience of putting pen to paper to record the books I've read. So sue me!

(Don't sue me. I'm terrible at confrontation and I don't have any fancy blouses to wear to court.)

If you do not give a pickled pickle about the twenty-eight (and a half!) books I read this year, this is your cue to leave; I will escort you out now with a murmured compliment about how well you're looking, and we'll meet again in the next post. If however, you are in the market for something new to read, here's what I buried my nose in last year. Wow, that line did not summon the mental imagery I expected it to summon. PAGES. I was talking about pages.

JANUARY:

Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House, Meghan Daum
Damn it, I really wish I'd written this book. It's funny, poignant, and based on a subject close to my heart: moving house a ridiculous number of times. When I got to the end, I wanted to read it all the way from the beginning again. Then I wanted to call up Meghan Daum and pitch myself as her newest friend. I did neither, but there's always 2012.

Faithful Place, Tana French
Have you read any other books by Tana French? I suggest you start with In The Woods, then read The Likeness, then pick up this one. After that, you can email me and blame me for the fact that you haven't got anything done for the last 72 hours, because you've been awake that entire time, caught up in the mystery, reading everything in an Irish accent. I actually have to schedule my reading of Tana French's books for times I know I can stay up until 2am, because they're so full of suspense that there is really no way to put them down.

FEBRUARY:

Prospect Park West, Amy Sohn
Ah, failed already: only one book this month! Whatever, February's a short one and I was busy being young and alive. I'm sort of embarrassed to admit that I liked this book so much—it's a bit of a "romp," if you'll excuse the word—but it was highly enjoyable in a purely escapist way. And when I went to Park Slope a few months later, I totally found myself keeping my eyes peeled for the characters. One of whom was Maggie Gyllenhaal, so, you know, could have happened.

MARCH:

Great House, Nicole Krauss
Now this is more like it: I doubled my target in March and read twice the number of books I'd been planning to read. Great House—which tells the story of several people who own the same writing desk over a period of many decades—was one of my favorites of the year, but please note that you will need to like weeping heavily if you attempt it yourself. I still maintain that The History Of Love is Nicole Krauss' best work, but I enjoyed the interlocking narratives of this powerful novel all the same. Wow, that was a pretty fancy sentence. What do I think I am, the New York Times?

Unbearable Lightness, Portia de Rossi
Don't hate, I read Portia de Rossi's memoir. It was actually fairly interesting, even if it did take about five minutes cover to cover. I don't have a particular fascination with Ally McBeal, eating disorders, or Portia de Rossi herself, so I'm not even sure what made me pick this up in the first place, but it was a quick read and fairly eye-opening.

Room, Emma Donoghue
I'm willing to bet there are more people on the Internet who have read this book than those who haven't, because everywhere I went in 2011—and by "everywhere," I mean Twitter—there was someone encouraging someone else to read Room. I enjoyed it, of course—fascinating premise, unusual narrator, suspense-filled plot—but I did sort of think it switched gears a bit about two thirds of the way through. Still, if you haven't read it, I recommend it, particularly on a flight, which you will soon find will fly by.

The Hand That First Held Mine, Maggie O'Farrell
Ehhh. You know, Maggie O'Farrell wrote a really great first novel (it's called After You'd Gone) but I haven't been a huge fan of anything she's done since. I can't even remember what this one was about, that's how little impression it had on me. Oh wait, yes, I remember; something happens to somebody a long time ago and it has an effect on somebody in the future. I guessed the ending about halfway through.

APRIL:

When Will There Be Good News?, Kate Atkinson
Kate Atkinson can do no wrong. If you haven't read anything else by her, start with Behind The Scenes at the Museum, which I vividly recall reading through a terrible hangover when I was supposed to be revising for my A-levels. This book—one of several in which she delves into detective fiction, which, trust me, I didn't think I'd like either until I tried it, but see again: Kate Atkinson can do no wrong—isn't quite as earth-shattering, but it's still fantastically written. It centers around a private detective called Jackson Brodie who crops up in a few of her other books too.

One Day, David Nicholls
My brother Tom sent this to me for my birthday, full of exclamation about how it would be THE BEST BOOK YOU WILL EVER READ OMG SO GOOD SO GOOD YOU WILL DIE, which I had to take with a grain of salt, given that my brother Tom reads about one book a year. I did find it very enjoyable—it's got a definite Nick Hornby vibe if you're into that sort of thing—but I don't think I was as bowled over as Tom was. (Serves him right for the time I took him to this place in Charleston where I swore up and down he would have THE BEST SANDWICH OF HIS LIFE and then he tried the sandwich—which I paid for, I might add–and was all "Eh. I've had better.)

The Facebook Effect, David Kirkpatrick
This insider bio of Facebook was something I originally started reading as background research for the job I had at the time, but I quickly found that it crossed over from a "work book" to something highly enjoyable and compelling. Two thumbs up if you're curious about the history, invention, and culture of Facebook.

MAY:

Half A Life, Darin Strauss
When Darin Strauss was in his last year of high school, he accidentally killed one of his classmates in a car accident. What follows is a pretty interesting memoir about loss and guilt; I read it pretty quickly and enjoyed it a lot.

Tiger, Tiger, Margaux Framoso
I sort of wish I hadn't read this, but once I start a book I seem enter into an imaginary contract with it in my head that says I won't abandon it until the very end. And so I stuck out Margaux Framoso's harrowing story of her 15-year relationship with a pedophile, even though it was horribly disturbing pretty much all the way through. I read about 60% of it with my eyes squinched half-shut, marveling that Framoso even survived some of the stuff she survived. Fascinating, but you'll have nightmares for weeks.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua
The buzz around this book got to be too much, and so I caved and read it in my back yard in a single afternoon on one of San Francisco's uncharacteristically glorious hot days. I know everyone got all up in arms about it, but I thought it was actually pretty entertaining. I mean, it's not like I'm going to use it as a manual for my own parenting or anything, but it was a fairly enjoyable—and very quick—read. 

JUNE:

Husband & Wife, Leah Stewart
I picked this up because I'd read something else by Leah Stewart (The Myth of You and Me, about five years ago), even though both the cover and the title appealed to me about as much as a root canal performed by Ashlee Simpson. I actually remembered nothing about it whatsoever until I had a look at the Amazon description, and then I recalled, surprisingly enough, that I really enjoyed it. The plot—husband confesses to affair; wife freaks out—was way less formulaic than it sounds, and the writing was excellent.

Zeitoun, Dave Eggers
Dave Eggers is pretty polarizing, but I am strongly in the "love him" camp. This true story of one man's terrible mistreatment in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is hugely compelling. Must, must, must read.

