2011 Books in Review

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Books read in 2011, which this year is low to due a multitude of magazine subscriptions filling in the cracks!

  1. Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue
    — One of the most upsetting books I have ever read, yet not moving enough to really tell the story or keep me reading.  So much so, that I could only read a few pages at a time and it took me almost a month to complete.  Very eye-opening into psychology after a traumatic event over several years, but not something I would recommend to other readers.
  2. Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani
    — Don’t let the fact that this is a YA novel scare you away.  Although the writing wasn’t the most effective, it was really quite sweet and charming.  I enjoyed reminiscing about all of the feelings of being young and dealing with friends and boys and parents.  I would recommend it for a beach read as it’s super fast and will leave you smiling.  In fact, even as I write this I’m smiling about Viola’s antics and attitude.  So enjoy it and take it for what it is, a cute and uplifting story about the girl we all used to be.
  3. The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain
    — Wow.  I needed a good book and this one provided just that.  I was immediately captivated by the characters and then sucked in by the mystery of the story.  I don’t want to give away too much, but each chapter was even better than the last.  I will be looking to read more of Diane’s books in the future as her writing was detailed and addictive.  The moral standard of the characters was admirable and provided re-instilled hope in a world that lacks unconditional love.  For a twisted and yet uplifting story, read this book.  It won’t disappoint.
  4. The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis (for bookclub)
    — Worst. Book. Ever.  It was pure torture to read and I only finished it because I am cheap and had purchased it on my Kindle.  DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME.
  5. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
    — I have had this book on my list for months, courtesy of a recommendation from my mom, but just couldn’t sit down to start it.  The first few chapters are filled with a lot of detail, but it somehow captures your attention immediately.  I loved the combination of Ethiopian history, medical focus, and family dynamics.  I fell in love with the characters immediately and was emotionally motivated to keep reading the next chapter (or 4) all in one sitting.  The bond of the two brothers is moving and the family life is so real you can see their love over every natural hurdle.  You won’t regret this read, it’s a fantastic and one-of-a-kind story.
  6. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
    — Although my bookies (babes of outstanding kharacter in every sense) agreed that the ending was without closure, this book proved to be worth the upset. Amidst the entrancing history lesson provided through the characters, I was also captured by their dedication and willingness to keep their culture such a large part of their daily lives. And, of course, with a sister as a best friend (love you, Melissa), I loved the dynamic between the two girls and how their relationship not only went through its ups and downs, but that is what kept them strongly connected in the end. Family is an extraordinary being, but cannot be outdone by the fierceness of a mother to protect and provide for her children. I loved the mothers in this story, both in China, California, and then when the sisters took on that role in different ways. Overall, an excellent read and worth the long details that I didn’t remember from history class and an unexpected and frustrating ending. May and Pearl are the quintessential definition of sisters that any girl would be extremely lucky to come across in their lifetime.
  7. A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
    — Such things happen. A common phrase throughout the novel. Although, very matter of fact, the authors words were hardly that. At first, I was taken aback by the raw words of sexuality, but as reviews promised, I was in for some “twists and turns”. As much as I thought I wasn’t loving the story or the characters (which I still have some judgement against), I also finished it in 3 days. And when I did finish, I said to my cats outloud “wow”. The characters are full of psychological struggles that you are privy to, but the people surrounding them are not. I enjoyed Catherine’s inner struggle with greed and love and in the end, love was able to make her feel as if she had been transformed – and isn’t that what we all want just a little bit? Greedy for love, I guess. And greedy to be able to be consumed into a different world for a couple of hours a night, which is why I’m already thinking about my next book and the one after that. A Reliable Wife, provides reliable thrills and I would highly recommend the escape.
  8. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
    — It’s hard for me to describe my reaction to this book, except to say, it’s a must read.  I have always been interested in science (just not the 10 extra years of schooling), so I really enjoyed learning about the medical progression of cell and tissue research over the past 50 years.  The story for me was also saturated with the tales of Henrietta’s family.  Such a strong and yet powerless family and their bond, although sometimes shaken, still remained solid.  I loved the author’s language throughout and feel that I now know so much more.  Maybe non-fiction is an entirely new world for me to explore, maybe not, but either way, read this one.  It’s long, but you won’t regret the historical knowledge and inspiration of family ties, gained.
  9. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
    — What an eye-opening story.  I can no longer say “I don’t read non-fiction”.  Between this and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, I think I’ve been officially converted.  Zamperini is an inspirational character whose story is flawlessly revisited by the author.  At each turn you feel his pain and struggle to keep even a sliver of himself intact.  His mental capacity is one of pure strength and hope.  This book, although extremely upsetting at times, provides a different look into WW2 and the life of a POW in Japan.  Embarrassingly, I didn’t know nearly all of the history from this angle of things and am so glad that I do now.  Possibly even more grasping, was the character of “the Bird”.  His constant torture between staying true to his country and having extreme guilt over his actions, astonished me.  The book did take me a long time to read, possibly so I had a chance to process each piece, but I highly recommend pushing through to the end.  Zamperini will reward you with sharing what he really experienced and that alone is a blessing for all readers.
  10. Sister: A Novel by Rosamund Lupton
    — Wow.  I randomly found this book as I was in a state of indecisiveness on what to read next and boy am I glad I found it.  I may have a special love for this since I have a pretty amazing sister, but all the same, I don’t think you need one to enjoy it.  The main character, Bee, embodies all of the characteristics of someone you hope you have in your life.  She rests at nothing to find out the truth about her sister, because the known answers are far too insulting to be accurate about the person she knows/knew.  She stops at nothing and on the way learns a little bit about herself, too.  I couldn’t stop reading and the turn at the end is so unexpected I tried to immediately download this authors next book, which I learned doesn’t come out until April 2012.  Read this, but  may not while you’re sitting in a city park of any kind 😉

 

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3 responses »

  1. Thanks for the recommendations Heather. I need to download a book to my Kindle and I will use one of your suggested reads.
    Happy New Year to you and Arion!!

  2. Pingback: 2012 Books in Review « Brides, Babies, and Brunch

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