What Was Your Favorite Book of 2011?

Whew! Well, I finally updated my Currently Reading page.

Here’s what I read in 2011 (in reverse order):

  • Holiday Affair — Lisa Plumley. Another cute contemporary. This one was about Karina and Reid who meet at a holiday B&B during the Christmas season when she brings her kids there — super cute setting and a cute plot, overall. But I didn’t quite buy the character of Reid at all. He didn’t seem to think or talk like any man I ever knew. But I liked the Karina character, who seemed realistic, and her recent divorce managed to seem funny.
  • Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor — Lisa Kleypas. Contemporary about Mark and Maggie, who fall in love on an island off the coast of … um … I can’t remember. … (Washington???). I pictured a lot of Sleepless in Seattle. (They even meet over a little girl that the hero is raising — his niece.) But it was cute and, for a Christmas story, it didn’t rely on tropes. In fact, it seemed like a regular book that simply took place at Christmas (which I liked a lot!)
  • When Beauty Tamed the Beast — Eloisa James. I’m obviously a big Eloisa James fan, and I looked forward to this new book of hers about Piers and Linnet. For the first half of the book, though, I couldn’t get over how similar her hero, Piers, was to Gregory House from television’s House.  (Although Piers is living in a 19th century Welch castle.) Although House has long been a FAVE show of mine (and I always loved the character of House), the similarities were more distracting than enjoyable. I could even hear his voice in all the dialogue. Then I started Googling it, and realized that at the end of the book, James actually SAYS this character is based on House! Somehow that eased my mind from the distraction and I enjoyed the second half of the book. But I think this book would be more enjoyable for someone who didn’t watch so many episodes of House and could “meet” that character for the first time.
  • Storming the Castle — Short Story — Eloisa James. I got this one for 99 cents on my Kindle! This is the story of Phillipa and Wick, and I got the impression there were characters from James’ longer book A Kiss at Midnight, which I didn’t read. (But might soon!) In this one, Wick is pretending to be a butler at his brother’s castle, and he falls in love with Phillipa, who is there pretending to be a nursemaid. I thought the characters were really well drawn for a short story — normally that’s a tricky thing to do.
  • Duchess in Love — Eloisa James. Cute Regency about Cam and Gina, childhood friends who are forced into marriage when they are young teens but Cam flees before the marriage day is even over. They reunite as adults, supposedly to get a divorce, but things rekindle, of course, when they join a weekend-long house party. (Those Regency folk sure know how to party, man.) Anyway, this was okay– for some reason, I wasn’t particularly fond of Cam or Gina, so I didn’t love it as much as I love other books. But there were great secondary characters and the story moved along well.
  • Outliers — Malcolm Gladwell. Nonfiction. Fascinating discussion about what makes one person a success and another person not. I loved all the examples he gave. this is the book where he discusses the 10,000 hours necessary to make anyone an “overnight success.” (His point being that no one is an overnight success — you may not see it, but 10,000 hours of practice went into whatever that person succeeded at.) It makes me want to read Gladwell’s other books, Blink and Tipping Point.
  • The Alchemist — Paulo Coelho. I enjoyed this fable, which made me think a lot about my son in the days when he was deciding his future (where to go for college). It’s a fable about how far you should go in getting what you want, and how to know when you get it.
  • As You Desire — Connie Brockway. This is an older book, but it’s in the top 10 of AAR’s Top 100 Romances list, and it’s the only author I haven’t yet read in the top 10. And, I must say, Connie Brockway doesn’t disappoint. This is a really cute story of “Dizzy” and Harry, set in Egypt in the 1800s. Both are English and are living in Egypt temporarily, but Dizzy wants to go back to England and Harry absolutely doesn’t — he’s fine living in Egypt as a collector, plus he’s got a secret he’s trying to keep. When I read the back of this book, the writing sounded silly and flowery, but when I actually read the excerpt (downloadable on Kindle — you can read the whole first chapter as a sample), I realized the “flowery” writing was actually Dizzy’s attempt to concoct romance writing from that day. Pretty funny. Connie Brockway actually handles the writing quite well, with humor and wit. This makes me definitely want to read the other Brockways on the top 100 list.
  • Call Me Irrisistible — Susan Elizabeth Phillips. This was one I was waiting on with bated breath — I knew the release date was Jan. 18, and I was up that morning, downloading this to the uber-cool Kindle that’s exactly awesome for this very reason. And I did enjoy it. It didn’t topple my other fave SEP, but I liked it. Two things I didn’t like though: (1) I didn’t like that there were so many old characters showing up — it sort of frustrated me and made me feel like I had to remember them all. And, because they’re old characters, they weren’t very well developed in this book. (2) I was disappointed that we didn’t get the alternating point of view between the hero and the heroine, which is usually entertaining when handled by someone as funny as SEP. We finally got Ted’s POV at the very end, but by then I didn’t really like him all that much. I realize that the alternating POV really helps you fall in love with both characters.
  • Blue-Eyed Devil — Lisa Kleypas. Okay, I’m hooked on Lisa Kleypas already. After finishing Smooth Talking Stranger (below) the other night, I went on the Amazon Kindle store and immediately downloaded this one, which is about another Travis. (It occurred to me, later, after reading the reviews on Amazon, that I’m reading these all out of order, but oh well.) This one is even better.
  • Smooth Talking Stranger — Lisa Kleypas. This was my first purchase with my Christmas Amazon gift card from hubby. I’d only read one Lisa Kleypas before, from the AAR Top 100 Romances list (Dreaming of You, a historical, which I liked), but everyone seems to love her contemporaries, too, so I’d always wanted to add one of her contemporaries to my TBR pile. This is the one I picked on Christmas Day. I don’t know why this one, but there it is. And it was a good choice — I really enjoyed it. I’m not crazy about romances in the first person for some reason, but I eventually got past that and just enjoyed the story. This one is about Jack Travis and advice columnist Ella Varner.

