It’s interesting to look back at 2011 and see what trend my reading has taken, not to mention recalling all that I’ve read and enjoyed or not enjoyed. It’s funny how this year has flown by measured by the books I’ve read. When I think of 2011 I think of books. I suspect that’s not a very good thing. But when you’re stuck at home all year round, cooking, keeping house and looking after baby don’t seem as exciting as reading, right? There have been some memorable times, though — our monthly praise and worship meetings with close friends have been blessed and delightful; I got involved in a theatre production after four or five years, and it felt great(!); we got ourselves an adorable little Lhasa Apso; it’s been an absolute delight watching our son grow.
But, I have digressed, and come back to my 2011 reading and blogging survey to end this year. While the majority of this survey’s questions have been taken from the Perpetual Page Turner, a few others I have flicked from Shannon’s survey, and I’ve added a few of my own.
Note: Some of the links to my book commentaries will lead to my old blog at Blogger. Just thought I’d warn you folks.
READING STATS FOR 2011
Number of books read
- 54 — this includes all the kiddy books I read as well. This does not include the number of short stories I’ve read this year (which is 5o or thereabouts).
- Fiction — 51
- Non-fiction — 3
- classics — 30 (including lesser known ones)
- fantasy — 6
- plays — 1
- children’s books — 5 (not including the classics)
- literary fiction — 5
- short story collections — 3
- audio books — 1
- e-books — 13
Most books read by an author this year
- Rick Riordan! — 4
BEST/WORST OF 2011
Best book(s) read in 2011
Most disappointing book(s) read
From the most disappointing, I name three:
- The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet – I was warned about this through several reviews but seeing as it was Colleen McCullough I couldn’t believe she could go so wrong with this. Turns out I was wrong.
- Burnt Shadows - I loved the sound of the book and begged my husband to get it for me. I didn’t care for it at all. However, this is obviously a matter of taste and preference for my mother loved it so much she was thrilled when I said she could keep the book. (Just for the record, I loved The Poisonwood Bible. But my mom simply couldn’t go past the first few chapters. Like I said, we each react differently to certain books even though our tastes are mostly alike!)
- Evelina – I think I was expecting too much from Fanny Burney since Austen seemed to respect her a great deal. Thus I was terribly disappointed to read something so trivial.
Most surprising (in a good way) books of 2011
- Mrs Dalloway – While I can’t say I enjoyed it, I was surprised to find that I actually didn’t mind Virginia Woolf’s stream of consciousness. I’m likely to give this style of writing another try. Perhaps another Woolf?
- The Great Gatsby – I read this on recommendation by Jenny O. I had tried it once in college and disliked it very much after the first few pages. But on reading it this year I found that I liked it a lot!
Favourite new writers discovered in 2011
- Amy Tan
- Barbara Kingsolver
- Elizabeth von Arnim
- Brigid Pasulka
Best book that was out of my comfort zone
Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2011
Book I most anticipated reading in 2011
- The Screwtape Letters — I finally managed to buy a copy at the beginning of December and just finished reading it. I loved it!
Favourite cover of a book read in 2011
- A Long Long Time Ago and Essentially True – It was the cover and the title that prompted me to buy this book!
- The Poisonwood Bible is a close second. In fact, I bought it at the same time I bought the Pasulka, and again, it was the cover that attracted me. I have regretted neither book. They are both fantastic!
Most memorable character in 2011
Most beautifully written book read in 2011
Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2011
- A Tale of Two Cities — I thought the third and final part of this novel was simply breath-taking. Dickens seems so involved with the characters involved either directly or in-directly in the revolution. But the part that got me the most was when, towards the end, a young peasant girl is being taken to the guillotine and she is puzzled as to why, but is content, that should her death make things right for the poor in France then she is ready to die. My heart ached for her.
- The Kite Runner — “for you a thousand times over”
- Gone with the Wind — Scarlett was simply a breath-taking character. I hated her but admired the strong and magnetic person that she was. The story itself was such a brilliant epic. I thought about this story for days after I’d finished reading it.