Started Early, Took My Dog, Kate Atkinson
Hey, more Kate Atkinson! I am nothing if not consistent. Apart from having one of the best book titles of the last few years, this clever novel—yes, it revolves around another mystery, though I promise this is not your grandma's detective fiction—was just generally really enjoyable. I've heard they've now made a few of these books into TV adaptations on BBC.

Freedom, Jonathan Franzen
I expected not to like this book, because everyone I spoke to had a pretty lukewarm reaction to it. Personally, I really enjoyed it, but then I like epic family sagas and descriptive, detail-filled prose, so it was hardly a surprise. Plus, I was reading it in Hawaii. That may have helped.

JULY:

Bossypants, Tina Fey
Is the entire Internet going to turn against me if I confess that I did not find this book the greatest thing since sliced bread? Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Tina Fey fan, and I enjoyed this book thoroughly. I guess it just felt a bit.....random. Random? Do I mean random? I'm not even sure, just that I was expecting it to follow a chronology or some other sort of organizational device that it never really stuck to. It was hilarious, obviously, but I sort of wanted more from it than it wanted to give me. Okay, Bossypants, I get it; it's not you, it's me.

Bright Before Us, Katie Arnold-Radcliff
I didn't really love this book and I was bummed out, because I really wanted to: it's set in San Francisco, the premise—a  teacher witnesses someone jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge while on a field trip with his class—sounded interesting, and the girl who wrote it is about 15 (okay, not really, but she's fairly young and she's an assistant editor at O magazine). It was good, and it had some lovely turns of phrase, but it wasn't my favorite. Wow, Me-From-July, picky much? 

AUGUST:

The Kitchen Daughter, Jael McHenry
Failure! I failed again! Only one book in August! This was a good one, though, if you don't mind a spot of magical realism; I'm not typically a fan, but it really worked here. The writing was lovely, the format was refreshing, and the plot—a girl with Asperger's, suddenly orphaned, finds she can summon the ghosts of the dead when she makes their recipes—was wonderfully (and surprisingly) believable.

SEPTEMBER:

In Zanesville, Jo Ann Beard
I'm a sucker for a book set in a small Midwestern town in the 1970s; it's a fairly specific set of criteria, I know, but I just can't get enough. This is a bittersweet coming-of-age story, some parts of which took my breath away with how beautifully written they were. Also how mad I was that I hadn't written them first.

This Is Where I Leave You, Jonathan Tropper
About eleven years ago, I read this fantastic book called Plan B on a 14-hour Amtrak journey to see Sean, and I promptly forgot who wrote it. Fast forward to this year, when I picked up This Is Where I Leave You at random and discovered it was written by the very same guy. Truly, I did not want this book to end: it was uproariously funny, wonderfully human, and just really, really, really well-written. Jonathan Tropper: tied with Meghan Daum to be my new BFF.

OCTOBER:

Swim Back To Me, Ann Packer
I don't typically like short stories much, but I've enjoyed a lot of Ann Packer's other stuff, so I was excited when this finally came in at the library for me (don't tell me you don't use your library's hold system, because it will—and I'm not even kidding—change your life.) I absolutely loved the first story, to the point where I wish Ann Packer had made it into an entire novel, but I couldn't bring myself to care much about any of the others because I just wanted to get back to the first one. The last story linked back to it a little, but not nearly enough to scratch my itch. Man, that first story was so good. I still wonder about the characters.

Silver Sparrow, Tayari Jones
I'm not sure I'd read anything about this subject before—the narrator, Dana, has a father who's married to another woman in addition to being married to her mother; she and Dana are his "secret family"—but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Partway through, the narrative switches to the father's other daughter—Dana's half-sister—and it gets really interesting. I couldn't wait to see how it ended.

NOVEMBER:

This Beautiful Life, Helen Schulman
Privileged teenage girl sends privileged teenage boy an inappropriate video of herself being inappropriate. Privileged teenage boy forwards it to a friend, who forwards it to a friend, who forwards it to a friend until the entire school—and soon the entire country—has seen it. Parents of privileged teenage boy blame themselves for privileged teenage boy's privileged existence, and everyone falls apart. In the end, I liked it, but I didn't love it.

Juliet Naked, Nick Hornby
You know, it pains me to say this, becase I enjoyed High Fidelity and Fever Pitch as much as the next person, but I didn't so much dig Nick Hornby's latest. Maybe it's because it was the first book I read on an e-reader, but I just never really got into it, and I found so much of it impossible to believe, even for fiction. It passed the time on our long flight to Cape Town, and of course it was entertaining in that particularly Hornby-esque way, but that was pretty much the extent of it for me. Also, it really bothered me that the wacky American rock star was called Tucker Crowe. Tucker Crowe. God, that name just irritated me.

Solar, Ian McEwan
I know a few people who didn't like this book, but I'm not one of them. A little bit of the subject matter went over my head at times—quite a lot of fairly dense paragraphs about solar energy—but it's a testament to Ian McEwan's writing that he can write a book about something I don't know anything about, and I will still find it hugely compelling. I really loved this, from beginning to end.

DECEMBER:

The Lovers, Vendela Vida
Did you know that Vendela Vida is the wife of Dave Eggers? It's my secret dream that I'm going to run into her one day in San Francisco and grab her arm over the produce—I picture us meeting at the grocery store—to tell her how wonderful I think she is. She wrote one of my all-time favorite books (And Now You Can Go), and while I didn't love this one quite as much, I loved it all the same. It's a wonderful portrayal of traveling, particularly traveling alone. 

The Book of Joe, Jonathan Tropper
So this was the "half" in twenty-eight and a half, but only because I finally finished it on January 3rd. It's another Jonathan Tropper, which I bought because I liked the other one so much, though this was actually written earlier (although after Plan B). I enjoyed it immensely, though I don't think it holds a candle to This Is Where I Leave You. Read that one first.
 

****************

Okay, book club adjourned! And now I'm curious: did you read any of these too? Did you like them? Do we disagree in a manner that could get dangerous if we weren't both nice, well-behaved human beings? Did you read anything last year that you loved? Hated? Were only just fairly apathetic towards?

Filed Under:
1
Jane
Jan 12, 2012

I'm so impressed by the number of books you've managed to read last year - and great little synopsis for each one too. Some are definitely ones that I'll take note of to read this year.
I'm a complete failure when it comes to books. I get on a roll at the start of the year then gradually give it up (I blame my e-reader battery sometimes! - but the fact that I don't bother to charge it just means I'm lazy). I tried to re-read some classics last year but that fell by the wayside after about 5.
But thanks to this post I'm going to be more motivated to read more.

2
Stacey
Jan 12, 2012

Spooky. I also read 28 and a half books last year. I also read, and liked, Room and Freedom, and pretty much agree with your assessments. Despite also guessing the connection in The Hand That First Held Mine, I really liked it. I'll have to check out her first novel. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell was my favorite read of last year.

