Nightstand: December: A Year of Reading in Review

What's on Your Nightstand @ 5 Minutes for BooksAnother calendar year is about to come to a close, as well as another month and it’s time for my December installment of What’s On Your Nightstand? which is a blogging carnival hosted by 5 Minutes For Books. For anyone new to this carnival, the premise is fairly simple :

Write about whatever books you are currently reading, recently read and/or plan to read next.

Since this is the last Nightstand of 2010, the editors at 5 Minutes for Books have bent the rules a bit and added a few more options for the month:

You can do this the “normal” way, and tell us either what you have read this month or what you hope to get to in the coming weeks, or you can look at 2010 in review and tell us some of your stand-out reads of the year. OR give us a rundown of your reading goals for 2011.

I like the idea of wrapping up my year of reading in one pretty post, so I thought I’d take that option. Here’s a little recap of my reading for 2010 and my goals for 2011.

2010 Reading Highlights

Right now I am reading First Among Sequels (Thursday Next, Book 5) by Jasper Fforde. If I should finish it before Saturday, then I will have read 32 books in 2010. In 2009 I only read 28 so I guess we can say that I’m on an upswing and reading more, though certainly not by much. In 2011 I’d love to make my Read This Year count 40.

For a full list of the books I read in 2010 you can click here (that link will change in 2011 when I start a new running tally, but there should be a link at the bottom of the page then pointing to the official list for 2010). But here are some highlights of my reading year.

Top 5 Books Read in 2010 (in order of when I read them)

  1. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert – Finished April 16, 2010 – This book has sat on my bookshelf for years, waiting for me to read it. I can’t believe it took me so long, looking back – it is incredible. I loved every page, every paragraph. Gilbert is an incredible writer and her story was just as good – I almost can’t believe it’s nonfiction. I look forward to reading her other books. – full review
  2. Eating for Beginners by Melanie Rehak – Finished July 12, 2010 – This book reads like a good friend sharing her experiences and giving all the best information she can in the most accessible way. I love how expertly Rehak combines her parental anecdotes  with tales of restaurant and farm life – with some fun recipes and silliness thrown in! It had me laughing on a nightly basis, drooling over delicious descriptions of food, ear marking recipes and quoting passages out loud to my husband constantly! I am not exaggerating when I say it was one of the best books I’ve read this year and maybe ever – I want to share this book with everyone I know! – full review
  3. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows – Finished September 1, 2010 – This definitely goes down in the books as one of my favorites of all time. I am honestly surprised at how much I loved this book. I think everyone should read it. RIGHT NOW. – full review
  4. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins – Finished October 1, 2010 – I was worried this book somehow wouldn’t meet my expectations but I needn’t have worried. It was perfect. The beginning started out a bit slow but it quickly picked up and sucked me in until the end. – full review
  5. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery – Finished October 24, 2010 – I can’t believe it took me so long to read this book – it was truly excellent. I think this is one of the best classic coming of age stories, with a little bit of everything. I really enjoyed it and look forward to reading the rest of the series.

There were a lot of great books that wouldn’t fit into a Top 5 list, frankly I enjoyed all 32 books, though some definitely more than others – the 5 above though were the real stand out reads. I didn’t include the several series books that I am reading and devouring right now, with the exception of Mockingjay which I felt deserved special recognition.

If you are on the lookout for a fun serial read, I highly recommend: The Thursday Next books by Jasper Fforde, The Spellman Files books by Lisa Lutz, the Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz, The Mother Daughter Bookclub series by Heather Vogel Frederick, the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan and The Mysterious Benedict Society books by Trenton Lee Stewart.

