Monday, December 26, 2011

Jenny's Year in Reading


I guess this is where I should pick my best book of the year, and I will get to that...but first some other observations and reflections on the year.

On the Magic Number...
I'll start out with something funny. I'm pretty proud of the fact that I read 60 new books this year, and since you read a lot, too, it seems like a big, but not super impressive number. However, at dinner the other night I told my brother and uncle---these are readers, Kelly!---that I read that number and their mouths dropped open. My uncle said, "Did you say Six-Zero!?" and Erik said, "Jesus. That's over a book a week." Meanwhile, the actual number has creeped up to 62. And considering I'm off all week and have some time on the plane to Vegas, I'm hoping to squeeze in at least one or maybe two more!

On Knowing What I Like...
I'll read anything, but the older I get, the more pronounced my tastes. For example, I used to say that I enjoyed a good mystery. However, the past year and the ever helpful New York Times Book Review has helped me fine-tune that distinction. They have a writer who covers "crime" as a category, and in a recent end of the year list, she categorized the different types. After trying one classified as "noir" and not liking it, I realized that what I really enjoy are"procedurals." These are mysteries, usually starring detectives, that go through the steps of solving a crime. At least now I know what to look for! Of course, knowing what you like is good. But I'm always worried that I'll get into a rut, reading the same types of stories over and over again. Now that I have a bookclub, I'm happy to read other people's choices, if only because it pushes me out of my comfort zone.

On Buying Books...
As you know, I'm still a fan of the paper book. Of all my electronic reading devices, I enjoy reading on the actual Kindle the best, but it's been a little wonky and hard to charge as of late. I went to Amazon today to replace the power cord, but realized through the reviews that maybe it was a faulty cord. I called them, hoping to get a free replacement cord, and instead they offered to upgrade me to a similar Kindle for a reduced price. So I get the Kindle w/ wi-fi AND 3G for the bargain price of only $60. I'm kicking myself for not taking care of this earlier! And I'm hoping I get it before we leave for Vegas!

On 2012...
New Mercy Thompson comes out next week, new Alpha and Omega in the spring. New Stephanie Plum is already out. The 4th in the Dublin Detective series next summer. And, of course, I'm anxiously awaiting the Tournament of Books. In 2012, I'd like to read as many books next year as I did this year. Another goal is to read more non-fiction. I'm drawn to it, but I still read 5 novels to every 1 non-fiction title last year. I don't know how much I can do about that ratio, but I would like to try and read 12 non-fiction books next year. You'll see my TBR list this year is half non-fiction and half novels!

Here's a suggestion, because we do both read on ereaders. Let's experiment with reading the same book using subtext. Check it out and let me know what you think. I'd be interested in trying something like that, and as they expand their titles, I'd like to try it with my classes!

On the Best Book of the Year...
It seems ridiculous to choose. A book that surprised me because my expectations were low, and I ended up loving it was Bloodroot. The Harry Potter books that were just as good--even better--after not having read them for several years. I bought 2 copies of In the Woods as Christmas gifts: one for my Dad and one for my cousin. And there's really no higher praise that that, right?

However, the book I recommended over and over again to people this year was The Wave by Susan Casey. It's a great story, a great read, and I learned a lot, too. I think it was probably my favorite book of the year for hitting all the sweet spots and all the right places.


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