Thursday, 5 January 2012

2011: End of Year Book Survey

This survey is hosted/created by Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner.  I also completed it last year.  A full list of the books I read in 2011 is here.

1. Best Book You Read in 2011?

Posted my Top Ten here, but even that was tricky to choose/order once I'd gone past 1 and 2.  My best book of the year was The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett, which I cannot recommend enough, even with the caveats that 1) it's out of print in Britain unless you get the US editions in Foyles or go second hand on amazon (both options are often expensive; 2) it's complex as hell; and 3) I'm still not sure I understand everything, but I like that in a book if it's because the writer is good rather than because it's a muddle.

2. Most Disappointing Book/Book You Wished You Loved More Than You Did?

There were a couple of these, usually a result of my own expectations:

The Body Finder by Kimberley Derting - I enjoyed it but didn't love it as much as I thought I would
The Marlows and the Traitor by Antonia Forest - I think because her later books are so damn good I was disappointed by this one; also, like End of Term, there are some really painful bits
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys - on paper, many things I love - Jane Eyre, feminism, reimagining of a text - but it left me feeling a little meh

3. Most Surprising (in a Good Way!) Book of 2011?

YA Paranormal - almost every one I read but especially the Wicked Lovely series, My Soul to Take and The Iron King.  I went in expecting certain things and then, oh, I was an idiot, because it turns out not everything is Twilight.

Percy Jackson - again, went in with expectations, this time that I would be Outraged; I'm a Classicist, dammit, I am not Going to Hold With Any of This Nonsense.  Loved the first two, have the remaining three lined up.  Though Hermes is a young guy in my head (and he and Apollo have drinking contests).

4. Book You Recommended Most to People in 2011?

Looking for Alaska by John Green.  I read it last year but this was when I got other people to read it, mostly by rabbiting on about it.  Now pushing Paper Towns on my flatmate.

5. Best Series You Discovered in 2011?

This was the year of awesome series, but the top five: the Lymond Chronicles, Ruby Oliver, Wicked Lovely, Georgia Nicholson and Percy Jackson.

6. Favourite New Author You Discovered in 2011?

Dorothy Dunnett, Rosemary Sutcliff, E Lockhart and Helen Grant.

7. Best Book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness.  I've read dystopian and science fiction before, but never quite like this.  It is bleak and brilliant and the style might take a bit of getting used to but is so worth it.  Am going to need to reread this and read the remaining two in 2012.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book of 2011?

Sheer sticky fingers, don't interrupt me readability - Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins.  I made my flatmate confiscate it when it arrived because I had my own writing to do, then got it back in the evening and didn't put it down.

Plotty, whoa where is this going? - The Crowfield Demon by Pat Walsh.  Angels, demons, fairies and a medieval monastery.  This was written with me in mind.  Ditto The Iron King and Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief.

9. Book you most anticipated in 2011?

There were a few: Lola and the Boy Next Door, Bad Taste in Boys, Real Live Boyfriends and Beauty Queens are ones I bought and read.  There are others in my TBR pile mocking me.

10. Favourite Cover of a book you read in 2011?

The Crowfield Curse

11. Most memorable character in 2011?

Francis Crawford of Lymond.  Unknowable, infuriating and a walking quotations book, but he's fascinating.

12. Most beautifully written book in 2011?

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant and Before I Die by Jenny Downham.

13. Book that had the biggest impact on you in 2011?

Probably Before I Die.  Though the Ruby Oliver series also deserves a mention for how hideously accurately it portrays social breakdown when you're a teenager.

14. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2011 to finally read?

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Tithe by Holly Black and Nation by Terry Pratchett.  All on my shelves for ages, all not read - in the case of Speak and Nation, because I thought they would be too painful.  I have to stop shying away from books I think will 'hurt'.

15. Favourite passage/quote from a book you read in 2011?

The Eagle of the Ninth - the chase across Scotland, so amazing.
Dancing in my Nuddy Pants - the ferry journey to France, driven by Captain Mad, makes me laugh every time.

This is tricky without books nearby to quote from, but vast chunks of Beauty Queens made me want to break my unwritten rule and write in a non-study book.

16. Book that you read in 2011 that would be most likely to reread in 2012?

Because I want to finish the series and need to reread the first book: The Knife of Never Letting Go and Uglies.
Because I really enjoyed them: Ironside, Lola and The Iron King.

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

The Game of Kings (Lymond taking Will upstairs in the inn); A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma's dream about Kartik); The Knife of Never Letting Go (THE END, holy hell); and Hex Hall (towards the end).

Looking Ahead...

1. One Book You Didn't Get To In 2011 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2012?

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating in 2012?

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins.

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2012?

Reading - read more slowly.  I read more this year than ever before and, while I enjoyed that, I didn't really savor the books as I usually do.  Am also planning to reread more in 2012 than I did in 2011.

Blogging - blog more.  I am really bad.  I need to schedule things and stick to them.  More reviews, of new and old reads, and try to connect more with other bloggers.  Need to get over my shyness of doing that.

All in all, 2011 has been great for reading.  I've discovered a load of fantastic new authors and books, and I've finally started using libraries to keep my book costs down.  I hope 2012 is as good.

2011: Statistics and Top Ten Books


Total Books Read = 153
Total Pages Read = 46965

Average Books Read Per Month = 13
Average Pages Read Per Month = 3914

Month Read Most Books = July (23)
Month Read Most Pages = July (6609)

Month Read Fewest Books = January (2)
Month Read Fewest Pages = January (539)

Owned Books Read =70 (46%)
Borrowed Books Read = 83 (54%)

Most Read Author = Louise Rennison (11 books in total)

Top Ten Books of the Year

01. The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett - reread this in December and my God, it's good.  Complicated, complex and difficult, but brilliant nonetheless. 

02. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray - AKA my thoughts on feminism, gender and sexuality let me show you them, all expressed far better than I ever could.  With satire and politics thrown in as well.

03. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins - I love Steph's writing, and Anna and St. Clair are in it.  I may have squeed a little (just a little).

04. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte - I think Anne is my favourite Bronte, and this is my favourite of her (two) books.  19th century feminism that shocked people at the time (but, why does she leave her abusive, alcoholic husband?  What a dreadful woman to do such a thing), it's possibly best described as what happens when you do marry the rake.

05. Before I Die by Jenny Downham - beautifully written and had me in tears at the end.  A difficult/painful subject dealt with perfectly.

06. Real-Live Boyfriends by E Lockhart - this is really to cover the entire Ruby Oliver series, which I'd put off reading because I was pretty sure it would reawaken my teenage angst (which it did) but the awesomeness of the books far outweighed any painful memories they evoked.

07. Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr - again, to cover an entire series: Wicked Lovely.  All the plot threads sewn up, lots of Irial/Niall and all of Keenan's brattishness being addressed - fantastic.  

08. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens - my first Dickens, read because I watched the BBC adaptation and discovered that there were entire subplots that weren't, for some reason, in the musical.  Enjoyed it, despite the anti-Semitism (squick me much?) and the sheer number of bloody coincidences (Dickens' favourite plot device, methinks).

09. Nation by Terry Pratchett - another book I'd put off reading because I thought it would be too upsetting.  Wish I hadn't: it's absolutely brilliant and, like Beauty Queens, sums up a lot of my thoughts on 'issues'.  The ending is bittersweet and beautiful.

10. The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff - introduced me to one of my new favourite authors, and is fantastic.  The latter half of the book is incredibly tense.  The only real surprise is that the film is even more homoerotic than the book.
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