Sunday, January 1, 2012
At any rate, I'm so bad at doing wrap-up posts of any kind, mainly because I'm always feeling behind with reviews, but I do think it is important to stop and reflect on things from time to time. After all, there are far more books out there than I can ever hope to read in this lifetime, and so stopping and deciding on a better focus or more defined goals can only be a good thing.
Reflecting on what I've read and listened to makes me realize that I read different things for different reasons. I read a lot of picture books and children's/YA fiction because it helps me have a broad range of books to suggest to the young readers who come into my library. I am much more willing to stretch out of my comfort zone with children's books because of this. Books for adults tend to be longer, so I'm less likely to devote my time to them unless I really think the payoff will be worth it. Right now my life is so very busy, with kids, work, my own writing, tennis, friends, family, chores, etc. So when I open a book I want to be in a good place, or at least an interesting or exciting one. Now is not the time in my life to wade through dry tomes or unappealing books.
Looking back over the books I've read this year, I see there's a pretty good mix of children's and adult books, graphic novels and audio books, and I've managed to continue with most of the series I've been following. I'm very pleased that my daughters, who are now eleven and thirteen years old, continue to enjoy my reading aloud to them, although we don't have as much time to do that as we'd like, given their homework and social activities. Still, we made it through a few books this year, and finally finished Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children last week. It was the book we chose for our annual Halloween read, and it took us that long to get through it! They loved it, though, and I enjoyed the reread.
My favorite series that I continued reading this year include the Disworld series by Terry Pratchett, the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs, the Vorkosigan saga by Lois McMaster Bujold, the Mediator series by Meg Cabot, and the Cassandra Palmer series by Karen Chance. I look forward to continuing with them, and I'm also excited to read the next installment in some series I've been waiting forever for, including the new Maisie Dobbs, Bloody Jack, Flavia de Luce and some others.
I can't narrow down the books I read this year to a top favorite, because I enjoyed so many of them. The YAs that stand out include The Five Flavors of Dumb and Jellicoe Road (yet to be reviewed). I also discovered an historical mystery series (My thanks to whomever recommended it to me - I can't remember who!) called the Magdalene la Batarde series, set in medieval London. I have so many graphic novels on my tbr list right now, and I'm a bit embarrassed to say that I don't read as many as I'd like because they are such quick reads, and I'm always so far behind on my reviews that I keep waiting to be more caught up. I'll have to remedy that in the coming year (although I failed tremendously in that resolution for 2011). I also discovered the audio versions of Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan books, which lend themselves perfectly to that format. I thoroughly enjoyed rereading those this past fall. I think my favorite audio book I listened to this year would have to be The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex. As far as graphic novels, my favorites are Zita the Space Girl, Anya's Ghost, and Page by Paige (yet to be reviewed).
I think my favorite new author that I discovered would have to be Rosemary Clement-Moore, who wrote Prom Dates from Hell and Texas Gothic. There's something about her quirky characters and the fun mix of horror and humor that just tickles me, and I look forward to more of her books this year.
Top reads altogether? It's hard to pick! I loved the Flavia de Luce books by Alan Bradley (The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag and A Red Herring Without Mustard - still to be reviewed). Franny Billingsly's Chime (to be reviewed) was wonderfully atmospheric and gripping, and of course Terry Pratchett's I Shall Wear Midnight was delightful. Patricia Briggs' River Marked was much anticipated and definitely did not disappoint. My kids and I found Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children to be our favorite read-aloud of the year.
As far as aspirations for the coming year are concerned, I'd first and foremost like to get caught up on reviews! I don't like when blogging starts feeling like a chore, but when I fall behind it becomes a bit daunting to get caught up. I'll continue with the short reviews and do my best to catch up within the next month or so. I may have to go shorter, which is so hard because it's hard to shut me up when I talk about books. I'd like to make some headway on my to-be-read list, and also to read more books that I own but have set aside in favor of library books. And, now that my girls are older and branching out to so many things I've never read, I want to make an effort to read every book they recommend to me. We'll see how that goes!
Best of luck to you all in this coming New Year. I hope it will be prosperous and happy for all of us!