Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Top Ten Book Club Picks

Today is Tuesday, and that means it's Top Ten day over at The Broke and the Bookish!  Today's topic is Top Ten Books Book Club Picks.  Back in 2009, when I used to do my own Top Ten Tuesday lists, I posted a list of favorite book club picks (check out my earlier list), so I thought today I would stick to books I have read since then.  Some of these I did read for one of my book groups; others I read on my own but was dying to talk about them with someone!  What all of these books have in common is that they are not only interesting and well-written but guaranteed to spark some good discussions.  I skipped over the obvious choices and tried to highlight some you may not be familiar with:

Top Ten Book Club Picks:
My two book groups are always looking for new ideas.  What books do you think would make great book group picks?

Monday, January 30, 2012

It's Monday 1/30! What Are You Reading?

Here we are...Monday again! I have one son feeling better and heading back to school this morning after two weeks at home...and the other one curled up on the couch feeling awful. I wonder whether I will ever experience a normal, quiet, solitary work day again!  Really sick of the TV constantly making noise in the background.

Another busy weekend here - we are still buried in forms and paperwork for college, but we did finally file the FASFA (financial aid form) this weekend - progress! Not nearly enough time for reading this week, but here's what we did manage:
  • I finished Divergent by Veronica Roth, an excellent teen dystopian novel (see my review).  I'm looking forward to book 2!
  • I was in the mood for more kids/teen reading, so I next read a middle-grade book I've been dying to read for months: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick.  It was aptly named - full of wonder!  Just an amazing, one-of-a-kind book.
  • I am also still listening to an audio book, The Power of Six by Pitticus Lore, though I'm still not loving the narrators.  It is a good story, though.
  • And I finally started a book for one of my book groups, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos, a Pulitzer Prize winning novel about two Cuban brothers who move to NYC in the early 1950's and start an orchestra.  I thought it started out a bit slow, but I am enjoying it now.  This book has been on my TBR shelves for almost 10 years!
  • My husband, Ken, is still reading one of his Christmas gifts from me, In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson, and enjoying it, though he hasn't had much reading time either.
  • Jamie, 17, is reading Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness, Book Three in the Chaos Walking trilogy.  He says this post-apocalyptic trilogy is excellent and his dad and I need to read it next!
  • Craig, 14, gave up on Chronicles of the Red King: The Secret Kingdom by Jenny Nimmo, a prequel to one of his all-time favorite series, Charlie Bone.  He says it just wasn't as good as the Charlie Bone series.  
  • He is now finally reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, which the other three of us have been suggesting to him for ages!  Craig likes to be independent and make his own choices, but he admits we were right about this book.  He's only a couple of chapters into it and is already loving it.  He actually turned the TV off voluntarily a few minutes ago to read!
I posted two reviews last week:  Half-Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls and Divergent by Veronica Roth.  I also posted a link to the winners of the Youth Media Awards, including the Newberry and Caldecott Honors, plus many others - so many good books out there waiting to be read!

I learned a bit more about customizing the look of my blogs, though I am still a novice (after 7 years of blogging!)  I would love to figure out how to add photos and other customizations.  I like the clean look of it now, but it is a bit plain.  Someday...

What are you and your family reading this week?

(What are you reading Monday is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.  You might also want to take a look at the kids/teen version of what are you reading Monday over at Teach Mentor Texts.)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday Snapshot 1/28

I saw this meme over at Bibliophile By the Sea (one of my favorite book blogs) and thought I'd join in the fun!

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce @ AT Home With Books.

Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online.

This is a photo of sunrise, taken from my front door, a few weeks ago.  We've had a very mild winter so far, which is fine with me, though we did have some very dark, wet, gloomy days this week.  As long as the sun is shining, I'm good!
Hope you are all enjoying a nice weekend with good books by your side.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fiction Review: Half-Broke Horses

Half-Broke Horses: A True Life Novel by Jeannette Walls is a difficult book to categorize.  Officially, it is a novel, but in fact, much of the story is memoir-like non-fiction.  Many readers are familiar with Walls as the author of the stunning memoir, The Glass Castle, about her childhood with two irresponsible free-spirit parents that led to homelessness and hunger much of the time.  Half-Broke Horses is a prequel, of sorts.

It is the story of Walls’ grandmother, Lily Casey Smith, the independent and strong-willed woman who brought up Walls’ mother, Rosemary, told in the same straightforward, honest way that made The Glass Castle such a hit. It is officially fiction because Walls had to fill in some of the details with her imagination, but the facts of her life are based on hard research: diaries, other written sources, and countless interviews with her mother and others who knew Lily.

