Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Top 10 Books I Read in 2011

At the beginning of the year, I made a goal to read 60 books this year. (At first, I set the bar at 100 books but didn’t want to rush myself through the books I was reading so I knocked it down.) I have never kept track of how many books I read in a year so it was a measuring tool for me. Turns out, I really like to read. As of right now, I’m at 69 books read and am close to finishing my 70th.

I’m pretty darn impressed with myself.

Sure, not all of them were of high literary quality and the majority of the books I read this year were romance novels, but it’s what I like to read.

I’m still not sure I want to set another book goal this year, because I don’t want to rush myself through books. I want to set some book challenges, though, which is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. One challenge I’m setting for myself is to read one non-fiction book a month. That may be enough for me, or I may want to challenge myself to something else. We shall see.

But by the end of 2011, I will have read 70 books this year. Some of them stand out to me as fantastic reads I wholly recommend. And here is the list:

10. Just Between You and Me by Jenny B. Jones (4 of 5 stars)
A faith-based book about a girl who is still dealing with the drowning death of her mother when she was a teenager and trying to let go of her fears of love and loss. There’s a romance intertwined with the story and I seriously could not put this book down. When I was at work, I was thinking about it. When I was driving home, I was pondering what would happen next. And when I finished it, I found myself melancholy that it was over and these characters were not a daily part of my life anymore. That, for me, is the stamp of a great book.

9. Miss Fortune by Sara Mills (5 of 5 stars)
Another faith-based book, this time set in the 1940’s and a mystery. This tells the story about a woman private detective, still searching for her MIA fiance. She still loves him and knows in her heart he is alive. She teams up with FBI detective Jack who agrees to help her search for her fiance, in exchange for her help on a case. Full of action and adventure and a crazy ending that had me begging for more. (I did end up reading the second book which had another crazy ending, but haven’t heard any mention of a third. The second book was released in 2009, so I find it strange there hasn’t been the third yet when the ending clearly showed there would be one.)

8. Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen (5 of 5 stars)
I reviewed this one on my blog but this book was my introduction to the world of Sarah Dessen and I am hooked. She’s an amazing storyteller and this book had me gripped from the beginning. It’s a story about friendship, but also a story about finding your own way apart from the way people perceive you. Full review here.

7. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld (3 of 5 stars)
While I had some issues with this book, overall it was one of my best reads of 2011. Alice Lindgren was an utterly captivating character, someone I could closely identify with. (Well, until she became the First Lady!) I wrote an entire review of the book here.

6. Listen by Rene Gutteride (5 of 5 stars)
A thriller about a small town that gets hit with a website called Listen To Yourself, which puts private conversations between neighbors and families on a website for all to see. It brought up topics of censorship and whether you need to censor yourself in your own home, as well as the idea of how powerful words can be. Thoroughly enjoyed this novel and the twists and turns it took. And I honestly did not see the ending coming!

5. Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner (5 of 5 stars)
I followed Jennifer Weiner on Twitter before I ever read a book by her. But I loved this one a lot and I really just love Weiner’s writing style. The main character was so likeable and I was rooting for her through the entire book. You can read my review of this book here.

4. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
OK, cheating with this one but since every single one of these books would be on the list, it wouldn’t leave room for other books. I read this with a bunch of other bloggers for Summer of Harry which was an awesome experience. I had read the first two books when I was in middle school but it was Erin’s insistence that made me try them again. I am so glad I did. These books were amazing. The writing was fantastic and I couldn’t put these books down for anything. I’m pretty sure I’ll be making my way through these books again and again, but I’m still not over Fred’s death. It’s going to be a while.

3. Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen (4 of 5 stars)
This was the first book I read in 2011 and I loved it. It’s one of those books people either love or hate, because I’ve seen both sides. I enjoyed the story so much and it gripped me from beginning to end. Another one I reviewed on this blog. Find it here.

2. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen (5 of 5 stars)
I could have sworn I had written a book review about this book but I did not, which is surprising as it was one of my favorite books this year. This is a YA-lit book about a girl named Macy who is still dealing with the unexpected death of her father. She has a boring job at the library and this summer, her boyfriend is going away. She ends up joining up with Wish Catering after meeting the group during an open house her mother had and found family and community. The love story between Macy and Wes was perfect and poignant and I loved every second of this book. It’s definitely one worth a read, and one I will be rereading again and again.

1. The Help by Katherin Stockett (5 of 5 stars)
I tried to write a review for this book after I had finished reading it but just couldn’t. It was one of those books that was so good and impacted me so much that I felt a review could not do it the justice it deserved. I actually watched the movie before reading the book and the movie was so darn fantastic that it made me itch to read the book. The book was even better. While I do think the movie is fantastic and stayed very true to the book itself, nothing compares to the written word in my opinion. I finished this book in late September and I still find myself missing the characters. Skeeter, Abilene, and Minnie are forever a part of my world and this is far and away one of the best books I have ever read. 

What were some of your favorite reads this year?

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