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. Michelle in Htown says:

    Last year I reread “To Kill a Mockingbird.” A great story and just so darned well-written.

    I am on book 2 of the “Hunger Games” trilogy and could.not.put.down the first one. It was like a drug!

    Please read: “The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival.” It is a small book, a quick read and an absolutely hilarious look at rural Louisiana. I can almost promise, based on your blog’s voice, that you will love it.

    Cheers from Houston, where’ it’s 78 degrees today. What’s that about? (Rhetorically spoken)

  2. Jeannine says:

    There are sooooo many listed here that are great reads, and I love that so many categories are represented. I’d like to put in a mention for “The Coral Thief” by Rebecca Stott. This is a beautifully written novel that takes you to 1815 Paris where the world is on the cusp of change in so many ways. Napoleon has just been sent to his final exile and on the fringes of science and art and politics a panoply of mysterious characters draw you into a fascinating plot. And now I must go to Amazon….

  3. Heather says:

    Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson. I reread it every few years.

  4. julie says:

    “Half-Broke Horses” was great. I’m totally with you– I HATED ‘Freedom,’ and regret that I took the time to finish it! Life is short; put down books that suck!

  5. Caroline says:

    Karen, try The Glass Castle, A Memoir by Jeanette Walls. Very good.

  6. Bev says:

    Am loving all these lists of great books! I have signed on for a number of book challenges for this year and looking forward to lots of reading this year.
    My favourites were:
    The Thirteenth Tale
    The Gamache series – I read “Bury Your Dead” first as it was the One Book One Community” book last year for Waterloo. So enjoyed it that I had to read her next one – “A Trick of the Light”. Loved it. Then found out she had 5 other books in the series! Now I am catching up.

    Still Alice
    Potato Peel/Literary Society – absolutely loved it!

    I’ve already read “Sarah’s Key” this year (stunning – couldn’t put it down)and another by her “Secret Kept” and “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”.
    I need to finish “The Help” and want to read Steve Jobs’ bio. next.

  7. Sandy says:

    I read a ton too, but two of my all-time favorites are “Stones From the River” by Urula Hege and “A Thousand Splendid Suns”. Both are outstanding!!!

    Love, love, love your blog!!! I’m always calling my sister at work and reading your posts to her.

    • Karen says:

      Sandy – Thanks! Tell your sister to read the site herself for the love of God. And yup. Read both those books. Loved em. ~ karen

      • Sandy says:

        I DO tell her to read it herself, everytime I read it TO her. But she really is a Little House on the Prairie type. As in, she doesn’t “go on the internet” at home cuz she’s busy canning or gardening or making wine, etc.

        Also, forgot to say before. I trudged through “Freedom” and hated every minute of it. It’s the first book I’ve ever considered throwing in the trash!

        • Karen says:

          Sandy – Happy to know I’m not the only one! I have a feeling a lot more people hated it than us … they’re just too afraid to say so out loud, LOL. ~ karen

  8. Pat says:

    Yes, I agree about your comment about the foot binding. Why is it something so horrific can be so fascinating. I think because it is so beyond our scope of experience. I just read a book called “The Binding Chair” that has a heart wrenching description of the initial binding experience. The rest of the book is okay, including descriptions of the purpose served by those feet (yikes)…. but not a high recommendation.

    Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is another great Lisa See book and not as sad as Peony In Love. I am not a short story lover but just read some wonderful short stories by Johanna Skibsrud, This Will Be Difficult to Explain. I think Diane Schomperlen’s forms of devotion, short stories would appeal to you because the stories are quite quirky and a bit bizarre…..right up your alley. My neighbour thought they were weird!

  9. Kelly says:

    What a fabulous list for all us readers. You must put on Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver. I think it is her best, and Half Broke Horses by Wallis. Of course The Help. It is great to reflect on the good ones, but frustrating that nothing has been meeting that lately. Hopefully this list will help.

  10. Aaaah! Books! I’m actually having a problem right now even writing a blog because I’m engrossed in “A Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin…it’s a series of 4 books that are from 700 to 1,000 pages each and I’m now on book 4. It’s one of the BEST books I’ve ever read, better than the Hunger Games, on a par with Diana Gabaldon’s series! I’m not kidding…think my hubby’s getting upset…he thought my blogging made me oblivious of him…hahaha…now I’m oblivious of my blogging! But, he’s reading it too on his kindle! Sorry, I know it was supposed to be a last year’s book…but I think you needed to know this! xo

  11. Nancy says:

    Good for you!
    I just completed the Hunger Games trilogy – FANTASTIC!
    MY husband and two children have read them as well, so when the movie comes out in March, we’re all skipping school and work to check our the flick!

