2011: My Year in Reading

I’m starting off with the End-of-Year Book Survey taken from here. My problem is that for some reason (iPhone, probably), I read a lot less this year than in most years since my first year teaching (during which I didn’t read jack). I am therefore going to respond to this survey in such a way that it covers 2010 and 2011. Thanks to GoodReads, it shouldn’t be too hard to remember what I’ve read in the past 730 days.

  1. Best Books You Read In 2010 and 2011?
    This will probably be the easiest question on the survey, and it’s easy enough that I’ll give an answer for each year. In 2010 it was Rebecca Stead’s Newbery-winning When You Reach Me, a Newbery among Newberys, truly a special and wonderful book. In 2011 it was Suzanne Collins’s Mockingjay, remarkable for different reasons but still quite a good book.
  2. Most Disappointing Book, or Book You Wish You Loved More Than You Did?

    It didn’t come with expectations because I didn’t know anything about it, but Sue Corbett’s The Last Newspaper Boy in America disappointed because it started off so promising and then finished so weakly.

  3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2010 or 2011?

    I was surprised by The Hunger Games because bandwagons tend to be wrong. In this case, the bandwagon was right.

  4. Book you recommended to people most in 2010 and 2011?

    That would be Lynne Rae Perkins’s Criss Cross, which I passed along to a few colleagues and gave as gifts to a few friends. Nobody (except Malia, a couple of years ago) I’ve shared it with has thought much of it for some reason. Those silly, sightless people!

  5. Best series you discovered in 2011?

    Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games series.

  6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2010 or 2011?

    Rebecca Stead, whose When You Reach Me and First Light are rather stunning for second and first novels.

  7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

    I read Michael Lewis’s The Big Short, a book about the mortgage credit disaster. Yes, a book about money and business.

  8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2010 and 2011?

    The plot in The Hunger Games is so horrifying I had to keep going, even though the issues are serious enough that I wanted to put it down so I could think about them.

  9. Book you most anticipated in 2010 and 2011?

    I used to attempt to be current with my reading, but when I had to read all those Newberys for my thesis, I realized there were just far too many books already out there that I really needed to read. I have spent most of my time catching up with those for the past few years. I suppose there are some authors whose work I will grab as soon as it’s out (Cynthia Kadohata, Linda Sue Park, Rebecca Stead, and Lynne Rae Perkins come to mind); most of the time, though, I’m trying to get caught up with even THEIR previously published work.

  10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2010 and 2011?

  11. Most memorable character in 2011?

    Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games.

  12. Most beautifully written book read in 2010 and 2011?

    I am not sure “beautiful” is the word, but Lynne Rae Perkins’s All Alone in the Universe just blew me away with how skillfully it was written. She writes the way I wish I could write.

  13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2010 and 2011?

    Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me. It reminded me of why I want so much to write.

  14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2010 or 2011 to finally read?

    I’m further behind on Sue Grafton’s alphabet mysteries than I thought. It doesn’t seem that the series should have taken me as many years (thirteen or fourteen!) to get through it as it has. And I want very much to be caught up when the last novel comes out.

  15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2010 or 2011?

    Darn it; I don’t have any of those in front of me right now, so I’ll quote something I’ve already quoted in this space:

    Then I sat on the couch and closed my eyes. I pictured the world. I pictured the world millions of years ago, with crazy clouds of gas everywhere, and volcanoes, and the continents bumping into each other and then drifting apart. Okay. Now life begins. It starts in the water, with tiny things, microscopic, and then some get bigger. And one day something crawls out of the water onto land. There are animals, then humans, looking almost all alike. There are tiny differences in color, the shape of the face, the tone of the skin. But basically they are the same. They create shelters, grow food, experiment. They talk; they write things down.

    Now fast-forward. The earth is still making loops around the sun. There are humans all over the place, driving in cars and flying in airplanes. And then one day one human tells another human that he doesn’t want to walk to school with her anymore.

    “Does it really matter?” I ask myself.

    It did.

    From When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.

  16. Book That You Read In 2010 or 2011 That Would Be Most Likely To Reread In 2012?

    When You Reach Me.

  17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

    There is a moment in Suzanne Collins’s Catching Fire that caused me to gasp aloud. Reeling is a good way to describe my reaction when it is announced who the contestants will be in the Quarter Quell. Just mind-blowing, and completely unexpected.

This has not been my best year for reading. Summer vacation, usually a time of endless reading, was for me this year kind of a dead zone. It’s kind of Weedflower‘s fault. I read that in the summer of 2010 and was so moved by it that I had an impossible time writing my review. This made me not want to finish anything else, because it sucks when you get backed-up on book reviews. And every time I sat down to write about Weedflower I just froze up. When I finally made myself power through it right after Christmas, I knew I wasn’t writing my good stuff and I knew I wasn’t doing the novel justice, but there comes a time (and it had long passed) when you just have to suck it up and know you’re going to suck, so that you can move on.

So I didn’t read very much. Not much in the way of magazines or novels. Not as much in weblogs or journals. Not as much in news, ‘though I did read some news every day. It was The Hunger Games that got me out of that logjam, and what a great book for that.

I picked up an e-reader at the beginning of the year. There was a huge sale and the price was good for me. I have to say I liked the experience of reading my first book on it (The Big Short by Michael Lewis) and like the thought of adding it as another way of reading. As I have written here, there’s no way it will ever replace for me the joy of reading a real book.

So here I am in a new year, Weedflower finally written about and the rest of the books on my to-read shelf eagerly waiting. This is going to be a killer year for reading; I can feel it.

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