Saturday, December 30, 2006

My Top Reads of 2006

My friend Deb just posted what seems to have become her annual "Top Reads of the Year" over on Red Shoe Ramblings. She inspired me to to do the same. I'm not sure how she keeps track of all the books she reads in a year. The best I could do was skim through the archives of a book list I'm active on looking for posts from me announcing books I'd just started or just finished. I came up with 37 books, far less then the 95 Deb said she'd read. But I know that I probably read more then that because I could remember a few for sure that I didn't seem to have mentioned and for every book I remember now, at 2:30 in the morning (how did it get so late! Oh, yeah, I just skimmed an entire year's worth of list mail), there's probably at least twice as many that I'd remember if I went out and started skimming my bookshelves. Which I won't do because William is sleeping on the couch because Joe and Lisa took over his room.

Anyhoooo, back to books. So, let's say I probably read at least 47 books, that's still half of Deb's 95. Hmph. Either I've been a lot busier then Deb this year, which doesn't seem likely, or I read twice as slow, which is probably true. I'm a slow reader for a true bibliophile.

Another thing I noticed is that apparently I've been reading a lot lighter fare then Deb. She had a lot of books on her top ten... er, or rather, top twelve I think she made it - that I've been meaning to read but just haven't managed to get round-to. Many of them for the same reason she mentioned - worried it wouldn't live up to the hype. Now that she's pretested them for me, I should make more of an effort to read some of them soon.

And now that I've whined enough about my lack of depth and speed.... I think I can make my list an even ten.

In no particular order - (an asterisk by the name means a reread)

Between, Georgia by Joshilyn Jackson - the second novel by an online buddy and very funny, and sometimes touching, blogger. I read her first novel gods in alabama (the title is uncapitalized) last year. Both of them made me cry outloud, laugh outloud, and clutch the book to my chest in love and sadness (that the story was all over!) when I had read the last page. I'd be hard pressed to decide which one I liked best - I want to say her first but I think it's just because it was the first time she amazed me. Both are MUST reads.

Harry Potter and .... (books 1-4) by J.K. Rowling * - I know ,that's four books, not one. I couldn't decide which one I liked best, so you pick. I finally got around to rereading the Harry Potter saga this year and I'm amazed at how much I still love falling into Harry, Ron and Hermione's world. It doesn't seem to matter if they're fighting dementors or just hanging out in the library teasing each other, I love spending time with them. And now that I've read all but the last book and I have some serious suspicions about how it all ties together, it's really fun to read through and pick up all the clues and foreshadowing that I missed the first time through them.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman - This is my third Gaiman book. The first one was Neverwhere. I think I might like that one better then American Gods but it was a while ago so I'm not sure. I also read Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett - loved that one! But just because I might have liked the other books more, it doesn't mean I didn't love this one too. Gaiman is just one of those authors where anything he writes is probably gonna be a memorable read. I also have his newest, Anansi Boys, and kept meaning to get to that all year long. Oh, and he's also got one called Stardust. I think it's on my shelf somewhere, still unread. William and I went to an old village in the Cotswolds when we were in England this May and the tour guide for the day told us that they were making a movie there. We got to see the village all dressed up in props for shooting. In fact, I blogged about it in one of my Holiday Photo posts. Anyway, I just recently figured out the movie they were filming there was based on Gaiman's Stardust.

Sleeping with the Fishes by MaryJanice Davidson - this one is a completely fluffly read. We're talking helium balloon light. But it makes my list for sheer laugh out loud delight.

Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire - this was the sequel to Wicked, which is also one of my favorite reads. I loved returning to Maguire's completely different take on the land of Oz. No spoiler here but I have to tell you that the ending of this book - and by that I mean the very last sentence - is probably my favorite ending of all time.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold - this book has been on my bookshelf for years because I didn't know if I could handle reading it. It's written from the perspective of the "ghost" of a murdered child. Having lost a child myself, I wasn't sure if I would find it too personal. Well, with some trepidation I finally picked it up this year and it turns out that I did find it very personal indeed and yet the timing turned out to be just the time I needed to read it. I read a lot of the book, particularly the first half of it, either with great difficulty through tears, or with a hand in front of my mouth in horror. And though it seems unlikely, the book actually made me feel warm and happy (although still in tears) by the end. The author must undoubtedly have suffered great loss personally because she caught the smallest, hidden details of great grief.

