Last night I sat down to do my annual year-end review of my reading accomplishments, and the first thing that popped into my head was, "Wow, this was kind of a 'blah' year." I didn't read as much as I did the year before, for one thing, and for another, much of what I read didn't really give me much satisfaction. Having made that cheery assessment, here are my picks for my selected categories.
Best Discoveries - In some ways, this was a non-fiction year for me. I read three non-fiction books (well, ok, I'm not finished with one yet), which is more than usual. Two of those nonfiction books - actually, the first book I read during the year and this last one - are what I am considering to be the best books I just "happened onto" this year: The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs , and The Battle for Christmas by Stephen Nissenbaum.
Saddest Disappointment - The Serpent Never Sleeps by Scott O'Dell. I had such high hopes this was going to be great historical fiction, but honestly, it just felt flat to me.
Favorite Classic - One of the high points of my reading year was going back and re-reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. For years, I've been telling myself it's one of my absolute favorites, but I had a sneaking suspicion that maybe I was falling prey to "books were better in the good ol' days when I was a teen" thinking - but, nope. It really is one of my absolute favorites.
Favorite Love Story - That would have to be The Witch of Blackbird Pond, too. I read a couple of other romantic novels (The Chataine's Guardian by Robin Hardy, and Harper's Bride by Alexis Harrington), but neither one really made my heart go flutter.
Favorite Historical Fiction - Same song, third verse. The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Although...the real winner of this category is actually Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson. It's the only book I read all year that I couldn't put down.
Greatest Reading Accomplishment - I finally read The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnon Rawlings! I don't know why I got so bogged down in it. I also feel that making it all the way through Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott was a real show of perseverance (or stubbornness....).
Biggest Failure - Blood Reaction by D.L. Atha. I'm just a scaredy-cat.
Favorite Re-Read - I bet you're thinking The Witch.... nope, this one was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. I kind of skipped around in it some, but I eventually pieced it all together, so I'm counting it.
Once Is Enough (Books I Probably Won't Ever Read Again) - That could be several on this year's list, but the one that would top the list, I guess, is Page from a Tennessee Journal by Francine Thomas Howard.
Books I Thought Would Be Amazing But Were Just So-So - I really enjoyed The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner, so I expected the sequel, The Silver Blade, would also be a good read. It was all right, but just all right.
Books I Thought Wouldn't Be Much But Were Actually Good Stuff - I was pleasantly surprised by two books this year. First, The Year of Living Biblically had more depth than I had expected (I thought it would be a collection of cheap jokes about religion), and secondly, I actually enjoyed The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (although I had to take a HUGE dose of suspension of disbelief with it).
Books I Plan to Read - I didn't read ANY of the books I planned to read in 2011. Total failure. I'm not even making a list this year. I have a box of books I gave myself for Christmas (ha) that I hope I will get to read in the coming year, but who knows? I just hope to have a better year with my reading, both in terms of doing more of it, and in terms of reading more books that will excite and inspire me. I need it.