5 Books I’ve Read plus 5 Books I’m gonna Read.

Hold on a second.  I absolutely cannot relax in unnatural fibres.  Hold on.

long pauseeeeeeeeeeeeee

O.K.  I just changed my sweater.  Holy crap, I haven’t worn acrylic since 1982.  I think it’s quite possible the sun is made entirely out of acrylic.  If I’m hot I can’t relax, and if I can’t relax I can’t write.  Writing’s not unlike pooping.  Any little thing can throw you right off.   And today, I’m writing about reading, so if I were hot I might get irritated and confused and read about writing which would leave you folks with a blank post.  Although after rereading my first few sentences here, reading a couple of chapters on how to write might not do me any harm.

My mother tells me I could read by the age of 4.   I’ve been reading everything that’s got in my way ever since.  (except chicken banning by-laws)  There are very few things in life that give me as much pleasure as a night table filled with a stack of books waiting to be read.  Conversely, nothing gets me more anxious and agitated than nearing the end of a book with no remaining stack in sight.  (except maybe an acrylic sweater)

The way some of you are always in a fit over what to have for dinner, I’m always in a fit over what to read.  So … I figured you too might be in need of some book inspiration.  So I have for you today a list of my 5 favourite books from the past year and 5 books I’m looking forward to reading this year.

I’ve included synopses from either the Chapters or Amazon online site so you get a basic idea of what the book is about.  Plagiarism in a post about reading and writing, is my gift to you.

 

Last Year

 

Blood, Bones and Butter  (non-fiction)

The Inadvertant Education of a Reluctant Chef

 

 

Before Gabrielle Hamilton opened her acclaimed New York restaurant Prune, she spent twenty hard-living years trying to find purpose and meaning in her life. Blood, Bones & Butter follows an unconventional journey through the many kitchens Hamilton has inhabited through the years: the rural kitchen of her childhood, where her adored mother stood over the six-burner with an oily wooden spoon in hand; the kitchens of France, Greece, and Turkey, where she was often fed by complete strangers and learned the essence of hospitality; Hamilton’s own kitchen at Prune, with its many unexpected challenges; and the kitchen of her Italian mother-in-law, who serves as the link between Hamilton’s idyllic past and her own future family—the result of a prickly marriage that nonetheless yields lasting dividends. By turns epic and intimate, Gabrielle Hamilton’s story is told with uncommon honesty, grit, humor, and passion.
synopsis from chapters.ca

The Help

 

by Kathryn Stockett

Aibileen is a black maid in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, who”s always taken orders quietly, but lately she”s unable to hold her bitterness back. Her friend Minny has never held her tongue but now must somehow keep secrets about her employer that leave her speechless. White socialite Skeeter just graduated college. She”s full of ambition, but without a husband, she”s considered a failure. Together, these seemingly different women join together to write a tell-all book about work as a black maid in the South, that could forever alter their destinies and the life of a small town…

synopsis from chapters.ca

Boy’s Life

by Robert McCammon

 

Robert McCammon delivers “a tour de force of storytelling” (BookPage) in his award-winning masterpiece, a novel of Southern boyhood, growing up in the 1960s, that reaches far beyond that evocative landscape to touch readers universally.

Boy’s Life is a richly imagined, spellbinding portrait of the magical worldview of the young — and of innocence lost.

Zephyr, Alabama, is an idyllic hometown for eleven-year-old Cory Mackenson — a place where monsters swim the river deep and friends are forever. Then, one cold spring morning, Cory and his father witness a car plunge into a lake — and a desperate rescue attempt brings his father face-to-face with a terrible, haunting vision of death. As Cory struggles to understand his father’s pain, his eyes are slowly opened to the forces of good and evil that surround him. From an ancient mystic who can hear the dead and bewitch the living, to a violent clan of moonshiners, Cory must confront the secrets that hide in the shadows of his hometown — for his father’s sanity and his own life hang in the balance….

synopsis from amazon.com

The Lacuna

by Barbra Kingsolver

In her most accomplished novel, Barbara Kingsolver takes us on an epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover. The Lacuna is a poignant story of a man pulled between two nations as they invent their modern identities.

