Monday, January 23, 2012

2011: My Year in Books

So this year, I definitely topped last year's list of things I read. I can give a lot of credit to the classes I took this past semester-- Adult Reading Interests, Youth Lit, and Storytelling. Boy, did I cover a lot of material there.

Here's the list of books I read. Again, I didn't include any picture books here, or books I only scanned through or used for bits and pieces. Sorry cookbooks, but you didn't make the cut!

Stats: 66 books actually read, of that: 12 audio books, 20 juvenile (fiction and non-fiction chapter books), 15 young adult fiction, 7 adult nonfiction, and 8 graphic novels. I've noted audiobooks with a star, and written "Graphic novel" next to the graphic novels.

1.     The 13 Clocks - James Thurber
o    A perfectly quirky and wonderfully wordy story. The way Thurber plays with words makes this a book that you really have to read aloud to appreciate. 
2.     The Icing on the Cupcake - Jennifer Ross
o    A Southern snot moves to NYC and opens a bakery. It's a fun, airy read, and it contains some really fun recipes for cupcakes throughout that will make you want to start baking.
3.     A Dog's Purpose - W. Bruce Cameron
o    After reading The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein at the end of last year, I guess I got into books from a dog's point of view. This one didn't disappoint. Incredibly moving, funny, and gives a great look into the meaning of life, I think this one touched me even more than the former.
4.     * The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman
o    Wow. My first Neil Gaiman book. Think Jungle Book, but raised by ghosts instead of animals, and you'll get this beautifully told story. Also, definitely listen to the audiobook, read by Neil Gaiman. His voice is MAGICAL! See longer review here .
5.     *What the Dog Saw and Other Stories - Malcolm Gladwell
o    Great book of Gladwell's previously published articles covering a variety of topics. Truth be told, I only read a couple of them, but it was a great snippet into a few different subjects!
6.     My Name is Memory - Ann Brashares
o    I did a review of this for Virginia Libraries, a VLA publication -- you can see the full thing linked here from a previous post!
7.     Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen
o    Absolutely beautifully written story about a period and subject that often get passed over -- the circus in the Depression. The movie actually did the book justice-- but definitely don't miss this read. 
8.     The Help - Kathryn Stockett
o    Again, historical fiction that really blew me away. I didn't expect to like this by the description, but it was so popular, and my mom was so insistent, I gave in. And then I couldn't put it down.
9.     The Happiness Project - Gretchen Rubin
o    This book really changed my perspective, and in combination with Eat, Pray, Love, I think I gained a sense of the happiness balance. Rubin's a little neurotic, but looks into the everyday ways to improve happiness, and the organization of this actually inspired my own resolutions and goals list. Even if you don't read the whole thing, it's definitely worth a perusal.
o    While Rubin looks into the everyday way to improve her happiness, Gilbert searches for happiness in finding balance in her life, which for her takes her to Rome, India, and Bali. She's got her issues, but in that endearing way that makes us empathize with her, recognizing ourselves in her.
1       10.   *The City of Ember - Jeanne DuPrau
o    Dystopian young adult fiction that is sure to make you think. Read a longer review here or watch the book trailer!
11.   *Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson
o    A book that is constantly on the banned book list, is a great book on a sensitive issue for all teens. But it's also a plain good story. See the Banned Book post here for more on censorship and banned books.
1       12.  The Peach Keeper - Sarah Addison Allen 
o    Always read Sarah Addison Allen's book, always.
13.   Anansi Boys  - Neil Gaiman
o     Quirky and interesting. Don’t need to read American Gods before it.
14.   Brain Rules - John Medina
o    Why you think the way you do. 
15.   Esio Trot - Roald Dahl
o    =Tortoise spelled backwards! Not the best of Dahl's work, that's why I picked up...
16.   Matilda - Roald Dahl
o    Interesting to compare this to when I read it over and over again as a kid.
17.   Dunderheads - Paul Fleischman
o    So much fun, and such a great short book. About kids getting back at a bully teacher. Great for reluctant readers.
18.   The Last Summer of You and Me - Ann Brashares 
o    Perfect beach read -- if you like her other stuff, you'll like this. 
19.   Catwings - Ursula LeGuin
o    Fast little books about cats with wings. Great for reluctant readers.
20.   Stuart's Cape - Sarah Pennypacker
o    Another shorty.
21.   *Committed - Elizabeth Gilbert
o    I really enjoyed Gilbert’s study of marriage so shortly after getting married myself. I would have liked it anyway. I think anyone curious about commitment should read it. Food for thought.
22.   Uglies - Scott Westerfeld
o    Great dystopian book—watch the book trailer here
23.   A Gentleman by Any Other Name - Kasey Michaels (1/2)
