A-List Monday II: Books

This year, I joined AudrieAnne at Who’s Your Editor for a Bookmark Break Challenge. She challenged everyone to get out those old books and read them, to free the bookmarks! The challenge was that if you read more books than she did this year, you would win a trip to Aruba. Just kidding. No Aruba, but bragging rights and a spot on her page. So, thanks to her, I read a lot of books this year. So far, as of today, I have read 63 books in 2011.

I admit, not all of them have been very good. I was on the road for about half of this year, and sometimes the selection in English was nil. Thank goodness for the Kindle Reader that I downloaded on my iPhone! Yes, I read many a book on that tiny screen. But many were good. Luckily later this year, I actually put on my big girl pants and got a library card of my very own. And then there was no stopping me! Below is a list of a few of them that I really liked.

The Help - Kathryn Stockett: I know it’s a book that everyone liked, so it’s not news to anyone, but there is a reason it was popular. It was easy to read and speaks of a time and place that were controversial and fascinating. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be a black person in the south in the 60s. Or ever really. This book tells a very difficult but heartwarming story.

My Korean Deli - Ben Ryder Howe: A white man and his Korean wife, who are currently living with her family in New York, decide to all pool their money together to buy and run a deli in Brooklyn. It is a fun story about the trials and tribulations of dealing with his mother in law (and other in-laws), dealing with his wife, living with her family and attempting to run a convenience store in New York. (review HERE)

Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts: Although I actually thought the author was a bit of a blowhard, I liked this book. It tells of an Australian escaped convict who goes to India and lives in the slums of Bombay and becomes a drug dealer, mafia member and eventually a Mujaheddin guerrilla. Some of it seems a little far-fetched and you are always wondering what is real, but it’s full of adventure and an inside look into India that I sure as heck didn’t see when I was there! It gets points on interestingness.

The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows: Try saying that one five times fast! Set in World War II, this book talks about life on Guernsey Island, which is one of the Channel Islands between England and France. It tells of a small village who survives Nazi occupation by starting a book club, named the Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society (interesting fact: they did not have flour so they had to make pie crusts from potato peels).

The Postmistress - Sarah Blake: Also set in WWII, this book is told from the view point of several people. One is a radio broadcaster who is living in England during the war and broadcasting from the front. She sees a lot of things that most people would not be able to handle and then tells the story over the radio (with Edward Murrow). One of the other players is a postmistress in Cape Cod who decides to withhold someone’s mail from them for their own safety and peace of mind. It is an interesting story and you really get a good feel of what it was like, especially from the radio broadcaster’s story.

The Book Thief - Marcus Zusak: I guess I am on a WWII kick, because this one is also set in WWII in Germany. It is told about a little girl who goes to live with a family during the war. She loves to read and she uses books to get through a very terrible time. At first I didn’t like the storyteller; it is told from the voice of Death, but I warmed up to it a little ways into the book. It’s a sad book; it may make you cry, but it’s a very good story.

Surviving the Extremes – Dr. Kenneth Kamler: This book was very informative. Dr. Kamler talks about what happens to your body when you go into extreme conditions, such as high altitude, underwater diving, and extreme cold and extreme heat. I found it very interesting. Not only does he tell a little story, but he puts things in layman’s terms so everyone can understand them. It made me really appreciate my body and everything working together to help keep me alive. I also have a better understanding of why I always have to pee so much when I get into high altitudes!

The Paris Wife - Paula McClain: I am not a fan of Hemingway, but this story, told from the viewpoint of his first wife, was interesting and illuminating. I am still not really a fan of him; he seems like a self-absorbed drunk to me, but I am probably going to read A Moveable Feast now, just so I can see what the same time period in his life was like.

Here are a “few” more that I think are worth recommending:

Blink - Malcolm Gladwell
Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Islands - LM Montgomery (classic)
With No One as a Witness - Elizabeth George (mystery)
The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest - Steig Larsson
Sea of Glory - Nathaniel Philbrick (historical, but not boring)
Forrest Gump - Winston Groom (Different than the movie! Still good though!)
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (a classic!)
The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins (fun, quick read!)
Room - Emma Donoghue (about a boy stuck in a room with his mother all his life)
The Art of Racing in the Rain - Garth Stein (told from the POV of a dog)

So, what’s the plan for 2012!? I think that I will try to read at least a book a week, which would be a goal of 52 books. I also have a lot of books on my shelf that I need to read before buying any new ones. So, it’s a two-fold goal à a book a week and at least one a month has to be one from my dusty shelf (the others will most likely be from the library). So it’s a 52 and 12 in 2012, to go along with my 12 in 2012 Fitness Goal (get ready, there will be more 12 themed goals later!)

What was your favorite book that you read this year? Even though my shelf is full, I am always looking for recommendations! Do you have any goals for 2012? Are you going to join in on any 12 in 2012 goal lists?


  1. I was planning on writing a similar list! I read about 31 books this year (my goal was 30), I think my favourite would be Wives and Daughters (classic! :D)
    Have you read The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa? It's a lovely book.
    I think my goal for next year will be 30 as well.

  2. Wow you have read a lot of books in 2011! My goal was 50 and thanks to children's lit I hit that goal in November!
    My favorite book this year was definitely The Help. I just loved it!

  3. off the top of my head i cant think of my favorite, but i am very glad i started the laura lippman tess monaghan series. i think i only have one book left, ironically the book i won in a giveaway, only to realize it was in a series! it was great for the early months of marathon breastfeeding sessions! my only goal that ive decided on is to read 12 books off my bookshelf in 2012. it needs to be done. i need to move books out of my house.

  4. I loved "The Postmistress". Thanks for the list. I'm always looking for a good book to read. Have you read "Prayers For Sale" by Sandra Dallas or "Promise Bridge" by Eileen Clymer Schwab?

  5. Great job of reading so many books! I think I only read around 20 books for recreation this year, but I read probably 200 for research and teaching. Some of my favorite books that I read this year were Chocolat by Joanne Harris and The Elephant's Journey by Jose Saramago.

  6. Dang you read a lot this year! My goal was 48 books and I hit that goal last night! Well done, you!

    I really need to read The Book Thief! And lots of other books on this list. I will be bookmarking this to refer back to when I get thorugh my stack of library books!

    I'll be doing a post about my favorite books in 2011 later this month. One of the best ones I read was The Art of Racing in the Rain! Have you read it? If not, you should! I also read A Moveable Feast and while I can't stand Hemingway either, it was interesting to read - and then it was even more interesting to read The Paris Wife because both books are over the same time period, but A Moveable Feast was written at the end of his life, but he writes about his first wife with such tenderness, it makes you wonder if he regretted his horrible behavior!

  7. I didn't read much fiction this year at all - normally I save my reading for the summer days we are hanging out in an anchorage... but we didn't do a lot of that this summer so alas, not a lot of reading either.

    I have read all of the ANNE books and loved them. Had to finally go visit PEI just to get a feel for it in 2008.

  8. I've read a few WWII books this year too but none of these so I'll have to check them out. I'm a huge reader so this is a great list!

  9. I loved The Help, as did pretty much the rest of America. And for good reason! I also LOVED The Book Thief. I agree that it was a little hard to like the narrator at first, but it soon became wonderful and special and so sad.

    You also mentioned some other great books here. And a few I'm going to have to add to my list!


Thanks for commenting! Any suggestions, tips or praise you have is always welcome!