Born in the United States, reared in a series of provisional households in Mexico—from a coastal island jungle to 1930s Mexico City—Harrison Shepherd finds precarious shelter but no sense of home on his thrilling odyssey. Life is whatever he learns from housekeepers who put him to work in the kitchen, errands he runs in the streets, and one fateful day, by mixing plaster for famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. He discovers a passion for Aztec history and meets the exotic, imperious artist Frida Kahlo, who will become his lifelong friend. When he goes to work for Lev Trotsky, an exiled political leader fighting for his life, Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution, newspaper headlines and howling gossip, and a risk of terrible violence.

Meanwhile, to the north, the United States will soon be caught up in the internationalist goodwill of World War II. There in the land of his birth, Shepherd believes he might remake himself in America’s hopeful image and claim a voice of his own. He finds support from an unlikely kindred soul, his stenographer, Mrs. Brown, who will be far more valuable to her employer than he could ever know. Through darkening years, political winds continue to toss him between north and south in a plot that turns many times on the unspeakable breach—the lacuna—between truth and public presumption.

With deeply compelling characters, a vivid sense of place, and a clear grasp of how history and public opinion can shape a life, Barbara Kingsolver has created an unforgettable portrait of the artist—and of art itself. The Lacuna is a rich and daring work of literature, establishing its author as one of the most provocative and important of her time.

 

New York

 

by Edward Rutherfurd

 

Edward Rutherfurd celebrates America’s greatest city in a rich, engrossing saga, weaving together tales of families rich and poor, native-born and immigrant—a cast of fictional and true characters whose fates rise and fall and rise again with the city’s fortunes. From this intimate perspective we see New York’s humble beginnings as a tiny Indian fishing village, the arrival of Dutch and British merchants, the Revolutionary War, the emergence of the city as a great trading and financial center, the convulsions of the Civil War, the excesses of the Gilded Age, the explosion of immigration in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the trials of World War II, the near demise of New York in the 1970s and its roaring rebirth in the 1990s, and the attack on the World Trade Center. A stirring mix of battle, romance, family struggles, and personal triumphs, New York: The Novel gloriously captures the search for freedom and opportunity at the heart of our nation’s history.

Synopsis from amazon.com

 

 

 

This Year 

 

Steve Jobs Bio

by Walter Isaacson

Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.

At a time when America is seeking ways to sustain its innovative edge, and when societies around the world are trying to build digital-age economies, Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination. He knew that the best way to create value in the twenty-first century was to connect creativity with technology. He built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering.

Although Jobs cooperated with this book, he asked for no control over what was written nor even the right to read it before it was published. He put nothing off-limits. He encouraged the people he knew to speak honestly. And Jobs speaks candidly, sometimes brutally so, about the people he worked with and competed against. His friends, foes, and colleagues provide an unvarnished view of the passions, perfectionism, obsessions, artistry, devilry, and compulsion for control that shaped his approach to business and the innovative products that resulted.

Driven by demons, Jobs could drive those around him to fury and despair. But his personality and products were interrelated, just as Apple’s hardware and software tended to be, as if part of an integrated system. His tale is instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership, and values.

synopsis by amazon.com

The Book Thief

 

by Marcus Zusak

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

synopsis from amazon.com

Little House on the Prairie collection

 by … seriously?  Well O.k.  … if you really don’t know … Laura Ingalls Wilder

Set during the pioneer days of the late 1800s and early 1900s, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books chronicle her life growing up on the Western frontier. For the first time in the history of the Little House books, these new editions feature Garth Williams’ interior art in vibrant, full color. Come along for the adventure with this collector’s set of the first fiveLittle House books.

synopsis from amazon.com

The Hunger Games

by Suzanne Collins

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.

synopsis from amazon.com

The Night Circus

 by Erin Morgenstern

In this mesmerizing debut, a competition between two magicians becomes a star-crossed love story.

The circus arrives at night, without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within nocturnal black and white striped tents awaits a unique experience, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stand awestruck as a tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and gaze in wonderment at an illusionist performing impossible feats of magic.

Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves. Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is underway – a contest between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in “a game,” in which each must use their powers of illusion to best the other. Unbeknownst to them, this game is a duel to the death, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will.

synopsis from chapters.ca

 

 

If I’m being totally honest with you, 2011 wasn’t a good year for me and books.  I started a few I couldn’t finish.  Books I thought I’d love, but clearly didn’t.  Books by Ian McEwan, Jonathan Franzen, and old favourites like John Irving.  I’ll try them again later.  Except maybe the Jonathan Franzen.  I always give a book a second chance.   Except maybe Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.  Years ago, I tried to read Lonesome Dove.  A few times.   I hated that book.  I hated it the first 5 or 6 times I picked it up.  I always got to the same point in Chapter 1 and gave up.  This went on for years.  Then one day … I was in the right mood.  The right frame of mind for that particular book.  That book, that struggle of a book, became my favourite book of all time.

O.K. folks. Your turn. What’s your favourite book from last year?  You can lie to me if you want and just say  your favourite book in general ’cause there’s no way I’ll ever know that you didn’t read it last year.   If I ever find out though, I’ll forever think of you as a liar and banish you to the depths of hell.  Wrapped in acrylic. While reading Freedom by  Jonathan Franzen.

 

187 Comments

  1. Christine says:

    The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
    A Wise Man’s Fear – Patrick Rothfuss
    American Gods – Neil Gaiman
    The Warded Man – Peter Brett
    The Desert Spear – Peter Brett
    Ender’s Game (whole series) – Orson Scott Card
    Black Dagger Brotherhood – J.R. Ward (whole series)

    ok I have a three book a week habit:) I read a lot!

  2. Marti says:

    I read the Stieg Larsson’s “Girl W/” series this past year. Twice. Thinking about reading it again. Just for the fun of it.

    Karen, did anyone offer you “Guernsey Island Potato Peel Literary Society” or something like that? I’ve had that on my table for weeks. I’ve read 30-40 pages of it. I just. Can’t. Get. It. yawn. Seen it/tried it/read it?

  3. Rebecca says:

    Loved The Help, but hated The Lacuna. Would like to read Boys Life and New York.

    That Book Thief book was a little piece of torture. Hated it.

    I’ve also had a bad year for books. Just finished Sunset Park by Paul Auster (one of my all-time fave authors) and it stunk. Also hated The Last Concubine.

    I liked Room for the first half or so.

    I’d have to say the two that stick out in my very porous mind are The Help and Sarah’s Key (a wonderful read. Also just read her other book which was pretty good-can’t remember the name and I’ve already lent it out)

    I also get stressed out when I’m nearing the end of a book and have nothing in my bedside stack. Right now I’m reading Half-Blood Blues and enjoying it. Up next are Home Safe and Infidel.

    Oh, I read The Girl with the Pearl Earring which is kinda old, but I really enjoyed it.

    Well, there’s my book report. I’m hoping for a few more can’t put it down kind of books for 2012!

    • Jane says:

      How could you possibly hate Lacuna? It was so interesting!

      • Patti says:

        Yes!

        I read Sarah’s Key and it was really well written – very gripping. By Tatiana de Rosnay, you can find it here:
        http://www.amazon.com/Sarahs-Key-Tatiana-Rosnay/dp/0312370830

        I have heard ALL this GREAT stuff about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and so, I started it. I finished it, but I’m not sold. I’ve started the second of the series, but I’m kind of going.. “is it really worth it?” Thoughts? Anyone?

        The Help is awesome. Really loved it. Waiting to see the movie with my girlfriends.Booyeah.

        Favourite book of all time – Glass Castle. Yup. Read it.

        • Kim Steinmetz says:

          I hope you kept going. I read the whole trio (Steig Larsson). I recommended them to my friend…she, too stalled on the second — I convinced her to keep going and she loved the rest and the third! I think you will too.

  4. Erin Q. says:

    I heartily recommend The Hunger Games and The Book Thief. I think I actually liked I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak even more than the Book Thief, so I’d recommend that.

