Monday, January 17, 2011

2010: My year in books

This past year I found that I checked out 533 titles (books, magazines, DVDs, audiobooks, CDs, etc) from the library. This number will probably be significantly different for 2011 since I won't be checking out so many kids' books now that I'm no longer babysitting Milo, but it's still pretty hefty.  The books that I'm considering myself to have "read" are books or audiobooks that I've read through.  This doesn't count for how-tos or books that I only use pieces of, and are mostly novels or non-fiction books that can read like novels (let's face it, I don't typically read non-fiction all the way through.) The following list also doesn't include children's picture books.

Stats: 35 books actually read, of that: 16 audiobooks, 12 juvenile fiction, 9 young adult fiction, 2 non-fiction (haha); audiobooks are *ed

1.  Open House - Elizabeth Berg -- She's an awesome writer, but I found this story a little dry.

2. The Food of Love - Anthony Capella -- I fell in love with this book, and led me into the world of food-related stories. :)

3.  The Penny Pincher's Club - Sarah Strohmeyer -- Easy read, but well-written.

4.  Ransom of Red Chief - O. Henry -- A short story really, but absolutely funny.

*5. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (This is actually the first audiobook I checked out to really listen to novels, and I found that listening to Jane Austen is much more enjoyable than reading her from the typed page.)

6. The Girl Who Chased the Moon - Sarah Addison Allen -- I love every book she's ever written. They all have magical realism in them, but they are... delicious and irresistible.

*7. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde - BBC version of the audiobook was wonderfully narrated and intense to listen to!

*8. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak- I'm glad I got the audiobook because I got to hear how the German words were pronounced. Zusak is awesome, and this story rules.

*9.  Look Me in the Eye - John Elder Robison - Robison is the brother of author Augusten Burroughs (Running with Scissors), and tells his life as a guy with Asperger's before it was diagnosed. Really funny at times.

10.  The BFG - Roald Dahl - Rereading one of my childhood favorites, and it didn't disappoint.

11. Coyote Blue - Christopher Moore - So funny and sometimes raunchy, so I'll bet even guys who don't think they like to read would enjoy it.

12. The Giver - Lois Lowry - A children/young adult classic that I hadn't read, and I'm so glad I did. It took me a few hours to read, and the story line is SO original and incredible.

13. The Thief Lord - Cornelia Funke - Funke is an incredible author, and this book has a little bit of everything. Loved it.

*14. The Lightning Thief - Rick Riordan - I wasn't as thrilled with this as I thought I would be (I mean, come on, it's about Greek mythology coming to life... ). It could have been that I didn't like the narrator of the audiobook, but it all seemed a little too... simplistic.

*15. My Stroke of Insight - Jill Bolte Taylor - I could NOT stop talking about this when I was reading it. Taylor was a neuroscientist who had a stroke and then recovered enough to be able to write a book about her experience. Such a good read.

16. Sundays at Tiffany's - James Patterson - I decided to see what the fuss was about James Patterson, and I've decided that he's immensely overrated.  This had such a good plot line, but it was ruined by cheesy writing, and a sappy ending.

*17.  Animal Farm - George Orwell - Another classic that I never had to read in high school, so I decided to check it out since it's super short. Definitely worth your time.

*18. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis - I can't believe I never read this, and I'm really glad I did. The narrators of the series are really good as well.

19. Midnight for Charlie Bone - Jenny Nimmo - The first of the Children of the Red King series, this is like a less intensive Harry Potter, and although has a lot similarities, remains distinctive and fun to read.

*20. Prince Caspian - C.S. Lewis - I had to see where the next story would take me.

21. Going in Circles - Pamela Ribon - When I read her first book, Why Girls Are Weird, I fell in LOVE with her. Ribon is hilarious. So when I picked up this book about girls and roller derby... such a fun book to read.

*22. Charlie Bone and the Time Twister - Jenny Nimmo - These books don't build on each other necessarily, which is kinda nice. I guess it helps to know who each character is though.

*23. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling - I needed to reread it before I watched the movie. I'm not one of those people who has to reread every Harry Potter book before I see the movie, but since I had almost NO memory of the story, I figure I had better catch up.

