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2011: The Year in Books

2011 is coming to a close, and I must say that it was a very successful year for reading and for this blog. My first blog post on Between the Covers was posted on January 11, 2011. Before January of this year, I didn’t know that there was such a large book blogging community, and I can’t remember how I discovered it to begin with. I stumbled upon a book blog at some point and I thought, ‘Hey! I could be doing this, too!’ Since then, I have met so many wonderful people in the book blogging community, I have made quite a few new friends, and I am thankful  to be a part of something that I care so much about. Thank you to all of you who read Between the Covers every day, thank you to those who take the time to comment on the things I write, and thank you to those bloggers who have helped me along the way and given me such great advice. I appreciate all of you. A special thanks goes out to romance author–and friend–Samantha Hunter for helping me get Between the Covers off the ground and for helping me get the hang of writing reviews and being a blogger.

Here’s a breakdown of what I read in 2011, and what I thought about some of the books on the list (the full list can be seen on Goodreads):

Total books read:  61

Total pages read:  approx. 23,000

Number of books written by men:  36

Number of books written by women:  25

Number of books read that were published in 2011:  13  (I will be forever behind.)

Fiction:  37

Nonfiction: 17

Other (poetry, essays, studies, etc.): 7

The book I enjoyed the most:  Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace

Infinite Jest

I chose this book as my favorite of 2011 for many reasons. Out of the six books listed that I enjoyed the most this year, Infinite Jest takes the top slot, but not necessarily because the plot/substance is better than my other favorites. What made this book stand out to me was the process of reading it… the experience. I have never been so much a part of something I’m reading and I’ve never put so much work into reading a book than I did with Infinite Jest. The rewards I received by putting so much time and effort into this book were worth every single minute of work. Outstanding. (This book also led to my new literary crush on its author. *swoon*)

Also:

The book I disliked the most:  Cloyne Court, by Dodie Katague

I just…don’t really have anything more to say about it than I already said in my review. Very disappointing.

Books that I recommended the most in 2011:

Book that I loved that I didn’t review:  The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

While thinking about the books that I most recommended to others this year, I realized that I never reviewed The Book Thief… and I have no idea why. I absolutely loved it. This is also the book that made me cry the hardest this year. The Book Thief was so well written and beautifully sad and really fantastic.

Best book read that was out of my comfort zone:  The Crimson Petal and the White, by Michel Faber

The Crimson Petal and the WhiteI really have Michelle of The True Book Addict to thank for taking me out of my reading comfort zone more than a few times this year. Michelle is a huge fan of historical fiction, which is a genre that–until this year–I was not a huge fan of at all. I don’t know why I didn’t get into it before (misconceptions, bad previous experiences maybe), but I have read a few good historical fiction books this year because of Michelle and her Twitter book discussion (#TuesBookTalk). The Crimson Petal and the White was one of the books we read this year for our Tuesday night discussion, and it was really good. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Thank you, Michelle! (I also really enjoyed What Alice Knew, by Paula Marantz Cohen.)

Books that made me cry:

I am an empath, maybe sometimes to a fault (is that possible, though?). I get very wrapped up in what I’m reading–if I’m enjoying it–and I become very connected to the characters and their problems. This also happens when I watch movies. And read/watch the news. I truly do not like to see/read about others in pain. The following books made me break out the tissues:

  • The Gift, by Cecelia Ahern
  • The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace
  • The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
  • The Autobiography of an Execution, by David R. Dow
  • The World According to Garp, by John Irving
  • The Gunslinger, by Stephen King (second time I’ve read it, still cried)
  • The Days of Henry Thoreau, by Walter Harding (yes, I cried over a biography)

Books that made me laugh:

I love to laugh. LOVE IT. It is one of my favorite things to do. Laughing feels so good. Here are the books that made me laugh out loud (literally GUFFAW). You’ll notice that some of them overlap with the books that made me cry. To those authors I say, “Well done! You rock.”

  • The World According to GarpThe Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace
  • The World According to Garp, by John Irving
  • The Days of Henry Thoreau, by Walter Harding
  • Right Ho, Jeeves, by P.G. Wodehouse (until he dropped the n-bomb…then I stopped laughing)
  • What Alice Knew, by Paula Marantz Cohen
  • The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood (re-read, still made me laugh)
  • The Crimson Petal and the White, by Michel Faber (which also may have made me shed some tears, I can’t remember)
  • An American Childhood, by Annie Dillard
  • While Mortals Sleep, by Kurt Vonnegut

So there’s a look into what I read this year and the books that stood out the most for different reasons. I ended up reading about thirty fewer books than I read in 2010, but that’s because I took the time to think about what I had read (and to blog about it). I have to admit that I got much more out of my reading this year than I did in 2010, and I have had so much fun interacting with so many different people about the books we read. I am looking forward to more bookish fun in 2012.

