End of Year Survey, 2011

I am combining some surveys from A Room of One’s Own, Perpetual Page Turner, Stuck In a Book, and My Porch. 🙂 I know I still have a week, and I’m hoping to get my four remaining books finished in that time, but I think it will be pretty accurate.

2011 in Review:

How many books read in 2011?
*It will hopefully end up being 52, although I have four books to go. I will come back and change this number if I miss my mark.

* 10/42

Male/Female authors?
* 22/30 (One of my books was co-written by Bodie and Brock Thoene.)

Oldest book read?
* I believe that honor goes to The Mysteries of Udolpho, published in 1794. I haven’t finished it yet, but I hope I will before the challenge is over. 🙂

Newest book read?
* The Help.

Longest book read?
* Fall of Giants by Ken Follett, 984 pages

Shortest book read?
* Night by Elie Wiesel, 120 pages

Any in translation?
* No.

Best book read in 2011?
Oh, gosh, I hate these questions, because I read so many different kinds of books that it’s hard to compare. I’ll break it down into a few categories to try to help myself.
Best classic literature:
* It’s hard not to name a Jane Austen book for this category since I’ve spent so much time with her this year, or Little Women which I have always named as my favorite book, but I think I’m going to say A Tale of Two Cities. Amazing story. And it was one of those books that will go down in my personal history as giving me so much to think about and having an influence on my morality and my thinking and my politics and everything else about me. (Les Miserables is another one like that.)
Best modern (in the last century or so) fiction:
*The Help
Best non-fiction
* Families Where Grace Is In Place
Best children’s book
* I’ll put Little Women here. I do hope that in 2012 I will read it to Megan.

Most disappointing book in 2011?
* Maybe The Great Gatsby. I definitely read books that were worse, but I knew what I was getting with them (mostly Christian fiction, which, sadly, I never have high expectations for). I just didn’t enjoy The Great Gatsby much.

Most beautifully written book read in 2011?
* The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway

Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2011?
* I honestly can’t think of anything really surprising. I usually have a pretty good idea of what a book will be like before I read it. I did discover some new authors that I had never tried before and really enjoyed them, such as Anna Quindlen and Jane Austen, as well as some new series, but I had a feeling I would enjoy them.

Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2011?
* Again, The Help.

Book that had the greatest impact on me in 2011?
* A Tale of Two Cities
* Families Where Grace Is In Place.

Book that had a scene in it that had me reeling?
*Oh my goodness, several scenes from The Help, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, and A Tale of Two Cities.

Book I most anticipated in 2011?
* Love Wins by Rob Bell.

Most memorable character in 2011?
* Minny from The Help.

How many re-reads in 2011?

* Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (re-read for children’s lit class)
* Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (re-read for children’s lit class)
* Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (read to Megan)
* The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
* Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (re-read for class)

I had originally said I wasn’t going to count any re-reads, but I had to read for my class, and some I really wanted to share with Megan, and they were all fairly substantial books, so I counted them. The Great Divorce I re-read because of the controversy over Rob Bell’s book. I thought I remembered C.S. Lewis sharing a similar point of view in The Great Divorce, and I was right.

I also read several books that I had probably read in their entirety in bits and pieces, but never cover-to-cover. These were:
* Families Where Grace Is in Place
* Siblings Without Rivalry
* Please Understand Me II

Book I read in 2011 I’d be most likely to reread in 2012?
*Little Women, with Megan.

Book I recommended to people most in 2011?
* The Help, just because I think it’s a book that the average reader would enjoy; Families Where Grace Is In Place and How To Read the Bible For All It’s Worth are the nonfiction books I would recommend for my Christian friends.

A book I read this year that was recommended by a blogger?
* On What Grounds and The Ghost and Mrs. McClure were recommended by Robin at 52 Books In 52 Weeks. Thoroughly entertaining books, and I plan to read more in both series in 2012!