3
AG
Jan 12, 2012

That is an impressive amount of reading! I wish I made more time for it, as I really do enjoy it, and it's a resolution I make every year.

Last year I only read about 7 books. I am going to join a library immediately, and read some of your recommendations.

I am about to start Caitlin Moran's 'How To Be a Woman' - have heard excellent things about it. You might like that.

4
Lesley Williams
Jan 12, 2012

Thank you Holly. I desperately need some good book suggestions...I ask my friends what they have liked reading recently and they can never remember the titles or authors! I'm going to start with the ones you *loved* and see how many I get through before the chaos of life drags me back again!

5
Nicole
Jan 12, 2012

So I also read Room and very much enjoyed it - particularly from a linguistic point of view cuz I'm a dork like that - but you know, who didn't last year? Also, I finally read The History of Love and...was completely annoyed by it and then loved the last 10 pages. I feel like I'm the only person who was disappointed by that book...

On another note, however, I'm currently reading What is the What because you recommended it in a previous post and cannot put it down. And now, thanks to this post, my Amazon queue has reached immense proportions. Thank you SO much for all your recommendations! You're my new go-to source for book recs (in a non-creepy stalker way, of course).

6
Chiara
Jan 12, 2012

I also didnt love Bossypants. Did you see Tina Fey's response to all the Jay-Z/Beyonce Lenox Hill Hospital drama? She gave birth there in August and described how different her experience was from theirs--group of woman in a storage closet learning to breastfeed with a lactation consultant. Cracked me up. I did love Freedom. My husband and I read it simultaneously and right around the time we had done a big move and shaken up our lives and so on and I found it comforting to read about people and couples who lose their way from themselves and each other and back again (among other themes). Solar is on my bedside table. I really liked Cutting for Stone by the time I finished it (a bit of a slog in the beginning). Also, Colum McCann in my opinion can do no wrong. Enjoyed Let the Great World Spin and Dancer a lot. Also, Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad was a top 10 book of 2011 for me.

7
april
Jan 12, 2012

Damn, I have things to say about your books and no time to do it - gotta get to work! I think I'm going to post-it note myself to come back here tonight :)

8
Katie
Jan 12, 2012

I started reading "This Is Where I Leave You" yesterday, and I can't wait to get back to it! I typically prefer books by woman authors, but am really liking this one.
Have you read "A Prayer for Owen Meany?"

9
VictoriaC
Jan 12, 2012

I'm impressed that you read so many - my reading list for 2011 would look quite inadequate in comparison. I did read One Day and just don't understand the hype it was just okay for me. My favourite read of last year was The Book Thief which is just beautifuland has the best final line to any book I have ever read.

10
Helen
Jan 12, 2012

I also read One Day this year and enjoyed it a lot (in fact, it made me cry in some parts and I was on a train in Poland at the time, so had all these Polish people staring at me curiously who I couldn't explain anything to), but like you, I wasn't blown away. It got a lot of hype that I think was a tad unmerited, perhaps because it was a male author - if it had been written by a woman it would have been packaged and marketed differently, and I think there wouldn't have been so much buzz around it.

I had a bit of a Margaret Atwood binge this year and absolutely loved Oryx and Crake - highly recommended if you haven't read it before. Other favourite 2011 reads were David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas and Audrey Niefnegger's Her Fearful Symmetry (not as good as TTTW but still excellent).

(Also, brilliant blog post title)

11
Amy
Jan 12, 2012

That's a smart resolution, I may try that for this year with foreign fiction. The only one of these which I've also read was One Day - I have to say, I absolutely loved it. I read it in one sitting, and was a complete mess by the time I finished it! I read more books last year than I care to think about, but that's part of the territory of being a literature student. I averaged out at about three books every two weeks (and about half of them weren't in English!)

My best book this year... One Day from a personal perspective, George Perec's W ou le Souvenir d'Enfance academically-speaking. Worst was without a doubt Princess of Cleves, which I struggled through in one sitting for one of my classes and haaaated. Apathy - pretty much everything else I studied in uni!

12
Ann
Jan 12, 2012

I adore Kate Atkinson, felt the same way you did about the last third of Room, liked Freedom a lot, loved This Is Where I Leave You, and didn't care for Juliet Naked, so maybe our reading tastes are similar!

I second the recommendation for Oryx and Crake. Oh my god, I couldn't stop talking about that book for ages. Other books I loved recently (not all came out this year):

City of Thieves by David Benioff
If You Follow Me by Malena Watrous
An Ordinary Spy by Joseph Weisberg
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

All of them were super entertaining and all have stuck in my head.

I just put a couple of your books on my library request list, thanks!

13
kerry
Jan 12, 2012

I have read a couple of these books but I really just want to say thank you. I read After You'd Gone *years* ago and loved it and have thought about it occasionally but never been able to remember the title or who wrote it (and the ex boyfriend from whom I originally borrowed it is no longer taking my calls- to put it mildly- so I can't ask him). As soon as you mentioned it, something clicked so I looked it up and it is indeed the very book I loved! Have just bought copy so I can never go through this again. I'm excited to re-read and see how me from 2002 and me from 2012 compare in our feelings about books.

14
Therese
Jan 12, 2012

I'm so glad that you thought that about Bossypants. I agree. I love Tina Fey and the book did have some funny parts but overall it was just.... Like you, I was expecting more of a chronological story or something, I don't know. I also haven't said anything because I've been worried that everyone would think I was crazy. Maybe we can just be crazy together?

15
Melissa
Jan 12, 2012

Recently read The Forgottten Garden by kate morton which I loved. takes place mostly in england. a woman tried to piece together the mystery of her grandmother's real identity.

I also like Secret Daughter by Shilpi somaya gowda. Takes place in San Fransicoand Mumbai. Interesting story about family, marriage and adoption and women in india.

Thanks for sharing! I have a feeling I'll be getting in more reading this year.

16
Ris
Jan 12, 2012

This is a great list that I will soon be adding to my library account hold list (best thing ever!). Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for highlighting some stuff I've never heard of and NOT just telling me you read Twilight, Game of Thrones, and that book about the Guernsey Potato Peeling Club.

17
Ris
Jan 12, 2012

OH yes! I forgot to list books I read and liked! Well, I recommend: A Homemade Life, The Little Stranger, The Paris Wife, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, The Ghost Writer, and Snobs.

18
Barb
Jan 12, 2012

I agree that the Dave Eggers book Zeitoun is a must read. could not put it down. found it disturbing. I made about 4 other people read it just to see if they had the same reaction. Looking forward to some of the others on your list!

