Reading list 2011

New books: 35 ( 11,042  pgs )

Longest book: Pathfinder (672 pgs)
Shortest book: Kekula (32 pgs)
Oldest book: Crime and Punishment (1866)
Newest book: Secrets of the Crown (September 2011)
Best book: Beyonders
Best children’s/YA book: Heidi
Worst book: Sundays at Tiffany’s
Most disappointing book: How to Train Your Dragon

Diana Wynne Jones, House of Many Ways
James Patterson, Sundays at Tiffany’s
Cressida Cowell, How to Train Your Dragon
C.S Lewis, The Four Loves
Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go
Michael Gruber, The Book of Air and Shadows
Stephenie Meyer, The Host
Chris Cleave, Little Bee
Erle Stanley Gardner, The Case of the Fiery Fingers
Erle Stanley Gardner, The Case of the Careless Kitten
Erle Stanley Gardner, The Case of the Sulky Girl
Jules Verne, Around the World in Eighty Days
Jahcolyn Russell Neiman, Kekula
Johanna Spyri, Heidi
Matt Haig, The Dead Fathers Club
Brandon Mull, Beyonders
Maryrose Wood, The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place
Maryrose Wood, The Hidden Gallery
Garth Nix, Abhorsen
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment
Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
Kathryn Stockett, The Help
Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, & Sheila Heen, Difficult Conversations
Susan Coolidge, What Katy Did
Ninni Holmqvist, The Unit
Susanne Dunlap, The Musician’s Daughter
Roald Dahl, Danny the Champion of the World
Madeleine L’Engle, Many Waters
Orson Scott Card, Pathfinder
Adam Jay Epstein & Andrew Jacobson, Secrets of the Crown
Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot
John Grisham, The Testament
Adrian McKinty, The Lighthouse Land
Tina Fey, Bossypants

Previous: 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004


by Tina Fey

{ 2011 | Reagan Arthur Books | 288 pgs }

I’d heard so much hype and praise for Tina Fey’s new book, and I confess, Jarom and I really like 30 Rock. Mostly. Jarom ended up reading this before I did, and laughed a lot. I expected to laugh a lot too, but I mainly chuckled or smiled. Not laughed. It was a little disappointing, since I thought there’d be fall-off-your-seat funny parts. So I gave up about 2/3 of the way through.

And finally tried again here at the end of the year. Fortunately, it picked up not long after my stopping point, and I enjoyed the rest of the book. Still not enough to laugh out loud, sadly, but it was amusing.

Sigh. I wish it had been hilarious.

Buy Bossypants on Amazon

The Lighthouse Land

by Adrian McKinty

{ 2006 | Harry N. Abrams | 372 pgs }

I’m not sure how this found its way onto my reading list, but that’s nothing special. I like to not have any idea of who recommended a book, what genre it is, favorable or negative reviews, or general plot summaries before I start reading.

I was thrilled to sit down with a fiction book after I got home from my last class of the semester a few weeks ago. And from the beginning, The Lighthouse Land was fascinating. A young boy in Harlem has lost his arm to cancer (is that realistic? I don’t even know), and stops speaking afterwards; a year later, he and his mother receive a letter informing them that they are the last heirs of an Irish estate (I think definitely not realistic). Once there, the boy – Jamie – makes friends with a classmate – Ramsey – and they discover a portal to another realm/world through a hidden room in a tower of the estate. And in this other realm, Jamie has both arms again.

The story dropped off a little after that. The people in the realm, of course, have expected aid to arrive, but not in the form of two teenagers. I really lost interest a while into that storyline. Things picked up again towards the end, but the final 15 pages or so were horrific and horrendous to the extent that I will not be reading the other books in the trilogy. Seriously, it was LAME. In all capital letters, yes. LAME.

Want to know why? Ok, spoilers:

– Jamie decides to stay in the other realm instead of going home with Ramsey, because he (Jamie) fell in love with the girl they helped to save her country. Apparently Jamie has forgotten that he has a mom who went through a divorce after her son’s cancer, and her son doesn’t talk at all, ever, and she lives in the middle of nowhere, Ireland. By herself now, it seems.