o    I couldn’t finish this. I like a good smut, sorry, romance novel, now and again, but this was just not my cup of tea.
24.   The Borrower - Rebecca Makkai
o    I thought I would love this book about a librarian who gets blackmailed into stealing a kid… but it was a little out there. The literary references were wonderful for those well-read. I’d still recommend it probably.
25.   How to Train Your Dragon - Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III 
o    Silly, with fun drawings and funny Viking names that lots of kids will like, but boys especially.
26.   Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood - Ann Brashares
o    I picked this up just before the latest book of the series – see the next entry. I am really glad I did since it really refreshed my memory. These books are so good for girls who love tight knit groups of friends.
27.   Sisterhood Everlasting - Ann Brashares
o    This pulled on my heartstrings right and left. Bring tissues. You’ll like this if you’ve read the rest of the series and have moved along the same ages as these girls.
28. *Musicophilia - Oliver Sacks (1/2)
o    I liked it, but only decided to listen to the first few chapters before I put it away for a while.
29. The Romantics - Peter Brandvold
o    This is the first Western I’ve ever read, and let me tell you, it had me GLUED. There’s everything in it—love, adventure, gold, bandits, heroes, crazy weirdo bad guys, and ferocious Indians. I don’t know why these types of stories aren’t more popular, honestly.
30. Winnie-the-Pooh - A.A. Milne
o    I would love to see a kid’s reaction to Milne’s words. Not the Disneyed version, but this one. Because I feel the words might go right over a kid’s head. I thought I would fall in love with Pooh and friends all over again, but I was a little disappointed.
31. Many Moons - James Thurber
o    Gorgeous and kooky story, and perfect for kids. I highly recommend James Thurber to everyone. He’s underrated, and wonderful.
32. Looking for Alaska - John Green
o    I loved this. I think this should be the Catcher in the Rye of this generation. It’s so much more relatable, beautifully written, and John Green captures what it is to be a teen in such an exact way. Read a longer review here.
33. *The Dreamer - Pam Munoz Ryan
o    Story of Pablo Neruda growing up in Chile. Munoz Ryan is a wonderful storyteller. Read a full review here.
34. A Knight in Shining Armor - Jude Devereaux
              I've read this before, but this historical romance novel didn't disappoint me a        second time around.  
35. Grave Sight - Charlaine Harris
o    My first real mystery, I think. About a woman who can sense dead bodies and see how they died through the eyes of the person. I loved it until the very end, where it all gets a little contrived and ties together a little too neatly for me. I would probably read the next in the series though, and I’ve seen that there’s a graphic novel of it as well, which I would love to check out.
36. The Fisherman's Lady - George McDonald
o    MacDonald actually influenced both C.S. Lewis AND J.R.R. Tolkien. I assumed this meant I would like this story, but I think I should have picked up one of his children’s stories instead… not relatable for me.
37. Remember: The School Journey to Integration - Toni Morrison
o    A great photo-scrapbook of the integration of schools and what it was like for the brave children who had to face so much hostility just to go to the same schools as white kids.
38.  Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom - by Carole Boston Weatherford
o    Beautiful illustrations, and a wonderful story.
39.  Jazz - Walter Dean Myers
o    Myers does a great job of showing the origins of jazz, and the illustrations are so vibrant, the music jumps off the pages.
40. *Like Water for Chocolate - Laura Esquivel  (part audio, part read)
o    I LOVED this. It incorporates food, magical realism, and an incredible love story all in one.
41. Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little - Peggy Gifford
o    A great book for beginning readers and girls who are procrastinators (where was this when I was little?). Read more here.
42. Feed - M.T. Anderson
o    Dystopian young adult novel about a world where computer chips are in your brain. See the book trailer here.
43. Fables Vol. 1: Legends in Exile - Bill Willingham (graphic novel)
o    I think this is one of the first graphic novels I’ve ever read. A really fun way to incorporate fairy tales into an adult themed story—where characters from fairy tales and fables are exiled to a place in NYC and have to get along in close quarters.
44. *Savvy - Ingrid Law
o    One of the best children’s books I read for this semester’s class, in my opinion. Read full review here.
45. Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief - Wendelin Van Draanen
o    I enjoyed this children’s mystery a lot better than the adult one I read (Grave Sight). See the full review here.
46. *The Case of the Left Handed Lady (An Enola Holmes Mystery) – Nancy Springer
o    I really enjoyed this mystery too—featuring Enola Holmes, Sherlock’s little sister. Read the full review here.
47.  Phantoms - Dean Koontz
