Time for the annual list of books read this year! I have a lot of time on my hands since starting the new job, with very little taking up my time outside of school right now. So that at least partially explains why this list is a bit longer than the last several years since I’ve been keeping track. Favorites and least favorites are listed at the bottom, and the full list with ratings can be found on my GoodReads page.
1. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
2. The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
3. What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman
4. The Murders of Richard III by Elizabeth Peters
5. Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz
6. At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances by Alexander McCall Smith
7. The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff
8. Revenge of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz
9. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
10. Jesus Girls: True Tales of Growing Up Female and Evangelical by Hannah Faith Notess
11. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
12. The Unbearable Lightness of Scones by Alexander McCall Smith
13. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
14. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
15. Little Children by Tom Perrotta
16. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
17. Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
18. Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell
19. Black by Ted Dekker
20. The Spellmans Strike Again by Lisa Lutz
21. The Book of the Dead by Douglas Preston
22. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
23. The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt
24. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
25. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
26. Angry Conversations with God by Susan Issacs
27. The Lost Art of Gratitude by Alexander McCall Smith
28. Sepulchre by Kate Mosse
29. Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith
30. Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith
31. House Rules by Jodi Picoult
32. Brimstone by Douglas Preston
33. The Double Comfort Safari Club by Alexander McCall Smith
34. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
35. Tyrannosaur Canyon by Douglas Preston
36. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
37. A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters
38. Courduroy Mansions by Alexander McCall Smith
39. The Dog who Came in from the Cold by Alexander McCall Smith
40. The Last Juror by John Grisham
41. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
42. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
43. The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King
44. Persuasion by Jane Austen
45. The God of the Hive by Laurie R. King
46. Every Last One by Anna Quindlen
47. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
48. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
49. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson
50. A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
51. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
52. The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard
53. Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy
54. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
55. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
56. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
57. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
58. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
59. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
60. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
61. The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian
62. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
63. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
64. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
65. Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
66. Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery
67. Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery
68. Restless by William Boyd
69. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
70. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
71. City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
72. Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery
73. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
74. Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery
75. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
76. Another Thing to Fall by Laura Lippman
77. Monster by Jonathan Kellerman
78. The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer
79. Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr
80. Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
81. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
82. The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
83. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
84. Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
85. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
86. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
87. The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
88. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
89. Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern
90. Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson
91. Little Bee by Chris Cleave
92. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Favorites in fiction:
Curse of the Spellman/Spellmans Strike Again by Lisa Lutz. Still hilarious, excellent continuation of the series about the Spellman family and their detective business. She’s apparently keeping on with writing for the series, which is excellent!
The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Excellent book about the black maids and white mistresses in the deep south in the 1960s.
The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson. Excellent continuation and completion of the series. Very intense, but slightly less violent than the first installment.
Courduroy Mansions by Alexander McCall Smith. Excellent new series in the same vein as his Scotland Street series, except set in London. Followed by The Dog Who Came in from the Cold.
Language of Bees/God of the Hive by Laurie R. King. Excellent continuation of the series following Mary and Sherlock Holmes. Her books will probably always be on my favorites list as long as she keeps writing this series.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafon. A book I’ve been meaning to read for a while, and I finally got around to it this year. Takes a little effort at the beginning, but completely worth it! Looking forward to reading his new one.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer. Heard a lot about this one before finally reading it, and it actually lived up to the hype!
Little Bee by Chris Cleave. Another that lived up the hype; a very fast read.
Favorites in non-fiction:
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. Excellent book about editing and writing a better story with your life. Maybe my favorite of his books now.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Well-written book about the history behind the woman whose cancerous cells are the foundation for everything we’ve learned about cancer in the last 50 years.
Angry Conversations with God by Susan Isaacs. Read after Kari’s glowing review, and it definitely lived up the hype. Very funny and compelling memoir about a complicated relationship with God and church.
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. Nothing really wrong with this book, but I didn’t find any of the characters very compelling, and she tended to pontificate quite a bit.
Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon. Again, nothing really wrong with this book, and it was somewhat enjoyable – but veeeery long and drawn out, especially if you don’t know/care about the history of the Scottland highland clans. Didn’t stop me from continuing the series another book though.
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick. Blech. Definitely not worth reading – I was driving 7 hours and it was my only audiobook, so I listened to it, but I would definitely not recommend it.
I know this is another book post, and not a real blog post, but it’s better than nothing – and I will be trying to keep up more with this whole blogging thing a bit more, especially as the semester winds down.
Anyway, on with the geeky-ness! This is from Kari.
1) What author do you own the most books by?
Hmm. Probably LM Montgomery (Anne series plus several others), or JK Rowling, or Jodi Piccoult.
