Sunday, December 27, 2009

Books Read in 2009

Ok, this list may be a bit premature because I have big plans of reading at least ONE book before the year is over, but I have to say, I'm a bit disappointed with my reading list this year. For one thing, I read TEN less books than last year. TEN! And I honestly know's because of Facebook! Whereas I would have spent the evening reading several chapters of a good book, I now spend the evenings in bed goofing off on Facebook and it's put a serious dent in my reading time (well, ok, I'm still technically READING when I'm on Facebook, AND writing, but, really, it does NOT take the place of true literary pleasure!) This year's book club, in my opinion, was a total bust. For one thing, someone came up with the idea of reading "classics". It sounded good in theory but turned out to be painfully boring on many occasions and while slogging through a particularly slow novel, it becomes hard to do any "reading for pleasure" - kind of reminiscent of college when I was not able to read for pleasure because I had to crawl through Dostoevsky and Dickens. Bleh! So, here is my reading list for 2009, along with comments and recommendations (or not!):
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: EXCELLENT book, one of my all time favorites. I've read this before but the re-read was just as good, and I rented the movie after as well. Just great writing, a controversial subject and a bit of mystery. Loved it!
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett: Not as wonderful as I remembered. I know I read this as a kid, but then it seemed a lot more magical. This time, the different writing and the constant reusing of metaphors drove me nuts. Honestly, I was bored!
- Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis: This was a 5th grade book club pick which I was participating in with Arlie. I loved this book - it was a great story and even though it was a kids' book, it was very entertaining.
- Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris: Sedaris is sometimes hysterical but sometimes over the top. In this book, I found it started out well, and just got weirder as the book went on. Good humor but sometimes downright stupid. Still, I enjoy his books!
- Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson: This book received SO much hype, perhaps my expectations were too high. While it is well-written and a very compelling story, I found it really slow at times and filled with a lot of extraneous information that didn't add to the story.
- The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne: I had tried (and failed) to read this book twice before. I found out the secret this time - there is a whole introductory part that really has nothing to do with the story, but can deter any would-be reader by it's sheer boring-ness (I know that's not a word, but it fits so well). So, skip the long intro and get right to the story. But don't expect much. The story is painfully slow to read (language) and I figured out the whole story in the beginning so nothing was a surprise - I just wanted it DONE!
- Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner: Funny writer! This story was a mindless read (which I desperately needed after The Scarlet Letter), but a funny and well-written story. I picked up a few more of her books after this.
- Kerplunk by Patrick McManus: This is one of Jeff's favorite authors. McManus hails from Spokane, WA so Jeff can relate to his many stories of that area and North Idaho. Mostly hunting and fishing tales, McManus weaves a colorful cloth of eccentric characters throughout his stories which make for some pretty hilarious reads. Good for laughs.
- The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan: Again, this much-hyped book about a young mother suffering from cancer at the same time her beloved father finds out he also has cancer. Part memoir, part cancer survival guide, this is a compelling read, although it didn't really live up to it's hype. I felt it could have been written by anyone.
- New Moon by Stephenie Meyer: This book was read purely under pressure. My girls are typical Twilight fanatics, so they insisted I read this second in Meyer's four-book series because "it's SO much better than Twilight".....uh, not so much. Meyer won the lotto when it comes to being published without a shred of talent. She is truly one of the worst writers I've read. My girls insist I read the final two books because "it gets so much better" but I'm thinking, if you need four books to finally write an original paragraph or two, you are NOT a writer. Frankly, she sucks. Sorry, Stephenie!
- Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult: I am not sure if I'm a Picoult fan or not at this point. I loved "My Sister's Keeper" but this book was essentially the same story with different characters. Picoult does take her time with research and details, and I love the style of writing where there is a different character telling their point of view throughout the story, but in the end the stories seem similar - tragic character fights uphill battle, battle is won, tragic character dies in unfortunate accident. Something original, please!
- Hatchet by Gary Paulsen: This is a kids' book but I have been interested in reading it for years, so I finally picked it up. It was a very good story about survival - a boy is the victim of a plane crash in which the pilot dies and the boy is left with nothing but a hatchet given to him as a gift. He uses this hatchet to create fire, hunt food, make a shelter, and survives several months in the wilderness until he is rescued just as he procures enough supplies to keep him from starving for months.
-Twenty Wishes by Debbie Macomber: I have seen a lot of this author, so I kind of felt like her books were just a bit of junky chick-lit/romance novels, but this one I had read about in a magazine and decided to give it a try. I enjoyed it, even though it was, essentially, a simple story. I was interested enough to care about the characters and I picked up another Macomber title to give her another try before I decide if I really like her or not!
- One True Thing by Anna Quindlen: I love Quindlen for her compelling and emotional writing. This story was about a college-aged girl who is essentially asked to drop her entire life to take care of her cancer-stricken mother until her final days. The emotional ups and downs and her vivid descriptions of the many stages of dying from cancer were really well-written. There is a bit of a mystery as well, which made it all the more interesting.
- Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns: This book was loaned to me by my friend Amy and I had it for a while before finally deciding to give it a shot. It turned out to be a really great read! An old man, and patriarch of his family, marries a much younger milliner from his general store only three weeks after the passing of his beloved wife. His two daughters are horrified and cannot accept this new woman into their family, nor can they deal with the scandal he has caused. Only his young grandson seems to come to terms with this and befriends the new wife, all the while trying to convince his family that she is acceptable.
- The Shack by Wm. Paul Young: Again, I should learn my lesson about much-hyped books. This was one of the dumbest books I've read! I know, people LOVED it and it changed lives, etc. but all I read was one guy's account of a made-up story of a little girl's kidnapping, and her dad's eventual meeting with God and Heaven and seeing his daughter again. It was just a fantasy work of fiction and a little on the bizarre side, and after reading about Young, I don't even like this guy (he cheated on his wife with her best friend for years, I truly believe this book was his attempt to assauge his own guilt!). I want my $10 back!
- Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos: I really enjoy her writing. This book was a sequel of sorts and intertwined old and new characters with a mysterious twist. I loved the easy way de los Santos writes and how compelling her characters are. And the way she weaves in an entirely different story captures the attention.
- East of Eden by John Steinbeck: This was the one of the few classics my book club read that I enjoyed. And I really enjoyed this book! It had everything in it and was interesting the entire time. Definitely a book everyone must read in their lifetime!
- The Cather in the Rye by J.D. Salinger: I also loved this classic, which was my book club pick. Although it was a lot more depressing than I thought it would be. Still, an interesting read and I loved how it was written in Holden's language - that of a teenage boy.
- Multiple Blessings by Jon and Kate Gosselin: I picked up this book when Jon and Kate were still "plus eight" and not in the ugly controversial split they are in now. The girls wanted to read it and I finally decided to read it, too. It was an interesting account of the sextuplets first few years of life and how the Gosselin's adapted to this new, crazy life with eight kids. Even though I'm Team Kate on this whole split thing, I could see why anyone couldn't stand Kate Gosselin after reading this book. She sounds impossible to live with and way too obsessed with order and cleanliness for her own good.