19
Elysabeth
Jan 12, 2012

We definitely have similar book tastes -- I read This is Where I Leave You (loved), Zeitoun (against my will, because I dislike Eggers, but I liked the book), This Beautiful Life (meh...), and I SUPER HEART MEGAN DAUM.

My best books of 2011 include...

God-Shaped Hole (DeBartolo)
The Storm Chasers (Blum)
Games to Play After Dark (Borden)
annnnd
Faith (Haigh)

20
Kate
Jan 12, 2012

I have not read any of these books, but there are several I have bought and have yet to pick up.
I just finished reading Stieg Larsson's Millinium trilogy (Girl with Dragon Tattoo, etc.) and found them appalling horrible and not horrible in a graphic rape-y way, but horrible in a I-can't-believe-writing-this-awful-is-so-popular way and then I remembered that Stephanie Meyer is also on the NY Times Bestseller List. (And please please please don't tell me it was a translation issue; some of my favourite books are translated!)
Since my recent foray into a trilogy I hated (I too make contracts with my books), I am on the lookout for some quality reading. I think you've sold me on picking up a Kate Atkinson and Jonathan Tropper, as I have yet to read anything by either of them. Also, my friend convinced me to buy Oryx and Crake a few months ago (after discovering I am a fan of Atwood's writing and haven't read this one) claiming it to be a singularly wonderful piece of literature. Also The Book Thief has been very highly recommended to me and will make my reading list this year.
If you want to know three of my favourite books:
Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (beautifully written semi-mystery as narrated by a 15 year old autistic boy).
Jose Saramago's Blindness (possibly THE best book I've read; about a world that develops a sudden onset of white blindness and how they handle it--there is a poor movie adaptation that I do not recommend [oh! I feel it is of note that very little punctuation is used in the book; which drove me a bit batty at first]).
Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon (I have a soft spot for fantasy fiction, and I am a lover of the Arthurian legends, and it being told from the women's perspective strongly appeals to the feminist in me; that being said, this lovely and bittersweet book is one of my constant re-reads).

21
Anna Louisa
Jan 12, 2012

I can't read a blogpost about books without mentioning my favorite author :). Mark Helprin's books are longer and a bit heavier than most of these, but they truly have the power to affect your soul - not just mind and emotions (though those are pretty significant too :). Sounds like a tall order, I know, but I'd stick by it!

http://anna-gemutlichkeit.blogspot.com/

22
Amanda
Jan 12, 2012

I read One Day this summer and I really enjoyed it. I wouldn't say that it was the Best Book I've Ever Read, but once I got into it, I couldn't put it down. Did you see the movie?

I also read Room and I agree with you, it switched gears, and I think it did so a bit too early in the book for me.

This Is Where I Leave You and Unbearable Lightness are now on my "To Read" list (which is quite long already). I have a copy of Faithful Place that I've been meaning to read for a while (another blogger sent it to me) but I was worried it might be too dark for me. Your description has me wanting to read it ASAP!

23
bessie.viola
Jan 12, 2012

This is such a great list - I just added so many of these books to the "to buy" wishlist for my Kindle! I can't wait to get into 2012's list.

I liked Bossypants a lot, but like you I'd been hoping for more of a narrative "story." I am demanding like that. However, I did love the prayer for her daughter - I can't remember exactly what it was called. Was hilarious and worth the book to me!

24
RA
Jan 12, 2012

I loved In Zanesville, too! I am touting it wherever I can, now. Read it, everyone!!!

My other big recommendation from 2011 is Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Super fun, quirky, and a bit nerdy.

25
Moira
Jan 12, 2012

This is awesome. I added a bunch of these to my Goodreads list. Bonus points for liking so many books that are available as ebooks at my library. I am excited for the Tana French books - sounds like exactly the type of book I love, and a series to boot!

Currently reading Night Circus. I like it a lot, but not as much as I expected considering I keep hearing rave reviews.

26
Deb
Jan 12, 2012

Have you read Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series? If not, I highly recommend it. And if you do, I am jealous that you get to start at the beginning as I am anxiously awaiting her 8th book. They are large, expertly researched historical fiction books with rich characters that you care about. They were recommended to me many times, but when I saw they had a time travel element I wasn't interested. Then someone told me to read the first 50 pages of Outlander - I did and was hooked. The main female character is English. The unabridged audiobooks are done by Davina Porter and are fabulous, but I would read them first.

http://www.dianagabaldon.com/about-diana/bio/

27
Janssen
Jan 12, 2012

I just recently read Tiger Mother and I LOVED it. Like you, I'm not considering it a PARENTING manual or anything, but instead just really interesting and entertaining material on ONE person's motherhood experience.

28
Bopril
Jan 12, 2012

Ah, thanks so much for this. Read some of these, but others are immediately going on my must read list now. Perhaps I'll commit to your two books per month rule for 2012!

29
KateMc
Jan 12, 2012

I really laughed when you said you're a sucker for books set in the Midwest in the 70s, because I have an oddly-specific genre like that: female protagonist, small *Southern* town, set anywhere from 1940s-1960s. Fortunately there's quite a bit out there!

30
jen
Jan 12, 2012

I've read a lot of these books as well. Big fan of Tana French. I got a free audibles thing and downloaded Faithful Place. Then you REALLY have that Irish accent stuck in your head. :) I love Jonathan Tropper - especially This is Where I Leave you.
I was a bit disappointed with Bossypants, which I listened to on audio book while driving 12 hours to visit my sister. I think I just set my expectations way too high for it. There were parts that I chuckled at, but definitely not my favorite book of the year. Probably not even in my top 5.
I will have to add all these other books to my growing list to read.

31
Jan Ross
Jan 12, 2012

I am one of the ones reading three books in a day, possibly while brushing my teeth (OK, maybe not QUITE that many) and have not read a single one of these. I just emailed this post to myself so I can remember to reserve them at the library. Yes, I do reserve books at the library (I am a former librarian) and I also use Overdrive to read library books on my iPad. I can't even remember the dozens and dozens of books I read this year, but I just finished Stephen King's "11/22/63" and found it really fascinating. I also read his "Under the Dome" this year and loved it as well. I'm with the commenter above about the Diana Gabaldon books; they are absolutely great. I don't buy a lot of books, but I own them. In a completely different genre, I love the Stephanie Plum books but am absolutely horrified at their choice of Katherine Heigle to play her in the new movie. She is so NOT Stephanie in every way.

32
Jessica
Jan 12, 2012

My 2012 reading list just got a lot longer! My goal - while not as ambitious as yours - is to read at least 1 book per month.
I agree about Bossypants. It was funny but definitely didn't wow me. But it was a quick read - read it on the car ride home from the in-laws after xmas.

33
Maggie
Jan 12, 2012

Oh my. This is delightful! A whole list of books that not only have I not read but hadn't even heard of?

Okay, maybe I'd heard of one or two.

