Happy New Year everybody! Now that the 2011 is over, it’s time for my annual reading roundup!
Books read: 108 (including one on audio)
Pages read: 24,434 (not including picture books)
Picture Book: 31
Juvenile Fiction: 15
Juvenile Nonfiction: 5
Young Adult Fiction: 41
Young Adult Nonfiction: 3
Adult Fiction: 7
Adult Nonfiction: 6
In 2011, I read more adult books because I started attending one of the adult book clubs at my library. I also reread my top 4 favorite books – 3 for book discussions! I reread the entire Harry Potter series, which was an amazing decision, to gear up for the final movie, several Rick Riordan books, because they’re as addictive as candy, and near the end of the year, to prepare for the Dr. Seuss exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry, I read a bunch of Dr. Seuss books.
Best Contemporary YA (all of these will be books I read in 2011, not necessarily new in 2011)
I read both Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door and loved both! Maureen Johnson’s The Last Little Blue Envelope was also an extremely satisfying sequel.
Best Nonfiction Read in 2011:
Both of these were actually kind of surprisingly good. Lauren Conrad’s Style covers a lot of different areas like makeup, how to pack, essential items for your closet, etc. I would have loved this when I was a teen. OK, let’s be honest – I love it now. I was really impressed with how the book was put together – great pictures, topics broken down into easy-to-read paragraphs – and the writing is very encouraging. This is a great book for teen girls.
Harry Potter: Film Wizardry surprised me because I kept hearing about Harry Potter: Page to Screen (which I haven’t been able to get my hands on yet) and assumed that one would be much better. Film Wizardry is a great tribute to the movies. It’s pretty well organized, has lots of interesting facts I didn’t know, and has a TON of great pictures and even some added pull-out features, like the Marauder’s Map and programs for the Quidditch World Cup and Yule Ball.
Best Historical Fiction
I’ve already gushed about greatness that is Michelle Cooper’s Montmaray series. Please go read them! I don’t think they’re getting the attention they deserve. This is the second one and I loved it even more than the first. How often does that happen?
Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens is hilarious. I was looking forward to it since I saw the cover and heard it was basically Miss Teen USA + Lost + Libba Bray. There’s lots of crazy things going on in this book, including jabs at reality tv, commercialism, beauty products. I’ve also heard that the audiobook is amazing, which I totally believe since it’s read by Libba Bray.
This is one of my favorite covers of all-time. It’s just so creepy! I love this book for the incredibly creepy pictures.
This is an older adult book, and it is so good. I included it when I booktalked dystopias at a high school. It’s lighter on the science fiction that dystopias tend to be now, but it still has that government controls all feel. I highly recommend it.
Best Picture Book
One of these is obviously pretty old, but I have developed a new appreciation for The Lorax. “I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.” is my favorite line.
Grandpa Green did come out this year, and it’s gorgeous. I’d expect no less from Lane Smith.
Most Gorgeous All-Around Book
Conor’s mom is sick with cancer and he has been having nightmares lately. Then at 12:07 each night a monster comes. Soon it tells Conor it will tell him 3 stories but after that Conor must tell the monster (which resembles the yew tree near their home) a story- the truth about his nightmare. Through the stories, scenes with Conor & his mom, his grandmother, and his dad who moved away to America with his new family, as well as Conor’s interactions with a bully and his no-longer-a friend Lilly, we see Conor start to understand that the monster was called not to heal his mother as Conor first thought, but to heal him.
The etchings within this book really add to this already gorgeous book. At the Mock Printz discussion I attended, we easily voted this our winner. I hope the real Printz committee does too.
Best “I’m not sure what’s going on but I’ll go with it” Book
It’s been awhile since I’ve read Chime by Frannie Billingsley, but even after I’ve had time to think about it, I’m still not sure what genre to really put this in. Is it historical fiction? Science fiction? Fantasy? We discussed this at the Mock Printz discussion too, and people really emphasized the fairy tale aspect. All I know is that Chime is a beautifully and uniquely written book. The story is told in a twisty-turny way that makes the plot kind of confusing to follow, but I loved the way it was written. Give it a shot, but consider yourself warned- it may be more challenging than most.
Best “Jumped on the Bandwagon” Book
If you were paying attention to anything this year, you would have known that EVERYONE and their MOTHER was reading The Help. I doubt that any of our many copies have ever been on the shelf. I hadn’t really been interested in reading it though because, for one, I don’t really read adult books, and two, it was tough to get ahold of. But when I was in Florida on vacation this summer, my teenage cousin asked if I had read it, and when I said no, she pushed it in my hands and told me I had to. And as soon as I started, I was quickly drawn into it, and couldn’t put it down. I really enjoy historical fiction, and I think this does a good job of capturing the heaviness of the Civil Rights Era. I haven’t seen the movie because it seems from the previews that the movie doesn’t match what I felt the book conveyed. Maybe I’ll watch it someday.
Best New Series
Percy Jackson is one of my favorite series, so I am on board with continuing his story in whatever way possible. This year I finally got my hands on the first two in the Heroes of Olympus series. While I think these two were a little too lengthy, I did enjoy them. Let’s face it, it’s Rick Riordan, how can I NOT enjoy them?
Not only does this book have a clear goal, is filled with action and excitement, but it’s LOADED with 80’s pop-culture and video-games references. It’s been getting a lot of buzz, and I really enjoyed it, even more than I expected. If you’re even remotely nerdy, particularly in the technological sense, you’ll like it. Easy as that.
So…what great books did you read this year?