So, that's it for now. I really hope I can get at least one more book in before the close of the year, but I don't know.......however, in 2010 I resolve to read at least as much as I Facebook!


Mimi/Papa said...

I admire you for doing all the reading you do. I could not read something that a group of women think is worth reading, though. From your list, I have read The Shack and Three Cups of Tea. I LOVED Three Cups and "liked" the Shack, but thought the Shack was a bit odd. haha I would re-read Three Cups, but never again the Shack. As for some of the others, especially the classics, I find to be boring and uninteresting. I always hated having to read ANY classic in high school, so my mom read them for me (probably her 10th time to read them as she loved reading, too), made notes and I took tests from them! I know...cheating...but otherwise I'd have flunked English class!! hahahaha She made me read parts of every chapter, but I wouldn't read the whole book(s). I did get an A+ in English because of everything else, but these books just bored the hell out of me! haha Funny how each person finds their "favorite" type of book and would never read anything else! Right now I'm reading Sarah Palin's book and so far it's OK. Just about how she was raised and moved around Alaska..I hope it gets better as I move along! haha Love you!

Sydney said...

So do you keep a list of all the books you read as you read them? Do you remind yourself how you felt or do you come up with it at the end? Because I read a ton of books this year (stuck inside) but I haven't the faintest idea which ones most of them were. You mentioned Twenty Wishes (which I loved) and I had totally forgotten about that one. Maybe I should start keeping track! :)