Lily Casey Smith grew up in west Texas, in a homestead set amid an inhospitable region.  Her father was something of a dreamer (a family trait!) and her mother a fragile woman better suited to mansions than ranches, so Lily had to take on a lot of hard work and responsibility for herself, her two younger siblings, and the ranch at an early age.  They fled their home when a tornado caused irreparable damage.  To give you an idea of their hardscrabble life, here are her father’s thoughts at the time:

“Dad started cussing up a blue streak.  Life, he declared, had cheated him once again.  “If I owned hell and west Texas,” he said, “I do believe I’d sell west Texas and live in hell.”

Lily’s life did not become any easier after they moved to New Mexico.  She was a remarkably independent young woman for the times (or even by today’s standards).  At the age of just 15, without a high school diploma, she traveled 500 miles alone – with nothing but a horse, a bedroll, one dress, and a change of underwear – to take on a teaching position in an isolated town in Arizona.

As Lily explained after her single year of Catholic boarding school, women at that time had three career choices – nurse, teacher, secretary – and here are her thoughts on those choices:

“I didn’t want to be a nurse, not because I was bothered by the sight of blood but because sick people irritated me.  I didn’t want to be a secretary because you were always at the beck and call of your boss, and what if it turned out you were smarter than him? It was like being a slave without the security.

But being a teacher was entirely different. I loved books. I loved learning. I loved that “Eureka!” moment when someone finally figured something out. And in the classroom, you got to be your own boss. Maybe teaching was my Purpose.”

So, she set out on her own at age 15 to pursue that purpose.  Later, her life took her as far as Chicago and eventually back to the arid ranch lands of Arizona. Along the way, she broke wild horses, suffered two devastating personal losses, learned to fly a plane, made extra money as a bootlegger, and raised two children, Little Jim and Rosemary, who would one day become Jeannette Walls’ mother.

Lily’s story is absolutely fascinating all on its own, the story of a vibrant pioneer woman who followed her own path and did many amazing things during her long lifetime. But her life is even more captivating as the backdrop for Walls’ earlier memoir. As soon as I finished Half-Broke Horses, I wished I still had The Glass Castle so I could re-read that and make the connections between Rosemary’s upbringing and the mother of Jeannette’s memoir (my mother did re-read Walls’ earlier book as soon as she finished!).

Like The Glass Castle, Half-Broke Horses is remarkably well-written.  Wall wrote it in the first-person, from her grandmother’s perspective.  As you can see by the brief excerpts included in this review,  Lily’s personality (and Walls’ writing talent) comes shining through, and she tells her story with honesty and humor.  Everyone in our neighborhood book group enjoyed reading it; it received an average rating of 7.7 out of 10 among our members – a high rating for us – and several people (myself included) rated it a 9.  I can’t wait to see what Walls comes up with next!

288 pages, Scribner


Monday, January 23, 2012

It's Monday 1/23! What Are You Reading?

Very busy week and not a great weekend.  We enjoyed a gathering of friends on Saturday evening but spent the rest of the weekend frantically trying to get our taxes started, finish the FASFA form for college financial aid, and apply for a scholarship that requires more information than most college applications!  Very frustrating work.  Going through our medical records for taxes, I uncovered a half dozen mistakes our health insurance company made on our claims last year.  How can a company survive when they are that incompetent?  (Of course, most of the mistakes are in their favor!)  No wonder health insurance is so expensive.  So, now I have some wonderful phone calls to look forward to this week to straighten all this out.

As always, books provided a nice respite for us, although I don't think any of us had much time for reading last week:
  • I am still reading Divergent by Veronica Roth (almost finished).  It's a teen dystopian novel that garnered a lot of attention when it was released last year.  It's excellent - I kept wanting to ditch all my work and read more this weekend!
  • I am also still listening to an audio book, The Power of Six by Pitticus Lore, and enjoying that as well, although I'm not thrilled with the narrator of the audio.  Also, I can't figure out how to turn off Shuffle on the audio book on my iPod, so I have to stop after every chapter to find the next chapter - it's very confusing listening to the chapters out of order!  
  • My husband, Ken, is still reading one of his Christmas gifts from me, In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson.  He says it's fascinating that good people didn't see what was coming with the Holocaust.
  • Jamie, 17, finished The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness, Book Two in the Chaos Walking trilogy, and immediately moved onto Book Three: Monsters of Men.  He says this post-apocalyptic trilogy is excellent and just keeps getting better!
  • Craig, 14, had a lot of trouble deciding what to read next, but he finally settled on Chronicles of the Red King: The Secret Kingdom by Jenny Nimmo, a prequel to one of his all-time favorite series, Charlie Bone.
I posted one review last week of The Novice: A Story of True Love, a Thai folktale about Buddhism that I enjoyed.  I also posted my list of Top Ten Books I'd Recommend To Someone Who Doesn't Normally Read YA.  And I posted a summary of the 5 Reading Challenges I've chosen to participate in for 2012 (finally!).

