Happy 2012 everyone! After a nice vacation visiting family in Arizona I am back to work. This is the time of year that is filled with newborn and maternity sessions (people who don’t really have a choice of when to get their photos done), and business stuff, website updating, and the ever needed–get organized before the crazy season. I also have hopes of getting out a newsletter, end of year photo review, and getting some of my own images printed! Even though this sounds really busy, it is actually my slow season. The time of year that I get to catch up on movies, TV shows (yeah Downtown Abbey), and I get to read a little before crashing at bedtime. Over the holidays I loaded up my kindle with lots of books and I am excited to get reading.
Every year I keep a simple journal to keep to track of the books I have read over the year. I can’t remember how it started. I don’t journal and can barely write words with my blog posts, but I am so happy to have this simple record of my year. I know that there are all sorts of online ways to keep track of this stuff, but I’m sticking to my journal–although now that I have 6 years worth of books in it I wish I had picked a cuter journal. Ahh, well. This is my third year blogging about the books I’ve read. You can see 2010 HERE, and 2009 HERE.
2011 didn’t see me reading that many books. I actually started quite a few books that I then got stuck on or never finished for a varitey of reasons. I’ve included them on my list just in case I decided to come back to them later and can’t remember if I’ve read them or not.
1. Just Kids by Patti Smith
This was the first book I read of 2011 and I still remember it. I knew more about the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe than I knew about Patti Smith. I actually ended up googling her to listen to her music before I really got reading.
I loved this book. It was sweet and sad (not what I expected) filled with good stories, and it made you think about what it meant to be an artist. I cried when it was done.
2-4. The Huger Games Triology by Susan Collins
I downloaded the first Hunger Games book after reading lots of people say it was one of their favorite books of 2010. I read the first chapter slowly, but after that I stayed up all night to finish it. It had been a long time since I couldn’t put a book down and it felt great to have that experience. I made myself wait a few months to read the other two books because I knew I would end up ignoring my family and getting behind on work once I did. I then made my book club read them, and my daughter just finished the series. I even got my husband to read the first one. And, even if you don’t like series books you can read just the first one in the series.
5. My Life in France by Julia Child
I went to France this year and decided to read a few books that took place there before I went. This was such a fun read, and it really made me get a whole new view of Julia, and especially her relationship with her husband. If you only know her from SNL skits, you will be surprised at the Julia you find in this book and the love story that it is for Paris, food, drink, and her husband.
6. Major Pettigrews Last Stand by Helen Simonson
This was a book for book club that I think most of us enjoyed. It took place in England, so I automatically had a soft spot for it. It wasn’t too heavy, or too light–just a good read–although at times I think the target audience is someone a bit older than I am.
7-9. Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris–books 7,8,9
Still reading these books from time to time. They are good on a plane. I think I read one on my way to Guatemala. I got a little bored near the end of these books, and I was a bit bored with the TV show based on this series as well (True Blood). Still a fun series with lots of blood, gore and sex.
10. The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
This was another good read for my book club. It was a fast read, with good characters set in the south during slavery time.
11. Madame Tussaud: A novel of the French Revoloution by Michelle Moran
This book took me quite a while to read, but I was glad I read it especially as I walked around Versailles. A good read for those who like historical fiction.
12. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
I actually read this book while in Paris. It is a story about Ernest Hemingway told in the voice of his first wife Hadley. The author said that she was inspired to write the book after reading Hemingway’s, A Moveable Feast, where at the end he says: “I wished I had died before I ever loved anyone but her.”
This was among my favorite books that I read this year.
13. Bossy Pants by Tina Fey
I read most of this book in short burst sitting outside in the sun. I laughed aloud many many times.
14. The Secret History by Donna Tart
This book had been on my “to read” list for a long time. The author went to my college and the setting was supposed to be a thinly veiled version of Bennington. It is a smart read–a psychological thriller I think it is called. Having just read up on Greek mythology with my daughter it was fun to follow in those references as well as all of the descriptions of Bennington. I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I was in a class discussing it–I’m sure I missed many references to classics and how they influence our lives.
15. Swamplandia by Karen Russell
Another one of my favorite reads this year. I am not usually a person who pays a lot of attention to the actual writing or words used to describe something. This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy a well written book, it is usually that I think a book is well written if I don’t think about these things much. Swamplandia had me stopping and enjoying descriptions and sentences like I have never done before and it was in a very good way. She has a totally unique style, and the story pulled me along as well. I’ve recommended this book to quite a few people.
16. Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan
I read this book on the beach. A perfect vacation book with great characters. Loved it.
17. The Loves Dictionary by David Levithan
This was another book club book, but I didn’t really get that into this one. It seems to be a love it or leave it book, and I was more on the leave it side of things. It was written by an author who has written many YA books, many which I respect, but I just didn’t get into this one.
18. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
I can’t remember how I got a hard copy of this book, but it sat around for quite awhile. When I picked it up I was happy to be back in the fantasy world with witches and vampires, and it had a pretty good start, but by the end I was bored. Then, when I realised it was a part of a series I was really annoyed. Perhaps, if you like the fantasy genre try this one again when the whole series is done.
19. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
This is a YA book, and part of another series (ugg), but it was a good read. It takes place in the future where love is considered a disease that you get cured of on your 18th birthday with a surgery that frees you from love forever. I’ll probably read the next one when it comes out.
20. Then Again by Diane Keeton
My last book of the year. I’ve always like Diane Keeton and just picked this one up for something easy. Her mother kept really good journals which she used along with her own memories to make a book about her, her mother, and her family. I enjoyed her mothers journals, especially when she would write about Diane, or going out to eat with Diane and Woody, and the scrap books she kept of Diane’s rise to fame. I love the sections where she talked about the movies she has been in, and the men she has been involved with–Woody Allen, Al Pacino, Warren Beatty. I watched Annie Hall when I finished reading the book.
I don’t keep great records of the books I read aloud to the kids, but a few that I do remember and recommend were:: Gregor the Overlander (books 1 and 2–same author as the Hunger Games), Coroline, Ella Enchanted
Books I didn’t finish: House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamontt, The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates, Life by Keith Richards, A tree grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. I will probably come back to all of these books. They were put down for a variety of reasons, but not because they were not good-they just were not at the right time.
AND–that took me much longer than I thought it would. I am really out of shape when it comes to putting words together. Happy reading folks.
It is now time for me to get back to some photos.
Oh, and what was your favorite read of 2011?