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver* - this was already one of my favorite books. I assigned it to William as one of his last homeschooling reading assignments this last spring and I decided to reread it along with him. I loved it again. I loved it even more. I found so much more in the book the second time around I'm left wondering how I could have loved it so much the first time having missed so many of it's messages.

In Your Dreams by Tom Holt - I picked this one up in England and it makes my list because it was so quirky and completely different from anything I'd read in a long while. It's always fun to discover an author with an already existing body of work you know you'll have to work your way through. It was also a fun read for me simply because my trip to the UK meant that I could understand and picture a lot of the small details in the book that wouldn't have meant anything to me beforehand, so that's a very personal reason for enjoying it.

I was having trouble picking book number ten. It was sort of a multi-tie between a number of first or second books in urban fantasy series. I'm too tired to sort it out, and it might be worth just mentioning some of my newly discovered urban fantasy authors in another post altogether, since that's the genre that I seem stuck in most often these days. Instead I'll go with another book for the last of this list...

The Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon - this is book four in the historical romance series about the time swept lovers Jamie and Claire. I started this series long ago with great resistence because of it's "romance" genre, but it's a wonderful read. Each book is also a very, very long read. Remember I mentioned being a very slow reader. I know people who have read this entire series several times through. I even know someone who says they read this entire series through EVERY YEAR! Me, I manage to tackle one book in the series every year or so - apparently I'm a reading lightweight. Sigh. I start out with great enthusiasm, get frustrated it will never end by midway, give up reading anything but this particular series two thirds of the way through, and finally wail "It can't be over already!" when I'm finished. I know, it doesn't make sense, but I never said I did.

This was an interesting look back on my year of reading. At least it was for me. Until I went back and listed all the books I could find, I hadn't remembered even half of them. I wonder how many of them I would have remembered on my own if I hadn't posted about any of them at all? And now I wonder what books I read that I'd forgotten. What books I read in 2005? 2004? I might be able to piece together a partial list of previous years from digging through the same book list that I did for putting together my 2006 list. See if I can see any changes in my reading habits, or patterns.

I've just recently allowed myself the luxury of reading during the daylight. For many years now the only time I've given myself to read is right before bed, which means the amount of reading I manage is directly tied into how much sleep I'm willing to lose and how long each book could keep me awake on any given night. It might be interesting to see how many more books I could read if I consistently read during the day as well. Not only would I obviously have more time to read but I might read faster when I wasn't reading only when I was already tired. I'm going to make a concerted effort to keep better track of my reading list during the coming year.

Ack! it's after 3 am and I have a house full of family who will probably wake me up early. So, that's gonna be it for me, no time to copy edit this - I've got to turn off the light. Forgive me my typos!

If you do a Top Reads of 2006 list on your blog, check back in the comments and let me know.


Blogger Deb R said...

I'm so glad you did this, Laume!

About how I keep track, I've been keeping an ongoing list of books I've read for something like 20+ years now. I keep a loose-leaf notebook on my desk and add pages as needed. When I finish a book, I write down title and author in the notebook before putting the book on the Keep shelf or the Lose pile. (A bit anal, I suppose, but I can't tell you how many times I've remembered a plot of a book I like, but not the title or author. But if I skim the list, I can usually pick it out if I SEE it written down!)

I liked Sleeping the the Fishes a lot too, but it didn't quite make my list. I like her Betsey books a bit better. :-)

And I keep thinking I need to read American Gods. I've read (and enjoyed) Good Omens, but have never tried any of his others for some reason...don't even know why!

I've never yet read a Kingsolver book. For some reason I have a mental block about her. I pick one up, look through it, think "naaahhhh" and put it back. Maybe that should be a goal of mine this year - to try one even if I'm not sure I'd like it. If I do, which one should I start with?

7:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I keep a list of title and author in the back of my journal. Deb's idea is better as I finish journals and then put them away, so my lists of books read are always shorter than reality. I should start a whole journal with just books I have read!

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so are the asterisks there to denote books you've previously read? you had some goooood books on there - and more that i need to add to my list...

9:47 PM  
Anonymous casey said...

Hi! I really enjoyed your top reads list! Thought I'd insert another tip for keeping track of books you've read.

One of my New Years Resolutions last year was to start keeping track of the books I've read. I've set aside a specific notebook to record title, author, and starting and finishing dates. I can only ever read one at a time! :)

I also only put one book per page to allow space to write any comments I have, or a short summary, maybe even favorite quotes. Of course, this part I haven't done yet, but maybe it should be this years resolution!


11:45 AM  

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