o    I’m not usually into horror books, but this was definitely creepy. About a winter town that is being plagued by a giant amorphous creature. I can’t even describe it more than that without giving it away. Koontz is great at building up suspense and building a good case for his supernatural demons.
48.  The 13th Hour - Richard Doetsch
o    The first thriller I’ve read, and let me tell you, I was HOOKED. I could not put this time-travel mystery thriller down.
49.  Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life, Vol. 1 - Bryan Lee O'Malley (graphic novel)   
o    If you liked the movie (which I saw first), you’ll definitely like this first installment of Scott Pilgrim’s life.
50.  Queen of Kings - Maria Dahvana Headley
o    I read this for “historical fiction” week, but it’s definitely a mutated version of a historical fiction. Cleopatra calls up the Egyptian goddess of destruction Sehkmet to save herself and Antony from death, but finds that the goddess has her own agenda. Unlike a lot of supernatural books, this one is of literary quality, with beautiful passages, and full descriptions. Cleopatra’s complex character and Sehkmet’s unpredictability drive this plot, and I almost entertained the idea that this history could be true.
51.  V for Vendetta - Alan Moore (graphic novel)
             Intense! Alan Moore is a little hard to follow, but he's definitely worth trying.
52.   Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi (graphic novel)
o    I never knew you could make a book about growing up in Iran during times of turmoil could be funny and poignant, and remind me so much of growing up here, but Satrapi does just that with few words and pictures. Incredible!
53.   Al Capone Does My Shirts - Gennifer Choldenko
o    Finally! A book about the time of Al Capone for young adults! I feel like this time in history isn’t capitalized on enough. Read for a longer review here.
54.   Ghost World - Daniel Clowes (graphic novel) 
o    I like the concept of this book, but the movie carries out the story much better. I don’t normally say that, so you can take my word for it.
55.   300 - Frank Miller (graphic novel)
o    I saw the movie first, but I couldn’t believe how well the movie incorporated the art of this graphic novel in it. It really glorifies the story, almost in a Herodotian kind of way that made me wistful for Prof. Chesley’s classes again.
56. The Walking Dead Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye - Robert Kirkman (graphic novel)
o    The graphic novels are much different than the show! I was definitely surprised by the ending of this one, having already seen the show.
57. Bury the Dead - Christopher Sloan
o    I love this book—a National Geographic book about different burial practices through time and across the world. See a longer review here.
58. Jumper: Griffin's Story - Steven Gould
o    For my science fiction week, I went with this. I thought I was picking up the original Jumper, but I picked up an off-shoot story. This was pretty well-written, but after I finished, I realized I still had a lot of questions that Gould casually neglected to mention. Like, how does your main character have the ability to transport himself from one place in the world to another?
59. Beastly - Alex Flinn
o    A young adult take on Beauty and the Beast. Actually, it is pretty well done, and although the movie doesn’t make him a hairy beast like the book does, it was fun to watch too. Nothing heavy, as you might expect, and the characters are none too deep, but then, that’s not too different from the original either.
60. Rapunzel's Revenge - Shannon and Dean Hale (graphic novel)
o    WOW! Talk about a cool take on a fairy tale. I love Punzie in this story! She really kicks butt. If I grew my hair out, could it be a lasso too? I wonder what kind of shampoo she uses… See a longer review here.
61. It's All Greek to Me - Jon Scieszka
o    Quick read! In this episode, the Time Warp Trio goes back to when the Olympic Gods ruled supreme. This would be great for boys who want an easy short story with some kooky adventures.
62. Forever... - Judy Blume
o    An often-censored book about a young couple’s intimacy. Read a full review here.
63.  Half Past Dawn - Richard Doetsch
o    I picked this up shortly after my addiction to Doetsch’s The 13th Hour, but was disappointed, but also confused. If anyone reads this and wants to talk about the ending(s), I would be ecstatic.
64.   Girl in the Arena - Lise Haines
o    A dystopian book set in the present where gladiatorial games are as big as the NFL is now. How would I not pick up this book? If you like The Hunger Games and are looking for a book to hold you over until the Hunger Games movie comes out in April, this might do it for a day or two.
65.   *The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks - E. Lockhart 
o    Finally! A book where a girl goes off to a prep school and is the troublemaker.
66.  *Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater
o    Stiefvater does a good job with this series about a girl who falls in love with a werewolf. There’s no love triangle in this one, which makes the characters more interesting than a certain vampire series.

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