    Currently, I’m reading Pillars of the Earth and I can’t put it down!

  12. Laura Bee says:

    Waiting on my bookcase are John Irving’s “A Widow for One Year” & “Last Night in Twisted River”. I just started “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” by Kim Edwards. Just finished “PUSH” by Sapphire & before that Roddy Doyle’s “The Van” (Brilliant & my hubby wants a chip truck too, so even better! Trying to get him to read it now) & “The Cure for Death by Lightning” by Gail Angerson-Dargatz (A Recipe for Bees is very good as well)
    I was on mat leave last year. In that year I read the last four Janet Evanovich’s, and a lot of Dr Seuss. Ok, I still love “There’s a Wocket in My Pocket” & I can’t wait to pull my “Little House” books out for her when she’s bigger, but I’m glad I’ve found the time to get back to my stack! During my pregnancy I read a half dozen Margaret Atwood’s that I tried to read in my 20’s. It’s always good to give a book another try 🙂

  13. Whitney says:

    The Help was the last book I read last year. It took everything I had in me not to throw things at the TV when I watched the movie afterwards…

  14. Laurie says:

    One of my favorites was Pillars of the Earth. World Without End, the sequal,came out years later and it’s great too.

  15. Shauna says:

    Ooh, many of these sound great. I also read The Help and loved it. Just started reading The Hunger Games with no idea going into it exactly what it was about (just recommended to me and I have to read a book before the movie comes out). Anyway, it’s a total page turner. Totally disturbing and weird and great all at the same time. You’ll love it!

  16. Liz says:

    Here are my favorites:
    City of Thieves – David Benioff
    East of Eden – John Steinbeck
    Devil in the White City – Erik Larson

  17. gloria says:

    Best of all time for me, besides To Kill A Mockingbird and Lonesome Dove is the trilogy about Morris Bird III by Don Robertson: The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread, The Sum and Total of Now, The Greatest Thing That Almost Happened.

  18. Elle says:

    I love “The Help”! such a feel-good book! I bought copies of the book as gifts to my best friends last year.

    I’m currently reading about Scandinavians (mostly) getting murdered.
    Going through all of Jo Nesbo’d Harry Hole books and Henning Mankel’s Inspector Wallander series. In totall there are 18 books combined in both series of which I have already read 6.
    Today I ordered me some books from The Bookdepository.com (love that store!) including the latest Maisie Dobbs book by Winspear: “A lesson in secrtes”.

    (can you tell I mainly read detective stories?)

  19. Dawn says:

    I too love reading, my stand out books of last year were:

    World War Z – tale of a zombie apocapalyse, written in the form of interviews with different survivors – excellent!

    Snuff – any Terry Pratchett book always makes me happy.

    Wuthering Heights – part of my ‘catch up on the classics’ series. I quite liked it despite expecting not to.

    Guilty pleasure 1: the Twilight series – I know, I know, it was like regressing into teenage angst, but they were great (and it’s all my best friends fault for buying me the first one and forcing me to read it ;D ).

    Guilty pleasure 2: the Southern Vampire series (1-11). Also said friends fault!

    I love the sound of Hunger Games, that’s going on my ‘want’ list.

    Meanwhile, the book I can never get through is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – it’s utter tripe. I’ll finish it one day though – I’m stubborn like that 😀

  20. gloria says:

    Holy crow, I knew I couldn’t do this from memory. Had to look at my file of books read.
    Found these gems that Blew. Me. Away.
    Little Bee by Cleave
    Some Flower in My Heart (can’t remember author)
    Half-broke Horse by Wells
    Anything by Donald E. Westlake for lots of laughs.

  21. Rebecca says:

    Karen,

    I loved “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” and Chaim Potok’s “The Chosen.”

  22. Nancy says:

    I didn’t see anyone but you Karen..recommend “Boy’s Life” by Robert McCammon..I totally love this book and highly recommend it..Great characters..great story..This year I want to read “The Girl With” series..”The Help”..also the book recommended by Marsh..”Leisure Seeker” by Michael Zadoorian..sounds like one I would love as that is a trip (Route 66) that I so wish I could take..Thanks to everyone for all of the great suggestions!!

    • Sherri says:

      Nancy,
      I bought the Kindle version of BOY’S LIFE based on Karen’s recommendation and a quick visit to Amazon to check out other reader reviews. It’s sort of down the list of books I’ve got on hand to read, so I may not get to it until spring, but I’m looking forward to it!

  23. Tay says:

    The 2011 game plan: “I’m going to read 12 books by the end of the year!” didn’t pan out.