24. The Juliet Club - Suzanne Harper - A young adult book that for me was pretty weak. The characters were lame and the story contrived. Not a fan.

25. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake - Aimee Bender - The concept of the story sounded good, but it's darker than you'd expect, and gets a little weird at the end. Still pretty good though.

*26. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling - I realized that my memory was also bad on this book even though I remembered loving it. What to do? Audiobook it!

*27. Number the Stars - Lois Lowry - This handled the subject of the Holocaust well for the age group it's meant for. I've read a lot of books about the Holocaust, and this didn't stand out terribly in my mind but it won the Newbery Medal.

28. Will Grayson, Will Grayson - John Green and David Levithan - This was a really funny book about boys and relationships and being a gay teen in high school. Can I just have a friend like Tiny? He rocks.

*29. I, Coriander - Sally Gardner - I started out listening to this on audiobooks, but eventually had to get the book because I couldn't stop thinking about it when I wasn't in my car. Absolutely wonderful-- the world she creates is perfect and beautiful. This story has everything.

30. By the Time You Read This I'll Be Dead - Julie Anne Peters - Dark but honest look at a suicidal high schooler. I really enjoyed this and think it's something a lot of adults dealing with teenagers should read.

*31. Lady Windemere's Fan - Oscar Wilde - After watching the Importance of Being Earnest and listening to the Picture of Dorian Gray, I decided to get another Oscar Wilde piece. He's funny and is so quotable it's ridiculous.

32. 13 Little Blue Envelopes - Maureen Johnson - Great story line, but weak characters. A little disappointing.

*33. Inkheart - Cornelia Funke - Picked this up after reading the Thief Lord, and love it. Such an incredible author!

34.  The Mermaid Chair - Sue Monk Kidd - Not as good as the Secret Life of Bees, but the characters are well drawn and story well laid out.

35. The Art of Racing in the Rain - Garth Stein - I loved this book! Told from the dog's point of view, it's original and fresh, and each character is very real and deep. I loved this and recommend it to everyone.

So there it is-- and I'm going to top it next year. I'm not thinking that will be too hard, but then again I wasn't in school most of last year. Time will tell!  Comment if you have anything to say about any of these books, I'd love to hear it.

2011: A Year for Really Keeping Resolutions

Part I: 2011 Resolutions

 It's that time of year again, and I'm making some resolutions. I don't usually make resolutions, usually because I'm pretty terrible at sticking to them. Once too often I've found that I'll make my resolution list on a tiny scrappy piece of paper which screams "I'm not committed to keeping these!" It's easily thrown away or squirreled away into a tiny corner of my desk, which I only find the following January when I'm cleaning out my house to start the year "fresh." The fresh feeling I get is instead a wave of guilt about how bad I am at keeping resolutions.

This is why I stopped making resolutions. However! I've found my resolution solution... at least I think. I've prettified my list of resolutions, ones that I can actually commit to. Ones that I can actually keep. No, I'm not trying to lose weight, exercise more, or eat less. Nope. Those kinds of resolutions aren't in the stars for me.

So here's the list. I've just finalized these-- so don't fault me for failing yet. I've written these in pretty and colorful letters on a distinctive and handsome piece of paper and posted the list permanently to my corkboard. I've gone so far as to break out the calligraphy pen so it doesn't just look like any ordinary list. And it's in BIG letters so that I actually have to look at it every day.  On the side, I've made a monthly list to help me stay on track with the bigger resolutions. I think it's going to work!

Are you dying to know what they are? Get ready to not be very excited!

1.  Write in your blog bi-weekly. This most directly affects you, dear readers. It will be challenging while I'm in school, but I think I can do it.
2.  Become more involved in the VLA and ALA (nerdy library associations that you wish you were a part of).
 3.  Re-learn Spanish. I'm not sure where I'm going after this
4. Keep to a monthly budget.  Not that I'm very frivolous with money, but since I'd like to have more fun with my money (like travel) than I currently get to, I'm going to see how far I can stretch my dollars by watching what I spend in general.
5.   Average getting $700 in scholarships for grad school per semester. This will take a lot of work, but if there is free money out there for poor librarians trying to get their MLIS, I'll be trying to find it.
6.  Read more books than last year? See the next post for more info. This shouldn't be hard, I just have to one-up myself.