And, you may have noticed that I changed the look of my blog a bit.  This is actually a really big deal for me...after 6 years of blogging!  I know very little about the technical side of blogging, so changing my blog's look and finally figuring out how to add separate pages (see my new page for 2012 Challenges) was a giant step forward.  Now that I know how to do it, I may add some additional pages - tell me what pages or tabs you have on your blogs.  And I still wasn't able to add a photo to the header of my blog - I have no idea how people do such creative and unique things with their blogs!

What are you and your family reading this week?

(What are you reading Monday is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.)

Friday, January 20, 2012

2012 Reading Challenges

OK, we're more than half-way through January now.  I suppose if I plan to join some challenges for 2012, I better get going!  I don't normally "do" reading challenges - too much pressure and too little time! - but I did enjoy participating in two of them last year.  So, after much deliberation (plus some procrastination), I have settled on these five reading challenges for 2012:

 2012 Where Are You Reading Challenge, hosted by Sheila at Book Journey -
This was my very first challenge (in 2011), though I took the no-stress approach and just tracked the locations where my books took place, rather than making any attempt to hit a certain target.  My final tally for 2011 included 20 different states and 11 different countries.  We'll see how many different places I visit through books in 2012!

Books On the Nightstand 12 in '12 Challenge -
Hosted by my favorite podcast (if you've never listened to Books on the Nightstand, you must try it!), the 12 in '12 Challenge allows each reader to set his or her own +12 challenge for 2012.  My challenge is:
  • To read at least 12 books from my TBR shelf, including at least 3 recommended by my husband.
My TBR shelves just keep getting more and more crowded, so I want to be sure to get to plenty of those books this year, including some my husband has read and recommended (and moved from his side of the TBR bookcase to mine).

2012 Dystopian Challenge, also hosted by Sheila at Book Journey -
I already have several dystopian novels on my TBR shelf, so I thought this one would be fun.  I am signing up at the Intermediate Post World Trainee, shooting for 4-6 dystopian novels in 2012.

What's In a Name 5 Challenge, hosted by Beth Fish Reads -
I decided to sign up for this one just for pure fun!  She has 5 very unique and creative categories set up for 2012.  "Read one book in each of the following categories:
  1. A book with a topographical feature (land formation) in the title: Black Hills, Purgatory Ridge, Emily of Deep Valley
  2. A book with something you'd see in the sky in the title: Moon Called, Seeing Stars, Cloud Atlas
  3. A book with a creepy crawly in the title: Little Bee, Spider Bones, The Witches of Worm
  4. A book with a type of house in the title: The Glass Castle, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Ape House
  5. A book with something you'd carry in your pocket, purse, or backpack in the title: Sarah's Key, The Scarlet Letter, Devlin Diary
  6. A book with a something you'd find on a calendar in the title: Day of the Jackal, Elegy for April, Freaky Friday, Year of Magical Thinking
The book titles are just suggestions, you can read whatever book you want to fit the category."

2012 Memorable Memoirs Challenge, hosted by Melissa at The Betty and Boo Chronicles -
I love to read memoirs and have several already on my TBR shelf waiting to be read, so this one is  a perfect fit for me.  I am signing up The Diarist level, aiming to read between 1 and 4 memoirs in 2012 (though I may move up to the next level later).

So, that's it!  Now I just need to figure out how to make a separate tab on my blog to track my challenges.  Even though I have been blogging for about 6 years, I've never really moved beyond the basics!

What challenges are you signing up for this year?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fiction Review: The Novice: A Story of True Love

Apparently, author Thich Nhat Hanh is a renowned Zen Master who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr.  I didn’t know any of that when I began listening to an audio production of his latest book, The Novice: A Story of True Love, so this was my introduction to the spiritual scholar and peace activist.  This unique, slim volume retells an ancient Vietnamese folktale as a parable about finding peace and joy in life.

