2011 End Of Year Book Survey

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Who’s ready for a fun end of 2011 survey from The Perpetual Page-Turner? My answers cover all the books I read, definitely not limited to 2011 releases.

1. Best Book You Read In 2011?
David Copperfield – There were so many great ones this year and my top ten list will be up soon, but I think this one grabs the top spot by a narrow margin. It feels so much more honest than Dickens other work and it’s packed to the brim with fantastic characters. There’s a good balance of humor and drama and I just really enjoyed reading it.

2. Most Disappointing Book?
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen – To be fair, I had a feeling I might hate it after reading The Corrections, but it managed to surpass even my expectations by making me like it at first and then taking a rapid nose dive.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2011?
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell – I know I’ve said it before, but Jesuit priests in space, I can’t believe how much I loved it.

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2011?
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman – This book is so hilarious. I found myself mentioning it to so many people, especially those who share my love for the Hitchhiker’s Guide trilogy.

5. Best series you discovered in 2011?
Persepolis – I suppose that it’s really just a two-part book, but there’s a whole series of connected graphic novels by the author, Marjane Satrapi, like Embroideries and Chicken and Plums

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2011?
• Kate Morton
• Carolyn Parkhurst
• Patrick Ness

7. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2011?
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson and The Woman in Black by Susan Hill – Both books are mysteries; one a detective story, the other a ghost story. I loved the pace and style of both books and I couldn’t’ put them down!

8. Book you most anticipated in 2011?
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – Obviously it wasn’t released in 2011, but I knew I was going to read it this year and I was really excited (nervous) about it.

9. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2011?
A Passion for Books – I love covers with pictures of books on them.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children – Super creepy, especially when you look at it closely.

10. Most memorable character in 2011?
Actually I have two and they happen to have the same name. First, Lily, who was a real person, not technically a character, from Half-Broke Horses - She was so strong and unapologetic about her life. Second is Lily from The House of Mirth – Another strong woman, but in a very different way. She’ll stay with me for decades.

11. Most beautifully written book read in 2011?
The House of Mirth – The writing, oh my gosh, it was just lovely.

12. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2011?
The Long Goodbye by Meghan O’Rourke – Turns out reading a nonfiction work about a woman losing her mother can be incredibly difficult if your own mother died. O’Rourke’s memoir is so raw I couldn’t help see my own grief reflected back at me.

13. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2011 to finally read?
The 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith – I read constantly as a kid and this was one of my favorite movies. How did I miss this book when I was growing up?

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg – I loved this movie as well and the book sat on my shelf for years until my trip to Alabama prompted me to pick it up.

14. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2011?
“No one knows how greatness comes to a man. It may lie in his blackness, sleeping, or it may lance into him like those driven fiery particles from outer space. These things, however, are known about greatness: need gives it life and puts it in action; it never comes without pain; it leaves a man changed, chastened, and exalted at the same time – he can never return to simplicity.” – Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck

“Reading was my escape and my comfort, my consolation, my stimulant of choice: reading for the pure please of it, for the beautiful stillness that surrounds you when you hear an author’s words reverberating in your head.” – The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster

15. Book That You Read In 2011 That Would Be Most Likely To Reread In 2012?
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan – I don’t know if I’ll re-read this one so soon, but I think I’d like to. There are so many threads to follow. I think I would get even more out of it the second time around.

16. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
Jude, The Obscure by Thomas Hardy - Oh my gosh, that scene! Father Time and his completely unexpected actions, seriously, I was so shocked.

How about you guys? How was your 2011 reading?

Photo from here.


Amanda said...

Little Father Time!!!!!!! Oh my gosh, that will probably be exactly my answer for #16 when I do this survey!

And Good Omens - awesome! :D

Kat @ NoPageLeftBehind said...

OMG The Sparrow!! Who wouldn't adore Emilio Sandoz?

Also, I absolutely agree with you on your love for Good Omens - I love recommending that book to people!

Nancy said...