    I did manage to read:

    The Road – Cormac McCarthy (this is one of the best books I have ever read)
    Geek Love – Katerine Dunn (thanks for the recommendation – LOVED IT!)
    Go Ask Alice – had never read it. Quite honestly, I thought it blew.
    Gone, Baby, Gone – Dennis Lehane (I’ve never seen the movie but the book was great)
    Rant – Chuck Palahniuk (twisted as always, love everything I’ve ever read by him).

  24. Karen O. says:

    Last year I read The Hunger Games. It was an awesome series. Finished all three books in four days. I highly recommend it.

  25. Ann says:

    Water For Elephants…much better than the movie.

  26. Gina says:

    Are most of you reading traditional books or a Nook or Kindle. For ereaders do you “lend” books ?
    Curious.

    • Karen says:

      Gina – I read “book” books. I got an iPad for Christmas and haven’t downloaded a book onto it yet, but I plan to do that with some of these recommendations. I like the feel of a book. And when I’m sleeping and it drops out of my hand and crashes to the floor, it doesn’t break. Plus, I was *stunned* at the price of ebooks. They’re almost as much as “real” books! I think that’s disgusting when you consider that a great deal of the price of the book is wrapped up in the actual book. The printing of it. ~ karen!

      • Nancy says:

        I agree Karen..I got an e-reader for Christmas and couldn’t believe the prices for e-books..I thought they would be much cheaper than actual books..I mostly wanted mine to get some of the magazines that I read so there wouldn’t be a pile of them sitting beside my bed..guess what..the e-magazine subscriptions cost more than the paper ones mailed to your home..I don’t get that at all!!

  27. Lynn says:

    Last year I randomly got turned onto the Inspector Gamache series of murder mystery novels by Louise Penny. They all take place in a little town in Quebec. A town which I’d move out of were there so many murders there for real, but is tremendous fun to read about as fiction.

    This year’s books are biographies (Coco Chanel), fiction, beekeeping (The Beekeepers Bible), food and wine pairing and definitely The Hunger Games. Once the boyfriend is done reading it.

  28. Caroline says:

    Hi Karen ~ these are some of the books I read last year:
    Hunger Games Series
    The Help
    Stieg Larsson Series
    The Traveler Series by John Twelve Hawks
    Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich (for comic relief)
    I am now attempting to read The Ice Princess ~ the first in the Patrik Hedstrom Series by a Danish author called Camilla Lackberg ~ the catch is that my aunt lent them to me and they are in French! Trying to make sense of scandanavian names and places while struggling with my french is a bit of a challenge but I am loving the first book so far!
    I also must always have a book on the go – I will reread anything rather than have nothing to read!

  29. Maureen Miller says:

    I agree with several good reads mentioned. Here are a few others I have read and really loved enough to recommend. . .

    Peace Like a River – by Leif Enger
    Edgar Sawtelle – by David Wroblewski
    City of Thieves (I had the audio) – by David Benioff
    The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes – by Diane Chamberlain
    A Fortune Teller Told me – by Tiziano Terzani
    Daughter of Fortune – by Isabel Allende
    Beneath A Marble Sky – by John Shors
    Prodigal Summer – by Barbara Kingslover

  30. Diane says:

    Hi Karen,
    Here are some titles I pulled from my book journal that I think you’d enjoy. My personal favorite is the Flavia deLuce series by Alan Bradley. The first title is Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Flavia is the best. Also try:
    — Tallgrass (Sandra Dallas)
    — Skeletons at the Feast (Chris Bohjalian)
    — Lottery (Donna Wood)
    — People of the Book (Geraldine Brooks)
    — Tea Time for the Traditionally Built (Alexander McCall Smith)… really anything by him is amazingly good!
    — Fair and Tender Ladies (Lee Smith)
    — Out Stealing Horses (Per Petterson)
    — Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand (Helen Simonson)
    — Unbroken (Laura Hillenbrand)
    — The Wilder Life (Wendy McClure)… goes along with your Little House theme!
    — Sun Storm (Asa Larsson)

    Sorry so long… and BTW, both the Book Thief and the Guernsey/Potato Peel book got three stars (my highest rating) in my book. Enjoy and thanks, everyone, for the suggestions!

  31. Gina says:

    I still reflect on Those Who Saved Us even though I read it two years ago.
    Loved Sarah’s Key and The Help.
    I have a lot of required reading as I finish my BS for nursing, so I am picky about my recreational reads.