I track my books with a photo/blog project, and it turns out I read 50 last year. http://wwcutie.wordpress.com/books-of-2011/

My favorites were probably:
-Gilead and Home by Marilyn Robinson
-The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
-Walking on Water by Madeleine L'Engle
-Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer

34
Dearwendy
Jan 12, 2012

I picked up "This is Where I Leave You" when it first came out and had the same reaction as you. It was my first taste of Tropper, so I quickly read all his other books. TIWILY is still my favorite, but none of them disappoints.

35
Kelli
Jan 12, 2012

Holly, this is a fantastic list! For several years I've kept a word doc on my computer listing the books I read throughout the year so I can keep track and I've loved being able to refer back to each list as the years continue to tick away. You read a lot of books that I still have on my "to read" list so I was happy to get a little review before diving in. My favorite read of 2011 was "Let the Great World Spin" by Colum McCann. I read that book in August and I find myself still thinking about it on a weekly basis. Can't wait to see what you read in 2012!

36
Jen
Jan 12, 2012

I read Freedom and loved it. So much so that I bought The Corrections, which I'm not loving nearly as much. Well written, but so depressing.

I just reserved a few from your list from my local library. I completely agree with you that the hold shelf is a life changer. It's my favorite thing.

37
Kim
Jan 12, 2012

Love this post. Always looking for new reads. I've read Room and Tina Fey's Bossypants. Liked both but agree with your "random" comment. It was funny but not quite up to my expectations.

I turned up my nose at The Hunger Games for awhile but gave in and bought them last minute to read on my trip to Istanbul. Loved them. Other good reads this year:
The Dirty Life: On Food, Farming & Love by Kristin Kimball.
Halfbroke Horses by Jeanette Walls.
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.

38
Leah
Jan 12, 2012

Great list, thanks for sharing!

I also love Tana French. You might check out The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly, similar style of mystery and intriguing characters.

39
Rebecca
Jan 12, 2012

I agree with you completely about Freedom, Bossy Pants and Room. I also read Freedom in Hawaii and had the same feeling that it may he resulted in an unfair positive review. I just finished Little Bee which I recieved in my Christimas stocking. I really enjoyed the book and I think you would too.

40
Charise
Jan 12, 2012

I have a goal to read 3 books a month this year after Goodreads told me I read 32 books last year; you just helped me add a few more to the ol' to-read list. Also according to Goodreads, my favorite read books of last year were: Sarah's Key, The Forgotten Garden, Before I Fall, and Those Who Save Us.
I'm in the middle of This Is Where I Leave You right now, and while I am enjoying it, I don't love it. I think it's just not my favorite type of book, although I agree it's both funny and very human.

41
Kate in Ohio
Jan 12, 2012

I read three of these. I agree with Bossy Pants and Room. I hated Freedom and only got about 200 pages in. I have a 12 year old son so I read the Hunger Games books and they were great. I read about a book a week and the only ones I can really remember are the Hunger Games and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series.

42
KWu
Jan 12, 2012

Ooo, thanks so much for all the book recommendations! I do use Goodreads and quite like it but this way of sharing books works too :)

1. One Day: you're totally right that this is a Nick Hornby vibe, though I'd be hard-pressed to say what that really means. British and a lost man-boy?
2. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother: exactly, it's an entertaining memoir, *not* a parenting manual. I'll forgive people a lot if they seem to me like they're self-aware of when they're being a bit silly or self-indulgent or whatnot (see: Eat Pray Love)
3. Zeitoun: yes, compelling indeed.
4. Bossypants: yeah, I want to love this more than I did. I've been really looking forward to Mindy Kaling's book too but my friend said it was also a bit like that, just sort of random. I guess when you ask a comedian to write a book that's not necessarily a memoir that's kind of what happens? Just a pastiche of things that you'd really enjoy as a stand-up comedy act perhaps but not really as a book.

Also, putting books on hold at the library is THE BEST! Revolutionized how I use libraries once I discovered you could just request things and only show up once you know they were there (I don't really enjoy browsing through shelves randomly, though I suppose some people probably do).

43
Ami
Jan 12, 2012

I don't think I read anything on this list except Freedom, which I hated with the fire of a thousand burning suns. But I'm looking forward to reading some of the Jonathan Tropper and Kate Atkinson reccommendations from you. I also have a tendency to forget what I read and have tried iPhone apps, to no avail. Anyway, the last two books I read were "The Guernsey Literary and Potatoe Peel Pie Society," which I LOVED and highly recc'd, and Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend, which is pretty much dreck. I was expecting it to be dreck though, just wanted some brain candy.

44
Megan
Jan 12, 2012

I've read several of these and have put most of the rest on hold at my library. (Yes! The hold system is awesome!)

I've seen several lack-luster reviews of Bossy Pants but, though it is definitely not award winning prose, I found it very funny. My recommendation is to listen to the audio book. Tina Fey reads it herself, so you get all the subtlety and humor in her voice, much more than you would by reading it.

Thanks for all the recommendations!!!

45
alison
Jan 12, 2012

Count me in as another who just could not appreciate Bossypants to its fullest extent. Maybe if it had been presented as a series of essays I would have enjoyed it more, but it felt very disconnected to me. I think I OD'd on celebrity autobiographies last year (John Waters, Michael Caine, Keith Richards, Kathy Griffin, etc.) and as a result find no joy in them anymore, particularly since I know that one chapter in the middle of the book is bound to list all the people they're grateful to (manager, agent, assistant, dog walker, whatever), and I could care less about these people.

Have you read the Holmes on the Range series, by Steve Hockensmith? The premise is two cowboy brothers in the wild West who are introduced to Sherlock Holmes' stories and decide to do some 'deducifying' of their own. Very funny, very well-written, and good mysteries as well.

46
Charlotte
Jan 12, 2012

Didn't read a lot last year. I just started volunteering at a library (nerd alert) so I'll definitely read a lot more from now on.
I second the "How To Be A Woman" recommendation. Very British, full of personality, frank and funny.
Thanks for the ideas!

47
Michelle
Jan 12, 2012

My 2012 resolution is to read one book a month, so your 2011 will kick my 2012's ass...but, I have a two year old and another baby on the way, so I will blame that!

I just finished Bossypants. It definitely entertained me, but I agree with you. It is very random...the way it skips around between time periods and things. I have follow up questions I would like to ask Ms. Fey as well. Do you think she would answer?

I have added some of these to my library wish list (since I am too cheap to actually buy most books--unless I love the book or the author) so I can hopefully download them soon. I have been waiting for Room for months...but it is a hot commodity!

