Around March of this year, I realized I had yet to read a single non-school book. I love reading, so it was saddening (and embarrassing) that I hadn’t committed to cracking a book for enjoyment. I carved out some time (spring break helped) and started to rediscover one of my favorite past-times. In 2011, I read 20 books. Not a stellar showing, but I’m pretty proud that I made some time in my busy life to get lost in a world other than my own. Here are the 20 books I read this year, and my (very) brief reflections on them:
1. Watermelon: Marian Keyes is one of my favorite authors. Her books go past the usual chick-lit; the characters and plot are so well-developed that her books are simply enthralling.
2. The Help: I loved this book, as did much of America. And a Phi Mu wrote it! Bonus points.
3. Pretty in Plaid: Jen Lancaster shares her hilarious personal stories. This is just one of her books. It’s primary focus is her college and sorority life.
4. Me Talk Pretty One Day: One of my favorites from David Sedaris.
5. Angels: Another Marian Keyes book. Watermelon is better, but I still thoroughly enjoyed Angels.
6. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim: All of David Sedaris’ books run together for me, because I love them all. This is one of his more acclaimed collections of short stories.
7. Water for Elephants: I love this book! It’s really captivating and beautifully written. The movie is great, too.
8. Born Standing Up: This is Steve Martin’s memoir. It was entertaining and a quick read (one afternoon at the beach), but it wasn’t anything to rave about.
9. Full Frontal Nudity: I knew nothing about Harry Hamlin before reading this book, but now I’m a fan. I loved this book. It’s filled with entertaining stories from someone’s who has lived a surprisingly interesting life.
10. Fly Away Home: Jennifer Weiner gets rave reviews from her devoted lady fans, and this was the first of her books I’ve read. It was a dud. Dull. Boring. Unlike with most novels, I felt no emotional connection or investment in the well-being of the characters. I can’t not finish a book, so I forced myself to see it through. Don’t bother.
11. The Hunger Games: Obsessed. I couldn’t put this down. It’s amazing.
12. Catching Fire: The second book? Not so amazing. I didn’t love it.
13. Mockingjay: Neither the second nor the third book could live up to the excitement of The Hunger Games. I thought they were both just “meh.”
14. A Walk to Remember: Different from the movie. Actually, I prefer the movie (Sorry, but it actually has a deeper plot and better character development!). But this is a charming, sweet and quick read for the romantic.
15. Sweet Valley Confidential: Bad. Disappointing for a Sweet Valley fan. Poorly written, dull and contrived.
16. A Place of Yes: I enjoyed Bethenny Frankel’s self-help book slash memoir. I loved reading about her intriguing past. The life guidance is fairly obvious, but it’s nice to have it spelled out and reinforced.
17. The Man of My Dreams: Insightful and relatable vignettes about a young woman coming of age.
18. Under the Tuscan Sun: Nothing like the movie, this memoir is an account of an older couple purchasing a vacation home in Tuscany. It’s charming and as enjoyable to read as eating a decadent dessert, but there’s not much plot or excitement.
19. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell: I hope no one wastes their time on this poorly written inflated account of a worthless life. I was curious about this loser’s escapades, but the reality? The stories aren’t cool, funny or unusual.
20. Bossypants: I like Tina Fey even more after reading this laugh-out-loud memoir that glosses over her early years, the start of her career, and her success at NBC. A fast and enjoyable read.
My goal for 2012 is 24, with the aim for 2 books a month. That’s nothing! Obviously I could handle reading much more than that, but I don’t want a goal that feels like work or adds unnecessary pressure. It should be easy to reach this goal, and exceed it. I’m excited to cherish my time reading.
Tip for those who want to read more: Keep a list of books on your phone. I have a running list of titles I’m interested in, and I add to it constantly. In the new year, I’m excited to get around to the books I’ve wanted to read for years, like Lolita, The Hours, Atonement, as well as funny new items like Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
What are your favorite books, or the best books you read this year?