So I’ve posted my best reads in audiobooks, YA/MG, and (soon) graphic novels. Now it’s time to do the best of the rest. I managed to fit in a couple more slim volumes before I kissed 2011 good riddance, so I finished with 102 books read. Now that I have weeded out the audio, the YA/MG and the graphic (I swear, it’s coming, I have to polish) I can get down to the best of the rest. And my favorite book of the year is, for me, a no-brainer. I knew as soon as I closed the book that it would be my favorite and it hasn’t changed in the 6 months (give or take) since. The Name of the Wind captured me unlike any book I read this year and, honestly, I think the last few years. The next book in the series, which I have been holding off on simply because I don’t know how long it will be until the third book comes out, will be read this year, I’m sure. I don’t know how much longer I can hold out.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (review) – Favorite book of the year!
From my review:
It seems like it’s been forever since I fell so completely, so totally, so helplessly in love with a book. Or, rather, with a character. It has happened though. With this book. The Name of the Wind is my latest book crush and I hope I can do it some measure of justice as I attempt to tell you why you need to go out, buy this huge, mammoth, monster of a book and give it a chance. Now, yes. It’s huge. It is gargantuan. It is, like, the biggest book in the whole known universe. At least it looks that way, right? Believe me though, it’s worth every minute it takes… every hour… every week! The narrative is so strong, so quick, so amazing… oh heck, I need to stop or I’ll just gush on and on.
I’m sad to say most of my review is like that-gushing. I couldn’t help it. Still can’t. I could start gushing right now. Please don’t fear it because it is fantasy. It transcends its’ genre into something I think anyone who loves a good story can enjoy.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (review)
This, and my next book, practically tie for second. Never has setting so completely enthralled me, as it did in this book. And it is heavy with the atmosphere, so it’s a good thing I loved every word of it.
I feel like this book was made for me. I don’t normally like circuses, mainly because I detest clowns, but this circus…this circus is special. It’s unlike anything I have ever encountered in my life, be it in real life, or in print. And oh, how I would love to encounter it in real life.
You see, this circus is special. Magical. Morgenstern’s imagination, it was set free, let run wild, and the things it came up with…just breathtaking.
Special indeed. If you haven’t taken the plunge into Morgenstern’s world, do it. Ignore the hype, bite the bullet, and just try the first chapter.
When She Woke by Hillary Jordan (review)
This book, even now, gives me chills of delight, just thinking of it. It’s books like this that make me wish I had a book club. I would LOVE to discuss this!
There is so much to discuss in this book, it would be impossible for me to even chip the surface. I’m not even sure where to begin; mainly because I don’t want to give to much away. There is much food for thought; issues of race, religion, feminism, and rights. This is one of the more elaborate coming-of-age stories I’ve ever read, for even though Hannah is in her 20s, she is so naive, she feels like a teenager. Her sheltered, religious, upbringing has left her with a very limited world-view. Her world has been small, her relationship with God limited by the teaching of others, and she has a long journey towards finding her true self. And what a journey it is. Watching Hannah find a new inner strength she never dreamed she had is empowering. This story is powerful, it’s upsetting, it’s gripping…it’s almost impossible to put down until the last page has been turned, with the satisfaction of a tale well told. Book clubs will love this book and should provoke interesting discussion.
American Gods: The 10th Anniversary; Author’s Preferred Text by Neil Gaiman
I don’t normally count rereads, but AG is special. And he added text, so part of it I hadn’t read before! It was also the first time my hubby and I read a book at the same time (he listened to the audio), so that makes it doubly special. I enjoyed talking with him about it every night after the kids went to bed.
I didn’t review this book and that is a shame. American Gods introduced me to the magic that is Neil Gaiman 10 years ago. As soon as I heard about this edition, I knew I had to have it. As it was 10 years ago, I raced through this book with bated breath and a wondering eye. His brilliance captivated me as before, and probably even more so now that I am older and maybe slightly wiser. I will be rereading this for years to come.
Illyria by Elizabeth Hand (review)
Thank you again, Ana, for introducing me to Elizabeth Hand. I will definitely be reading more by her this year. This book of two cousins, descendants of a famous stage actress, who fall in love with each other and the stage, is not to be missed by anyone who once flirted with the desire to perform, to force oneself to conform to ones own desires like Maddy, and perhaps even flamed out or knows someone who did, like Rogan.
Illyria is set in late 1970s New York and tells the story of Madeleine and Rogan Tierney; first cousins, best friends, soul-mates and first loves. Or, in plainer terms, young, innocent Maddy falls for the wild and James-Dean-wannabe Rogan.They are descendants of the original Madeleine Tierney – a famous stage actress – and part of a huge extended family who all live within a defunct housing development. It’s just recipe for disaster, all that family (and I mean a lot of family) all living within a 5 mile radius of each other. When the original Madeleine Tierney married and started a family, she quit the stage and never looked back. And neither did any of her descendants, it became something of a no-no, until Maddy and Rogan came along. They do all kinds of secretive things together, in a hidden room in Rogan’s attic bedroom. Where there is a magical secret that I think is best left for you to discover should you choose to read the book.
Just a gorgeous, gorgeous book.
The rest of my 5:
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (review) – Still one of the creepiest stories I read this year!
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (review) (discussion) – Yes, more vampires. But this vampire, he’s a little bit…different.
Faery Tale: One Woman’s Search for Enchantment in a Modern World by Signe Pike (review) – A modern woman’s search for faeries who finds a little something more….
Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl – The former Gourmet editors’ look at how she came to love food so much, with fascinating glimpses at her life growing up. I love how she actually worked her way up; seems like you can’t do that any more.
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson – My first Persephone and just plain fun.
Reading Goals for 2012
– I want to read more classics this year. At least one a month, with having one month this year dedicated to them. If I wasn’t reading a YA book at the moment, one that I want to finish, I might would even do it this month. I may do it anyway.
– I want to read more with the kids. We read, don’t get me wrong, but I want to do it more. We don’t read every night like I would like and I think it’s time to move on to some more… interesting… books. I plan to pull out my grandmother’s classic literature for kids collection (includes Heidi, King Arthur, Tom Sawyer, Arabian Knights, etc) and tackle a few of them this year
– This years’ motto is Quality, not Quantity. I’ve read over 100 books for
two three (!) consecutive years. I’ve proved it to myself at this point. Now it’s time to slow down and enjoy the ride a little more. That said, I’m instituting a zero tolerance policy. If the book isn’t grabbing, I’m not going to feel guilty about putting it to the side. If I can tell it will get better, I may try to push through a bit, but I’m not going to force myself to read something that is making me miserable.
– Review better, more often, and continue to do my own thing. I tried it the other way and it made me miserable. I’m also going to make more of an effort to get around and comment more. My feed reader is about to take a huge hit. I love all the blogs I follow, but sadly, I just don’t have time to follow them all. If you follow me and comment here, I will be following you and a few other favorites, but the rest, well, *finger across throat.*
– Work on getting back into shape and into healthy life habits. I managed to loose 22 pounds last year and make my goal of weighing 125. I’ve gained a bit back over the holidays, which was fine since I wanted to enjoy them fully, but now it’s time to get back to business. Now that we have a dog, that means more exercising opportunities and I can’t wait for the gardening season and fresh vegetables again!
So that’s it. What was your favorite book of the year? What reading, blogging, life resolutions have you made? Do tell all!