48
cec
Jan 12, 2012

oh, this is great! i will have to remember this list for my book club. i failed fantastically at choosing a book when it was my turn. i chose At Home by Bill Bryson. it turns out book clubbers (or at least those in my group) prefer young adult books and romance novels to the 592 page non-fiction i chose. i enjoyed the book, but only one other person read it. fail.

49
Susan
Jan 12, 2012

I should look into Goodreads. I keep a running list on my blog of books I've read for the year as I read a lot of books.

I read Tana French's "Faithful" because I had enjoyed "The Woods", but "Faithful" didn't hold my attention the way "The Woods" did.

I also read "Room" this year and while I found it fascinating to think about what it would be like to be the little boy, I too thought the shift mid-book was rather jarring.

I also make "contracts" with my books, which is why I find myself occasionally still plodding through Stephen King's "Under the Dome". I love Stephen King and have read everything else he's written as fast as I could get my hands on it. But I find myself getting so mad at some of the characters in "Under the Dome" I have to put it down. I have his latest book, "11/22/63" but I won't let myself start it until I finish "Under the Dome".

I have a stack of books at home to be read and I'm also a big fan of my library's hold system!

As for what I would recommend...

I highly recommend Laura Hillenbrand's "Unbroken". I'm a big WW2 buff, but I think even if you're not this is non-fiction written almost like a novel. I also enjoyed "Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern more than I thought I would. It took a little to get into, but overall I liked it.

50
mjb
Jan 12, 2012

Here's the annoying problem - I only read 15 or so books last year, and I think you've just made me put that many on my goodreads to-read list. So that won't be happening. But I'm assuming that we'd have similar likes in books, and it seems like everyone I follow on there is reading YAF all the time!

51
Beth
Jan 12, 2012

I loved Freedom. But I too like family sagas. Also, I think "Mistakes Were Made" is the best name for a memoir ever. I wish I'd thought of that.

I've read 9 of these books, and added a few of them to my reading list. Thanks for the suggestions.

52
Pickles & Dimes
Jan 12, 2012

Ooh, I love book posts! I'm going to have to add some of these to my list. I also love Kate Atkinson's work. However, I hardly ever give up on a book, yet last year I gave up on both Freedom and Room. Just couldn't do read either of them.

I've tried and failed at Goodreads too, so I've just been pinning books into a "What I Read in 2012" board. Right now it's filled with zombie/deadly, fast-spreading virus books, so I might need to find some lighter fare (sometimes I think the librarians wonder about me).

53
Sarah
Jan 12, 2012

I too tried to read more books in 2011 than I had in the past. I only made it to 20 1/2.

I am so glad to hear that I'm not the only one who thought Bossypants wasn't the best book in the world. Most of my friends who read the book and thought it was wonderful are also not avid readers. I think that may have something to do with their opinion of the book. I, like you, thought it was funny but not at all what I expected. And I was disappointed that it didn't follow some sort of timeline.

54
Skance
Jan 12, 2012

I'm chiming in on the Tana French love. I just think she does an incredible job with evoking a sense of place (I ggrew up in Ireland and every book was so relatable) while keeping the stories interesting.
"One Day" was awesome for me. Loved it and re-read it three times last year. I thought the tone was perfect.
Surprisingly, I loved "Divergent" a YA novel by Veronia Roth. Liked The Hunger Games, but thought this one was a little better.
Also loved "The Magicians" and "The Magician King" by Lev Grossman. Usually not my style, but he's a writer for NY magazine he writes about magic worlds and magic in a prosaic, reporterly way that I hadn't seen before. Shades of Narnia and Famous Five and all kinds of awesomeness that I didn't expect to like, but couldn't put down.
Currently readiing TIWILY, and realy enjoying it.
"A Visit from the Goon Squad" left me absolutely cold.
LOVED "Freedom" as much as I hated "The Corrections", and I read it in Mexico, so maybe vacation settings and pina coladas are required for that one.
Loved the last line of "The Marriage Plot" by Eugenides, but didn't love the whole book.
Share your thoughts on "Bossypants" also. Funny, but meh.
Damn, I love reading. How can I make reading into my job?

55
Sara
Jan 12, 2012

so many of these are still on my list! I only got to 20 books in 2011, but 2012 will be the year to get to 24, perhaps. Dream big, right?

Zeitoun -- read it this year and thought about it all year long. I am a long-time Dave Eggers fan, having stalked him all around the Denver area when he came for book readings. He gave me a picture of Iceland when he signed my book, which I may or may not have framed and put in my office once. It was Evan Dandoesque. I'm digressing, though. Such an amazing book; one of my very favorites of all that he has read.

Between he and Vendela Vida (who, I agree, is a brilliant writer)...I'm sure there's a way to finish that sentence, but it escapes me. Lovely writing. Thanks for more books to add to my list!

My list of 2011 here (#15 on the list): http://thesaradarling.com/mighty-life-list/

56
Molly
Jan 12, 2012

I'm one of the anti-Freedom-ers. I threw it across the room in annoyance after 75 pages (and I consider myself highly tolerant of the unreadable- my master's focus was Ulysses). I struggled with Goon Squad and Tiger's Wife. I finally read Pat Conroy's Lords of Discipline and holy cow was it good.

And this year I branched out of my typical literary reads with the Outlander series and Game of Thrones series and found them to be silly, but simultaneously fun and un-put-downable.

57
Lydia
Jan 12, 2012

I'm so impressed that you manage to find time to read between the home renovations, work, and daily life occurrences. Any suggestions on how to fit in 2 books a month? I'd love to do the same for 2012.

58
Angela
Jan 12, 2012

I totally agree that discovering my library's hold system has changed my life. My library also has a app! The library is now very cool and totally has street cred now that it has an app, right? I could pull out my phone and add your books to my "For Later" list right now. That list has about 250 books on it, so I don't know when I will get to your suggestions (I like to read them in the order I add them), but I will get to them evenutally!

One book that I loved last year was The Art of Racing in the Rain. It is told from the point of view of a dog, and while I didn't think I would like it initially, I couldn't put it down once I started it. I also didn't love Bossypants, but I thought certain parts were funny. I really enjoyed The Hunger Games trilogy; I finshed all three in one weekend. I am in the middle of Unbroken right now, which someone already mentioned. I am not loving it, but I really want to see how it ends.

59
Abigail
Jan 12, 2012

I'm so glad you posted this! I loved following you on goodreads and have been missing your recommendations.

60
Laura B.
Jan 12, 2012

I ride the BART for an hour to work each way so I read 80+ books last year. Mostly I read murder/mystery, but I'm always on the look out for new material!

I'll throw out the Hunger Games because I like to think I'm above teenage literature, but this series was truly awesome. I read all three on a trip to Ireland that I will forever associate with those books.

61
Amy in CO
Jan 12, 2012

I read Bossypants and felt the same. Pretty hilarious in parts but totally random.

