Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 - Not a Stellar Year, Actually

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.


Mary Obrink Schaffer said...

Have you seen "Smoke Signals" by Alexie? You should watch it with Roger and Lily. One of my favs.

Ephemera said...

Loved the review! Looking forward to following your reading list for 2012!