Okay, so I’ve mentioned the best of the best, but here are the:

Worst 4 Books I Attempted To Read in 2010

  1. Little Children by Tom Perrotta – Abandoned February 3, 2010 (about 100 pages in) – This book is being discussed in an upcoming book club I’ve been thinking about joining and I have heard some good reviews about it but I just could not bring myself to care about the characters of this story of suburbia, apparently unhappy marriages, and a blatant dissatisfaction with the life of stay at home parenting. I can understand that these topics are a reality for millions and it’s not that I cannot read a book that I can’t relate to personally – I can and have. And frankly there were things I could relate to but I could not seem to care about any of the characters at all. It was like watching a handful of sad people trapped in boxes they’d knowingly climbed into – and being forced to sit inside those boxes with them. The best part of this book was putting it down and being greeted by my own life, which is kind of the opposite of falling into a good book. I feel like I’m trying to make excuses for not finishing this book, like I’ve done some horrible misdeed but at the end of the day I have to remind myself that I have better things to do with my time than read a book I’m not enjoying, whatever the reasons.
  2. Cold Rock River by J. L. Miles – abandoned June 28, 2010 – I’d been looking forward to reading this for a local book club I’m planning to join but there is some subject matter in the first couple of chapters that I just couldn’t deal with. I found myself avoiding the book because the topic was just too painful for me. I’m not going into details because I don’t want to “spoil” anything but it was just too heavy for me.
  3. Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak – abandoned September 17, 2010 – This just simply wasn’t the book I wanted it to be. I loved Eating for Beginners so much but this didn’t have that same fantastic wit that I’d grown to love in EFB and the book was much more about feminism and women’s suffrage than it was about Nancy Drew – not an uninteresting topic, just not what I’d been hoping to read and ultimately it felt more like that stodgy traditional “nonfiction” that I was forced to read in school.
  4. That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo – abandoned September 17, 2010 – There were parts of this book that I liked a lot. His descriptions of the cape and family vacations there brought back a lot of nostalgia for me and had me googling lake house vacations at 3 a.m. But there were other parts of the book (the parts dealing with divorce and unhappy marriages) that felt a lot like being stuck in a room with two people who are fighting and all the good energy just gets sucked out of the room and even though you like those two people seperately, being forced in the same room with them together makes you want to find the happiest person on earth as fast as possible. And unfortunately there were a lot more of those passages than the nostalgic ones and I just couldn’t finish the thing – too much negative energy.

There were two other books I didn’t bother finishing this year, but they were nonfiction and I simply got bored of reading them as opposed to violently disliking them so I won’t bother listing them here. They are on my full running tally if you are interested though.

2011 Goals

That I suppose wraps up 2010 rather nicely. My reading goals for 2011 are, as I mentioned before, to try and read 40 books. I also would like to read more classics, especially more of the Anne of Green Gables series, so of course I will be participating in the L.M. Montogomery Reading Challenge hosted by Carrie @ Reading to Know in January.

I’m also planning a little self challenge specifically focused on classic books in general. I wrote more about this here, but essentially I listed 30 classic books that I have not read but would like to (sadly there are many, many more I didn’t list just because the list was getting too long). I do not think for a second I will read all 30 books, but I figured giving myself a plethora of options might be nice. In reality, I will be thrilled to knock off 10 of them in 2011 (or maybe 11? haha).

What are your reading goals for 2011?

10 thoughts on “Nightstand: December: A Year of Reading in Review

  1. Eating for Beginners sounds great! I will be bookmarking it! I liked Mockingjay and Anne of Green Gables is a long time fav (reading it now to my kids.)

    I need to decide on challenges for next year! Enjoy your reading!


  2. Enjoyed looking through your overview of the year. I still haven’t read the Potato Peel book… must be the last one in America. Definitely need to get to that.

    I see a few familiar titles and some new ones. Thanks for sharing your list!


  3. I’m glad to see that your top 5 are all on my TBR list (well, except for Anne, but she’s slated for a reread)–and that your 4 worst are NOT! Hopefully I’ll have a chance to get to those this next year. We’ll see!


  4. What e-reader did you get, and do you love it? I’m wondering if it would be a good option for me…or if I should continue to library it up.


  5. @ Cassandra : I actually just watched the movie. I’d been just as aprehensive as you but on the whole, I think they did a good job. No, it wasn’t as good as the book – and I think if you hadn’t read the book you might not like it, but I enjoyed it enough. Go in with lowish expectations and I think you’ll be surprised.


  6. I loved Eat, Pray, Love. That was an awesome book! I was excited to see that they were making a movie about it, but now that it’s released on DVD, I’m afraid to watch it! What if they butcher such a beautiful book??

    Happy January reading!


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