  32. Marsh says:

    Read the Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian and thought it was hysterical. He has the woman’s voiced down perfect. It’s about two old people and their motorhome taking their last trip across American on Route 66. Get it! You’ll love it! I should know, I’m a librarian. 🙂

    • Marsh says:

      Jeez, talk about not proofreading before hitting send… should be woman’s voice and across America. I’m not awake yet, it’s only 10:00.

    • Karen says:

      Marsh – I must admit, that sounds exactly like something I’d love to read. I’m adding it to the Wish List right now! ~ karen

  33. Nicole2 says:

    I loved The Help and Sarah’s Key. Presently reading The Secret Daughter.

    My daughters read The Hunger Games series during the Holidays and loved it.

    Thank you for the recommendations, Karen, it’s always good to get someone else’s feedback before buying a book. Otherwise, you’re standing there at the book store scratching your head. (That’s how I bought Sarah’s Key. I was holding it at Costco and this lady told me it was a great book. That clenched it for me.)

  34. Susie says:

    I love all the Sweet Potato Queen books by Jill Conner Brown. She is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Funny. Have not found any man or woman who could read her books and not LOL a lot!!!! Her first book is The Sweet Potato Queen’s Book of Love, followed by her Big Ass Cookbook and Financial planner, then her Big Ass Novel, then Raising Children for Fun and Profit and others. Her Mississippi humor is great. Check out her website for info on her, books, costumes, parade, etc.

  35. Octavia says:

    I read the entire hunger games series in less than a week. I couldn’t put them down. They were great. I think you should read them first.

  36. Courtney says:

    Some of my favourites from 2011:

    Divergent by Veronica Roth (if you liked The Hunger Games, you’ll like this)
    Louis Riel by Chester Brown (graphic novel)
    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
    A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
    Shade of Grey by Jasper Fforde (Will read anything he writes – such an imagination!!)

    So far this year I’ve loved Essex County by Jeff Lemire (graphic novel) and Clockwork Prince (book #2 in the Infernal Devices series) by Cassandra Clare.

    The Night Circus is on my nightstand waiting to be read but I’m currently taking a mindless reading break and diving into a new Clive Cussler book.

    Are you on Goodreads? Great way to track your reading and discover new titles.

  37. christine hilton says:

    I am trying to finish the BBC top 100 books this year.I did NOT enjoy Moby Dick.Every page was torture.But it did make me smrter. 🙂

  38. Pat says:

    What a timely post! As I wrote down my latest read in my book journal, I was glancing back and thinking about my favourite books over the past few years. Actually, some of these I read years ago and they made a real impression. I have many that I really enjoyed but these stand out, not listed in any particular order.

    Cutting for Stone
    The Help
    Three Day Road
    The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
    Peony in Love
    The Book Thief
    The Jade Peony
    Stones From the River
    A Fine Balance

    • Karen says:

      Pat – I’ve read most of those! Great books. I really loved A Fine Balance and The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. Peony in Love was great too. I’m a sucker for a book with a good foot binding. So fascinating. ~ karen

  39. Kristin says:

    I got entirely, completely sucked into The Hunger Games trilogy, and had to read them all immediately. I’d finish one, then go directly to download the next one.

    Right now, I’m reading a completely different genre, “Beyond All Price” by Carolyn Poling Schriber, and loving that, too. It’s from the perspective of Civil War nurse Nellie Chase. Very good.

    My favorite from the past couple years is a classic which I somehow missed. Have you read “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith?

    Just realizing that all three of these have strong female characters, and you like Little House, so they should be a good fit.

  40. Another Karen says:

    Funny you would name Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. My ex-husband gave that to me for Christmas. I haven’t even picked it up and now, it seems, I don’t have to.

    What I am reading and I think you’d like *a lot* is Cool, Calm and Contentious by Merrill Markoe. Each chapter is a short story about her life written in a hilarious style. Makes me LOL.

  41. Sherri says:

    I give any book 50 pages to hook me. If it doesn’t, I pass it on to a friend and let him/her give it a try. Best book ever, imho, is TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. I never get tired of that one and read it every few years. Close second for me is a book by Stephanie Kallos, BROKEN FOR YOU. It’s filled with quirky characters, wonderful humor and great plot twists. I read I’LL NEVER GET OUT OF THIS WORLD ALIVE by (singer/songwriter) Steve Earl last summer and loved it. I bought this fiction novel because of the cover art and my love for Earle’s music; this is one time when I could judge a book by its cover. I also loved the Hunger Games trilogy and Stieg Larsen’s Girl… series. If you liked reading Larsen, try out another Scandanavian author, Jo Nesbo. I read all of his books that I could get on Kindle, finishing up with his most recent, THE SNOWMAN. You’ll never feel quite the same about snowmen again if you read this one. Please read BOSSYPANTS, by Tina Fey. Each chapter is self-contained so it can be your bathroom book and will make you laugh as you poop. And finally, just discovered author, John Rector. I’ve read his book, COLD KISS and next book on my list is ALREADY GONE. He writes great mystery/suspense/thriller.