62
Kellie
Jan 12, 2012

I actually listened to Bossypants on my iPod (let me clarify that i drive a lot for work and always like to listen to books that i think are going to be funny) Tina reads it herself and it makes it very entertaining! It's basically a long stand up skit.

63
Nina
Jan 12, 2012

Oooh, that's a great list. I haven't read most of these, and since I thoroughly agree with your opinion on the ones I have read (Kate Atkinson novels, One Day, the Nicole Krauss novels) I shall be adding a lot of those to my Kindle.

My top books of last year are:

The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht. I love everything about this novel. (Well it starts slowly, but then it gets utterly wonderful.)

How To Be a Woman, by Caitlin Moran. (This one is so utterly awesome I wish every woman would read it, and certainly every insecure teenage girl).

The Emperor's Gold, by Robert Wilton. (Spy thriller, based in Napoleonic times. Utterly gripping.I started dispatching my children to bed earlier just to have more time with the book).

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman (about a young Ghanian boy growing up in London and his attempts to solve the murder of a boy from his school; the grim realities are softened by warmth and sweetness, this book made me laugh and finally made me sob like a baby).

Dark Matter by Michelle Paver(a ghost story, set in the Arctic. Utterly chilling and utterly compelling).

Beyond Black, Wolf Hall and A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel (all three are awesome each in its own way. The latter two are lyrical and enormous, Beyond Black is utterly compelling in its portrayal of sleaziness).

Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward.

64
Anna
Jan 12, 2012

Tana French is one of my favorite authors. Oh, how I love her! I've seen somewhere that she's releasing a new on in March, but I can't confirm it anywhere. I hope it's true...

65
Jessica
Jan 12, 2012

perfect timing on this post, i was just lamenting my lack of good reading material for the plane tomorrow. just put "this is where i leave you" and "freedom" on hold, picking them up tonight.

also, when i finished "in the woods" i literally threw it across the room, i was so irritated with the ending. are her others similar?

66
Kay
Jan 12, 2012

I am definitely on the 'love him' side of the Dave Eggers debate too. Just before Christmas I re-read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggerig genius for the third time. A beautiful book that I get something new from in each phase of my life.

This year I loved Skippy Dies by Paul Murray. It's set in an Irish boarding school
and is touching, funny and clever. I also adored Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch. There was point at work when I was feeling really anxious and couldn't work out why. Then realised I was worrying about the characters in the book who I'd left in a perilous situation... so good was the it and characterisation.

Non-fiction wise, How to be a Woman was hilarious and thought provoking and Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test was unputtdownable (yes, that is a word. Honestly).

Last year I was given 2 copies of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoot as presents. I dutifully tried to read it twice and failed spectacularly. I just can't get into David Mitchell's writing for some reason.

I ve written this on my phone so it is no doubt riddled with typos. Sorry about that. I need longer, thinner thumbs buy they don't seem to sell them anywhere.

67
Didi
Jan 12, 2012

Hey, Holly! Excellent post full of more books to add to my ever growing list. Haven't ready and Tana French so I look forward to sampling her work. We seem to have similar tastes in reading material.

I refuse to set any goals for my reading consumption this year. I always fall short of my lofty ambitions. Instead, I vow to win the lottery, have unlimited funds w/ which to buy boks, and plenty of time in which to read them.

So! A recommendation. Or a few. _The Sculptress_ by Minette Walters (full of suspense!)._Black Girl/White Girl_ by Joyce Carol Oates. Also by Joyce Carol Oates _The Grave Digger's Daughter_. _The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim_ by Jonathan Coe (audiobook version -- a hoot, it was! Down on his luck man becomes a traveling salesperson and his best "friend" is "Emma" the voice on his GPS!). Also enjoyed some audiobooks written by Muriel Spark and narrated by Nadia May.

Keep us posted on what you're reading in '12!

68
elz
Jan 12, 2012

I read "Bossypants" too. Like you, I thought it was OK. Good, but not great. I read some others that I thought were much more interesting, like- "Half Broke Horses" and "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," or "The Late, Lamented Molly Marks."

69
Angelica
Jan 12, 2012

This is a great list. Thank you. I am in the middle of Great House right now. I absolutely love Nicole Krauss. The History of Love was terrific, but my favorite is her firs novel, Man Walks Into A Room. I highly recommend it.

70
Lana
Jan 12, 2012

I love Jonathon Tropper - such a random discovery for me at the library one day. i loved the title of "This is Where I leave You" and I am so happy I picked it up. One of my faves of 2011, for sure.

I also recommend "Little Bee"! Loved it.

I got an e-reader for Christmas and just downloaded the Hunger Games - not really what I'm usually into, but has so many great recommendations, and so far I'm liking it!

I could not, however, get into the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series. at all.

Thanks for all the reviews - I bookmarked this page for future reference!

71
Megan
Jan 12, 2012

oh, i just LOVED great house. so powerful, indeed. i agree that the history of love is krauss' best work, but great house stayed with me for a really, really long time. i almost want to reread it but i'm not sure my emotions cane take it.

plus, yes, there's the weeping.

:)

72
Michelle
Jan 12, 2012

I'm so glad I'm not alone in not loving Bossypants! I found myself realizing that great comedy writing and great improv do not equal great essayist.

But I still found it somehow inspiring, in that it shows how one can try something new, and not necessarily be great at it right out of the gate.

73
Heidi
Jan 12, 2012

Please don't hold it against me, but I tried to read Kate Atkinson's book, but I had to break up with it. However, I have Room and Inzanesville on my bookshelf as we speak. I'd really like to read This Beautiful Life, but worry it might be too depressing. Loved this post!!

74
Erin
Jan 12, 2012

Thank you for posting this! As I was reading your post I had to open Goodreads (which i am finally using pretty decently, thanks to my book club) so I could add many of these to my reading list.
My favorites from last year were:
Cutting for Stone
True Grit (totally not my usual genre, but such a good read)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
and Pride and Prejudice (which i *just* finally read this past year and loved it- much to my surprise!).

75
Sarah
Jan 12, 2012

I didn't read Bossypants, but I listened to it. As an audiobook to pass a 10-hour drive with my sweetie, it was a perfect choice.

Best thing I read in 2012 was Model Home by Eric Puchner. It's a family saga, equal parts funny, tragic, and mundane. This book all but defines good writing and I can't recommend it enough.

76
Saskia
Jan 13, 2012

I just went straight to my public library's website and reserved Started Early, Took my Dog. Thanks for the tip!