So right about David Copperfield. Dickens often spends so much time being funny that it becomes a bit like spending time with that funny friend who is ALWAYS on stage and never stops being silly long enough to be his real self. David Copperfield is his only novel wherein I feel he truly drops his mask.

mari said...

What an interesting list. And okay, I'm so glad to find someone else who didn't care for Freedom because I just didn't get the big hoopla around that one. And I've heard great things about Sparrow, so, it's going on my list for next year.

Happy Holidays, M!

mari said...

Sorry. I forgot to ask in my previous comment: where is that photo (the first one in this post) from? I'd like to go to a book store like that!

Shelley said...

David Copperfield is one of my top five favorites of all time, so it makes me happy that you enjoyed it as well. I also loved the writing in House of Mirth. The Sparrow is a book that's been on my radar for a while now and I know I'm going to love it. Hopefully I'm right!

Jenners said...

I'm with you … I think I'll need to revist Goon Squad again too.

This is such a great way to wrap up a year's worth of reading. I think I shall have to do it too.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading through your answers to the survey. While we disagree about The Sparrow, which I also read this year (weren't there other books Russell wrote that were related to this one? Have you ventured on to those?), I Like your other mentions, and have been meaning to read The House of Mirth for quite awhile now -and I think 2012 will be the year.

I really really like the Steinbeck quotation too. He is one of my favorites but I don't remember reading that before.

Happy reading in 2012!


Ana S. said...

yay, you've read Case Histories! Did I miss your review while I was away?

An excellent list, full of books I love too :)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Amanda - I'm still reeling from that.

Kat - He was such an amazing character!

Nancy - I agree. I think it was so close to his own story that he let his guard down and bit and it makes the book so much better.

mari - Merry Christmas to you too! I gave Franzen three chances (I read How to be Alone too) and disliked all three. Three strikes, he's out of my library for good. Oh, and I'm not sure where the actual book store is (I wish I did). I found the photo on my new favorite website, bookshelfporn.com

Shelley - The Sparrow is something else, I hope you love it.

Jenners - I think a re-read will add so much to the book.

bibliophilica - I haven't read Russell's other books yet, but I'd like to check them out. Sorry Sparrow didn't work for you. I love Steinbeck too and I'm always excited to discover a new book I love of his.

Nymeth - You didn't miss my review, I haven't written it yet (bad blogger), but I loved it! I read it last week in 24 hours, I couldn't put it down.

Cori said...

Yay for The Sparrow! A lot of other great choices in there -- once again I'm surprised by how similar our reading tastes are. :)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Cori - We're like reading twins, it's crazy!

B said...

You read some great books this year! I loved Persepolis and Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.

Care said...

Well, I'm certainly curious about the Hardy book. Mmmmm. is it already spoiled tho, if I know something shocking might happen unexpectedly? OK - I'll just try to forget I ever heard of this book and then go read it...

*ೃ༄ Jillian said...

Ah! You've got me wanting to read Jude the Obscure and David Copperfield NOW. :D

*ೃ༄ Jillian said...

Oh, and House of Mirth -- but you already knew that. :-)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Brenna - Me too, such great, but very different books.

Care - I know, I was a bit worried about that, but I think it's unavoidable with certain classics.

Jillian - I seriously can't wait to hear what you think about House of Mirth. I hope you love it!

Teacher/Learner said...

Congrats on a great year of reading and happy holidays :)

Marce said...

Miss P Home.... is a great choice. I haven't read it but want to.

Here is mine if interested


Leslie @ This is the Refrain said...

The Sparrow is high on my list of books to read in 2012. Happy New Year!

Janel said...

Nice post! I agree that A Visit From The Goon Squad has so many themes that rereading will allow new themes to appear.

I added Case Histories to my to-read list it sounds great.

Happy Reading!

Anonymous said...

Yes The Sparrow is unbelievably good. you need to read its sequel now: The Children Of God. here is my 2011 recap: http://wordsandpeace.com/2011/12/30/year-of-reading-2011/