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A Year in Reading

December 29, 2011

In my continuing “ode to 2011” posts, here’s a look at the books I read this year. It’s hard to pick a favorite; they were all so great in different ways.

Secret Daughter, Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Best Kept Secret, Amy Hatvany

All That is Bitter and Sweet, Ashley Judd

Sky of Red Poppies, Zohreh Ghahremani

 The Law of Similars, Chris Bohjalian

Silver Sparrow, Tayari Jones

The Stormchasers, Jenna Blum

When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present, Gail Collins

The Saturday Wife, Naomi Regan

Kosher Nation: Why More and More of America’s Food Answers to a Higher Authority, Sue Fishkoff

Secrets of Eden, Chris Bohjalian

 Townie, Andre Dubus III
Cinderella Ate My Daughter, Peggy Orenstein

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, Beth Hoffman

Little Bee, Chris Cleave

Sarah’s Key, Tatiana de Rosnay

The Orchard, Theresa Weir

Half Broke Horses, Jeannette Walls

The Reading Promise, Alice Ozma

Second Draft of My Life, Sara Lewis

All the books I read are reviewed over on the Bookshelf page. I did start other books; but if I’m not into a story, I stop reading. I firmly believe life’s too short for a bad book. 2011 also saw the closing of one of our favorite stores — Borders. The holiday season just wasn’t the same without purchases from Borders.

How about you — What was the best or most memorable book you read in 2011? What’s on your list for 2012?

41 Comments leave one →
  1. December 29, 2011 3:51 am

    Great minds do think alike ;-).

    I’m surprised our lists don’t overlap with at least one book. It just proves that there are so many books, so little time. Of your 2011 books, I’ve contemplated reading ‘Little Bee’, ‘Sarah’s Key’, and ‘Saving CeeCee Honeycutt’.

    And I agree about Borders.

    As for my 2011 top pic, I’d probably have to say “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.”

    • January 1, 2012 9:36 pm

      I read the Guernsey Literary… a few years ago and enjoyed it a lot. Looking forward to seeing what you read in 2012.

  2. December 29, 2011 4:12 am

    Great list- good for you to keep track- I try to keep a journal of ones I liked, and then forget to enter. I’ll check some of these out. I feel blogged out– haven’t posted in ages and seem to not have topics! Hopefully inspiration will return in 2012!

    • January 1, 2012 9:37 pm

      I understand about feeling blogged out. I haven’t felt much like writing lately. But I’ve been really into reading. Guess that’s not too bad!

  3. December 29, 2011 5:43 am

    What’s on my shelf for 2012? Umm… too many – especially considering I just got 10 books for Christmas (to add to my collection of 30+) … someone must STOP me. I did dig into THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS and am loving it! For 2011, it was THE STORY OF BEAUTIFUL GIRL and ROOM.

    Somehow, I’ve missed the book review section of your blog. Will have to check it out. Happy new year, Leah.

    • January 1, 2012 9:38 pm

      Oh I’m envious of 10 new books! You’re like the fifth person who has recommended Language of Flowers. Now I really want to read it.

  4. December 29, 2011 6:23 am

    another great post! love this idea. What did you think of the Ashley Judd book? I always liked her as an actress…

    • January 1, 2012 9:38 pm

      So Ashley’s book I liked, but I really only read it for information on her childhood and how she’s struggled with depression and such. I wasn’t too into all the Africa trips. I got the book for free and thought, why not read it? And I really enjoyed the honesty in her writing.

  5. December 29, 2011 6:25 am

    Another great list – thank you for this, sweet friend. I hope you are feeling better soon. I am back to the Doc today *cough cough*.


    • January 1, 2012 9:41 pm

      Thanks, MJ. Feeling much better! Hope you are too.

  6. December 29, 2011 6:46 am

    My Favorite book in 2011 was Cutting for Stone. My New Years Resolution is to read more in 2012!

    • January 1, 2012 2:24 pm

      I just finished this today and it was outstanding, the first book I read in 2012 and it’s going to take some beating, great way to start the year.

      • January 1, 2012 9:41 pm

        I’ve heard nothing but great praise for Cutting for Stone. I’ll need to add that one to my list too.

  7. December 29, 2011 7:19 am

    Nice long list for 2011! My favorite books I read this year were ‘Just Kids’ by Patti Smith and ‘Please Look After Mom’ by Kyung-Sook Shin. Both were incredibly gripping. I have a ton of recs for 2012 from readers on my blog. A couple I am getting to early are: Poisonwood Bible, Cutting for Stone, Kafka on the Shore and ‘Eating Animals’!

    • January 1, 2012 9:42 pm

      Poisonwood Bible was amazing. I read it many years ago and I still love it. I keep hearing great things about Cutting for Stone too.

  8. December 29, 2011 7:34 am

    Read the Saturday Wife a few years ago. It totally disturbed me. How did you make that picture??? so cool!

    • January 1, 2012 9:43 pm

      Yeah, I was disappointed in Saturday Wife too. Have you read any of Tova Mirvis’ books? She does a great job of writing really great stories about Orthodox Jewish life. I wish she’d write another one.

  9. December 29, 2011 7:48 am

    I love lists posts, especially ones lthat include books. Looks like we read many of the same wonderful books, Leah. For those who want to start a list for 2012, there is a great new group that is encouraging everyone to read 50 books and watch 50 films in 2012. It’s a fun way to motivate you, with encouragement, to check those books and films off your wish list. Go to and sign up now!