I think I probably said this already last year (gah! Am I repeating myself already? I guess that’s what you get after running a blog for four years…), but I really like making a list of everything I’ve read. It’s fun to look back on (and think, gosh, was that just last year???) or to reflect on which books were standouts and which were not.

I woefully read very few book club books (like … er … one??? eek) — I vow this year to read more of those and get involved in the discussions. (When I don’t read the book I still go to the meeting for the wine and good company!) 🙂 This year’s book club list looks great, so I’m really going to make more of an effort. I think I’ve read most of the romances I need to read for research on style and pacing, so now I can read a mixture of genres.

Anyway, did you make a list this year? What was your favorite standout book from 2011?

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7 thoughts on “What Was Your Favorite Book of 2011?

  1. You need to get on GoodReads 🙂 I LOVE it because I can go back and look at my 5 star reviews and immediately know what was awesome. Plus, I read 70 books last year (which is probably only half of them because I never remember to record!!) and I love that it keeps track.

    I have read 20 so far this year and my new year’s resolution (one of them) is to record every book this year! I’m going for 150 although I’m thinking it will be about 200 considering I read about 4 books a week.

    http://www.goodreads.com/kristibug

    Friend me 🙂
    Kristi´s last blog post ..Happy Holidays 2011

  2. Last year didn’t feel like a good reading year. Seems I struggled with more books than I enjoyed. I’ve come to the conclusion that the first book you read of the new year sets the tone. Fortunately I started this year on a positive note with Unbroken and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.

    I do keep track of my books on Shelfari. A few notable 2011 reads were The Warmth of Other Suns, Matterhorn and Little Bee.

  3. Kristi, you are a maniac!!! How do you read all those books while working and running around after two little ones as well??? You’re like Superwoman. I have a couple of GoodReads invites, but I just can’t quite get started there. … I just discovered Pinterest, and now I foresee another gazillion hours spent online there. … 🙂

  4. Lauran, interesting thought about how the first book of the year sets the tone. Hmmm … (I’m reading nonfiction for my first book of this year, so not sure what that means.) Anyway, Shelfari — I use it for my blog button in my sidebar because I think it’s cute, but I actually don’t track the books there. (Although it looks cute and fun, like GoodReads. Again, just a matter of tiiiiiiimme … Wish there were more hours in the day!)

  5. Other comments from Facebook:

    Vince Flynn American Assassin (from John Henry)
    The Help (from Heather Hill)
    The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (from Superman)

  6. I did NOT read enough books last year, either (blame it on the wedding!)! The ones I did read and did like, though were: “How to Win Friends and Influence People” (I know…I should have read it years ago!), “Mudbound” (thanks Lauran!), “Freakonomics” (again, should have read it years ago), and “From Black Heels to Tractor Wheels.” I read a few books on marriage/relationships, too, and the one that probably stood out the most was “The Five Love Languages.”
    Carrie´s last blog post ..HGTV Dream Home Giveaway

  7. Carrie, I learned about the “Five Love Languages” years ago (before it was a book — was just making the “presentation circuit” at various churches), and it really stuck with me. I allude to it often, and think about it constantly (both in my marriage and even in my relationship with my children). It’s really enlightening!

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