    Read and Loved this Year:
    People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
    The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay
    The Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich
    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaeffer and Annie Barrows (re-read)
    The Help
    The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

  5. Renee says:

    Yes, read The Hunger Games first so you see it before the movie comes out. I have not yet met a woman that read it and didn’t love it, and I have met at least 10 women (whose normal book fare varied from Shakespeare to Sci Fi) that read it and then read the next in the series immediately!

  6. Ann says:

    Ms Peregrin’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

    The Help

    Til I Find You by John Irving

    Poisenwood Bible-Barbara Kingsolver

    Sarah’s Key by Tatiana Rosenay-

    • Karen says:

      Ann – Sarah’s Key is on my Chapters wish list. ~ karen

      • Dotti says:

        I loved Sarah’s Key – tragic, yet so well written and compelling.

        I loved The Help and can’t believe I haven’t seen the movie yet.

        Thanks for sharing, some of these look awesome. The last two years I have been sucked into the “can’t put it down, takes me away from work, losing sleep at night” vortex of book series. Stieg Larson did it to me last year and George R.R. Martin did it to me this year (and I’ve never read fantasy before).

        Thanks for the inspiration

    • Gala VanEaton says:

      Ann–I’ve read 3 of your 5 and agree they’re good, so I’ll try your other 2.

  7. Renee says:

    Also, I agree with Christine about the Ender’s Game series. I got a Kindle for Christmas and have already read 4 of the 8 books (1 2 3 and 5), they are so good!

    Thanks for all of the ideas. My Kindle will be busy 🙂

    • sarah says:

      The Sisters Brothers by Patrick De Witt.

      Set in the gold rush of America with beautifully crafted characters. Quite brutal but with tenderness too, it reminded me of Cormac McCarthy’s
      all the pretty horses trio. I loved it.

  8. Erin McLeod says:

    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (and the sequels, Catching Fire and Mockingjay). By far the only books I LOVED in 2011 though I tried many.

    I’ve gone through a phase of attempting to read the ones that have spawned TV shows (because I figure the book must be better – they were not). These include the Sookie Stackhouse novels (Sookie is too stupid for me to read about), The Vampire Diaries (BAD.), Kathy Reichs (which inspired Bones – too gruesome and depressing). Contemplating The Book Thief but currently immersed in “Land of the Painted Caves” by Jean Auel.

    • burbhappy says:

      Bones is nothing like the character in Reichs books – I much prefer the books. Sometimes they can be gruesome. Read The Hunger Games – just didn’t like it. I usually like apocalyptic fiction, but was disappointed that we never learn the premise for the apocalypse because the heroine didn’t pay attention during history class! My irritation was probably influenced by the fact that I work in a high school, where lots of kids pay no attention in class, and then wonder why they can’t pass.

  9. I can get peeved by a book very quickly now, so I can easily take five out of the library and finish only two. Much better luck with biography than fiction, but some of my favorite accessible English authors aren’t available here (Elizabeth Falconer!)

    Best book of all time? A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry. Bury me with it.

    • Karen says:

      Yup. Damn good book. Damn good. ~ karen

    • ET says:

      Absolutely enthralled by the characters in this book. Was in India many years ago, and so many of my impressions of the people there and their plight were made even more real by this book. Read it a few years ago, but may revisit and read again.

      Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible was also deeply moving to me. Had a lot of “religion” in my upbringing and although I experienced no abuse as happened in this book, felt a kinship with the protagonist and her attitude toward so much of the farcical nature of some of her father’s silly ideas.

      Life is hard for so many people.

  10. magali says:

    The Book Thief was good, but there are still very vivid unpleasant images that pop up in my head randomly every now and then.

    In all honesty, my favourite books are and will always be the Harry Potter series. I have a feeling I’ll be judged for this!

