Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Top 10 Favorite Books I Read in 2011

I love Top Ten Tuesday lists at the end of the year over at The Broke and the Bookish: the 10 books I hope Santa brings, the best books I read in 2011 and then the top 10 I'm looking forward to in 2012.

I'm not a "typical" reader I don't think.  Of my favorites of 2011 not a single one was actually published in 2011.  When I began blogging and particularly reviewing books, one of my intentions was to prioritize my reading again.  As long as I can remember, reading and books have brought me intense pleasure...after an 8 year stint working with nothing but academic text, I vowed to re-invigorate my reading life.  And, I have.  I still can't get through a book as fast as some of the book bloggers out there, but I also don't really feel the need to...some books were meant to be savored...or thought through as they are being read...while others have to be read every second of every minute bc I just can't stand to wait another minute to find out what will happen next. The Hunger Games and Water for Elephants are the only two books on this list that I flew through.  

1.  Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

This was my first read of 2011, and I loved it.  Alcott should be read slow and easy...candlelight or Christmas light preferable.  You also must be able to relax and just enjoy the story for what it is...a family story...but especially that of 4 sisters and how their lives are shaped over time.

2.  March by Geraldine Brooks

After Little Women, I went on an Alcott binge...I read Little Men and Jo's Boys, won an Alcott bio that I started and picked up my first Geraldine Brooks.   Oh my goodness.  American Civil War history in the light of reality vs. fantasy.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  I can't wait to read more of Brooks.

3.  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Another book that garnered a lot of hype, but I didn't give in until my firstborn talked me into it.  Katniss is the kind of heroine I enjoy...tough and sensitive at the same time, loyal, head held high, and a fighter.  There was enough believable edge here to keep me interested as well.  A little nervous about the movie... but I always am.

4.  The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

I can't even remember why this book got my attention in 2011...but it did.  This is one of those novels that stays with you for a long, long time after you read it.

5.  HT Be Your Dog's Best Friend by The Monks of New Skete

After I got Layla, I was determined to learn everything I could about my big dog and be the best owner I could possibly be.  I enjoyed learning about the monks, their lives and their dogs.  Their positive reinforcement/leader of the pack take on owning German Shepherds makes perfect sense to me.

6.  The United States of Arugula by David Kamp

A history of the food culture in the United States from the earliest influences, James Beard, Julia Child and friends, to the Food Network generation of today.  How food has shaped communities, re-invigorated run-down areas, brought families together and educated even home cooks on eating well.

7.  Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I almost didn't read this one.  Amidst all the hype I kept picking it up, reading the synopsis and trying to get excited about the storyline.  I just couldn't.  At the last moment I downloaded it on my Kindle and read it on a trip to Baltimore...I couldn't put it down.  I even downloaded the Kindle app on my Blackberry so I could read my book everywhere, waiting in lines, on the train, etc...LOVED it.

8.  Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

I chose this as a read to share with one of my classes.  I loved it.  We discussed it for 6 weeks even though I finished it before then, and then we watched the movie, comparing our perspectives with Hollywood's.  I enjoyed this assignment so much that I'm planning to continue it next semester...this time with Marcus Zuzak's The Book Thief.

9.  The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Another slow read...language, language, language.  Again, as with Little Women, take your time and enjoy this one...a family, but not so much a family story as it is a mystery...generations of hate finally come to an end.  Good stuff.

10.  The Children of Henry VIII by Alison Weir

My Tudor addiction is alive and well...I also can't get enough of Alison Weir.  She's something else.

And, there they are...the 2011 reads I enjoyed the most :)
Can't wait to see what happens in 2012 :):)


  1. I almost never read a book the year it comes out! I am always a day late and a dollar short. I figure who cares, as long as I enjoy it. I have read a Geraldine Brooks book but would love to read more. I've heard March is wonderful!

  2. Great books!

    I am going to reread Little Women this year! I also have March sitting on the shelf, so I might get to that one as well. :)

  3. I have to tell you that I went out and bought that Tudor book the other day after reading your review, and I can't wait to get started on it! I also think I need to read March really soon! Great list today!

  4. The Good Earth and Cold Mountain are two of my all-time favorite books. I read both pre-blogging though. I'm glad you gave Hunger Games a try and after the movie comes out you could use that one for your class! It would garner great discussion.

  5. Wonderful choices, Patti! I'm usually not a read-the-year-it-was-published person either, but it's a byproduct of reading so many blogs that I've started buying newer books.

    I see lots here I like and admire. I'm so glad The United States of Arugula was a fave for you. Sadly, I never finished, but somehow I got bogged down in the middle.

    Did you read The Good Earth for the Classic Reads Book Club discussion earlier this year? I led that discussion and it was a good one. I adore the book.

    I see lots here I'd like to tackle. Namely: Little Women. I've never managed to finish it, and I have March on my stacks as well.

    Cheers to 2011 reading and wishing you a wonderful lot of books in 2012!

  6. I love your list of books and definitely agree about some books being meant to be savoured, rather than rushed through.

    I own Water for Elephants, but didn't read it because of the hype. It's now gone straight near the top of my TBR list :)

    Happy reading in 2012!

  7. Water for Elephants was one of my favorite reads last year (or the year before?)! And I've been meaning to read Cold Mountain; clearly I should get that done.

  8. What a great list! Little Women is one of my all time favorites and I really enjoyed Cold Mountain too.

  9. I've read a couple on that list and have to agree, they were excellent.

    Hope you have a great reading year in 2012.

  10. Some awesome books on this list! Many of them have been on my favorites lists of past years... Hunger Games, The Good Earth, Henry VIII, etc. I have yet to read March, it's been on my TBR list for years and years. Why I haven't gotten to it, I have no idea! Happy 2012 reading!

  11. I love Little Woman and Hunger Games! Great list!!

    Happy New Year! (:


  12. I ADORE Little Women!!! I'll be rereading it in 2012, right after I read March for the first time.

    Happy New Year!

  13. Your experience with Cold Mountain and your class was awesome. I haven't read it, but you've inspired me to want to. I was shocked by how many of my top books were published in 2011. I hope to be hitting more of the backlist next year.

  14. I've owned March for a long while now, and if you say it's so awesome, I guess I should give the piece a shot. Wish me luck!

    PS: Feel free to flirt with my faves of 2011 here. Thanks!

  15. Little Women is on my list for 2012. Bu I never even thoght to follow it up with March...an excellent idea!

  16. I read Little Women for the first time earlier this year and I have to say, I was bored. I thought it would be much better than it was. (I know my opinion is in the minority.)