Friday, December 30, 2011

The Year In Books-2011

Oh this was a bad year for reading. I read only 28 books this year, my lowest number since I began keeping track of what I read. I could say it was because I had a job. I could say it was because I crafted more than usual this year. But the truth of the matter is that the one thing that cut into my reading time more than anything else, was......Law and Order: Criminal Intent. I know. It's really embarrassing. I was cleaning out the DVR the other day, deleting all the L & O's I'd already seen. I deleted over 100 episodes. That's over 100 hours of my time. And if I'm being totally honest, I watched a bunch of episodes more than once. So yeah, I might not have been well read this year, but I do know that if I ever need to dispose of a body I should plunk it in a bathtub and cover it with lye, which will dissolve all of the organic material. And I cannot forget to fish the jewelry out of the drain, because if I leave even one shred of evidence, the detectives are going to find it and then I have a one way boat trip to Rikers.

Without further adieu, the paltry list:

1. Every Last One by Anna Quindlen
2. Bright Sided: How the Relentless Pursuit of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America by Barbara Ehrenreich
3. What It Is by Lynda Barry
4. Feminism and Pop Culture by Andi Zeisler
5. Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli
6. Whiter Shades of Pale: Stuff White People Like by Christian Lander
7. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
8. Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
9. The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death by Laurie Notaro
10. Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell
11. White Oleander by Janet Fitch
12. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
13. A Short Guide to A Happy Life by Anna Quindlen
14. Haunting Jasmine by Anjali Banerjee
15. Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio
16. Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People by Amy Sedaris
17. Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
18. Just Kids by Patti Smith
19. The Anti Romantic Child by Priscilla Gilman
20. The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve
21. Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield
22. Faith by Jennifer Haigh
23. The Violets of March by Sarah Jio
24. Bossypants by Tina Fey
25. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
26. Empire Falls by Richard Russo
27. The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff
28. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney

Of Note:

* Best Book: Definitely, hands down, no doubt in my mind, We Need to Talk About Kevin. (Review here.) I still find myself thinking about this book. At my work we sell something called a Faux bow that is a Nerf-type bow and arrow, I cannot even look at this product without thinking about Kevin. I wish I had never read this book just so that I could read it again for the first time. Really, if you haven't read it yet, DO SO!

* Worst Book: Icy Sparks. (Review here.) Just bad. But honestly, I get a certain amount of joy from those awful books. In fact, in the new year I may purposely work in a few awful books just for fun.

*I read a lot of really good non fiction this year: The Anti-Romantic Child, Just Kids, Love Is a Mix Tape, and Last Child in the Woods. It was a good year for non fiction.

*On the flip side, a lot of the fiction that I read was quite dull. The few stand outs (aside from Kevin): Winter's Bone, Empire Falls, and Never Let Me Go. I find myself thinking about those books quite often, especially Never Let Me Go, which was about a group of young people who were born for the sole purpose of being forced to donate their organs. They donate as much as possible until they can no longer survive. I know, it sounds totally gruesome, but the book was more about the friendships between the donors. It was fascinating and has stuck with me.

*Biggest Disappointment: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Even though this is a Young Adult book, I expected it to blow me away because I know a lot of really smart gals who love it. But instead I got poor character development and a story that I couldn't care less about. I haven't bothered to read the rest of the books in the series.

Despite the fact that I got off to a great start by reading seven books in January alone, I'm definitely disappointed by books this year. Not only was most of what I read completely forgettable, but a lot of those books made me not want to read for a while. They turned my favorite past time into a chore.

Reading Goals for 2012:

*Definitely read more than 28 books. I really like to keep a loose goal of fifty books.

*Devote just a bit more time to researching books and hunting down ones I'll love, so I don't waste time reading clunkers.

Now I need some suggestions. What are you reading right now? What was your favorite book of the year?


just me said...

Thanks for some suggestions, just got a kindlefire from santa and think will get the Kevin one and never let me go. Have you read The Hunger games yet, sooo good. A little dark but we read (my 15yoson) and I read all 3 within a week. I cried in the end and my son would only let himself read a page a day because he didn't want it to end.

Tammie said...

okay, im totally reading the hunger games because youre not the first person to recommend it to me. ive written it down, so i dont forget.

Dreamkiller said...

