Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Year End Book Wrap-Up '11

Here is last year's book wrapup. And this year we have much less to talk about, since I only read 21 books. Only six are on the Time 100 list (and three of those are parts of a 12-novel cycle), which means I still have 22 (I think, I keep mis-counting) of the Time 100 books to go. Eight of the books I read this year were by women, 13 were by men.

Obviously I read much less because I had a baby (though the early middle-of-the-night feedings were pretty good for reading on the Kindle). I feel like I'm getting back into the swing of it now, though. Anyway, here is my very abbreviated list of the best and worst books of the year.

Top three books:

1. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
I loved both this one and The Marriage Plot, but I'm going to give this one the edge for its larger scope and for the way the characters stuck in my head. I am always torn when making these lists, because I love to re-read things and I'm sure if I re-read Goon Squad and Marriage Plot, I could be far more definitive. (I never blog re-reads. It would just be endless entries all "I just finished In This House of Brede for the seven millionth time.") Maybe after I'm done with all my reading lists, I can make a re-reading list. I just got Cloud Atlas back and I'm going to re-read that one immediately. Then Brideshead Revisited again. Then Catch-22 again. Wait, what was I saying? Egan's book. Not perfect, but I liked it! And I want to re-read it, I think is where I was going.

2. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
This sticks in my mind like The Corrections does: as a meaty, intelligent, entertaining work of lit fic. A lot of the classics that I slog through aren't really what I'd call "entertaining" (my recent read of Money notwithstanding) so I appreciate that this was a page turner, that I enjoyed the characters, and that the milieu of this world was recognizable. I liked it.

3. One of Our Thursdays Is Missing by Jasper Fforde
I have to give this one the edge just because I love Fforde and he always entertains me. This was fast-paced, fun, and funny. But it could just as easily be swapped out with any of the runners up, if only because it wasn't quite as good, for me, as First Among Sequels.

Runners up: An Object of Beauty, Persepolis, The Namesake, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, The Wave, A Question of Upbringing... I didn't read much this year, but I liked almost everything I read!

The worst:

1. Herzog
AKA Herzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzog. Speaking of boring-ass classics that are torture to get through. It was so endlessly dull. I know it supposedly is saying important things about the Jewish Experience. I know people love Saul Bellow and owe him a debt or whatever. But yawn. I'm even bored of trying to write this paragraph.

And that's it! I read some disposable stuff this year, but nothing that I actively disliked, other than Herzog. And next year this will be expanded once more, as I will no doubt read more than 21 books. Man.

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