    • January 1, 2012 9:43 pm

      I’ll definitely check that out. I think I could read 50 books. But I doubt I could do 50 movies. It’s almost one or the other with me.

  10. December 29, 2011 8:25 am

    Hi Leah! Have you read Parenting from the inside and out? I”ve read some really great reviews about it and recently ordered it so we’ll see.

    • January 1, 2012 9:44 pm

      I have not read that one, but have heard about it too. Let me know how you like it.

  11. December 29, 2011 8:30 am

    Wow, I’m impressed and jealous of all your great reads this year! A book I really enjoyed in 2011 was Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger, who wrote The Time Traveler’s Wife and I had been eagerly awaiting her next book. It didn’t disappoint. I had downloaded three books onto my Kindle before this winter break and while on vacation it broke. I was forced to finally start playing Words with Friends and now I will likely never read again! But when I get my new Kindle, I will pick up on the book I was reading which is The Art of Fielding.

    • January 1, 2012 9:45 pm

      I read about your Kindle incident. So sad. I’ll check out the Symmetry book. I really enjoyed Time Traveller’s Wife as well.

  12. December 29, 2011 8:49 am

    Wow! That’s a great list. I have not read most of them so it is like looking in a candy store. I agree about bad books. Or at least books that don’t speak to me. I never finish one if I don’t love it. Life’s too short.

    Happy New Year!

    • January 1, 2012 9:45 pm

      Glad you agree with me. And your book is the first one I picked up for 2012 and I can honestly say that I’m not disappointed!

  13. Lena permalink
    December 29, 2011 11:51 am

    Lots of good books on this list, most of which I have not read so thanks for the ideas! I did read Little Bee awhile back, it was excellent, though on the disturbing side. here is to another year of great reads!

    My favorite book of 2011 was probably 11/22/63 only because it was the most recent and was thought provoking, though in a Stephen King kind of way.

    • January 1, 2012 9:46 pm

      I agree with you on Little Bee. Disturbing, but interesting too. I just saw the 11/22/63 book at Barnes and Noble the other day and was drawn to it. Glad you liked it. Will have to read that one too.

  14. December 29, 2011 12:57 pm

    Some amazing books here. Any that you particularly loved and can recommend?

    • January 1, 2012 9:49 pm

      For fiction, I’d recommend Silver Sparrow and Secret Daughter. For non-fiction, Townie and Half Broke Horses. Townie could be slow at times. But I love Dubus’ writing and learning about the man who wrote such compelling books.

  15. December 29, 2011 4:05 pm

    You read Cinderella Ate My Daughter?! I haven’t read the book but I’ve read many articles by her. I wanted to read that Ashley Judd book as well and I kind of forgot about so thanks for the reminder!

    • January 1, 2012 9:50 pm

      Highly recommend Cinderella. And I liked Ashley’s book too. Mostly read it for the emotional stuff and about her childhood. But I really appreciated her honesty and writing.

  16. December 29, 2011 9:30 pm

    Leah! What a great book list! I usually read the way some people chain smoke! But lately, I’ve been reading mostly cookbooks! I’ve also been reading the works of George Eliot starting from her first works and I’m currently reading Silas Marner. Definitely have this page bookmarked! Happy new year to you! : )

    • January 1, 2012 9:51 pm

      Thanks, Anne. I love reading cookbooks too. Sometimes I’ll sit on my couch watching TV and read through Ina Garten’s cookbooks, even though I’ve read them all a million times.

  17. December 30, 2011 2:20 pm

    Leah, seeing how many books you’ve read this past year, makes me feel guilty at how very little I’ve read! I’ve made up my mind to remedy the situation with the coming of the new year. I have to read more! I really do! Your list will definitely give me an idea of where to start. 🙂

    • January 1, 2012 9:52 pm

      Glad my list can help, Bella. I sometimes get overwhelmed with all my books to read. But then once I start one, I can’t stop reading!

  18. December 30, 2011 9:31 pm

    I”m with you! If the book doesn’t grab me…it’s time to let me go! My book reading has gone WAY down, but I’ve been delightfully reading blogs this year! What FUN!

    • January 1, 2012 9:52 pm

      You have been reading a lot of blogs! I sometimes find it’s tough to keep up with blogs and books. But I have to make time for my favorites of each!

  19. December 31, 2011 6:48 pm

    Ok, I love your graphic. Totally stealing this idea next year. I’m also laughing OUT LOUD at your list because as i read it, I said to myself, “Wait, I read that book!” and I realize that I didn’t write it down…argh! So my list, which I posted already, was incomplete. Oy vey. The book is “The Reading Promise” by the way. Thanks for reminding me of it! 🙂

    • January 1, 2012 9:53 pm

      Great minds think alike! “The Reading Promise” was a great read, wasn’t it? I met the author when she was touring and she’s just as sweet as her book.

  20. January 1, 2012 2:35 pm

    Gorgeous graphic, covers very enticing.

    Hard to pick one from my memorable reads, but loved Barbara Kingsolver’s ‘The Lacuna’ and Susan Hill’s ‘A Kind Man’. Also discovered Yoko Ogawa and enjoyed reading two of her books this year.

    Happy Reading for 2012!

    • January 1, 2012 9:54 pm

      Thanks, Claire. You can’t go wrong with Barbara Kingsolver! I read her Animal, Vegetable Miracle book two years ago and really enjoyed that too.

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