- The Little Prince — It was such a poignant story.
Favourite passage/quote from a book read in 2011
While I didn’t care for Burnt Shadows, I really loved the following quote because it is something that had crossed my mind before:
He [Sajjad] looked at James, as though considering something that had never occurred to him before. ‘Why have the English remained so English? Throughout India’s history conquerors have come from elsewhere, and all of them – Turk, Arab, Hun, Mongol, Persian – have become Indian. If – when- this Pakistan happens, those Muslims who leave Delhi and Lucknow and Hyderabad to go there, they will be leaving their homes. But when the English leave, they’ll be going home.’
— p.82, Chap 6, “Veiled Birds”, Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie
Book read in 2011 that I am most likely to re-read in 2012
Book that had a scene that had you reeling and dying to talk about it
Books I have read this year because of another blogger
- The Great Gatsby (Jenny O) — she urged me to try it again
- Gone with the Wind (Jillian) — her enthusiastic posts on the book and her excited discussions had me all curious
- Shakespeare on Toast (Falaise) — was inspired to buy it by his review. A really good read!
Books I started but did not finish
The books I didn’t finish I barely started. I generally try to finish a book if I am well into it — no matter how much I’m hating it. The books I list below never saw me through more than the first two or three chapters.
- Tiger Hills — I’m not sure why I could not get into this. It is supposed to be an epic novel along the lines of Thorn Birds and Gone with the Wind. However, while I recognised the writers skill with language, I found I couldn’t take to her writing at all.
- A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court — I didn’t dislike this. I just found Twain’s cant to be a bit hard on me. I would definitely like to read this some day. But not soon.
- A Vindication of the Rights of Woman — I was really enjoying this. Unfortunately, as I was reading this one online, I got distracted by physical books and my interest just fizzled out. I hope to read this one too completely someday.
- Gods of Dream — a fantasy ebook. I was reading it on my husband’s iphone. It was something new and different…I really liked it. However, it went the way of Mary Wollstonecraft. I’m not sure if I’ll be getting back to this one. Only if I have a physical copy, I guess.
- Entangled — I’d won this as a giveaway. The premise of the story sounded intriguing (it was fantasy). Sadly, when I started reading it I realised that it was mainly a romance, and I can’t read those so I put it aside.
- Teagan’s Story — another giveaway I won. I had wanted this mainly because it’s about a girl battling epilepsy, and I have a good friend who has this. So I figured this might be something of an insight. However, I didn’t like the author’s style at all. I couldn’t read past the first couple of pages.
That’s 6 books begun and set aside. …
BLOGGING IN REVIEW
Did I complete any reading challenges or goals that I set for myself at the beginning of the year?
- The four challenges I recall signing up for at the beginning of the year I have completed.
- I’ve also completed various mid-year challenges including R.I.P VI and The Christmas Spirit challenge.
- I’m also quite pleased with how far I’ve managed to stick to my non-re-reading policy this year. I did not manage it completely as I re-read 4 books (see above). But 4 out of 54 is not bad, I think.
- Another thing I’m pleased about is how much I have been able to reduce the number of unread books on my shelves. Granted, I have bought a lot this year. But I think I have done pretty well in bringing the number down to almost halfway.
Favorite review(s) I wrote in 2011?
My biggest shortcomings as a book blogger?
- I don’t seem to be able to review a book on time most of the time. As a result I have quite a few books that have yet to be reviewed from this year. I doubt I’ll ever be getting to them, though, unless I re-read them.
- I think I lack a bit of variety.
- I’m a very lazy blogger. To write one post is a really big deal for me. Some of my best reviews are developed in my head while in the bathroom. Once I’m out and ready to type I’m just too lazy to think it all up all over again! (Hence some books that have been left unreviewed. I’ve reviewed them all…in my head.)
