Thursday, January 05, 2012

Top 10(ish) Books of 2011

At the beginning of 2011 I made a goal to keep track of all of the books I've read on Goodreads. One New Year's resolution I actually followed through with. Because of it, I know that the total tally of books read in 2011 was 70. For 2012, I've set a new literary goal- read a lofty 100 books. We'll see if I make it. That's a book every 3-4 days. It's January 4th and I've yet to finish one. Like I said, we'll see.

*Disclaimer: I may just be the world's worst book reviewer. I love to read, but don't love to write about the books I read. Flashbacks of high school English trauma??? If you want to read a brief synopsis of the book, click on the title to go to the Goodreads summary.

These books are in no particular order, though my favorite did end up at the top.

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's/John Elder Robison-Non-fiction-Adult
Best book of the year. Hands down. Now I may be a little biased toward this particular topic, having a son with autism that reminds me very much of Mr. Robison, but I think those who just want to understand a little more about Asperger's or love a good memoir would love this as well. He had some incredible experiences as the product of an abusive/crazy home, touring with Kiss and working as an engineer for a toy company. This is one of the books I recommend to parents who write me regarding their child's diagnosis. A must read for any parent of a child with ASD. P.S. The hard back version has A LOT of swearing in it. The language in the paperback is much cleaner.

The Kitchen House
/Kathleen Grissom-Adult
This was that latest addition to the list. Historical Fiction. Takes place in the South on a plantation before the Civil War. I love reading about this era of time. It is horrifying to me what the black slaves went through and how they were treated-a part of American history that needs to be remembered in order not to be repeated towards any group of people.

I Am Number Four/Pittacus Lore-YA
Sort of fantasy, with enough realistic fiction to keep my attention. If you saw the movie and wrote this book off because of it, take the time to pick up the book. You won't regret it. After finishing this one, I was so excited to see the movie. I should have known that it would be awful (most movies based on books are). I also read the next one in the series The Power of Six. Not as good as the first.

Chasing Lincoln's Killer/James Swanson-Non-fiction-YA

The YA version of Swanson's Manhunt, which I have not read. Very well-written and kept my interest (unlike some other non-fiction history books which can get boring). I felt smarter after finishing this one.

The Wednesday Wars/Gary Schmidt-
Juvenile Fiction
Quick, fun read. Enough substance that even adults will enjoy reading. Good message, well written.

Unwind/Neal Shusterman-YA
I would tell you what this book is about, but my description would probably turn you off from reading it. It's that weird/disturbing of a premise. Feel free to read the Goodreads description of it-but give the book a chance. It reminded me a little of The Giver. Decisions that a future society makes in order to make things "better" for everyone. Very very interesting.

The Distant Hours/Kate Morton-Adult

One of my favorite authors. I have loved all of her books and this was no exception. A gothic novel that flips back and forth through present and the past lives of three sisters that live together. A good twist and mystery throughout. Loved.

Out of My Mind/Sharon Draper-YA or Juvenile
At the beginning of 2011, I was a judge for The Best Overlooked Book Battle. I loved it. I read a ton of books I wouldn't have read otherwise AND discovered this gem by Sharon Draper. In fact, when all was said and done, it actually won the battle. Written from the perspective of Melody, an eleven year old with cerebral palsy. Your perspective about people whose disabilities rob them of speech will forever change.

Bright Young Things/Anna Godbersen-YA
The guilty pleasure book of this list. I love a good early twentieth century era novel (another good one from this year is Ten Cents a Dance). This one is #1 in a series (even better!). Kind of a mix between a mystery and Thoroughly Modern Millie. Fun, quick read.

/Hirsi Ayaan Ali-
Non-fiction Memoir-Adult

Probably the most challenging book I read year. Emotionally challenging. Ms. Ali was born in Somalia as a Muslim. Her memoir describes her upbringing with the abuse and oppression of women being a dominant theme throughout. She has suffered death threats and has lived much of her life in hiding because of her determination to expose the true experiences of Muslim women. Very eye-opening.

My Name is Mary Sutter/ Robin Oleivera-Adult
I love books about strong women from history. Mary Sutter defied the norms when she decided as a young women that she wanted to become a surgeon at a time when women were not accepted into medical practice. She would stop at nothing to achieve her goal, finally ingratiating herself to a practicing surgeon during the Civil War on the battle front. I'm not big into needles and wound descriptions (both of which this book had abundantly), but I was able to muster through without passing out. It definitely didn't gloss over war like so many other novels do.


J, C, and E said...

I loved "The Distant Hours". The ending was definitely unexpected and not even close to my own conclusions. Thanks for the mention of Goodreads. I've been looking for something like that. Can't wait to read some of the other books on your list!

Janssen said...

Thanks for linking to your list! I've read a couple of these and The Kitchen House, in particular, sounds amazing!

Ellen said...

wow! 70 books! thats awesome! for this yr, I aimed for 25 and read 33....

whats on your book list for 2012?
here is mine:

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