Thursday, January 20, 2011

#68 part one - 203 books in 2010

My goal of reading 200 books each calendar year is really the only one that encompasses my entire 1001 day timeline (although I suspect I'll be working on the weight loss one right up to the last minute too).  Therefore, I decided to break it into four sections for blogging purposes - one for each calendar year.  I am only counting books that I have never read before (rereads are just a bonus from my stand-point), and since I look at basically every picture book that the library purchases those aren't counted either.  There are plenty of teen and children's nonfiction/chapter book titles included though.

When I was working on my masters in library science, one of the professors suggested that we keep an index file with a brief summary of the books we've read.  I don't do that; however, a few years ago, I did start writing down the titles and call numbers (I can generate a basic call number if it's a book that's not from the library) of every new book I read with a line break every month.  Looking through the list not only helps me remember that title that I know is just what someone is looking for but also gives me a quick memory tour of my year - "oh, I was reading that book when x happened".  So, as I was looking back through my 2010 list, here are some standouts with quick little reviews to whet your interest.

Provenance : How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury -- I will admit that I'm sometimes dubious about the art collecting world.  I'd rather get something that I like or has meaning for me than something that will appreciate in value because a critic thinks it's good.  But I was definitely impressed by the number of styles that John Myatt could copy and the sheer scale of deception that the con produced.

$20 per Gallon by Christopher Steiner -- What happens when gas prices really go up and stay there?  My advice:  travel now, you might not be able to later.  Also, that backyard garden you've been thinking about ... you're going to need it.

Swords : an Artist's Devotion by Ben Boos -- I would have gone nuts for this book in junior high, and it still wowed me now.  A great gift for anyone you know who likes sharp pointy things.

The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher (first book is Storm Front) -- My favorite brain popcorn discovery of the year.  I read the first book late in March and had finished #12 by early June despite having to get them all through interlibrary loan and telling myself that I had to read at least two other titles between each to space them out.  It has all the paranormal elements that have been so overdone recently, but humor and the fact that the main character is HUMAN - he gets tired, gets hurt, makes mistakes, doesn't have all the answers, etc make this series a standout for me.  Plus, there is a lot of creativity to how those standard paranormal elements are approached - for instance, there isn't just one type of vampire, there are three - my favorite villains were the billy goats gruff (and when was the last time you saw them in type after you graduated from picture books?).

The Last Illusion by Rhys Bowen - If you like light mysteries and historical fiction, you should try Bowen's Molly Murphy series.  Molly's a tough Irish girl trying to make it in New York in the early 1900s as a private detective while her beau (a tough Irish cop) tries to steer her in other directions.  This title involves Houdini ... go for a weekend of illusion and read it with a break to watch The Prestige starring Christian Bale and Michael Caine.

Memory of Trees : a Daughter's Story of a Family Farm by Gayla Marty -- I read this book partly out of nostalgia since the author grew up less than ten miles from my family's farm.  While the personal element may not be a factor for those not having my experiences as a daughter on a family dairy farm, it is a well-written look at changes in family owned farms during the mid to late 20th century.

The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley -- If you have not yet met Flavia, the eleven-year-old heroine of these books, you should immediately go read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.  She's waiting for you ... and she'll put distilled poison ivy in your lip gloss if you annoy her!

Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair by Laurie Perry -- I have read other books based on blogs, but this is the first book of the type that I've sought out simply because I liked the blog. 

Flawless : Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History by Scott Andrew Selby -- How do you steal $500 million in diamonds from the middle of a secure facility in Antwerp?  The true story may never be known exactly, but this book makes some good guesses.

Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern -- I don't usually read bestsellers when they first appear, but I wanted to see how bad the language was because I was sure we'd get comments at the library (we did).  His dad may be foul-mouthed, but he comes across as a genuinely caring parent with some good (often bluntly stated) advice.

Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter - The latest entry in a  fun young adult series with nary a vampire in sight ... think spies instead ... incredibly talented girl spies whose high school academy is a cover for a Mission Impossible style training ground.

Nuture Shock : New Thinking about Children by Po Bronson -- My niece tells me I'm a fabulous aunt (the nephews don't usually comment on touchy-feely stuff), but I don't ever plan to have kids; however, even for a non-parent, this book was incredible!  If you have children, plan to have children, work with children, you should read it.

The Stormchasers by Jenna Blum - On the surface, this novel is about those crazy people who try to see tornadoes.  But really it's about what sort of things happen to you emotionally if you're in a close relationship with someone who is bipolar.  Very accurate ... I've been in such a relationship.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games trilogy is rapidly becoming the next teen/adult crossover phenomenon.  I thought it was much better done than Twilight books (more believable character interactions) and tend to like dystopia worlds better than vampires anyhow.  This is the last book ... you should definitely read them in order, so start with The Hunger Games.

A Million Little Mistakes by Heather Mcelhatton - I loved choose-your-own adventure books as a kid, so it was a happy surprise to find one written for adults.  You win millions in a lottery and your choices drive the story from that point.  In my first run through, I ended up alienated from most of my family yet happily running a restaurant on the west coast after finding my true love.  The second try made me the owner of a vast legalized brothel system!  Oh my, glad it's only fiction!

1 comment:

  1. I loved "Pretty Little Mistakes" by Heather Mcelhatton. Now I want to read the one you suggested. I enjoyed the choose your-own-adventure books as a kid too!