As far as goals for 2012, my main goal is to read (and to get my TBR pile down to something more manageable). I will fail at having a smaller TBR pile. Hahaha! I have joined four reading challenges for next year–this will be a new experience for me–and you can see which challenges I’ve joined and the list of the books I’m hoping to read for each one by clicking HERE. (I do believe I’m joining a fifth reading challenge before today is over, but it fits well with the other challenges and doesn’t require me to add anything to my already long list of books.)

I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. To those of you who maybe aren’t looking at such a bright start to the new year, I send you virtual hugs and positive thoughts. If you are going out tonight, have fun… but please be safe, and don’t drink and drive.

See you next year!

(*grooooooooan*)

{ 13 comments… add one }

  • Blue88journal January 1, 2012, 7:08 am

    I just purchased Infinite Jest…I can’t wait!
    Great post!

    • Heather January 1, 2012, 9:38 am

      Awesome! I can’t wait to hear what you think.

  • themisanthropologist January 1, 2012, 9:32 am

    Congratulations on your reading accomplishments in 2011. Wow, Infinite Jest! I want to read that (I actually tried, but stopped…), but it just intimidates me. Plus it is so loong! Maybe 2012 will be my lucky year! Happy New Year!

    • Heather January 1, 2012, 9:37 am

      Honestly, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it even one-tenth as much if I hadn’t used Carlisle’s study to help me keep everything straight. It really was a huge help. If you try reading it again, use Carlisle’s book to help you.

      • themisanthropologist January 1, 2012, 9:41 am

        Oh…what book is that? Sort of like a supplementary book? lol. That would be interesting. Yes, it’s a bit difficult to follow…

        • Heather January 1, 2012, 9:50 am

          Oh, yes! (Sorry, it’s early and my head isn’t on quite straight, yet.) It’s titled “Elegant Complexity” and the author is Greg Carlisle. I reviewed it here, so check out my review for more info.

  • Vasilly January 1, 2012, 8:30 pm

    Heather, I love your description of reading Infinite Jest! Your experience sounds amazing, I hope I have a similar experience this year with a book. Sister Citizen sounds like a book I need to read soon. Good luck on your goals this year. Happy New Year!

  • Michelle @ The True Book Addict January 6, 2012, 4:42 am

    I’m SO late reading this! What a wonderful post, Heather. You really did some heavy duty reading last year. I’ve got my eye on what you read (besides the ones we already read together, of course) because I really respect your recommendations. And we are such peas in a pod. I cried on the same books (the ones I also read from the list). As a matter of fact, I think I cried when I read The Gunslinger several years ago. If you did, I’m sure I did as well.

    I’m glad that I’ve eased you out of your reading comfort zone. I’m glad that it has been a great experience for you. I have so enjoyed our friendship that I now feel extends past our love of books. I’m looking forward to many more years of our friendly chats about books and everything else. Happy New Year, my friend. *hugs*

  • Care January 16, 2012, 9:07 pm

    Wow – you have almost convinced me to put IJ on my tbr. wow.
    Great TOPS list, btw.
    Have you ever read The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields? are you in goodreads? I ask a lot of Questions, sorry.

    • Heather January 16, 2012, 9:12 pm

      I have not read The Stone Diaries, and I see you have found me on Goodreads. Any friend of Vasilly’s is a friend of mine. :)

  • ProfMomEsq April 15, 2012, 11:54 pm

    Sorry to be so late to this party, but I am very happy to have found your list. I am always searching for something new and good to read, so I appreciate the recommendations. I’m going to start with “Infinite Jest” and see where the rest of the list takes me. Thanks for stopping by my blog – hope to see you around!

    • Heather April 16, 2012, 10:27 am

      I am new to your blog, too. Welcome!

  • Book Review: Carry the One by Carol Anshaw | Between the Covers January 10, 2012, 10:01 am

    […] the book justice. Even though I finished reading Carry the One at the very end of December, because my best-of-2011 post had already been written, this book will be going on my best-of-2012 list without a doubt. It was […]

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