End of 2011 Reading Survey

Click for source.

Best book I read in 2011: Can’t tell you yet. Will be revealed when I do my Top 10 Books I Read in 2011 countdown in a few weeks…

Most disappointing book I read in 2011? The worst book I read was easily Night Fall, but “disappointing” implies that I was expecting it to be good, which doesn’t apply to De Mille (I knew it was going to be garbage). The most disappointing book I read in 2011 was either The Surrendered, by Chang-rae Lee, or The Tiger’s Wife, by Tea Obreht. I had such high expectations for both of them. The Surrendered ended up being strangely dull, with a string of totally useless deaths, and The Tiger’s Wife was neither compelling nor whole. Both had bright moments, but neither were excellent.

Most surprising book of 2011? What the Living Do, poems by Marie Howe. Outrageously beautiful and heartbreaking. Also The Sheltering Sky, by Paul Bowles, which was upsetting and shocking and mind-bending. But great.

Book I recommended to people most in 2011? Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer’s narrative of the history of memory and how he went on to become the U.S. Memory Champion after a year of training. Our minds are more powerful than we think.

Best series I discovered in 2011? Dog training books by Patricia McConnell? Probably? Does that count?

Favorite new authors I discovered in 2011? Marilynne Robinson, Jeffrey Eugenides, and Marie Howe.

Most thrilling, un-put-down-able book in 2011? Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson.

Book I most anticipated in 2011? Maybe The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides? But I still haven’t read it yet. I’m in position no. 1 out of 113 holds at the library, so I’m getting there! Finally.

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2011?

Here’s a few I liked:

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, by David Mitchell
The Tiger's Wife, by Tea Obreht.
The Virgin Suicides, by Jeffrey Eugenides.

Most memorable character in 2011? Ruth from Housekeeping or Patty Berglund from Freedom.

Book that had the greatest impact on me in 2011? Half the Sky, by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

Book I can’t believe I waited until 2011 to finally read? The Divine Comedy (Dante) or Brideshead Revisited (Evelyn Waugh).

Book I read in 2011 that I’d be most likely to re-read in 2012? Housekeeping, or the poems of Marie Howe and Maxine Kumin.

Survey courtesy of Literary Musings.

How about you? Any memorable books that fit into your year of reading survey?

I knew what she meant

The character of Julia Flyte in the film adaptation of "Brideshead Revisited." Source: Daily Mail.

I knew what she meant, and in that moment felt as though I had shaken off some of the dust and grit of ten dry years; then and always, however she spoke to me–in half sentences, single words, stock phrases of contemporary jargon, in scarcely perceptible movements of eyes or lips or hands–however inexpressible her thought, however quick and far it had glanced from the matter in hand, however deep it had plunged, as it often did, straight from the surface to the depths, I knew; even that day when I stood on the extreme verge of love, I knew what she meant.

Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh

Get me a book before I starve to death

Personal quirk: I find it extremely difficult to eat unless I am reading something. This makes me a rather unfortunate dinner guest. In reality, I can manage without words if I’m in the company of others. But if I’m breakfasting alone? Get me a book before I starve to death.

Brideshead Revisited is my current lunch-time reading and it’s funny and light. So far. It’s also SO English that I can hardly stand it (cousins named Melchior and champagne in your dormitory quarters at noon). Despite my somewhat broad experience with British literature, I have a lot of gritty, American disdain for Anglophiles and can only take these super-British books in small doses. Spread them out, you see, sprinkle them in amongst the Russians, French, Japanese, and Americans and all will be well.

Unrelated: I started a dog blog called Doggerel. This should not largely concern you and I don’t expect any of you to read it. Rather, I’m telling you to give you some form of relief. I hope to direct my animal- and dog-oriented posts over here from now on. To save your sanity and mine.

Also, strawberries are unbelievably delicious right now. Get thee to the grocer’s.