  11. Connie (GrandmaC) says:

    My guilty secret reading pleasure was the trashy historical fiction series by Diana Gabaldon called “Outlander”. I loved it because the first two books were set in an area in scotland with strong family connections. My husband first cousins own two castles in scotland and Beaufort castle features prominently in the second book of the series. About 10 years ago the threw a fabulous 60th anniversary for their parents and flew al the Canadian relatives over for 10 days of parties and tours and we saw all of the important sites in the books. Culloden moor, Beaulie, Crieff, Edinborough, Inverness and so many others. My husband is a descendant of Simon Fraser which is why his cousin wante to buy Beaufort

    • Jen H. says:

      Outlander was a great book- have the sequel, but haven’t been able to finish it yet- for whatever reason not as compelling to me as the first. A seriously good guilty pleasure

      • Shauna says:

        I agree. Loved Outlander as a good ‘trashy’ historical fiction (LOVE historical fiction in all ways) and actually made it to or through (can’t remember) the fourth book and then just thought, “why?” “why am I still reading these when there are so many better books out there right now”. So I gave up and moved on to The Help. And, now The Hunger Games. Both fantastic!

    • burbhappy says:

      love this series!

    • Amy says:

      I take great offense at the term “trashy” to describe the Outlander series. Diana Gabaldon is one of the best writers I have read and I have read a lot. She is diligent about her research and the historical facts are always accurate. If she chooses to take liberties she notes them at the end of her books. I have read all 7 of the Outlander books (more than once) plus the Lord John books and am anxiously waiting on book 8. Obviously I would recommend these books for your night stand.

  12. Connie (GrandmaC) says:

    I forgot to mention I am the same way with needing a stack of books-on-deck. One isnt enough- five makes good sense. I’ve had a first edition Kobo for a couple of years and just got the Kobo Vox from my kids for Cbristmas. Love both of them and read about 5 library books a week. Will add your titles to my library wish list . It’s a big plus to be able to borrow books from library over wifi and its so fast.
    .

  13. I’ve been into auto/biographies lately – Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Gonzo (about Hunter S. Thompson – great read!). I tend to read about 3 or 4 books at a time – if their plots are very different, I can keep the stories straight. (Not bragging. I think I have A.D.D. And it takes me forever to get through them). I decided this year to just relax and read one at a time. Currently reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
    I have never read the Little House series – I grew up watching the TV show, though. I’m thinking to read those this year. 🙂

  14. gloria says:

    Do you ever just stare at the cover of a book for a while not wanting to open it, because you want to keep the anticipation going a little bit longer? I do that with every book I read.
    The Help, loved it. But listened to it on audiobook because I knew that with the accents it would be great that way. I was right.
    Hunger Games, print edition, loved it.
    The Book Thief, audiobook, loved it.
    Have read all of Kingsolver’s but this one, so maybe that goes on my to-read list.
    Try one of Jonathan Foer-Safran’s books, Everything is Illuminated or Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud.
    But, I think one of the nicest surprises I found last year was Alan Bradley and his Flavia DeLuce series which started with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. How I love the girl is these stories.
    And yes, a 1000 times yes, Lonesome Dove. It ranks neck and neck with To Kill A Mockingbird for me.

    • debbieo says:

      I totally agree with you on the Flavia deLuce series. The audio versions are wonderful too. I could read/listen to these again and again.

  15. The Game of Thrones series is phenomenal! But be warned, each book is upwards of 700 pages and once you start you will be up all night reading until you are done – it’s that awesome (or dastardly if you actually have to work or something 🙂

  16. Jan says:

    The Book Thief is great!
    Also Anna Funder’s “Stasiland” and Mark Kurlansky’s “Salt”.

    But one my favourite books of all time? “Colour: journey’s through the paintbox, by Victoria Findley.

    • Jeannine says:

      Oooh, I so agree about “Colour” by Victoria Findley. It absolutly changes your view of the world. Fantastic stories about the sources of the color in our world, now and throughout history.

  17. Max Barry! Anything he writes is always entertaining. My favourite novelist from down unda!

    He’s written:
    Syrup
    Jennifer Government
    Company
    Machine Man

    They’re actually making a movie based on Syrup! Can’t wait!

  18. Lucy says:

    Aaaaaccccchhhhhhh!!! Keep The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on your list! It was one of the best books I read all year and it’s being passed around and around and around to friends and family. Stay with it. Loved The Help…and Lonesome Dove is one of my all-time favorite books. Against my usual practice of not making long-term commitments, I’ve watched the mini-series 3 or 4 times. Another favorite book was The Secret Life of Bees. My lists of have-read and hope-to-read are long. I’m never without a book. Seeing the movie The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has made me want to read that series.

