Friday, December 30, 2011

Books Read 2011

Here's a list of the books I read this past year with my comments and recommendations (bracketed). I didn't read as much as last year but undertook quite a few huge (1000+ pages) this year. I also read a lot of non-fiction (a trend I hope to continue in 2012), a lot of fluff (which I hope to curb in 2012), and re-read a number of series that I have been following for years. My grand total of books read in 2011 was 78 and I brought the total number of books read from my 501 Must Read Books list to 92.


  • Vanity Fair by William M. Thackeray (Long but not bad.)
  • The Art of Happiness by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and H.C. Cutler, MD (Wonderful! Everyone should read.)
  • Skippy Dies by Paul Murray (An odd book, recommended for avid readers only.)
  • The Distant Hours by Kate Morton (I really enjoyed how she wove the two timelines together.)
  • Room by Emma Donoghue (Dark but compelling read.)
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Loved this series! Can’t wait for the films!)
  • Left Neglected by Lisa Genova (Fascinating read. I find all of Genova’s books so interesting.)
  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  • Ghost by Alan Lightman (An impulse buy from The Bookcellar in HUB. Interesting premise but goes nowhere.)
  • Stones Into Schools by Greg Mortenson (Really liked it but preferred Little Princes – see October’s reads.)
  • The Steep Approach to Garbadale by Iain Banks (I love Banks’ “The Algebraist” but this one was a dud.)
  • Dreamsongs Volume 1 by George R.R. Martin (Such a great collection of Martin’s works. A must read for any fan as you get to see how artful he is at writing in many different genres.)
  • Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls (A great follow up to “The Glass Castle”. Think I even liked this one better ; I love stories of strong women.)
  • Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton (Forgettable.)
  • Dreamsongs Volume 2 by George R.R. Martin
  • Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi (Wow! This book really touched me. A delightful read about a brutal subject. Every girl/woman should read it!)
  •  Empress Orchid by Anchee Min (Forgettable.)
  • Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese (Loved this! Such a great story.)
  • The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud (Feel lukewarm on this one. Parts I really liked, others I didn’t.)
  • The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman (I really wanted more out of this book but it was a great historical/journalist piece.)
  • Bodies of Inscription by Margo DeMello (The dissertation on body modification and tattooing! Awesomeness!)
  • The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan (A fluff read but I enjoyed it. Contagion meets Anne Rice.)
  • Lolita by Nabokov (A Classic! A must read!)
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (A very close contender for the BEST book I read in 2011!)
  • The Shack by Wm. Paul Young (A fascinating read. Highly recommended.)
  • Ringworld by Larry Niven (Another classic but left me wanting more. Definitely reads like the first in a series.)
  • The Fall by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan (Sequel to The Strain. More fluff.)
  • Aspho Fields by Karen Traviss (The first in a series of books that are meant to bridge the three Gears of War games. Fluff but still a great read. Highly recommended for any GOW fan!)
  • The Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz Kafka (I didn’t know what to expect from Kafka but I really liked it.)
  • Jacinto’s Remnant by Karen Traviss
  • Summertime by JM Coetzee (A good read. Not as good as “Disgrace” and I think “Life and Times of Michael K” is his best work.)
  • Anvil Gate by Karen Traviss
  •  The Meowmorphosis by Franz Fafka and Coleridge Cook (I’m slowly becoming a sucker for these adaptations, and there was no way I was passing up one about a kitten!)
  • The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien (A dark, odd but wonderful little read. Highly recommended!)
  • Broken Ground by Jack Hodgins (A great piece of Canadiana including some history I wasn't familiar with. The story is told through the perspectives of a number of different characters and it works so well. Highly recommended!)
  • Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (With the fifth book coming out in July 2011 I began my ritual of re-reading the series in anticipation. If you haven’t read this series yet get your head out from under that rock and just do it already. It is definitely worth it!)
  • The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery (I hope to be able to read it in French someday.)
  • The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing (Parts I loved, others I didn’t. A recommended read for avid readers only.)
  •  A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
  • A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
  • A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
  • Nerfertiti by Michelle Moran (Fluff. Great for a beach. Pauline Gedge does historical fiction/Egypt so much better.)
  • Emil and The Detectives by Erich Kastner (One of the best books I read this year. A lovely children’s with delightful characters and a great story. Read it.)
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey (I’d read anything this woman writes. I loved this book and ate it in a couple of hours.)
  • A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin (Worth the wait!!! Don’t know if I can handle another extended wait for the next book - “A Dream of Spring”.)
  • Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (A great, but not casual, read. I must admit I struggled with it at times. Recommended for dedicated readers only.)
  • Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philipa Pearce (I’d pass on this one and stick to “Emil and the Detectives” if you are looking for a classic children’s book to pick up. “The Secret Garden” is better too.)
  • The Wind in the Willows by K. Grahme (Ok.)
  • Zombies: The Recent Dead edited by Paula Guran (Excellent anthology of short stories about zombies with probably the best discussion of zombies in literature I’ve come across. Highly recommended)
  • A Cavern of Black Ice by J.V. Jones (Another series I re-read as another book was being released. I love this series. It is definitely worth reading. Also, female fantasy and sci-fi writers rule!)
  • Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton (A co-worker recommended these so I agreed to read the first few. Total fluff! I stopped reading after the fourth one because they are just too formulaic.)
  • The Laughing Corpse by Laurell K. Hamiton
  • Ape House by Sarah Gruen (I wanted more out of this book too. A good read though and I would recommend it).
  • The Paris Wife by Paula McLain (I love Hemmingway so I really liked this novel which is a historical fiction take on his first wife. I would recommend it.)
  • Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton
  • A Fortress of Grey Ice by J.V. Jones
  • The Lunatic Cafe by Laurell K. Hamilton
  • A Sword from Red Ice by J.V. Jones
  • Watcher of the Dead by J.V. Jones
  • The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary by Andrew Westoll (A recommendation from a fellow anthropology nerd. Non-fiction account of a chimpanzee sanctuary in Quebec. I cried my eyes out with this one.  Highly recommended.)
  •  Isle of Woman by Piers Anthony (Dull. I was excited about this one as it has a cool premise that appealed to my anthro nerdiness but it fell flat.)
  • Oranges are not the only fruit by Jeanette Winterson (Another book at the top of my 2011 list. Just lovely. Highly recommended).
  •  Litter Princes by Conor Grennan (I really liked this one. Had a certain honesty about it that just really worked for me. Non-fiction. Highly recommended).
  • Hellburner by C.J. Cherryh (I love C.J. Cherryh, I hated this book. Pick up any of her other books instead.)
  • Still Alice by Lisa Genova (I think I went through a box of Kleenex with this one. Broke my heart and the subject matter also represents one of my greatest fears. Highly recommended.)
  • The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (I didn’t like this book. I hated all the characters. It just didn’t do it for me.)
  • The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson (I’m a sucker for Hunter S. Thompson. This isn’t his greatest book but definitely worth reading.)
  • Science Ink by Carl Zimmer (One of my top reads. Non-fiction. A great look at the tattoos scientists get and what they represent.  A beautiful book even just to look at with great photographs. Highly recommended.)
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (This book blew me away. I could not believe I’d never heard of Henrietta Lacks before. If you don’t know who she is, you should read this book. Highly recommended.)
  • The Island at the End of the World by Sam Taylor (An impulse buy from the discount table at Chapters. A pretty little book about the end of the world.)
  • All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy (I need to take a break from McCarthy’s dark novels. Two in one year was a little much.)
  • The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly (Ugh. Well it was good enough that I didn’t walk away from it but I wouldn’t recommend it.)
  •  The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins (I’d never read Dawkins before despite being familiar with his position/work. Got a little tired of his tone at times but makes some good arguments.)
  •  Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. Thompson (A must read! So gritty and fascinating!)
  • Android Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and Ben H. Winters (A good vacation read. Now to read Tolstoy’s original in 2012.)
  • 11/22/63 by Stephen King (I love Stephen King. Read this book. Do it.)
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (What a beautiful evocative book! Fantastic story! Another one at the top of my 2011 list. Highly recommended.)
  • The Adventures of TinTin (Screenplay based on the movie. Read it before I saw the film and it does a good job explaining some of the backstory.)
  • Children’s and Household Tales by the Brothers Grimm (From my 501 must read list. Some odd little stories that are indeed darker than their Disneyfied versions.)
  • High Voltage Tattoo by Kat Von D. (I love Kat Von D and I am not going to apologize for it. I can’t wait to read her second book which I got for Christmas.)
  • The Door in the Wall and Other Stories by H.G. Wells (Didn’t know what to expect with these. My first Kobo read! I think I was expecting more Lovecraft, instead got some rather odd/pointless stories. I have some of his other, more famous stories on my Kobo so am looking forward to seeing what Wells really can write.) 

I'm excited about some of the books I have lined up for 2012, especially the bunch of free ones for my Kobo that are on my 501 list. I'm always looking for recommendations though so if you read something in 2011 that is worth reading be sure to let me know.


  1. I love that we have about 45-50 of the same books on our lists each year. That's awesome.

  2. Jody - I love that you lend me so many of your books so that we can have so many of the same books on our lists each year :D

  3. Ummmm... wow. That's a lot of books. Way to go!

    I love that I know both of you and I have a source of great books to read! :)