2) What book do you own the most copies of?
I don’t own multiple copies of many – couple of Blue Like Jazz, and I’m pretty sure I’ve got more than one copy of at least one of the Harry Potters.
3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
Yes. I’ll admit it. I know it’s technically ok now, but it still drives me crazy.
4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
As much as I love Pride and Prejudice, I would probably go with the heroes of Sense and Sensibility (Colonel Brandon) or Emma (Mr. Knightley) for Austen men. Or Gilbert Blythe (he was my first literary (or any) crush). Crush.crush.crush.
5) What book have you read the most times in your life?
Until recently, I re-read my favorite books all the time. I’ve re-read Jane Eyre more times than I remember; same with Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter, the first several of the Anne of Green Gables series.
6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
Probably one of the Mandie mysteries, or Anne of Green Gables. I know that I was hating on Rebecca of Sunneybrook Farm around that time. Hate.
7) What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?
Hm. I read several that I didn’t care for last year (A Fine Balance, Out of Africa, Wide Sargasso Sea – all book club books). I was also not a fan of The Shack.
8 ) What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?
Prayer for Owen Meany, or maybe Paper Towns. Or The Book Thief. Lots of young adult books last year apparently.
9) If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
I’m going to agree with Kari and say Pride and Prejudice. Classic for a reason.
10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for literature?
I don’t really know. I think I agree with Kari – Lee Smith, or Cormac McCarthy. Audrey Niffenegger? or Gail Godwin?
11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
The Time-Traveler’s Wife (I know that’s cheating, they’re already making a movie).
12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
A Fine Balance. That’s just based on how much I disliked reading it this year.
13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
I don’t know if I’ve ever dreamed about a literary character. I think I may have dreamed about living on Prince Edward Island when I was reading the Anne series for the first time.
14) What is the most lowbrow book you’ve read as an adult?
Oy. I have read some doozies, at least based on style. Including a bodice-ripper at the beginning of this past year. Accidentally.
15) What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?
Difficult based on topic, lately at least, probably The Kiterunner (and slightly less so, A Thousand Splendid Suns), or Atonement. I tend to avoid books about clearly difficult topics (Nazis, etc).
16) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
The Russians. I haven’t read many French authors. But I do love Anna Karenina. So the Russians win.
18) Roth or Updike?
I haven’t read either. Should I?
19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
Sedaris. But only if I can hear him read it/talk – I don’t find him nearly as funny unless he’s doing the reading.
20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
Shakespeare, definitely. I’ve only read a little Milton, but I did like Chaucer in high school and college. But I wouldn’t read it for fun.
21) Austen or Eliot?
I do like George Eliot, but I adore Jane Austen.
22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
There are lots of ‘classics’ I have yet to read. Or that I have given up on trying to read (see: Tale of Two Cities – I’m not a fan of Dickens). Like Kari, I have also not read any Hemingway, but I’m not really planning on rectifying that anytime soon.
23) What is your favorite novel?
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I’m agreeing with Kari again. Surprise. (Though I have found myself enjoying Sense and Sensibility more the last couple times I’ve read it, but not enough to overtake P&P)
Much Ado About Nothing. Or Twelfth Night. I’m sure Matthew was in some that I really liked in college, but I can’t remember the names.
27) Short story?
I’m going to disagree with Kari – I don’t like Flannery O’Connor at all. I like several of Mark Helprin’s short stories, but in general I would rather read a whole book than a short story.
28) Work of non-fiction?
Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner, or Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller. I think.
29) Who is your favorite writer?
How about a list? I can’t narrow it down to one. Jane Austen, Madeline L’Engle, Ann Patchett, Jodi Piccoult, Alexander McCall Smith, CS Lewis, Charlotte Bronte.
30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
Stephenie Meyer? I’m going to agree with Kari about this one (though I admit to being totally hooked on the books when reading them). (But I do like Jonathon Safran Foer – at least Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)
31) What is your desert island book?
Um. I have one volume of all Jane Austen’s novels – does that count?
32) And … what are you reading right now?
I’m reading American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. And I’m listening to Agatha Christie’s Cat Among The Pigeons on audiobook. Love her.
I am not tagging anyone. But I would like to read your answers if you would like to participate. Leave a link in the comments if you post your answers on your blog.
I stole this from Kari, who was not exactly sure what this list is, but it has something to do with the National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read program, though she couldn’t find this list on their website to verify that claim. Apparently the NEA estimates that the average adult has only read six of these books. At least, that is the statistic that is bandied about the internet. So, basically, this is a random unverified list with a random unverified statistic attached to it. But let’s see how I do anyway, shall we? (Hint: more than six.)