77
FlyoverBelle
Jan 13, 2012

Sadly, I have not been able to keep up with my three-books-at-a-time habit that I have had since childhood. Damn job. :P

But I had to comment on the reading-while-brushing-teeth phenomenon: I must read something while I brush my teeth. Have been this way since elementary school. Whether it's a book, magazine, newspaper section, back of the moisturizer bottle - doesn't matter. I have a pretty good record of not dripping toothpaste on the reading material, too. I admit, it's a skill. ;)

Thanks for the extensive reviews, though. I will likely bookmark this and come back to it if I can ever figure out how to fit more reading back into my life.

78
Megan
Jan 13, 2012

I love that you love libraries! Thank you for posting about it here.

79
ScottsdaleGirl
Jan 13, 2012

I am fairly certain I read ROOM on your recommendation, and LOVED IT and recommended it to everyone I know. I also read Bossypants and felt pretty MEH about it.

ok, now off to scroll through the comments for more books!

80
Marcheline
Jan 13, 2012

I haven't read a single book on your list. However. What I did do was write down the ones I thought I would like to read, then I went to Amazon to find out more about them, crossed a few off the list, and now I have a nice little "to read" map to follow through the rest of the winter!

Thanks! 8-)

P.S. I second the chick that suggested you read "A Prayer for Owen Meany". It was good. Also, the "44 Scotland Street" series by Alexander McCall Smith.

81
ScottsdaleGirl
Jan 13, 2012

OH! and for those of you who like Southern Lit, please check out Joshilyn Jackson. http://www.joshilynjackson.com/ftk/
First one is Between, Georgia and i was HOOKED the moment I started reading it. Very easy reads and Joshilyn's blog is a good one to follow as well, she's pretty FUNNY!

82
yours truly, melissa
Jan 13, 2012

I'd have to say that your reading project was a success! I have actually not read any of these books, & based on your review, so many of them are intriguing! I'm joining a book club this year & will bookmark this list as suggestions for our group.

Thanks for sharing.

83
Renee from GA
Jan 13, 2012

We read a lot of the same stuff this year! I LOVE Tana French (though "The Likeness" is still my fave). "Cutting for Stone" is next up for Book Club. Loved "Hunger Games" (especially "Mockingjay") but "Divergent" may have all three beat, it was THAT good. "The Paris Wife" was enjoyable (much more so than the Hemmingway I tried afterwards). Will explore Kate Atkinson, Jonathan Tropper, and Nicole Krauss on your recommendation, thanks!

Isn't the library the best? I kept my old card when I moved and now have not one, but two counties worth of books for my consumption! Easier on the wallet and you don't have to keep buying bookcases.

84
Camels & Chocolate
Jan 13, 2012

My half from last year is a Tropper, too! (Everything Changes.)

Also, I'm with you on just not being able to keep my GoodReads updated. I feel like we have to draw the line somewhere with social media, right?

85
beth
Jan 13, 2012

I love a book list! Thanks! I use librarything.com to track my reading, I like it because it includes the cover art - I'm better at remembering the cover than the title. And it makes suggestions based on your reading habits and a lot of other neat stuff, I love it.
My faves of 2011 were A Discovery of Witches and The People of the Book.

86
Leila
Jan 13, 2012

I'm so glad someone else uses the hold system at their library! I love it so much!

In uni, I was even able to CHOOSE which campus I wanted to pick it up from, which was so convenient, that I am missing words to explain how awesome I thought that as. Most of these books sound super interesting. Thanks for some great recommendations.

Alternatively, I found that in 2011 my reading habits totally changed. From reading books and magazines non-stop, I started reading blogs and updates much more often. So I'm probably still reading the same amount or more, but the content and way it's delivered has changed.

87
Daisy
Jan 14, 2012

I'm a book junkie - I admit it! I'm also a list maker, but these two habits didn't collide until I joined www.bookcrossing.com a few years ago. I had multiple reasons for doing this. I'd read about Bookcrossing several times and kept meaning to join because you can register your books and then give them away (or just leave them on BART or any public place for people to find) and then hopefully people log into the website to say that they found your book (and read it).

My litmus test for books is "Would I read it again?" I somehow acquired a stack of books for whom the answer was, "Not even if you paid me" (I'm a sucker for cheap books at Cost Co that have interesting titles or cover art and it bit me in the ass several times). I kept meaning to sign up for Bookcrossing so I could get rid of some of these books in a fun way.

You can also write reviews of the books you've read on your Bookcrossing account. I've found that with some of the less memorable books, all I really remember is that I read it but not much about the plot or characters. A few times, I checked books out of the library and then realized I'd already read them years earlier, so I thought using the book review space at Bookcrossing would help me keep track of what I'd read.

Bookcrossing also has these things called bookrings where someone says, "Hey, who wants to read this book I have?" and once everyone signs up, the book gets sent to each person to read. It's kind of like a book club but a really long one since there's only one copy of the book. I started a spreadsheet to keep track of which bookrings I'd signed up for and then a light went off: why didn't I already have a spreadsheet of all the books I've read? DUH! I have all these self imposed rules about my list (if I re-read a book, it doesn't count, and if I listen to an audio book that doesn't count either).

To answer your question, the only two books I read on your list were Bossypants and Juliet, Naked. I loved Bossy pants and I liked Juliet, Naked (but didn't love it). I usually love Nick Hornby's books (High Fidelity is one of my all time favorite books) so I'm going to re-read Juliet, Naked at a later date and see if I was just not in the right frame of mine when I originally read it.

You must read Mindy Kaling's new book though - it's hilarious!

88
Marcheline
Jan 14, 2012

Just started reading "This is Where I Leave You".... LOVE IT so far!!!

Also, had to add some other faves:

1. Anything written by Barbara Kingsolver.

2. Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series.

3. "Ferney" by James Long (bring the tissue box)

4. "The Mists of Avalon" by Marion Zimmer Bradley

5. Anything written by Patricia Cornwell.

89
Beth
Jan 14, 2012

As a library administrator, it makes me VERY happy to read how many people are fanatical about their library's hold system. :) I'll be requesting a few of your recommendations. Maybe you could do a review each month of the books you've read? I read about a book a week and love having regular recommendations.

I love Kate Atkinson, and I recommend reading the books in the order in which they were published, since it's kind of a series. The television versions are pretty much completely different, so you can both read the books and watch the 6 episodes (which cover the first 3 books: Case Histories, One Good Turn, and When Will There Be Good News?).

90
edj
Jan 14, 2012

I review books for a website (FREE BOOKS!!! In the mail!!) so I read a ton and a half of books, and yet I didn't read any of the same books as you. And now I'm depressed. :( Cuz yours sound good, some of them anyway. Also it's impossible to keep up with all the good books in the world.
I did just finish Starlite Drive-in and I think you'd like that--well written, coming of age in small midwestern town. I really enjoyed it.
Oh I also love Kate Atkinson and Johnathon Tropper and I have Zeitoun on my wishlist...it's been there for months so I need to do something about it.

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