  19. Lucy says:

    PS: Thanks, all, for the recommendations. I’m bookmarking this post for ideas.

  20. Louise says:

    Ahhh! How did you like The Lacuna?? That was my pick for our book club, but others thought it was tooo long! hmp! The book thief is on my library wait list as well as the Night Circus! The hunger games was really good. And i remember reading the Laura Ingalls series as a kid. great list!!!

    • Karen says:

      Louise – I actually wasn’t in love with The Lacuna … I liked it … just didn’t go nuts over it. That’s how bad my book choices were last year! I had to include a book I only thought was O.K. on my top 5, LOL. I agree that it was a bit long. :/ ~ karen

  21. Aimee says:

    My favorite read of 2011 was the entire Song of Ice & Fire series by George R.R. Martin. (The series upon which the HBO series Game of Thrones is based.) It blew me away. Now in my top 3 favorites ever. (The others being The Count of Monte Cristo and the Harry Potter series.)

    Liked The Help a lot, and New York is actually the next book on my stack. I got Lacuna from the library & somehow didn’t manage to read it before returning it. I’ll check it out again. I love Kingsolver.

    The Book Thief is INCREDIBLE. One of my top 5 of the past two years. As is Hunger Games, although I liked the first book in trilogy much more than #2 & 3. I re-read the Little House books every year or so.

    Have you read The Count of Monte Cristo? It’s another annual read for me; my favorite book of all time. (The abridged version, because it’s Dumas, and I must have Dumas abridged.)

    I loved Guernsey Literary (etc.); give it a try!

    Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone! My “To read” shelf on GoodReads is going to be beefed up tonight…

  22. Valerie says:

    Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum

  23. Linda says:

    It’s virtually impossible for me to choose a favourite book, be it from last year or of all time. I’m such a complete bibliophile that books consume me. My favourite book is whichever one I’m reading at the moment. But I will tell you my most memorable book of 2011. I first read this book in 1994 when it was brand new and had just been published. I was only 13 at the time and it must have left a huge impression. The book was The Hidden Realms by Sharon Green. I’d spent years dreaming about this book and finally took the time to hunt it down again. I was lucky to find a copy but I’ve re-read it three times since November. Another title to add to the collection that will never leave my book shelves again.

  24. I had the same experience with Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway. The first few times I tried to read it I thought, ‘Who can spend this long picking flowers for a dinner party!’ and got really annoyed by the slow pace of it all. Once I learned to just enjoy the prose, and not look for a story, it too, became one of my all-time favorite books! You just have to be in the mood sometimes. I’m going to try Lonesome Dove next…

  25. Susan says:

    I loved, loved, loved the potato peel book! At first a bit slow but after a awhile I couldn’t put it down. When I read something like that the world disappears and I see nothing, do nothing, and say nothing but read, read, read!! I love it!! I too could read at an early age and have never stopped. I read everything…. When desperate I read the sides of cereal boxes!! Love the suggestions ladies…warming up the iPad as we speak. Although I much prefer the feel of the paper pages, turning an electronic device on and off doesn’t have the same smell or appeal as an old fashioned book. 🙂

  26. Gayla T says:

    I didn’t know Rutheford had a new book out. I fell for him with his “Ireland” and have read everything he’s written. Since Christmas I’ve read all of Patrick Taylor’s series of Irish Country Doctor books and loved them. He’s got another one due out about now. I just finished Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes which is not new but new to me. It rated off the chart on tear factor so don’t even start it w/o a big box of tissue. I’m going on ebay and get her second book tonight, yet. When I read an author that I like I try to read everything they have done up to now. Just a weird habit I’ve developed over the years. The Help was so sad because I married into that culture. This Yankee girl met Southern boy and the sparks flew. It just killed me that someone I loved so much could have such a huge character flaw as being racist but then I went to Alabama and met the family. Right off the bat advised not to speak to the coloreds as it just makes trouble for them. That from the rich uncle who ran the family and it only got worse. I’m happy to report that he did change over the years living in Kansas. Our children just watched the movie and were shocked that their dad came out of that. I took the best the south had to offer, my husband and their cookig. Can you imagine baking bread and never measuring a thing? My MIL and SIL could and were shocked that he married a woman who couldn’t. And still can’t. I weaned him off that stuff very quickly. He actually expected fresh hot biscuits at every meal. That is one time I liked the movie as well as the book. Thanks for the suggestions. I’ve almost run out of books to get me through the winter but I read one of the Miss Julia books and she has a long list of those books for me to run down. They are so funny the dog got out of bed. She couldn’t sleep because I was laughing so hard. The cat sleeps through every thing. It’s after 3 am so I’m going to bed and read myself to sleep.

