Reading the old year out…

31st December 2011

And I must say, I’m not at all sad to see the back end of 2011. It was a very tumultuous year, and I am very happy to be ringing in a new year this evening with a mini-readathon cooked up by two other bloggers (Becky and Tasha) and myself. There will be champagne, so in the infinite wisdom and singing voice of Bing Crosby, let’s start the new year right.

But. Before we get to that, I wanted to do a year end post. As of midnight on December 30, I have read 121 books. Of these, 46 were written by men and 75 written by women (wow!); 109 fiction and 12 nonfiction. This year I read 9 audiobooks, and considering I read none last year, that’s quite a jump. Also, just so you can see my habits, 42 of these books came from the publisher/author/publicist, but I bought 52 and checked out 26 from the library, a pretty decent statistic. Now down to brass tacks….

Least favorite books of the year: Let’s just get this one out of the way. I only really disliked two books this year, and if you’ve been around for a bit, you can probably guess the first one: The Magicians by Lev Grossman. The other I just finished this morning: Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me by Ian Morgan Cron. I’ll put up a review next week with details. Suffice it to say, memoirs are tricky.

Best New-to-Me Series: Well, obviously I love the Patricia Wentworth Miss Silver books, but seeing as they were written in the last century, I won’t call them new. If you’re looking for a vintage mystery, give these a go. Also consider joining me for Miss Silver Saturdays through 2012.

Best New Series: I just finished Discovery of Witches and am pretty much in love with it. I can’t wait for the next one. Many compare it to Twilight, but for me, it was much more reminiscent of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I loved it!

Funniest Book: Hands down, Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman. In fact, this is a book that I plan to re-read soon, I liked it that much. Definitely keep an eye out for debut author Matt Norman.

Best Dark Comedy: Funny Man by John Warner. I’m really surprised this book hasn’t gotten more attention, as I think it’s pretty genius in a lot of ways. I’m really eager to see what else Warner writes.

Book that Made Me Think Rainbow Rowell stole my life and wrote about it: Attachments. Runner up for funniest book of the year, it was just so perfectly me. Sadly, many other bloggers have said the same thing, so obviously I ain’t anything special. Distinctive? Pshaw.

Book That Seriously Creeped Me Out and Blew My Mind: The Magus by John Fowles. Review next week, and boy howdy, what a book. Thanks so much to Sean at Read Heavily for the gift.

Best Middle Grade Book: Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier. Absolute fun and super smart. Reminds me of books written when I was young.

Book that Made Me Cry: Thankfully there were only two of these this year (one sparked this post about crying in reading). The other is A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead. This is nonfiction and about the women of the French Resistance. It’s incredibly moving to see just how much the human spirit can endure.

Most Beautiful Book: The Paper Garden by Molly Peacock. This is physically just a beautiful, beautiful specimen of a book. The cover art, the inside art, the paper. It’s technically the biography of a woman artist, but it’s so much more than that.

Biggest Surprise: Ian Fleming’s Bond series. Yes, he can be a misogynistic, slightly-racist ass, but damn, these books are good. If you think you know Bond from the films, think again and join Lit Housewife’s Shaken Not Stirred challenge. You won’t be disappointed.

~and last but not least~

Best Book of 2011: Galore by Michael Crummey. I read this book in April, but it will not leave me. The story is timeless, the writing superb. If you haven’t read it, make sure you add it to your list for the new year. I compare it to East of Eden by Steinbeck and House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende. One of my favorite passages from the book is below:

~Watching Judah emerge from the whale’s guts, King-me felt the widow was birthing everything he despised in the country, laying it out before him like a taunt. Irish nor English, Jerseyman nor bushborn nor savage, not Roman or Episcopalian or apostate, Judah was the wilderness on two legs, mute and unknowable, a blankness that could drown a man.

So that’s my list. I wish you all the best in 2012 and hope to see you back here. Thank you all for reading, commenting, emailing, etc. I so enjoy your company.

And on that note, what was your favorite book this year?

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t read The Magicians, but I listened to The Magician King on audio. If it hadn’t been on audio, I would have skimmed through it. It was sooo cynical. I heard it’s actually considerably less cynical than The Magicians, so… not reading that one!

    I think my favorite read of the year was Killer Stuff and Tons of Money, which is super-strange because it’s non-fiction, and I don’t usually feel anything about non-fiction books one way or the other.

    • Did you review that? Because I added it to my list and wasn’t sure where it came from. I used Yo write down where recs came from but totally can’t keep track these days. Also impressive that it’s your favorite.

      • Anonymous

        Yes, I reviewed it for TLC Booktours. There were a lot of reviews, though, so it could have been anyone! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Thanks for the list – I haven’t read Galore so definitely adding it to the list of books to be read! And here I was thinking I was the only one in the world that didn’t get into The Magicians (& The Magician King)!

    • No, no. You’re NOT the only one. And neither was I. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Yes – definitely try Galore. It’s really fantastic. Happy New Year!

  • I’ve only participated with one audiobook/movie in the Shaken Not Stirred Challenge, but I’d have to agree. That was a nice surprise for me as well…I’m trying my best to ignore your “best new to you'” series. I really don’t need another series. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact, it’s the only challenge I’ve ever stuck to (not that I’ve tried all that many).

      And don’t ignore me! Ha!

  • Debbie Rodgers

    I agree that Galore was fabulous! Michael Crummey has never disappointed me.

    • That’s good to know. I definitely need to hunt down his other work. So glad you enjoyed that one as much as I did!

  • Yvette

    I enjoyed reading your list, Picky. Yes THE PAPER GARDEN is a gorgeous book. I only wish the writing were as entrancing. But I’m muddling through.

    My two big disappointments this year were DEATH COMES TO PEMBERLEY by P.D. James and WICKED AUTUMN by G.M. Malliet.
    BIG disappointments.

    Wanted to let you know that I got my hands on THE BENEVENT TREASURE by Patricia Wentworth – thanks to you. I’ve joined a Vintage Reading Challenge, so that’s it Challenge-Wise for now.

    • I’m SO glad you picked up The Benevent Treasure. I can’t wait to see your thoughts on Mrs. P. Wentworth. ๐Ÿ™‚