Friday, December 16, 2011

2011: review of my completed reading

I’ve fallen behind the number of books I read last year. With only a couple of weeks of 2011 I doubt I’ll match the 63 from 2010.
I intended to mention my favourite books of the year, but looking back at my reading list I find so few that REALLY excited me. So instead of a top 10 or a top three books of the year that I intended to write – all I can do is mention the books that kept my interest and made me reluctant to put them down.

• The year started with Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall. Despite its length I was caught up in the story and enjoyed it enough to be interested in the promised sequel.
• I always find Mike Gayle very easy to read. With all of his books I’ve been reluctant to put them aside when I’ve started them. I’ve now read them all.
• Jasper Ffforde, one of last year’s favourites had only one book on this year’s list. I really love his writing but I think I needed a break. I have several unread Fforde’s on my shelves waiting for next year.
• Richard Harland’s Liberator also needs a mention. A great sequel to Worldshaker from last year’s reading list. I really wanted to revisit the world he created in the first book and I would certainly be interested in a third instalment should he write one.
Neverwhere was the first Neil Gaiman book I’ve read. Very inventive but at times verged on being overly grotesque for my liking. Fantasy with some very dark aspects.
The Power of Six was another sequel, related to a book from last year’s list. This one is the follow up to I Am Number Four, while it kept me reading I found it less rounded than the first book. It was clearly part of a series rather than a stand-alone book, like pulling a collection of chapters out of a longer piece of fiction.
Duma Key was the first Stephen King book I’ve read in over ten years. I enjoyed most of it. I’ve written about some of my concerns about the book in an earlier post. I recently came in for some questioning on a Christian forum – why would I want to read such things? I can understand the concern. King’s reputation perhaps gets in the way. People have preconceptions about the type of thing her writes, and I may write something about that issue at another time.
Divergent by Veronica Roth, another first episode of a series. I am very interested in the next instalment due sometime next year.

All of the above are works of fiction. What about non-fiction?

• David Hick’s Guantanamo: My Journey will only reinforce whatever people already believe about his imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay and what led him there. While the book answers a lot of questions, at times he seems to avoid telling us what really happened. I feel he was not as innocent as he tries to make out – but neither was he as guilty as the political powers insisted. I think he was an idealist but foolish young man in the wrong place at the wrong time who continually fell into the hands of the wrong people.
Unzipped, Suzi Quatro and Haunted Heart by Lisa Rogak. I’d like to write a separate article incorporating these two books. One clearly about Suzi Quatro, the other about Stephen King – famous people I’ve had some kind of attachment to in the past. Very interesting to find out what went on behind the scenes.
• Several food books – the stand out perhaps being In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. His views of food are essential reading for anyone who has real concern about what they are eating.

After this listing and commentary of “readable” and “interesting” books – there is one book from 2011 that I have to single out as my book of the year. If I can only recommend one book out of all of those I’ve read this year it would be The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
Why the recommendation? I suggest you read it for yourself and find out.

I loved it.