Favorite new authors I discovered in 2011
* Of course, Jane Austen, although I had read enough portions of a few of her books to know I would enjoy her.
* Anna Quindlen — (Every Last One and One True Thing) — really love her!
* Alice Kimberly (Haunted Bookshop series)
* Cleo Coyle (Coffeehouse mystery series)
* Ernest Hemingway — I had never read any of his works, but I hope to read more.
* Kathryn Stockett (The Help)
* Ray Bradbury (Something Wicked This Way Comes)

Most books read by one author this year?
* 6 (Jane Austen — I’m halfway through Persuasion now and will have completed all of her major works in 2011).

Favorite passage/quote from a book I read in 2011?
* From Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do About It: “Never at rest, the mind of the ADD adult flits about like some deranged bird that can light here or there for awhile bu is perched nowhere long enough to make a home.”
* This one almost seems trite, but if you read the book you will understand that it is anything but. From Dickens’
A Tale of Two Cities: “It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done. It is a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known.” Many people know the quote, but few understand the gut-wrenching context.
* From
Love Wins by Rob Bell: “The moment God is figured out with nice neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God.”
* From
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”

Did I complete any reading challenges or goals that I set for myself at the beginning of the year?
* 52 Books In 52 Weeks
* Jane Austen
* 12 Classics In 12 Months

Book I can’t believe I waited until 2011 to finally read?
* Any and all of Jane Austen!

Blogging in Review:
New favorite book blog I discovered in 2011?
* I enjoy reading the reviews at 52 Books In 52 Weeks as much as I enjoy the challenge.
* A Room of One’s Own. I love the kinds of books she reads, her writing style, the look of her blog, her lists, everything.

Best event I participated in?
*52 Books In 52 Weeks

My biggest shortcomings as a book blogger?
* I don’t write enough. I’ve been writing very, very sparse and surface reviews. I can do better, I just don’t have a lot of time. Mostly I’m just trying to keep up.

Blog posts I am most likely to read by other bloggers?
* Classics blogs
* Blogs that are well-written and without a lot of typos or grammatical errors.
* Bloggers who blog the way I would like to — who share their personal experiences with books and who are very conversational but at the same time analytical.
* I am very drawn to lists.

Looking ahead to 2012:
One book I didn’t get to in 2011 that will be a priority in 2012?
* A Child’s History of England by Charles Dickens. My mom’s cousin gave me a beautiful old copy of this, and I’m looking forward to reading it.
* I didn’t do a very good job of knocking books off The Well-Trained Mind list. I’d like to do a few more of those.

Book I’m most anticipating in 2012?
*Since I read all of Austen’s major works last year, I thought I’d tackle Dickens this year. I already read A Tale of Two Cities, and it is now on my top 10 list of favorite books ever. I’m looking forward to more Dickens!

One thing I hope to accomplish or do in reading/blogging in 2012?
* 52 books
* All of Dickens’ major works, and as many short stories as I can accomplish.
* More books from The Well-Trained Mind list.
* More detail in my blogging: Better reviews, more analytical thinking and writing, more of my personal reactions.


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On What Grounds

is first in the Coffeehouse Mystery series I discovered through Read 52 Books In 52 Weeks. It is a cozy mystery, and quick to read (I need a few of these to catch up — I am two books behind in the challenge). I love coffee and coffeehouses, so this book was a nice relaxing get-away. There was a lot more innuendo in this book than in some cozy mysteries, which I tend to love for their refinement and grace. But there was also some good coffee discussion. I learned a lot about my favorite beverage, including the fact that I am missing out on the true coffee experience with my pre-ground, store-bought, cheap brands.

After two quick cozies, I am back to Jane Austen this week. I hope to finish Persuasion and The Mysteries of Udolpho, and then finish out the year with a couple more quickies to meet my goal.

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December 21, 2011 · 3:13 pm

Book 47: The Ghost and Mrs. McClure

(Note: It was bugging me that Goodreads was saying I had read 47 books, but I posted this as my 46th book. I went back and found that I counted Love Wins as number 11, and it should have been 12. I started to change everything but decided it was just too much work. I am now actually on book 48 and am only two books behind in my goal.)

