01 January 2012

2011 Books

I  won't be doing a separate post this year with my book statistics, so I'm just going to put a little summary here at the top. I read 48 books, 4 shy of my goal of 52. Not too bad. The top 10% of books this year are:

  • Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.
  • Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein
  •  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  • Divine Signatures: The Confirming Hand of God by Gerald N. Lund 
  • Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Of the books I read this year 12 were audiobooks. (And of those audiobooks, 7 were finished in December! I really got into audiobooks in the last month or so.) Twenty of the books I read were non-fiction. Also please note that even though the non-fiction books only made up 41.7% of my total reading, they comprised 60% of my "best" list. Clearly I need to read more nonfiction.

1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - Thoroughly enjoyable. I read it in about a day because the writing was so fun and the story so interesting.

2. Squirrel Meets Chipmunk: A Modern Bestiary by David Sedaris* - I loved the concept, but I just couldn't get past the excessive vulgarity. It's too bad, because David Sedaris is definitely my favorite This American Life contributor.

3. Divine Signatures: The Confirming Hand of God by Gerald N. Lund - I expected this book to be a little like Chicken Soup for the Soul, but it wasn't. It taught a lot of valuable principles about God's love for us and how that is manifest in His involvement in our lives.

4. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell - What an interesting read! I couldn't put it down. I can't wait to read more by Gladwell.

5. The Gift of Asher Lev by Chaim Potok - Loved. There will never be enough Potok in my life. Never.

6. Old Men at Midnight by Chaim Potok - This was his last published novel. Also not his best. I liked it, but I wasn't blown away like I normally am.

7. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd - Very enjoyable. I feel like I'm finally in the loop on that one now.

8. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese - Loved the writing. Did not love the characters. (Though the characterization itself was fantastic.)

9. Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt - Good historical fiction.

10. To the Rescue: The Biography of Thomas S. Monson by Heidi S. Swinton - President Monson is awesome. This biography is not.

11. A Lantern In Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich - Historical fiction at its finest.

12. Then Comes Marriage by Mark D. Ogletree and Douglas E. Brinley - A bit Utah-centric, but overall a good, useful book.

13. Hearing the Voice of the Lord by Gerald N. Lund - Excellent.

14. The Peacemaker by James L. Ferrell - Some wonderful scriptural insights in a very cheesy narrative.


15. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer - Don't bother. Terrible writing, immature plot and character development. There are so many better YA fantasies out there.

16. Citizen Soldiers by Stephen Ambrose - A great read all around. A little long but well worth it.

17. The Princess Bride by William Goldman - A true gem. What on earth took me so long to get to this one?

18. 12 Angry Men: True Stories of Being a Black Man in America Today edited by Gregory S. Parks and Matthew W. Hughey - A nice thing about a book of essays is that if you don't like one author, you get to the next one quickly. This book is all about unjust racially profiling, egotistical cops and black men in America. A short read and quite eye-opening.

19. Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein - I just loved this book. It made me ask a lot of questions and think more deeply about the values and expectations we place upon our daughters.

20. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead - I just enjoyed this book so much!

21. Holes by Louis Sachar - I loved this the first time I read it (about 11 years ago), but I would say I didn't love it as much this time. Still a great book, just not as much love for it as there once was.

22. The Book of Lights by Chaim Potok - Something about this book really resonated with me, but I'm unable to pinpoint what it was.

23. At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson* - Interesting and enjoyable, although a little long.

24. A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick - I can't decide whether I liked this one or not. I think I liked it, but I wouldn't recommend it to most.

25. Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta - It took me a while to get into this one, but once I did I really liked it.

26. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank - Something everyone should read, but not one that I necessarily need to read again.

27. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte* - You just have to love this one.

28. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead - I read it again - this time with Eric on a road trip.

29. My Life With Goya by Andrew Potok - Ugh. I grabbed it thinking it was Chaim Potok, and it most certainly wasn't. I should have quit early on.

30. The Last Speakers: The Quest to Save the World's Most Endangered Languages by K. David Harrison - Fairly interesting, but a little repetitive. I don't know that I completely buy into the idea that all languages need to be saved, but he does make some compelling arguments.

31. Anthem by Ayn Rand - Meh. It's the first I've read by her. Didn't love it. Didn't hate it. Definitely don't agree with it.
32. Enna Burning by Shannon Hale* - I liked it even better than The Goose Girl.

33. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou* - I am surprised that some of my peers read this in middle school. Not only is it not appropriate for kids in middle school, the beauty of the writing cannot be appreciated by thirteen-year-olds.

34. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain - Good, not great.

35. The Silent Boy by Lois Lowry - I really enjoyed the tone of this book. I liked how the child narrator could describe everything going on, even though she often didn't understand the significance of it.

36. NutureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman* - Such an interesting book.

37. Gossamer by Lois Lowry - Meh. Not my favorite of hers.

38. Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society - Is it wrong if I'd like a more academic history and less of a feel-good history? I liked it, but I could always use more facts.

39. A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver by E.L. Konigsburg -  I didn't think the English and French royal families of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries could ever be so interesting.

40. The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine - I expected better. I really liked Ella Enchanted, and this was fairly blah compared to that one. 

41. Fairest by Gail Carson Levine - This one did a much better job of living up to the expectations set with Ella Enchanted. I enjoyed it. 

42. A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah* - This was such a hard book to listen to. It's sad in nearly every possible way.  

43. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand* - This book was just all-around awesome. I will have to get my hands on a hard copy so I can read it with my eyes instead of my ears. 

44. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck* -  This was the second time I read this book. The first time I was a freshman in high school. I didn't pick up on all the foreshadowing and symbolism the first time. I know a lot of people find Steinbeck depressing, but I love him.

45. I Am a Mother by Jane Clayson Johnson - Meh. This book was basically a book of quotes meant to make you feel good about being a mother or about not being a mother. It just didn't resonate with me. 

46. Rabbit-Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington* - Interesting story, but not a very interesting read. I would have liked to have heard more political insight into the removal of Aboriginal children from their homes. This was an audiobook, and I really could have used a map. 

47. Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University: 91 Days to Beat Debt and Build Wealth by Dave Ramsey* - This is technically a lecture series, but I'm counting it as a book. We skipped the parts that weren't really pertinent to us. This series is really motivating!

48. If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won't) by Betty White* - Meh. I thought it would be more about her history, and it was more about her life at the time of writing the book. It was a series of little vignettes. Just not that great.

*I listened to an audiobook.


Janssen said...

I hate books of quotes. I sometimes think this makes me different from 99% of women I know.

Jenn said...

I feel the same way about Daughters in My Kingdom. I was really excited about the idea of the book...but it just felt like something was missing. I wish there were more details and it was left up to the reader to feel inspired by those facts.

Unbroken was my favorite book of the year, too.

trishtator said...

I haven't read the Monson biography, but I always find it refreshing when people admit that LDS writing is sometimes lacking. I'll have to check it out now, just because I'm curious. (Is it weird that I'd prefer to read someone's biography after they've passed away?)

I still need to try Ayn Rand...I must be missing some piece of American literary context by never reading anything of hers.

Also, I need to check me out some more Potok. Seriously.

Sherry, I wish every blog post were the end of the year. Just because I heart your end-of-year reviews.