In 2010, I made a goal to read 52 books.
first books of 2011
No wait, come back! This isn't another round-up of my year kind of post, I promise! I'm just going to talk about the best books, ok?
Even though that's 1 book a week, the actual reading didn't turn out like that at all. Many weeks I read no books and many weeks I read 2 or 3 books. I finished the 52nd book the week before Christmas and…haven't finished another book since then.
I had very few rules.
I couldn't count a cookbook (or knitting book) unless I actually cooked a recipe (or knit a project) out of it (unless it was a mostly-words book, like Gluten Free Girl).
I am always allowed to quit reading, at any point. No guilt.
Instead of talking about every book or just listing them (you can see the entire list here), I want to share the surprises.
Oh, and I'm linking to their GoodReads page because I did not buy them (99% of the books were checked out from my library), so it seems disingenuous to tell you to buy them.
However, if you're like my friend Jamie and want to own every book you read, I strongly suggest using IndieBound to find an independent bookstore to buy them from. If you don't have a bookstore near you, you can buy from my favorite, Malaprops.
Now, for the books!
The books I did not expect to like
Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
It's Young Adult fiction! It's set in an apolyptic future! Not usually my thing. But so good.
It was Kim's review that convinced me to check it out and she was right! I finished the first book in 5 hours one night (yes, I stayed up until 3 am finishing it), it was that great.
Finding your Own North Star by Martha Beck.
I didn't really know anything about Martha Beck other than she was in Oprah's magazine. That was enough to convince me her stuff would be too cheesy or woo-woo for me.
Plus, I sorta already HAVE my North Star. I'm already doing what I love.
But when Eileen and Brianna both rave about the smartness of Martha, I knew I had to give it a shot. And this book was great. I learned all kind of skills for dealing with my own stuff and helping my CraftyBizzers deal with theirs.
The Happiness Project
I only picked it up after loving Bluebird by Ariel Gore (which I read just because I love Ariel Gore), because I like to put together my own little series around a theme (why yes, I am a geek).
I'm not really into improve-your-life programs. I'm all about improving my life, but not through traditional, do-this-next-steps. I thought that was what this book is.
But it's totally not. Gretchen puts together a plan to research and learn more about her own happiness and in doing so shares helpful information without being preachy.
Most proud of myself for (finally) reading:
Seriously! How have I not read this before? Sweeping, epic, beautiful.
And I still can't get over what a contemporary role model Jane is.
Did not like as much as everyone said I would:
Girl with Dragon Tattoo
Wayyy too violent for my sensitive self. I've experienced enough violence in the real world that I try to avoid it in my own imagination.
The action was gripping and I couldn't put it down until I finished.
But I've been haunted by the violent imagery every since. Really wish I had never read it.
Couldn't finish it. Could barely keep reading.
So full of science-y description.
But it's a sci-fi classic so I tried REALLY hard to read it and like it.
But I just couldn't.
Best business book
Book Yourself Solid
I loved Trust Agents and The Art of Non-Conformity (I read both of these guys blogs (Chris and Chris) every week and their books have the same friendly, helpful voice), but Book Yourself Solid had the most new-to-me, detailed, do-this-next helpfulness.
If you can get past the constant Book Yourself Solid phrase. You've been warned: the author says “Book Yourself Solid” several times a chapter.
What was the best book you read last year?
I'm trying to read 60 books this year, and I need a few more for my list!