I'd highly recommend "Born to Run" (nonfiction), "Pictures of Hollis Woods" (super short YA fiction), "Malcolm X" (the graphic novel version by Andrew Helfer) and lastly, "The Choice" (by Suzanne Woods Fisher-- she specialize in writing about the Amish, but in a heartwarming-sans-cheese sort of way). Anyone of these is suitable for teens and I often recommend them to my students. I'm a pretty picky reader to please, but I definitely enjoy an array of writing and I get tons of recommendations from my students, colleagues & family.

Also, I'd second the Hunger Games, but I've been warned by my students and colleagues that the following two books don't hold up to the first--just to warn you. Happy reading.

Maria Rose said...

Yeah I have read many of your suggested books and loved them. I read The Hunger Games...kind of a guilty pleasure read. Much like the Game of Thrones series I am just finishing.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Paltry? 28 books is not paltry my list is pitiful.
This has been my year of biographies and real life stories.
In a phase I guess.

Right now I am reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. This book makes me angry but I've only just started. The subject matter made me mad when I heard it so I had to get the book.
This woman, Henrietta was a poor tobacco farmer and worked the land her slaved ancestors did. She had her cells taken from her without her knowledge. These cells became a huge important piece of information for us all in terms of medicine/cures etc. Some of the cells are still alive today used in research and yet she died 60 yrs ago. Her cells were vital for the polio vaccine and things like that. Yet they were taken without her knowledge or consent and we have never been told about her contribution to us all.
I know this sounds weird - you may want to check it out on Amazon to get the gist. I literally just started it yesterday. And I have had to put it down but I don't want to.
Happy New Year!

Tammie said...

dreamkiller: im intrgued by the malcolm x graphic novel. I LOVE a good graphic novel.

maria rose: ive known a lot of folks who read Game of Thrones as well and have said similar thoughts. i may have to add that one to the list.

peggy: WHAT!? im apalled by this. definitely putting it on my list.

Daphne said...

Yes, The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones (although I've only read the first one) -- both good. As you know, I'm needing some good books, myself. Kevin is ON THE LIST and I will read it in the next month or two, promise.

(so good to see you!!)

mandy said...

tammie, i really love your writing about books. hmmn, my favorite book of the year, drawing a total blank, and i know i've read alot after the baby was born, all fiction, but seriously, now, i can't remember a single one.
oh, i read some john holt, which got my all hot and bothered about schooling and wanting to home school but not sure if it's right for us. anyways, it's surprisingly good reading. oh, yes, and i just finished joe salatin's 'folks this ain't normal' which has some fabulous ideas although it gets a bit redundant.

I and J Mommy said...

Loving your list! Can't say I've read many of the ones here, but can suggest several.
Hunger Games trilogy
The help
Blessings on the moon

Just a few I read this year.

Visty said...

I have never kept track of what I read, but I will this year, just for kicks and just because I want to be cool like you.

Tammie said...

kim: yes, the help! need to add that one.

visty: and i will try to corral my family together every month for a famly pcture because i want to be cool like you.

DysFUNctional Mom said...

Oh, Kevin. I still think about it too. Everyone that I tell about it swears they'll never read it. Wusses!

Run Lori Run said...

I thought the monsters of templeton was aaaaawful!

Right now I'm reading Olive Kitteridge and it is so beautifully written. It won the Pulitzer (not that that means anything for me either way) and it is really good, at least the 40 pages I've read so far.

daniel j. taylor said...

2. Bright Sided: How the Relentless Pursuit of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America by Barbara Ehrenreich

sounds so interesting. I'm curious if you reviewed it like you say you have done with some others? I read a little bit of non-fiction this year ( I really enjoyed "13 Days to Glory: The Siege of the Alamo, which I picked up in San Antonio and read in no time) and this one by Ehrenreich I think I would like!

Lisa said...

Not sure if this is something you would be interested in, but the best book I have read in a very long time is, 'Ready Player one' by Ernest Cline. Sci fi with LOTS of great 70's/80's pop culture references. So much fun I didn't want it to end. (And, although i have a strict 'do not re read for at least a year' rule, I read it again within the month.) Like I said, maybe not something for everyone, but maybe others reading this comment might enjoy it. This book deserves to be read!

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