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My 10 Favorite Reads of 2011

  • Dec 22, 2011
My list of favorites in 2011 includes literary fiction, genre fiction, a children's book and nonfiction...an eclectic bunch of books that is a good representation of what I read in an average year--mostly literary fiction with a few mystery/thrillers and nonfiction books thrown in...and a kid's book now and then. I don't have children or grandchildren, but I read to and tutor young children, so I am exposed to a lot of little kid lit. If you've read any of these books, I'd love to hear your take on how you liked them....or didn't!
1
Ready Player One

(Fiction) My review of this book doesn't come close to representing how great I thought it was. I wrote the review from my Kindle, so I wasn't wanting to do a lot of typing.  I keep meaning to come back and flesh out my review, but haven't gotten around to it.  I read this book on the Kindle at bedtime and for weeks after I finished it, I would get into bed at night and think "Wish I was still reading that book." It totally transports you to another world and is comedy, drama, science fiction and mystery all rolled up into one.

My bare-bones review:
http://www.lunch.com/reviews/book/UserReview..._story_for_gamers_.html
See the full review, "What a wild ride - an adventure story for gamers.".
2
The Red Garden
(Literary fiction) I love Alice Hoffman's writing. She is able to make you see and feel a person, place or thing so clearly as if it was right next to you. That was never more true than in The Red Garden, another book I missed when it was done.

My review:

http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Th...itten_and_magical_.html
See the full review, "Lushly written and magical.".
3
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

(Literary fiction) I know, this book is OLD news to most readers.  I resisted reading this for a long time because I had a preconceived notion of what it was going to be like and I didn't want to read it.  Then I finally succumbed to the pressure from several friends and read it.  WOW.  What could have been a silly, sappy, boring book was definitely not!

My review:

http://www.lunch.com/reviews/book/UserReview...d_through_letters_.html
See the full review, "A total charmer of a story, told through letters.".
4
State of Wonder
(Literary fiction) Years ago, when I was in a book chat on AOL, my fellow booklovers told me I HAD to read Ann Patchett's Bel Canto. There was much swooning and raving about it being the best book ever. I struggled a lot getting into that book (I wanted to put it down many times), but ended up loving it by the end.

I had a similar situation with this book; not so much that I wanted to put it down many times, but that I wasn't sucked into the story from the start. But, in the end, I really enjoyed it.

It is definitely not the usual Ann Patchett story, but it is very well done.

My review:
http://www.lunch.com/reviews/book/UserReview..._interesting_story.html
See the full review, "Not what I expected, but an interesting story nonetheless.".
5
The Broken Window by Jeffrey Deaver
(Genre fiction--mystery/thriller) Jeffery Deaver is my favorite mystery/thriller author. I read pretty much everything he writes eventually, but my favorite is his Lincoln Rhyme series, of which this book is a part.  If you are freaked out by identity theft and the amount of information that is available about you out in the ether, then this book would probably scare your pants off. :)  I found it a really good story, but frustrating because, well, I'm a Libra and I hate injustice...and there's a lot of it in this story!

My review:

http://www.lunch.com/reviews/book/UserReview...gs_creepy_to_a_new.html
See the full review, "An insidious villain who brings creepy to a new level.".
6
The Time of Our LIves
(Nonfiction) This new book by Tom Brokaw, subtitled "A conversation about America", is really interesting. In each chapter, he discusses a problem or issue that the American society is experiencing and then, using real-life examples and people, suggests ways that we could solve or at least improve the problem or issue.  It is left-skewed, so it may be better enjoyed by those on the liberal end of the political spectrum, but I think most anyone could get something out of it.

I am still in the last half of this book, so I haven't written a full review yet.
7
Tomato Red
(Literary fiction) Like the Brokaw book, I haven't finished this book either, but it makes my list due to its incredibly descriptive and unusual writing.  I used to have this habit of tape-tagging any passage I read in a book that really grabbed me. If I'd been reading this book in paper (I'm reading it on Kindle Fire), it would be heavy with tape tags by now, and I'm only about halfway through.  The story itself hasn't grabbed me nearly as much, so at this point, I keep reading because of the lush wordplay and a recommendation from a good friend.

It is a story of a group of poor kids (young adults) in the Ozarks who band together to try to make a living any way they can.

Since I haven't finished the book yet, I don't yet have a full review.
8
Bringing Progress to Paradise: What I Got from
(Nonfiction) This book is a joy for the spirit. It is about an American hiker who ends up building schools and providing school supplies for families in Nepal.

My review: http://www.lunch.com/reviews/book/UserReview...on_several_levels_.html
See the full review, "Satisfying on several levels.".
9
Domestic Violets: A Novel (P.S.)
(Fiction) I found this book really weird at the start--and not in a good way.  And then...it just wormed its way into my heart and by the end, I was a big fan.  Sweet and funny and a bit crazy.

My review:

http://www.lunch.com/reviews/book/UserReview..._heart_in_the_end_.html
See the full review, "Slow to start, but won my heart in the end.".
10
Rainforest Wonders (Sparkling Slide Book)
(Preschool children's fiction) I have several volunteer jobs, and two of them involve young children (preschool through first grade), so I read a lot of children's books to the kids and see some I really love and some I'm not so crazy about. This one, I love.

My review:

http://www.lunch.com/reviews/book/UserReview...ractive_wonderful_.html
See the full review, "Sturdy, colorful and interactive = wonderful!".

What did you think of this list?

Helpful
12
Thought-Provoking
12
Fun to Read
10
Well-Organized
10
Post a Comment
December 26, 2011
Great list, Sheri! I wonder if #8 was influenced by Three Cups of Tea? How does that compare? I'm in the middle of reading Tea and sometimes I love it, sometimes I wish it was actually written by "Dr. Greg". I'm definitely going to have to check out some of these reads, thanks for sharing!
December 27, 2011
I've heard about Cups from several neighbors but haven't read it, so I can't say how it compares.  Wasn't Cups revealed to be a fake? Seems I heard something about a scandal involving it but can't remember what it was. Is that why you said you wish it was actually written by Dr. Greg?
December 27, 2011
I heard some rumors about how he didn't end up using the funds as he was supposed to but, the book makes that seem improbable. I haven't done much digging on it because I want to enjoy the rest of the book, if possible. It's written in third person with the main character written about in the journalistic style of Mortenson instead of "I" which would add immeasurably to the story and the validity of it. I'll have to write a full review after I'm done and can do some digging into the scandal.
 
December 24, 2011
awesome! I need to prepare my favorite movie watches as well!
 
December 22, 2011
I haven't read any of these yet, but I took Ready Player One out of the library along with Killing Lincoln and read the Lincoln book first but I needed to return the other book and never reordered it. Based on your review I will put it back in my hold queue at the library.
December 22, 2011
Glad I've persuaded you to give Ready Player One another try. I found it absolutely delectable, but I think I was pretty close to the target audience--a video gamer from the 80s--except that I'm a chick. :)
 
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About the list creator
Sheri ()
Ranked #71
I have been a customer reviewer on Amazon.com for well over a decade and an Amazon Vine reviewer since the program began. I enjoy writing product reviews that will help customers make a buying decision. … more
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