The Ghost and Mrs. McClure is the first book in The Haunted Bookshop Mystery series. It was a quick and pleasant read about a bookstore owner who is the only person who can communicate with the bookstore’s ghost, a former “hard-boiled” detective who was killed at the bookstore in the 50s.

For someone who has been pining for another “Cat Who” book, this is a good series. I enjoy cozy mysteries. There is some innuendo from the Sam Spade-esque ghost, but there is nothing terribly graphic. Like all cozy mysteries, there is a feeling of grace, elegance and intelligence in the characters and in the small town where it takes place. Far from being great literature, but adults can have our occasional twaddle, too. I’ll definitely be looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

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Two read-alongs for 2012.

I’m joining a Shakespeare read-along in January with A Literary Odyssey as well as a Greek Classics read-along at Howling Frog Books. For the Greek classics, I think I’m just going to try the first challenge level, which is 1-4 books by Sophocles. The Greek challenge will go throughout the year. For the Shakespeare challenge I’m just going to read whatever I feel like reading by Shakespeare throughout the month of January and see what I can accomplish. I know I have Hamlet and Macbeth here at home somewhere.

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Book 45: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Something Wicked This Way Comes has been my read-aloud with Zach for the past few weeks. It brought back spine-tingling memories of being a kid and being sure there was evil in the air. It was chilling in a wonderfully subtle way. Bradbury evokes the smells, sounds and personality of a small town autumn night. I loved his use of hyphenated phrases in his descriptions. There are lessons, which are just as subtle as the evil: enjoy whatever stage of life you are at. Don’t be in a hurry to grow up, and don’t regret aging. Adding years to your life or shedding them requires a great price that you won’t see until it’s too late.

This was my first Bradbury book, and I’m looking forward to more!

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Book 44: Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey was book 5 out of 6 for my Jane Austen goal. I can totally relate to someone who gets so involved with a book that the people around her begin to take on the qualities of the characters in her books. I think Henry Tilney is my favorite Austen hero. I love his sarcasm and the way he lightly pokes fun at conventional society. I think I could have coffee with him and we would get along.

I checked out The Mysteries of Udolpho to read this week. This is the book that Catherine is reading throughout Northanger Abbey. I am intrigued by this gothic novel, which made Mr. Tilney’s hair stand on end.

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Top 10 books on my 2012 TBR list.

I stumbled across a nice blog today called The Broke and the Bookish that has a wonderful feature called Top Ten Tuesdays. I love lists. It is supposed to be for college students, and by that I assume they mean 20-something traditional college students. Since I am indeed a college student with an emphasis in literature, I hope they don’t mind my playing along in spite of being twice as old as most of them are.

So this week’s top ten is a good one — the top ten books I want to read in 2012. Here we go.

1. My goal for 2011 was to read all of Jane Austen’s novels. My goal for 2012 is Dickens. I know he wrote a lot more, but I’m limiting the goal to his major works. If I happen to read others, that’s fine. Since he would easily take up my entire list, I’ll just put Dickens here, but certainly Great Expectations, Bleak House, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, and Hard Times are TBR for 2012.
2. One Hundred Years of Solitude. I just got this from Paperback Swap. Since I don’t think I’ll get it read for this year’s challenge, I’ll start the new year off with it.
3. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. I’ve never read it, and I’m ashamed of that fact.
4. Anna Karenina. See above.
5. The Other Boleyn Girl. This has always looked interesting to me.
6. Walden. I’ve had it on my shelf for ages, but I’m a little bit intimidated.
7. Gulliver’s Travels. See above.
8. Adam Beade. I started this several years ago when my mom got it for me for Christmas, but I got caught up in Harry Potter and never finished it. It’s high time I did. I was really enjoying it.
9. A Child’s History of England. This is Dickens, but I’m not reading it because it’s Dickens. I’m reading it because a) I want to read a good overview of the history of England, b) my mom’s cousin set it aside ‘specially for me, and c) it has a beautiful binding.
10.The Bible. I read through the Bible every year, following the One Year Bible Blog. Every year I read maybe half. Every year I hope to do better. Maybe this will be my year.


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