For some reason, when scrolling through this year's list of books I've read, I felt rather ambivalent. I'm hoping that will change as I begin to answer some of these questions. I know I read some incredible ones...
2011 in Review: 125 books read
Best book? Without a doubt, A Long Long Way (Sebastian Barry). One of the best books of all time. In total, I rated 11 books as 5 stars (9%) and another 12 books as 4.5 stars (10%) for a total of 19% amazing reads.
Worst book that I actually finished? Remember Me (Deborah Bradford) Why oh why did I read the whole thing?? I thought I'd learned better than that. It was a standout though, since I only finished 6 books that I ended up rating 1 or 2 stars (5%).
Most disappointing? Lord of the Flies! I thought this was a classic...meaning I'd be able to find something to appreciate, right??? Yeah, no. This is one of the 5% I was just talking about.
Most surprising (in a good way!) Apart from many of the classic novellas I read in August, I'd say either The Art of Fielding (Harbach--a sports book enjoyable? amazing!) or The Sea Captain's Wife (Powning--for a book that took place mostly on the ocean, this was surprisingly pleasant)...or maybe The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox (O'Farrell--I was expecting standard fare and got something written in a unique, effective voice.)
Favorite new authors I discovered? Sebastian Barry, Maggie O'Farrell, Alexander Pushkin. I want to read more of all of them.
Most thrilling, unputdownable book? Tales of Belkin, Alexander Pushkin. There were more, of course, but this one actually had me out of breath a some points!
Favorite Cover? I can't pick just one, I like the modern stuff and the vintage stuff...
Most memorable character? My first reaction was to say Christy Moran and Willie Dunne from A Long Long Way, but I also loved Mike Schwartz from The Art of Fielding, of course Anna Karenina was filled with them, and then what about Miss Pettigrew when she lived for a day?
Most beautifully written? A Long Long Way (Sebastian Barry) Incredibly amazing. Filled to the brim with beautiful language.
Book that had the greatest impact on me? A Long Long Way (Sebastian Barry) Like I said, incredibly amazing.
Book I can't believe I waited until 2011 to read? The Giver probably wins this award. Everyone seems to have read it when they were young except me.
Book that had a scene in it that had me reeling? A Long Long Way (Sebastian Barry) In a book that basically kept me reeling throughout, there were a few stand out scenes as well.
Book by an author who should be more well-known? Revolutionary Road (Richard Yates) While the characters may be frustrating, his writing is fresh and unique, even decades after it was first published.
How many re-reads? 4: Persuasion, O Pioneers! Anna Karenina, The Great Gatsby
Book I read in 2011 I'd be most likely to re-read in 2012? Safe From the Sea (Peter Geye) and A Long Long Way (Sebastian Barry). The first because I feel like I read it too fast the first time, and the second because it has taken me weeks to get over the feeling that it was the only book I ever wanted to be reading.
Most books read by one author? 3: Sebastian Barry: The Secret Scripture, A Long Long Way, On Canaan's Side and Leo Tolstoy: The Death of Ivan Ilych, The Devil, Anna Karenina, and also Willa Cather: April Twilights, The Troll Garden and Others, O Pioneers!
Favorite Passage/Quote? Serious? WAY too many! But since I've been gushing about A Long Long Way, (and goodness just re-reading the quotes is making me teary!) here's a taste of that beautiful writing:
Like an old ash-tree he feared he would slowly hollow out, the rot taking him inwardly ring by blackened ring, until the winter wind came and blew him down.
and one more from the same book:
Since the things he had wished for were no more, he wished for nothing. He breathed in and out. That was all. That was where the war had brought him, he thought.