    • Karen says:

      Is it necessary to read the other books before The Snowman do you think? ~ karen

      • Sherri says:

        Not necessary, but I read as many of them as I could get on my Kindle (all but one were translated and available!). The only advantage to doing that is to become more familiar with the main character, Detective Harry Hole. I think THE SNOWMAN as a stand alone book does a good job of relating his dappled history so go ahead and start with it. If you like it, you can always go back and read the others. Happy reading!

  42. Trish Gannon says:

    It’s nice to hear that I’m not the only one with a reading addiction.

    Last year was not a good year for books… I’ve read most that have been listed, but prior to last year. (Though I have yet to get through the Book Thief.)

    Two of my most recent ‘great’ books (last five years are so) are not on the lists yet, however, so I’m excited to share them: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield and Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. They have it all. Great stories, compelling characters, and a richness of words you can happily drown in.

  43. Bobbi says:

    Cutting for Stone

    All of the Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher…not at all like the TV Series of the same name

    Hunger Games trilogy

    Dragon Tattoo trilogy

    The Snowman

  44. Debbie from Illinois says:

    Karen, I reread the Little house books last summer while swinging in my hammock. My Grandmother lived in a little sod hut in South Dakota when she was a child.

  45. Karen in Seattle says:

    Karen
    Try these this year:
    Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
    Anything by Rohinton Mistry
    If you liked The Help, read The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar and discuss.
    The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
    The City of Theives by David Beniof
    The Kitchen House by Katherine Grissom

    I’ve really enjoyed reading all your followers suggestions! Stay warm and safe this winter.

    • Ann says:

      Loved Edgar Sawtelle til the very end. Wasn’t happy to find that no one got any justice at the end. Sad endings are one thing, but I just wanted a tad bit of justice.

      • Robin says:

        I was telling everyone to read Edgar Sawtelle …when I was about have finished with it. Well..when I finished…I felt like throwing it across the room! It was like someone other than the author wrote the ending. I know in real life some things don’t make sense, but this was TOO MUCH!!

        • Karen says:

          Robin – LOL. I forgot about how angry the end made me. Hated it. Loved the majority of the book then HATED the end. ~ karen

    • Liz says:

      Finally someone mentions City of Thieves! Absolutely amazing book.

  46. Kim says:

    Since you loved Lonesome Dove so much, I wonder if you have read Terms of Endearment? ( surely you have ) After I did so many years ago, I found out that you really should start with Moving On, which was out of publication at the time and I had to check it out at a library. Then I read All My Friends are Going to be Strangers as these three books are part of a series. If you read Terms first, you have missed so much! I love Larry McMurtry.

  47. Erika says:

    Venetian Masque – Rafael Sabatini
    At Home: A short history of Private Life – Bill Bryson
    Cast In Ruins – Michelle Sagara
    Lover Unleashed – JR Ward
    Snuff – Terry Pratchett
    Ghost Ship – Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

    • Erika says:

      At Home is the history of the how the structure of the home/house as we know it today developed from mud huts to current houses, due to societal and technologial changes. Very fascinating.

      Venetian Masque – set in Venice during the period Bonaparte is menacing the world, it is about a half-english half-french nobleman who assumes the identity of a representative of the French Republic and proceeds to run all over Venice posing as a French agent with two identities to the the French, and an English agent to the English and Venetians, all the while playing his own game trying to win the woman he loves from an arranged marriage with a bounder. To complicate matters, there is another French agent who pretends to be his widow, as he was believed guilletined three years prior. It was written in 1800-something, so a bit old fashioned, but if you like that kind of writing, it’s a fantastic book. Not quite threatening to my nomber one book of all time – The Phoenix Guards – but def. in the top five books to be stuck on a desert island with.

  48. arlene says:

    The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

  49. Whitney says:

    Oh… The Book Thief. Truly it is my all time favorite book EVER! It sent me on an emotional roller coaster that was completely unimaginable. I cannot say enough good things about it. You will LOVE it. 🙂

  50. jane says:

    Last Night I finished Freedom, please give it another chance I think it will be worth your while.

    last year:
    Read the Little House Collection to my kids (8 Girl, 11 Boy and yes my son enjoyed it)

    Cutting for Stone-excellent

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