Blog posts I am most likely to read by other bloggers?
- I love reading posts/reviews on books that I’ve already read or intend to read or that are classics.
- I like feature-like articles/analytical posts which deal with certain aspects of literature or types of books and themes. (These seem very rare in the book blogging world.)
- I love reading posts that lend themselves to discussion.
- I also like reading lists. If you have anything in the format of a list, I’ll read it!
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2012
One book I didn’t get to read in 2011 that will be a priority in 2012
- Number One on my list would be Roots(!) by Alex Hailey
- the three others are: Far from the Madding Crowd, North and South and The Agony and the Ecstasy
Book(s) I’m most anticipating in 2012
- in terms of just reading I’m anticipating all of them! But if you want names I’ll mention Narnia, Roots, War and Peace, Lord of the Rings (re-read), and the Shakespearean plays we have planned for this year.
- in terms of a release, I’m really looking forward to the third book in Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series towards the end of 2012.
Five things I hope to accomplish or do in reading/blogging in 2012?
- I hope to read a lot of classic poetry this year. I’m talking Byron, Keats, Shelley, Coleridge, Browning, Tennyson, Milton, Donne — yep, the old famous ones! (P.S. — I haven’t mentioned Wordsworth ’cause I dislike him immensely!)
- I’m also looking forward to reading a few plays. Besides all the Shakespeare I have planned for 2012, I’m hoping to read (and finish) Marlowe’s plays, and maybe get in some Bernard Shaw, J M Barrie, Ibsen, O’Neil, and any other playwright who takes my fancy.
- Then, as I’ve mentioned before, I intend doing a great deal of re-reading. I’ve really missed it this year. I’m also getting back to all the fantasy I’ve been missing.
- In terms of blogging, I intend joining the trend of weekly and monthly wrap-up posts. I’ve noticed that they’re actually quite effective in keeping track of what one is reading, and making it easier for others (who might be interested) to keep track as well.
- I need to show more blog love. As I’ve mentioned above, I’m a very lazy blogger and that laziness tends to spill over into visiting and commenting in other blogs. I have been better this year than I was in 2010. But I hope to fare a lot lot better in 2012. I think I would also like to keep track of some of the posts I’ve enjoyed reading from other bloggers in my weekly wrap-ups.
THANKING FELLOW BLOGGERS IN 2011
This is something I’ve been meaning to do for a long while now and decided to add it to this list.
I want to thank the following bloggers with whom I’ve had delightful discussions, and who have been very encouraging by commenting regularly at Breadcrumb Reads.
- Mel U — for being one of those encouragers, especially when my blog was still trying to take off.
- Lesa — another encourager, and a person I had a lot of laughs with at the beginning of this year. I think, since I moved to WordPress we haven’t corresponded much. I should remedy that next year!
- Jillian — for being an inspiration and a constant commenter at my blog.
- Amanda – she’s been a regular visitor since I moved to WordPress, and I love her comments because they’re always geared toward discussions and/or conversations.
- Elena — I’ve had a few brief but enjoyable discussions with her.
- Enbretheliel (I hope I spelt that right!) — We’ve had some fantastic discussions. The one that sticks out most in my mind is the long one we had on Peter Pan when I was still at Blogger. Sadly, she’s another one I’ve lost touch with once I moved to WordPress.
And a BIG thank you too all those of you who have taken the time and trouble to comment on my posts, and make blogging such a delight!
(Some) blogs I have visited regularly this year or kept close tabs on (I might not have posted regularly at them, though)
Bloggers I am delighted to have discovered through Short Stories on Wednesdays
I have discovered so many new writers and short stories because of these people. And they all have such lovely blogs. I intend making it a point to visit them a great deal more in the new year (not only for the short stories! — I’ve been horrible like that. ).
Well…that’s it for 2011! With this post I’ve wrapped up all my dealings in 2011. Now I look forward to tomorrow — another day and another year. See you all in 2012!!