My Year in Reading

2011 was a good reading year for me, even though I didn’t reach my goal of reading more than 28 books (my record in 2010).  I read a few books belonging to a series, and also discovered the works of some interesting writers.

I read a total of 20 books in 2011; most were pretty good, except for a couple that I had trouble finishing, and did not like, despite being highly acclaimed novels.

Of the 20 novels I read, these were my favorites:

1.  Skippy Dies (2010) –  Described as a “tragicomedy,” about the lives of the students, and teachers of a private, Catholic, all-boys school in Ireland.  This novel takes readers on a roller-coaster ride of emotions through the trials adolescence and adulthood. Though Skippy Dies was recognized by three major award-giving bodies, it fell short of the #1 spot for all three awards.

2.  Room (2010) – The second-placer on my list is also by an Irish writer, Emma Donoghue. This book, about 5-year-old Jack, who lives in a tiny room he cannot leave, haunted me for weeks after I’d read it.  It is a bittersweet story, told by Jack, who gives a unique, innocent perspective of an otherwise terrible situation.

3.  A Song of Ice and Fire Series (1996-2005) – This epic series by George R.R. Martin is set to have 7 books, 5 of which have been released, and 4 of which I read in 2011:  A Game of ThronesA Clash of KingsA Storm of Swords, and A Feast for Crows.  With each book over 800 pages long, most of my year was devoted to reading these books.  George R.R. Martine helped me overcome my phobia for long novels; now reading 800+ page novels are a piece of cake!

4.  The Geography of Bliss ( 2008) – One of the non-fiction books I read this year.  In this funny, but cynical book, author, Eric Weiss goes on a quest to find happiness by visiting the (allegedly) happiest countries/people in the world.  Weiss’ adventure takes readers to meet the happiest people on Earth – in the most unlikely places.

5.  Our Ancestors Trilogy (1952-1959) –  Three novellas compose this uniquely imaginative trilogy, by Italo Calvino:  The Cloven ViscountThe Baron in the Trees, and The Nonexistent Knight.  Though I’ve only read Italo Calvino’s works in 2011, his novels have captured my imagination, and he has since become one of my favorite authors.

All the books I read in 2011 with my ratings (from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest):

  1. Good Omens – Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett (3)
  2. Rashomon – Ryunosuke Akutagawa (3.5)
  3. The Geography of Bliss – Eric Weiss (4.5)
  4. The Gathering – Anne Enright (2)
  5. Room – Emma Donoghue (4.5)
  6. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway (3)
  7. Un Lun Dun – China Mieville (3)
  8. Disgrace – J.M. Coetzee (2)
  9. Waiter Rant – Steve Dublanica (3)
  10. The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood (3)
  11. A Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin (4)
  12. A Clash of Kings – George R.R. Martin (4)
  13. The Psychopath Test:  A Story of Madness – Jon Ronson (4)
  14. A Storm of Swords – George R.R. Martin (4)
  15. The Interpretation of Murder – Jed Rubenfeld (2.5)
  16. A Feast For Crows – George R.R. Martin (3)
  17. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky (2)
  18. The Cloven Viscount – Italo Calvino (4)
  19. Skippy Dies – Paul Murray (4.5)
  20. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie (2.5)
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