– Meanwhile, back in the real world, Jamie’s mom finds out that Jamie and Ramsey are not on the school ski trip like they said, but have actually disappeared for almost two weeks. While she rushes out to search for Jamie, her car gets stuck in the channel connecting her estate to the main road, because it’s high tide. I think the car rolls over or something, or somehow she breaks her arm, and the car starts flooding and stuff. Basically she is alone and going to die.

– Jamie does end up coming back, but only because he hears his mom calling out for him somehow across the void. He knows that she needs help, so he and Ramsey go rescue her.

– End of book.

Thank you, waste of my time.

Buy The Lighthouse Land on Amazon if you like wasting time

The Testament

by John Grisham

{ 1999 | Doubleday | 465 pgs }

What to do on the train when Jarom and June are napping, and Evan is playing (nearby) with other kids? Of course, pull out the Kindle and download a John Grisham novel. Since Jarom has been interested in wills and estates as a field of law, The Testament seemed like a good choice.

Troy Phelan is an old billionaire who hates his 3 ex-wives and 6 children. He agrees to an exam to determine his testamentary capacity – whether or not he’s in sound mind to make his will. Immediately after he completes the exam and the family members and psychiatrists leave, he presents a handwritten (holographic) will to his lawyer, in which he leaves his entire fortune to an illegitimate daughter, and then he jumps out the window. From the 14th floor.

But really, the book is about trying to find the daughter, and about the lawyers for the rest of the family trying to get their “fair share.” It was interesting, if a little preachy, and I actually might have preferred if the family ended up suffering more. They were perfectly detestable.

All in all, not bad, but nothing compared to The Client. Which I read when I was about 10. (Which has inspired me to keep LOTS of young adult literature in the house for when our book-hungry children go looking for something to read, having exhausted all the bookshelves in their rooms.)

Buy The Testament on Amazon

Waiting for Godot

by Samuel Beckett

{ premiered 1953 }

Absurdist theater. I think I’d enjoy it in person, but probably won’t ever go see it.

That is all.

Buy Waiting for Godot on Amazon

Secrets of the Crown

by Adam Jay Epstein & Andrew Jacobson

{ 2011 | HarperCollins | 384 pgs }

I read The Familiars at the end of last year, and it turned out to be much better than I expected. I found it purely by chance: I was trying to read one book per letter of the alphabet, by author’s last name, and was searching the Kindle store for an E author. I also needed J – so a book coauthored by Epstein and Jacobson was too hard to pass up.

Secrets of the Crown is book 2 in the Familiars series. (I don’t know if it will be a trilogy or continue past three books.) Since it’s been over a year since I read The Familiars, I had a little trouble remembering where the story left off. I suppose it’s a challenge for an author – how to catch readers up without spending too much time revisiting the previous parts of the story. I started reading Secrets of the Crown a few months ago, but it didn’t hold my attention for very long and I left it after a few chapters. On a long train ride, though, I was more than happy to pick it up again.

Overall, the story seemed less original than The Familiars. It was still enjoyable, but I don’t feel any urgency for the next book. I definitely recommend reading The Familiars – and, once the series is complete, I think you should read them all.

Buy Secrets of the Crown on Amazon


by Orson Scott Card

{ 2010 | Simon Pulse | 672 pgs }

Maybe my standards are too high, but I feel like every book should be amazing. If I put my time into reading, I want to be blown away. Or at least impressed. I was fortunate to read 2 books this year that amazed me: Beyonders and Pathfinder.

Only a few pages into Pathfinder, I could tell that it was the type of book I’d been waiting for. Very basically, it’s the story of Rigg, who can see the paths taken by living things, even long after the people or animals have gone or died. And it was absolutely fabulous. It doesn’t matter if you’ve read Ender’s Game or not (why on earth not?!), you simply must read Pathfinder.

Oh, and by the way, it’s To Be Continued. Just so you don’t expect a complete ending to the plot.

Buy Pathfinder on Amazon