  27. Robyn says:

    This has come at the perfect time. I walked out of the library with noting the other day simply because I had no clue what I wanted to read. Have already looked online to see which of these books are currently in. Going tmrw to pick some up!
    Thank You!

  28. Gina says:

    Hunger games are wonderful, I agree.
    I think you would also love Alan Bradley books:
    The Sweetness at the Botom of the Pie
    The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bow
    The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
    all starring a young female sleuth who loves POISON

    One of my favorites last year: Cutting for Stone by Vorhees

    I cannot LIVE without books. I always have a library stash, a bunch on the Kindle, credit at the used bookstore, and shipments from Bookswim(which is like Netflix for book whores). And yet, always wondering about the next book I’m going to read….It’s a sickness…..

  29. Emily says:

    I love that the Little House on the Prairie is on this list! I have vivid memories of my mother reading the series to us on cold winter nights growing up. I’d love to read it again!

    Just finished One Day and hated it, all 400 pages of it. But read all of the Stieg Larssen books and just wished he’d written more!

  30. Jen Heicklen says:

    Where to begin…(these are more than just last year, but remarkable enough to mention)…

    The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood
    Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
    Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese
    Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom (and I am 0 religious)
    Moloka’i by Alan Brennert
    Sunday’s Child (The Pea Island Series) by Tom Lewis

  31. Amy says:

    The Night Circus is on my reading list too. I think you will love The Gum Thief and Hunger Games series. I read them both last year and thoroughly enjoyed them.

  32. Sharon says:

    Loved “The Help” (read it twice), especially the Chocolate pie! I read “Virgin Cures” and loved it as well! Currently reading “The Mistress of Nothing” and “Cold Hard Truth”, yes, I know but I love Kevin O’Leary. He must know something. He has more money than I do!! Patiently waiting is “The Cat’s Table”, “The Book of Negroes” and many others!

    • Karen says:

      Sharon – The Book of Negroes is utterly fantastic. Unbelievably good book. He lives around me and I went to see him speak last year or the year before at a local synagogue. Very interesting. ~ karen

  33. BTLover2 says:

    We have the same affliction: we get the DT’s if we don’t have a stack on the nightstand (or if there isn’t at least 1 book waiting to be read).

    I loved The Book Thief and I have The Night Circus sitting on the nightstand 🙂

    I also enjoyed Lady of the Butterflies, The Lost Wife, To Be Sung Underwater, The Sandalwood Tree and The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb (just to name a few).

    Enjoy your next reading session in something soft and comfy!

  34. The Help was my favourite read from last year. But I also loved the Glass Castle. I just bought The Hunger Games, but haven’t started reading it yet. To be honest, was hoping to avoid the hype but my 11 year old son wants to read it and I’m not sure it’s appropriate for him. After that, Cutting for Stone is waiting for me on my bedside table as is the Steve Jobs book.

  35. Stefanie says:

    I’ve had “read 50 books in one year ” on a wish list for several years, I’ve come close, but never made it. Everyone is missing one of my absolute favorite books- Zeitoun by Dave Eggers.

  36. Alexandra says:

    Karen! Are you on Goodreads?!? If not, you should be! I would totally follow you.

    Anyway, I’ve got a list of my faves this year:

    The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
    Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
    A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
    Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
    Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
    Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern

    I’ve read the first two books of the Hunger Games already this year and they’re so awesome. I’m pretty sure you’re going to love them.

  37. Lindsay says:

    I had Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close on my book shelf for a few years before I finally started reading it. I heard it was being turned into a movie and that always makes me hurry up and read a book. It was a heavy book but I’m glad I read it. This year I’m reading some classics, halfway through Pride and Prejudice.

