Sweet baby cheeses, I love reading. I was always that kid who was getting into trouble for not answering the grown-ups when they spoke to me because I was so engrossed in what I was reading. (Hello? Why was I getting into trouble? Why were they talking to me when they could clearly see I was otherwise engaged?) I read anything I could get my hands on and some favourites included The Babysitters Club series (naturally), the Anne of Green Gables series (of course), The Saddle Club series (horses horses horses!) (sung just like Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle), among so many others. When I was a bit older, I got into books like Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird (I have a really ugly, second-hand, bright orange Penguin edition that I don’t think I’ll ever part with. It was the first ‘serious’ book I read that really blew me away), Bonjour Tristesse, and every other similar book.
This year, I decided to set myself a challenge: read fifty-two books in fifty-two weeks. I thought it would be a total breeze: one book a week? Pah! No worries. Turns out I was wrong. Some weeks, it felt like I didn’t read at all. I always had a book on the go but when it came to reading for uni, reading for pleasure was sometimes put on the backburner. But I did it, I read fifty-two of ‘em. Goodreads had a fantastic thingymajiggy set up, 2011 Reading Challenge, and it told me if I was on track. When it told me things like You are 1 book behind, I’ll admit to choosing a smaller book to read next because I knew it wouldn’t take me long to knock it over. I felt a bit guilty, but it’s not like I was cheating, I still read the book. Fifty-two of them.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: Holy crap, why did it take me so long to read this book?! Loved it. Loved loved loved it.
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld: for want of a better term, a really lovely coming-of-age story set at a boarding school.
Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey: my favourite of the year. One of the best books I’ve ever read. I started reading it last year (you can see it in the photo of this post) and I got about fifty or so pages in before I put it down. It starts with a really difficult scene, really sad and kind of confronting. It made me feel weird so I decided not to carry on with it. But I picked it up again in January and I’m so glad I did: it made me cry and it made me laugh (Jeffrey Lu is one of literature’s best characters). Please read it.
The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Thought I would hate them. Loved them. Who knew kids being forced to kill each other in a fight-to-the-death situation would be so entertaining? If you haven’t read them yet, get on it. You’ll want to before the movie comes out in March. The casting is so spot on, it’s almost spooky – Jennifer Lawrence, the Hemsworth brother (Chris or Liam? Effed if I can tell them apart), Woody Harrelson, all perfect but I think I’m most excited about Lenny Kravitz as Cinna. Anyway. One of the very few instances I’m excited about a film adaptation. Usually they’re shit but I think this movie will be just as good as the book.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Obviously.
The Observations by Jane Harris. A potty-mouthed housemaid in 1863 Scotland. And there’s a mystery. It’s great.
The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. From what I’ve heard, this book polarised people: you either loved it or hated it. I hated it. I didn’t even finish it so it technically shouldn’t be on my list. Maybe I’ll give it another go further on down the track. Maybe I won’t. Whatever.
Chasing Harry Winston by Lauren Weisberger. Whoever keeps publishing her books, please cease and desist immediately. Ugh, it’s tripe like this that gives chick-lit its bad name. Personally, I believe The Devil Wears Prada only got published because it was a thinly-veiled account of Vogue’s Anna Wintour (and just why are people obsessed with that woman who has the Lego-woman haircut?) and Weisberger’s got nothing else up her sleeve so bashes out a few stereotypes throughout 100 000 words or so and for some reason God only knows, people keep buying them. Stop it. Now.
The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht. For most of the time, I was all like WTF? Parts of it were awesome, parts of it were WTF. Maybe it just went over my head. Whatever.
Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich. I loved this series – up until about book eight. I persisted with them, hoping that maybe something different would happen. But no, some psycho is still out to kill Stephanie, Lula’s still chowing down the fried chicken, Ranger and Morelli are still inexplicably chasing Stephanie, and shit gets blown up. Blah blah blah.
There are a few other crap ones in there, a few meh ones, you can check them out here if you’re bored. It’s kind of surprising to see what kind of books I’ve chosen over the past twelve months. I chose a lot of stuff I don’t normally read, 2011 was definitely the year of the YA novel. And because of that, I’m craving some really good, gutsy reads. They can be funny (I like funny) or serious (Yars. I can be totally serious as well), literary or commercial, anything as long as it’s good.
What did you read this year that you loved or hated? Any suggestions for me? Come on, share.