Kinh Tam, a beautiful young woman from a well-regarded Vietnamese family, wants to please her parents by following tradition and marrying a local young man, but she has been drawn to Buddhism since she was a child.  At that time, however, only men were allowed to become monks in Vietnam.  She eventually makes the difficult decision to leave her family, disguise herself as a male, and join a Buddhist temple.

There, she finds happiness and peace, learning about Buddhism and becoming a cherished member of the temple and its local community.  All of that is threatened, however, when a local woman falls in love with Kinh Tam and, in an attempt to draw her away from the life of a monk, accuses her of fathering her child, unaware, of course, that Kinh Tam is really a woman.  Kinh Tam must choose whether to reveal her secret and give up the life of a monk or accept the punishments of the temple and the community for supposedly breaking her vows.

As Kinh Tam suffers from one injustice after another, she bears them with grace, continuing to lead an exemplary and happy life, filled with peace, love, and forgiveness.  Her trials and responses are a lesson to readers on how to accept and live with our own suffering and injustices in a life of joy and peace.

I really enjoyed this book; it was unlike anything I have ever read before.  I know very little about Buddhism – only what I learned from Toni Bernhard’s wonderful book, How To Be Sick – but its tenets make sense to me and feel right.  Our family has certainly had its share of suffering these past ten years (three of the four of us have chronic illnesses), and these lessons of finding joy in a life of suffering reflect the kind approach I have discovered myself.  And, I just enjoyed listening to this beautifully told folktale.  Anyone interested in spiritual pursuits will enjoy this insightful little book.

160 pages, Harper One; Harper Audio 

Listen to a sample of the audio book

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Top Ten Books I'd Recommend To Someone Who Doesn't Read YA

Today is Tuesday, and that means it's Top Ten day over at The Broke and the Bookish!  Today's topic is Top Ten Books I'd Recommend to Someone Who Doesn't Usually Read X.  I chose to recommend books for people who don't normally read Young Adult books because there are so many amazing books out there written for teens and young adults that appeal equally to grown-up readers.  For more ideas, you can visit Great Books for Kids and Teens.

So, here are my picks (in no particular order) - I hope you find something here to love!

  1. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins – a cultural phenomenon – not quite on the scale of Harry Potter and Twilight but it may get close after the movie is released in March – not only a fast-paced dystopian story but also a very thought-provoking look into war and our own society’s obsession with reality TV.
  2. Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork – an insightful coming-of-age story about a young man with a form of autism.  If you liked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, you’ll love this novel.
  3. Shiver, Linger, and Forever by Maggie Stiefvater – adults who enjoyed the Twilight series will love this well-written trilogy about teens in Minnesota who turn into wolves when the weather gets cold. I’m not generally a fan of this genre but loved these novels!
  4. Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card – fans of Card’s Ender’s Game series know that the author writes clever, exciting sci fi novels that appeal equally to teens and adults; this first book in a time-traveling series is fabulous!
  5. Thunder Over Kandahar by Sharon E. McKay - an insightful, engaging novel written from the point of view of a young girl in Afghanistan.
  6. Wake, Fade, and Gone by Lisa McMann – Fans of paranormal suspense will love this unique trilogy about a young woman who gets pulled into other people’s dreams.
  7. The Deadly Sister by Eliot Schrefer – a mystery/suspense novel about a young woman trying to protect her younger sister who’s been accused of murder.
  8. Unwind by Neal Schusterman – another dystopian masterpiece, about a society where parents can choose to “unwind” (i.e. recycle) their teens between the ages of 13 and 18.
  9. What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell – a historical novel about a young woman’s coming-of-age in 1947, combining mystery, romance, and history.
  10. Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter – a compelling memoir about a young girl’s childhood spent in foster care and how she overcame it.

What YA books would you recommend to adult readers?

Monday, January 16, 2012

It's Monday 1/16! What Are You Reading?

Not a typical Monday here.  The kids are off from school today, Jamie is recovering from a stomach virus, and I have a lot of work around the house to catch up on today because we were gone this weekend for Craig's birthday. 

