Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Top Ten Books of 2011

I read 62 books in 2011, a few more than in 2010. Not bad considering I work full-time, have a toddler and perform in musicals in my spare time.

Here are some stats (I love stats). The categories overlap so the numbers won't add up to 100.

25 (40%) were fantasy or science fiction
22 (35%) were young adult
7 (11%) were general fiction, novels
8 (13%) were chick lit
1 (2%) was a graphic novel
1 (2%) was a mystery/crime novel
4 (6%) were historical novels
3 (5%) were classics
5 (8%) were non-fiction
5 (8%) were world literature
2 (3%) were read in translation
1 (2%) was in Polish

7 (11%) were audiobooks

45 (73%) were written by women
17 (27%) were written by men

I read 39 new authors. New authors made up 63% of my reading. Only 15 books were by known-to-me authors.

Basically, this shows that I read mostly fantasy and young adult. I think that's because I'm usually too tired to tackle anything else. I read mostly female writers and mostly new-to-me authors. I would really like to challenge myself to read a wider array of books next year...

Anyway, here are my Top Ten Books Read in 2011:
(here are my favorite book lists for 201020092008)

The Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
The story of Dashti and her maid Saren, first trapped in a tower and then trying to survive in a world they no longer recognise, was absolutely beautifully written and charming. I listened to this on audio and Chelsey Nixon's narration was magical and perfect.

The Rights of the Reader by Daniel Pennac
A French teacher talks about how he encourages young people to read, but giving them the freedom to read whatever they want and various other rights. I wonderful way to look at reading. I especially liked the parts on reading and young children. A great book for all book lovers.

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
A fairy tale about a family that discovers the secret to eternal life. But this gift brings more than happiness, it's not as perfect as it seems.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
Another book I listened to on audio and another amazing narrator, Jenna Lamia, who really brought the book to life. The story is of teenager Jenna who is involved in an accident who wakes up after a year-long coma into a world she doesn't know or understand. What happened to her and who is she, really? Creepy and realistic, in the sense that it's not impossible for something like this to happen. Is this what our world is going to look like?

The Little Lady Agency by Hester Browne
Brilliant light reading about Melissa Rommey-Jones, probably the most naive and trusting woman left in London. She's not satisfied with her life, but everything changes when she has a business idea that lets her be someone else. But how different are the two personas, really? Great fun.

Winterborne by Augusta Blythe
I gushed about this book when I read it and I will gush about it again. It's the story of Loie and Mia, two best friends with a secret. Mia is due to inherit some kick-ass superpowers on her 17th birthday. But no matter how much she prepares, she can't possibly be ready for what's to come. This is fantasy set in a high school world, my favorite. But the best bit is that cliches like friends falling out over a guy or anything else are not included. These girls' friendship is super-strong and the are smart enough to know what's really important. Great stuff.

Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik
Another chick-lit book making it onto my top ten list, but it's another good one. It's a tale of female bonding that many of us would like to have in our lives. Female friends who have known each other through good times and bad, from impressionable youth to becoming grandmothers. Lovely book.

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
A story about a poor Indian man who rises to entrepreneur status. He first moves to Delhi where he learns everything he needs to know about the upper class and what is required of him to become part of it. A vivid account of modern-day India that will make you feel humble and lucky.

Wicked by Gregory Maguire
The story of what happened in Oz before Dorothy got there, the story of the Glinda the good witch and Elphaba the wicked witch. I was expecting a fairy tale and got a wonderfully crafted world, full of politics and social unrest and everything that makes a world real. A stunner.

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
I can't believe that this book ended up on my list, I avoided it for so long because I didn't think I'd like it. It's a fictionalised account of how the painting in the title, by Dutch painter Vermeer, came to be. Great story, great characters, great writing. Historical fiction at its best.

I also have to at least mention the three series I enjoyed reading in 2011 - The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter, the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan and the True Blood series by Charlaine Harris. The only one I finished was the Percy Jackson so I have the rest of the others to entertain me in 2012.

Here's to a New Year filled with more great books!


Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I loved, LOVED Girl with a Pearl Earring. Such a beautiful book. I've got a couple of other Tracy Chevalier books lined up for 2012, one of them being Remarkable Creatures, which I understand is an excellent book as well.

Have a safe and Happy New Year!

Larissa said...

Seeing your list and remembering your original reviews, I will definitely read The Adoration of Jenna Fox and Wicked this year. And I just started Winterborne - for some odd reason it's still available only for Kindle, but thanks to my beloved Santa I now have one...!

Ana S. said...

Some great choices! My copy of Tuck Everlasting has been lingering on the shelf for far too long. I'll make sure I get to it in 2012. Happy New Year!

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

I want to read at least 3 of the ones in your list this year: Angry Housewives, The Adoration and The Little Lady Agency.

joanna said...

Natalie - I'm determined to read something else by her this year too!

Larissa - Yay, a kindle! And I'm really looking forward to your thoughts on Winterborne, I hope you like it as much as I did!

Nymeth - It's such a quick read Nymeth, I'm sure you can fit it in! :-)

Alex - Don't you love how these favorite lists add to your wishlist? :-)

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

Over 60 books is fantastic considering! The only one on your list that I've read is Wicked, which I really enjoyed. I might try to read White Tiger this year!

Happy new year Joanna!