2011 Reading List:
** = Definitely Recommend
* = Enjoyed a lot
^^ = Stay far, far away.
1. A Table by the Window by Lawanna Black
2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins**
3. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins**
4. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins**
5. The Secret History by Donna Tartt*
6. I Shouldn’t Even Be Doing This by Bob Newhart**
7. The Old Willis Place by Mary Downing Hahn
8. Digital Fortress by Dan Brown*
9. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke**
10. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson*
11. The 39 Clues Book 1: Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan**
12. Setting Free the Bears by John Irving*
13. The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson**
14. One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde**
15. The 39 Clues Book 2: One False Note by Gordon Korman**
16. Lady Margaret’s Ghost: A Felicity Mystery by Elizabeth McDavid Jones*
17. Lost Encyclopedia by Tara Bennett and Paul Terry**
18. Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts
19. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson**
20. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton**
21. Deception Point by Dan Brown*
22. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak**
23. A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon
24. The 39 Clues Book 3: The Sword Thief by Peter Lerangis**
25. Three to See the King by Magnus Mills^^
26. The 39 Clues Book 4: Beyond the Grave by Jude Watson**
27. Septimus Heap: Magyk by Angie Sage and Mark Zug*
28. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien**
29. The 39 Clues Book 5: The Black Circle by Patrick Carman**
30. The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent
31. Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz**
32. The 39 Clues Book 6: In Too Deep by Jude Watson**
33. An American Haunting: The Bell Witch by Brent Monahan
34. Better Living Through Television: The Quote Unquote Guide to Life by TVGuide*
35. The 39 Clues Book 7: The Viper’s Nest by Peter Lerangis**
36. The History Book by Humphrey Hawksley^^
37. The House at Riverton by Kate Morton**
38. So Far Gone by Paul Cody*
39. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon
40. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
41. The Last Judgement by Iain Pears
42. The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzsch**
43. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind*
44. The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold^^
45. The 39 Clues Book 8: The Emperor’s Code by Gordon Korman**
46. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson**
47. The Gathering by Anne Enright^^
48. The 39 Clues Book 9: Storm Warning by Linda Sue Park**
49. These Granite Islands by Sarah Stonich**
50. The 39 Clues Book 10: Into the Gauntlet by Margaret Peterson Haddix**
51. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane**
52. A Quiet Life by Beryl Bainbridge^^
53. Friends ‘Til the End: The Official Celebration of All Ten Years by David Wild**
54. The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom*
55. The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen**
56. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher*
57. The 39 Clues Book 11: Vespers Rising by Rick Riordan, Peter Lerangis, Gordon Korman and Jude Watson**
58. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
59. The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks**
60. The Hours by Michael Cunningham
61. The Heroes of Olympus Book 2: The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan**
62. The Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah**
63. Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne**
64. These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf*
65. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares**
66. The Second Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares**
67. Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares**
68. Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares**
69. The Shimmer by David Morrell**
70. The Magicians by Lev Grossman**
71. Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares**
No repeats. I did not read a single book that I had ever ready before.
Highlights and Lowlights:
-The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
. Yes, young adult. I read a lot of YA books this year. Still. These books were great. I devoured the first 4 within a week. Then I found out about a fifth one that takes place 10 years later! I so badly wanted to know what happened to Lena, Bridget, Tibby and Carmen. The fifth book was very good, but extremely heartbreaking and not at all what I expected. Shit gets real 10 years after The Pants.
-The Forgotten Garden, The House at Riverton, These Granite Islands, and The Winter Garden
. These books were all very similar (and I thoroughly loved each one). They all tell the story of a a very old woman, jumping back and forth between her life at 80+ years old and her life as a young woman. The Forgotten Garden goes a step farther and shows the life of her loved ones before she is ever born and after she dies. All are a little bit sad, a little bit uplifting, and very, very enjoyable.
-Around the World in Eighty Days
. The only "classic" I read all year, it was a fun romp around the world, and I didn't expect the ending at all. I was, however, under the impression that a hot air balloon made an appearance. I've never seen any movie versions of this book, but all the movie posters boast balloons or some other type of flying machine. So it was a surprise that there isn't one in the book.
-The Hunger Games
. I read these books right at the beginning of the year, just before their popularity exploded. I love them all (yes, even the third one!), although the second is my favorite. I didn't care who Katniss ended up with, which I guess is why I don't mind the ending so much. I think the ending is very believable, and a lot more "real" than what a lot of people feel it should have been. Very excited for the movie.
-The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Who Played With Fire and Kicked the Hornet's Nest
. The first book in this trilogy is slow and boring. The second and third ones, however, are amazing. I'm sure a lot was lost in translation (sometimes entire sentences are repeated within a paragraph, which I'm sure is not the fault of the author), and I hope better translations come out in the future, but overall I really liked them. Lisbeth had to grow on me, as I thought she was way too over-the-top, and I think the author was a bit too preoccupied with the sex lives of the characters. But the stories are good, and I couldn't help but get sucked into the mystery and intrigue of Lisbeth's life story.
-Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
and The Magicians
. They take place in entirely different centuries, but I felt that these two books were pretty similar. Both follow the education and evolution of a student of magic who gets in over his head and loses nearly everything. Both are a little slow to start, but eventually you get lost in their bizarre little worlds, and they both acquire the feel of an epic.
-The Book Thief
. This was probably my favorite book that I read this year. It has an odd premise--it's the story of a little girl in World War II Germany who steals books because she loves reading, and the whole thing is narrated by Death. If you can embrace the strange point of view, this book is beautiful. The language is perfect, the characters are familiar, and the story is heartbreaking but wonderful. I sobbed while finishing this book. I loved everything about it. I was very surprised when I recommended to my friend (an English teacher), and she HATED it. I can't imagine hating this book. It's too close to perfect to me.
-The Last Town on Earth
. A town quarantines itself during the Spanish Flu outbreak during World War I. Sad and disturbing, and you feel isolated while reading it, but at the end it's about human decency and ethics. Another one of my favorites from the year.
-The Almost Moon
. Close to the worst book ever. I wasn't head over heels for The Lovely Bones, but I at least enjoyed it and thought it was very well done. This book is by the same author, and it is terrible. A woman kills her mother in the first chapter, then spends the next 24 hours acting like a complete moron. Every page was painful to read, and not in a good way at all.
. Actually the worst book ever. About a large family in Ireland who loses a member (an adult son dies), and gathers for the funeral. A large portion of the novel is spent on a sister of the deceased who spends most of her time fantasizing about the sex lives of her grandparents.
-Three to See the King
. What the hell was this book? It's more of a novella than a novel, but even the fact that it's short isn't enough to save it. It's about a group of people who live in tin houses in the forest, and follow a messiah-like figure to a canyon but turn on him when he decides they should build brick houses. A review printed on the back of this book called it "funny." It is anything but. It doesn't even try to be funny, so I'm not sure what the reviewer was talking about. It is a sad attempt at a moral tale. None of the characters has redeeming qualities, and the plot itself is so incredibly weak I felt bad for the author. I don't know how this mess of a book even got published.
New goal for 2012: Read 75.