2011 Wrap-Up Post

December 30th, 2011

New Books!

Here it is, almost the end of the year. I may just read another book before the year’s out, but I doubt it, so here goes: I read 59 books this year—a number that includes a few picture books and also several kids’ books—which is less than I read last year, but I’m OK with that.

The breakdown:
Picture books: 3
Other kids’/YA books: 11
Fiction (for grown-ups): 33
Non-fiction: 6
Poetry: 6

Works in translation: 10

Favorites: The Cows by Lydia Davis. Seriously. So charming and smart. Nocturne by James Attlee, which was smart and blended the historical/cultural with the personal really nicely. Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier, who’s really funny and wonderfully enthusiastic. The whole “Melendy Quartet” by Elizabeth Enright—wonderful classic kids’ books that I somehow missed as a kid. White Teeth by Zadie Smith, which I’d been meaning to read for years and quite exceeded my expectations; really smart and more engaging than I’d thought it would be.

Re-reads: Just The Magicians by Lev Grossman, because I wanted to re-immerse myself in the book’s world before reading the sequel.

Books I expected to like way more than I actually did: The Lost Art of Walking, which was snarkier than I wanted it to be/full of lists that weren’t really that interesting/just not quite the book I wanted. Shopgirl, which I didn’t like nearly as much as I liked the movie.

In general: I had a whole bunch of single-author stretches this year, and I also read rather a lot of mysteries. In January I read Charles Finch’s first book featuring detective Charles Lenox, and in December I read the next three in that series. I read two of Alan Bradley’s mysteries featuring Flavia de Luce (though they were spaced out, one in April and the other in November). In June and July I read four consecutive Elizabeth Enright books. In August I didn’t read a single book that wasn’t either by Philip Pullman or by Lev Grossman. I’m not sure whether I was particularly in the mood for comfort reads this year or whether I just found myself picking up a lot of series and finishing them either because they were totally excellent (e.g. Enright) or because they were pretty good and I’m a completist (e.g. Finch)—probably a bit of both.

Coming up in 2012: As previously mentioned, I’m taking the TBR Double Dare Challenge. Between January 1 and April 1, I’m going to try to read books exclusively from my own shelves, with the exception of three already-checked-out library books I have waiting for me (a picture book by Emily Gravett called The Rabbit Problem, A Burial at Sea by Charles Finch, which is another of the Charles Lenox mysteries, and Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch, which was on the Booker shortlist). I don’t have super-specific reading plans or goals, but I think it’ll be a good thing.

Recent acquisitions: That picture at the top of this post shows the new books/book-ish things I acquired over my Christmas vacation in Georgia. I’ve wanted the Postcards from Penguin box set (one hundred postcards, each one a Penguin cover) since it came out, but wouldn’t have bought it for myself. My mom and I were on the checkout line at Anthropologie and I spotted it and excitedly pointed out; she asked if I wanted it, and she very nicely bought it for me. The rest of the books here are all thrift store/Goodwill finds: I hadn’t heard of Living Dolls (subtitle: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life) but it caught my eye: I’m always looking for interesting/smart non-fiction. Then there’s Netherland, which I’ve heard about in various places, I think most recently when Elizabeth gave it 5 stars on Goodreads. Next is Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain, which may be too full of God and Catholicism for me, but we shall see: it’s a first edition hardcover and it was too cheap to pass up. Merton went to Columbia and was part of the same literary society I joined (though it was a frat back in his day, rather than being co-ed), and I’ve been mildly curious about this book since my freshman year in college. Last is Craig Thompson’s Carnet de Voyage, a travelogue in graphic novel format that I’ve been meaning to read for ages. The four books I bought cost less than $10: there is something to be said for thrift-store shopping in suburbia!

4 Responses to “2011 Wrap-Up Post”

  1. Elizabeth Says:

    I /loved/ Carnet de Voyage and read it all in one sitting. I’d like to go back and reread it now that I’ve read Habibi, which I believe he was researching at the time.

  2. Heather Says:

    Yay, I’m looking forward to it – I haven’t read anything by Craig Thompson, though Blankets is also on my list of books I’d like to read eventually. I’ve heard mixed things about Habibi – did you like it?

  3. Vishy Says:

    Congratulations on a wonderful reading year, Heather! I love the fact that you read 6 poetry books! I want to read more poetry this year and you are my inspiration :) That Penguin Postcard collection is lovely. Nice to see Joseph O’Neill’s ‘Netherland’ on your ‘TBR’ list. I loved the book when I read it. I will look forward to hearing your thoughts on it. Happy Reading!

  4. Heather Says:

    Vishy, thanks, and glad to hear you loved ‘Netherland’ – you’re the second person I know to have really enjoyed it, which is a good sign.

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