Things have been hectic around here, but we still found time to enjoy our books this week:
  • I finished Great House by Nicole Krauss last week and posted a review.
  • I also finished my first audio book of the year, The Novice: A Story of True Love by Thich Nhat Hanh, which is a parable about living a life devoted to the teachings of Buddha.  I don't know a lot about Buddhism, but I enjoyed this unique book.
  • Now I have started a new audio book, The Power of Six by Pitticus Lore, which I've been looking forward to for months.  It's good so far.
  • Next I read Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls, a sort of novelized prequel to her best-selling memoir, The Glass Castle.  I loved this book about Walls' grandmother's life and can't wait to talk to my book group about it on Wednesday.
  • Last night, I started Divergent by Veronica Roth - finally!  It's an intriguing concept so far.
  • My husband, Ken, is reading one of his Christmas gifts from me, In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson.  I want to read it when he finishes!
  • Jamie, 17, is reading The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness, Book Two in the Chaos Walking trilogy.  He says it is even better than the first book.
  • Craig, 14 (as of Friday!), is finishing Alibi Junior High by Greg Logsted today.
Last week, I posted reviews of Great House by Nicole Krauss and the middle-grade novel Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu. 

What are you and your family reading this week?

(What are you reading Monday is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fiction Review: Great House

 What I liked most about Nicole Krauss’ novel, The History of Love, was the way that two disparate stories slowly came together to form a cohesive, pleasing whole.  She uses a similar approach in her latest novel, Great House, with tales of four different characters whose lives are joined together by an antique desk.

The novel opens with a somewhat neurotic author who has been writing at the desk for the past 25 years, ever since a friend of a friend asked her if she’d keep his furniture while he went home to Chile.  Many years later, a young woman appears, claiming to be the daughter of the desk’s owner, and takes the desk back home to Jerusalem, leaving the author feeling lost and depressed.  Meanwhile, in London, an elderly man cares for his beloved wife who has Alzheimer’s disease, and discovers a disturbing secret that she kept from him for all those years.

In another part of the world, an antiques dealer in Jerusalem slowly and painstakingly tries to recreate his father’s study from his childhood home in Budapest, before the Nazis plundered the house.  His two children are brought up in a very isolated existence after their mother dies.  Also in Jerusalem, an old man tries to reconnect with his estranged son, who returns from London for his mother’s funeral.

At first, these four stories seem to be unrelated to each other, but gradually, slowly, the reader begins to see threads of connection.  It took me a long time to read this book; it is not a light, easy read.  Krauss’ prose is dense, though often beautiful, with some paragraphs lasting a page and a half or more.  It is an in-depth character study, so if you prefer fast-paced plot-driven stories, this one probably isn’t for you. 

As with her earlier novel, many characters are Jewish and parts of their stories relate to the events surrounding the Holocaust.  I found the overall tone of the novel to be relatively bleak; none of the characters is really happy, and the ending doesn’t bring much resolution, though there are minor hints of hope. I preferred the love story at the heart of The History of Love.  Overall, I enjoyed this National Book Award finalist, and I was glad to have read it, though I generally prefer more upbeat stories.

289 pages, Norton


Monday, January 09, 2012

It's Monday 1/9! What Are You Reading?

Well, so far the new year is off to a good start for me - I felt good all last week, enjoyed the warm, sunny weather at the end of the week, and even got all of my goals set for 2012 and my calendar set up (I am usually way behind!).  I also caught up with my end-of-year blog posts on my book blogs, though I still need to write one more catch-up post about the book challenges I am joining for 2012 - should be fun!

We enjoyed our books last week:
  • I am almost done with Great House by Nicole Krauss.  This turned out to be a rather long read, even though the book isn't that big, because it is fairly dense prose, but I have enjoyed it.  I should finish it today.
  • I started a new audio, The Novice: A Story of True Love by Thich Nhat Hanh, which is a parable about living a life devoted to the teachings of Buddha.  I thought this was an appropriate audio book for the start of a new year!  I'm enjoying it so far.
  • My husband, Ken, finished his first-ever e-book, The Breach, a suspense novel by Patrick Lee.
  • Next, Ken picked up the book he started before our trip, Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table by Sara Roahen, one of my favorite memoirs, and read a few more chapters.  I think he prefers this book in small tastes.
  • Last night, Ken started one of his Christmas gifts from me, In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson.  We're both looking forward to this novel set in Nazi Germany by the author of The Devil in the White City.
  • Jamie, 17, finished The Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare and loved it.
  • Now he is reading another of his Christmas gifts, The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, Book One in the Chaos Walking trilogy.  He says it is very good, though somewhat dark and different than what he usually reads.
  • Craig, 13, is reading Alibi Junior High by Greg Logsted, hoping to finish it this week so he can take his Accelerated Reader quiz before the end of the marking period next week.
I didn't write any new reviews last week, but I did post my year-end summary/list of Best Books Read in 2011, both here and at Great Books for Kids and Teens.  I also posted my wrap-up for the Where Are You Reading 2011 Challenge.  It was fun keeping track of the settings of all the books I read.