Here’s how it works:
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Mark in red the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list in your blog
And I think I’ll stick with Kari on this one and not mark things red – I’ll note on the side if I loved it.
1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen - One of my all time favorites.
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien – I’ve read the first 1.5 books. I should finish.
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte - I could re-read this every single year.
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling – I think you probably know how I feel about these.
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee - I admit to never reading this yet.
6 The Bible - I read through the whole thing in a year sometime in college.
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte – Hate.Hate.Hate. Have tried too many times.
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman – I enjoyed them, despite the controversy.
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens – I am not, in general, a fan of Dickens.
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott – One of my favorites growing up.
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger – I haven’t read it since high school.
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger – I do love this book.
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot – I’ve started this one, but never finished.
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens – Again, not a huge fan of Dickens.
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams - I always want to read this after I see the movie.
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh – I wish I’d read it in time to see the movie.
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck – Haven’t read it, don’t plan on it.
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll – Love this growing up.
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy – I want to re-read it as an adult.
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen – Another favorite.
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen – I love me some Jane.
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis - The one I’ve re-read most often.
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini – Hard to forget.
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez – I doubt that I will ever try this one.
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving – One of my favorites from this current year.
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins – I went through a Wilkie Collins phase.
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery – The whole series.
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy – I have read some Hardy. I liked The Mayor of Casterbridge.
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood – Strange.
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding – I never had to read this one.
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan - Really powerful.
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons – I’ve always wanted to read this.
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen – This is tied with P&P for first place.
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens – Again, I’ve tried several times and failed miserably.
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez Do.not.like.
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold - This one was ok.
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas – Very good.
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac – Started it, hated it.
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens – One of the few I enjoy. (maybe because of the musical – hehe)
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett – I grew up loving this.
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens – The only one of his I really enjoy.
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry – So depressing.
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery – I’ve read parts in French too.
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas – I love me some Dumas. (and the movie is good, too)
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare – Why have the whole collection and separate works on here?
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl – I’ve actually never read any of his stuff, I think.
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo – I have tried many times. One day I will succeed.
So that’s 43. Not bad, I guess. I do love book lists. And that several book club books made it on the list. How many have you read?
I had a reunion this weekend in Charlotte, reuniting several generations those of us who participated in a fantastic children’s choir. The choir, Musical Heirs, was pretty influential in my life, inspiring a love of music that led to voice lessons, multiple choir memberships and continues to this day. The reunion was leading to a concert on Saturday, which turned out really well, I think. And I got to spend time with some of my favorite people (Frances and Alexa, and little Aria ), which made the whole weekend worth it! (Frances, you’ll email me the pictures, right?) Also great that I got to see Dad from the first time since his return from Africa!
I’m house- and dog-sitting for some friends from church, which is really fun – they have a beautiful house, and quite literally insisted that I have friends over while they’re gone. So I’m having some friends over for lunch after church this weekend, and will try to plan another get-together before I go back home. It’s nice having a full-size kitchen to play in, and the dogs are fun to play with.
I’ve fallen behind in detailing my reading lately – they’re all listed here in case you’re wondering what I’m reading these days – currently I’ve left off in the middle of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, originally so I could read A Thousand Splendid Suns (which was amazing!), and I’m now more than halfway through Love Walked In, which I’m really enjoying a lot. I had a really good time reading Spellman Files, a PI story with a strong Veronica Mars feel. And I’ll be reading Possession and The Same Sweet Girls for book clubs (or virtual book clubs ) in the next few weeks. Which will have delayed my Harry Potter re-read such that I’ll be closer to finishing book 6 in the weeks before book 7 is finally released.
And I’ve recently found out that Over the Rhine’s new album, The Trumpet Child, will be out August 21st, with the ability to pre-order starting July 2nd! w00t! Based on what I’ve heard in the concerts I’ve been to, I think this could easily take the ‘Favorite OtR Album’ slot. I’m crazy excited about this CD, especially that we don’t have to wait til later in the year like I thought we might.
I found this really cool site – www.goodreads.com – you can sign up with a profile and keep track of the books you’ve read, what you thought of them, add books you’d like to read in the future, and see what other people are reading and what they think of them. My profile is here. Very cool! I’ve added all the books I’ve read this year so far, plus what I’m reading now, plus some books I’ve liked in the past (just off the top of my head really). I even got Geof to add a sidebar panel (towards the bottom) that shows what I’m currently reading and my last few books, automatically updated when I change my profile at goodreads. So now you can keep up with what I’m reading, even if I don’t get around to writing a new post with my thoughts on each book. Oh, and you should go sign up and then we can be ‘goodreads friends’ and talk about books we like!