  38. Melody Madden says:

    11/22/63 Stephen King
    The Book Thief Markus Zusak
    I Am The Messenger Markus Zsuak
    All of the Stieg Larsson books
    Into Thin Air Jon Krakauer
    Into The Wild Jon Krakauer

  39. Tris says:

    Dude! I was totally chomping at the bit for the last book in the Earth’s Children series by Jean Auel…The Land of Painted Caves. I couldn’t get through it nor could my mother. 🙁 Ah well. My favorite recent read was The Other Queen by Pilippa Gregory. Anything by Jon Hassler or Maeve Binchy are always good destress reads for me. I’ll have to hit my Little House books again too.

  40. Gala VanEaton says:

    I read these two books in 2011 and they will be on my list of all-time favorites, which means they’re beyond good reads. Both are not read quickly but completely worthwhile.
    Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne (and up for a Pulitzer)
    The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (found while I was in Chicago in November).
    Both are non-fiction and I’m surprised at myself for loving these “histories” so much. Please enjoy.

  41. LaineyDid says:

    ‘The Paris Wife’. It’s a fabulous read about Hemingway’s first wife and transports you to Paris in the twenties.
    It’s reminiscent of the charming film ‘Midnight in Paris’ when Owen Wilson goes back in time. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend renting it 🙂

  42. joanne says:

    Still Alice, by Lisa Genove
    Little Bee, by Chris Cleave
    Room, by Emma Donoghue
    Strangers at the Feast, by Jennifer Vanderbes
    The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton
    A Thousand White Women, by Jim Fergus

    I agree with recommendations of Sarah’s Key and The Help.

    But I can’t seem to get into either The Lacuna, or The Girl with The ___” series.
    Can’t get into the “Girl with the … ” series…
    Can’t get through Lacuna.. have been trying… and am ready to put it aside.

    Still Alice (a fictional 1st person account of a Harvard professor who is diagnosed with early onset Altzheimers. funny, poignant, sad & memorable) — is the book I always recommend and haven’t found anyone who doesn’t like it.

  43. Joanne says:

    Like you, I get a little antsy when I realize that my book supply is getting low. I usually call everyone I know and tell them I’m in need…and they give me tons.
    Have you read anything by Lori Lansens? The Girls and Rush Home Road are both awesome reads.
    The Hunger Games \Trilogy was fantastic. Happy Reading.

  44. Jen A says:

    Have you read “Lamb” by Michael Moore. (not the doucmentary guy, he’s the author guy). If you have and a good sense of humour, it’s ridculously funny.

  45. Jan says:

    West With The Night. A female pilot who flew from Britain, aiming for New York, but landed in a Canadian bog. She was a contemporary of the Out of Africa group. Beautifully written, and must be read yearly.

  46. Amy says:

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

  47. Jackie says:

    The Night Circus was my favorite book last year! Its fantastic and beautiful and magical. Highly recommend to everyone.

  48. Patricia says:

    The Hunger Games Trilogy was Ah-mazing!!!! So funndy that you chose this post today. I’ve been harrassing everyone in my office, home, public transit etc to read this book:

    Glass Boys, by Nicole Lundrigan.

    This is the first novel by the Newfoundland native. Very compelling and I warn you highly addictive. Your only regret from reading this book is all the duties and obligations you’ll most likely ignore as you wont be able to put the damn book down once you’ve picked it up!!!

    TOTALLY WORTH IT!!!

  49. jen says:

    I’ve tried to get through The Book Thief for years. I simply cannot do it. LOVED the Hunger Game series, though I have met a few people that just didn’t like it (they seem to be few & far between). I’ve also read The Night Circus and enjoyed it, though it wasn’t my favorite. I’m with you on Freedom. My husband bought me the book after hearing an interview with the author and I just couldn’t stand the writing or the characters or really anything about it.
    Last year I read lots of books that were wonderful – loved Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Into the Whirlwind (about Stalin’s reign of terror).

  50. Liz S. says:

    I’m reading Geek Love right now and just ordered the Night Circus. One of my favorites that I read last year was the Time Traveler.

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