What are you and your family reading this week?

(What are you reading Monday is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.)

Friday, January 06, 2012

Where Are You Reading 2011 Final Tally

This year, I participated in my first-ever challenge, the Where Are You Reading Challenge hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.  Well, I didn't actually challenge myself to read certain books, but I kept track of all of the locations where my books took place.  You can view my map at Google Maps or check it out here:

View Where I Am Reading 2011 in a larger map

All together, I read books taking place in 20 different U.S. states and in 11 different countries outside of the U.S. (plus quite a few that either didn't specify a location or were "otherworldly"):

US States
  • California (2)
  • Colorado (2)
  • Connecticut (4)
  • Florida
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland (2)
  • Massachusetts (2)
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota (4)
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey (2)
  • New Mexico
  • New York (5)
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania (2)
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont (2)
Countries Outside the US:
  • Afghanistan
  • The Balkans (an unnamed country)
  • Ethiopa
  • France
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Russia
  • United Kingdom (9)
  • Vietnam

I also discovered that New York City, Connecticut, and London (and the UK in general) are all very popular settings for books!  One of the things I enjoy most about reading is how it can transport me to different places and teach about places in the world that I might never have a chance to visit in person.

This was fun, and I plan to sign up for this challenge again in 2012.   Stop by Book Journey to check out the 2012 challenge and sign up yourself!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Best Books Read in 2011

Well, I finally tallied up my reading for last year...(drumroll)...

I read 68 books in 2011 (that's 13 less than I read in 2010).  Thirty-six of those were grown-up books and 32 of them were kids' or teen/YA books (check out Great Books for Kids and Teens for a summary of the kids' and teen/YA books).  Of the 36 adult books:
  • 23 were fiction
  • 7 were memoir
  • 6 were non-fiction but not memoir
  • 7 of the adult books I read were audios
That's fewer books than the previous year, but that's OK - I think I read a little less because I was a bit less sick this year, so that's a fair trade.  Now, comes the tough part..which books did I like best?  I read a lot of really good books this year.  Here are my Top Ten Books Read in 2011 (in no particular order):
How was your reading year?  What were your favorite books read in 2011?

I'm ready for a new year and more great books!

Monday, January 02, 2012

It's Monday 1/2! What Are You Reading?

Happy New Year!!  I hope you have all had an enjoyable holiday week with your families.  We just returned last night from a trip to Oklahoma to visit my father-in-law.  It was a nice visit (and great weather!), but it is wonderful to be back home now.  Jamie, our 17-year old son, was very ill all week with a flare-up of his chronic illnesses, so that marred the week.  On the upside, it is quiet and low-key there, so we all had plenty of time to read:
  • I finished Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork, a coming-of-age teen book about a young man with an Asperger's-like condition who is trying to fit into the "real world" per his father's request.  It was excellent - just as good as I'd heard.
  • Now I am reading one of my Christmas gifts, Great House by Nicole Krauss.  I loved her novel, A History of Love.  This one took a bit of time to get into, but after reading on airplanes all day yesterday, I am enjoying it.
  • My husband, Ken, brought his new Kindle Fire on the trip and spent a lot of time playing with it!  He's also been reading his first e-book download, The Breach by Patrick Lee, a suspense novel, though he watched movies on the flights - I think he's enjoying his new toy!
  • Jamie, 17, read most of his Christmas gifts this week since he was sick!  He lugged the hefty Inheritance by Christopher Paolini all the way to Oklahoma and finished in in just days.  He said it was a different ending than he'd expected, a bit sad, but he loved the book.
  • Next, he read I Am Number Four and The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore.  We'd watched the Number Four movie adaptation a couple of months ago, and he wanted to read the book and its sequel.  He enjoyed both very much.
  • Now he is reading another hefty and long-awaited novel, The Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare.  It kept him happily occupied through hours of flight yesterday.
  • Craig, 13, got a laptop for Christmas, so he spent a lot of time this week playing with his new toy and watched movies on the planes, but he and I enjoyed reading Alibi Junior High by Greg Logsted at bedtime all week.  He was reluctant to read it (because I had recommended it!) but is enjoying it.
I don't normally travel with my laptop, but I brought it along this week specifically to catch up on my book blogs!  Here's what I posted:
Ah, it's nice to start the new year off all caught up!

What are you and your family reading this week?

(What are you reading Monday is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.)

Happy New Year!