Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2011 Books

These are the books I've read this year. It's kind of a short list, but considering one of Fredrick's favorite games is "pull Mommy's bookmark out of her book and hide it," I did ok. I was spoiled with a Kindle for Christmas, so Fredrick will have a tougher time getting to my bookmarks.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This was a good book, in spite of my inherent aversion to the whole "self-help"market, he did have good things to say. Some of his ideas have helped LeGrand and I change the way we plan and organize our lives. We have weekly meetings where we prioritize, budget and calender--and if we have time we like to talk about long term goals and what we are doing to get there. Some good principles and ideas to live by. Although as I read the book, I couldn't help but think that he might be really irritating to live with.

A Happy Marriage.  LeGrand gave me this book for my half-birthday last year, and after I finally kept my promise to him and finished 7 Habits, I was free to enjoy this novel.  I think I finished it in like 3 days. I loved this book. It is a novel based on his life--so the main plot points of the novel are factual but the names are fictionalized and it is written as a novel. It is heartbreaking, hilarious, emotional, and profound by turns. I hadn't enjoyed a novel like this in some time. 

North and South. British Literature from the Romantic and Victorian era are my literary "candy." I love reading novels like this as pure pleasure and escape. I fell in love with the BBC adaptation of the novel several years ago (if you haven't seen it, go out on Netflix and watch it NOW, you can thank me later), and on a lark I found the book for free on Kindle (I read it on the app on my smartphone). So charming. And the last line of the novel is priceless.

Florence Nightingale bio.  I picked this up off my Mom's bookshelf. I think she found it at a garage sale a few years ago, so I read it in a couple of afternoons. I was interested in the factual parts of the narration, she lived a very interesting life. For some reason I thought she died much younger than she did, but she actually lived to a modest old age and accomplished a great deal in that time. The book wasn't crafted exceptionally well (I know I'm a snob, sorry) and the heavy emphasis on evangelical christian values turned me off. Overall, it was kind of a pass for me, but a better done bio would be worthwhile.

The Seventeen Second Miracle.  This was lent to me by my mom. It was a sweet book with a good message. It was probably about Nicholas Sparks level of writing, but that being said, it was enjoyable. A quick read for a rainy afternoon that will leave you feeling good.

The Help.  I loved this book. It was a quick read for me, and thouroughly enjoyable. I'm sure a lot of you have seen the film, but if you haven't read the book, you need to. My emphasis in University was  African American Women's literature, and although this was written by a white woman, it had a lot of good things to say. Make sure you read the Author's Note at the end.

Paradise. Toni Morrison is one of my all-time favorite authors. She is such a master storyteller, and the themes she chooses are always profound and usually heart-wrenching. This tells the history of a fictitious all-black and their hostility to a group of women living on the edge of town in a deserted catholic mission. It was an interesting exploration into the idea that defending one's self from hatred and discrimination at the expense of acceptance of the "other" is not in itself a worthy goal. I read this on the kindle app on my phone. Can I say that I LOVE that you can check out books from the library wirelessly? And that there are no late fees?  Love.  

One More River to Cross. This is an historical novel, well documented, that tells the story of African American pioneers in the early days of the Latter Day Saint church. It is actually the first book of a trilogy which is sadly out of print, but I believe there are some copies left on Amazon. I loved this book. It tells a story that is important to be told about very brave individuals about whom you have probably never heard. Must read.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. This is a free classic I read on the Kindle app. It is a classic and very well written. His imagination and descriptions are wonderful. That being said, this was a slow read for me. Not one female character in the whole book, and there are only so many lengthy descriptions of under water sea life that I can read (chalk full of scientific names) without abject boredom. I did truck through it, and as long as I skipped over all the scientific classifications of different forms of seaweed, I liked it. Probably won't read it again though :)

Cane River.  My mother in law picked this up for me at a garage sale a couple of years ago, and it sat on my shelf for a long time. Not because I wasn't interested in reading it, but I really do have a stack of books that high that I have been waiting to read. Once I started it, I couldn't believe this gem had been waiting so long! This story is based on genealogical research into the author's family, and it follows three generations of women in Louisiana. It is powerfully written, and the theme of love between mothers and daughters moved me. I really loved all the allusions to gardens and planting--the roses that open the novel become a symbol woven throughout. This is a book I will be re-reading. There is so much you miss on the first reading!

I have been reading some really good stuff so far this year which I will post on separately. I am following a Classics book club which should help keep my mind from further atrophy, and I have some exciting things on hold at the library for my Kindle. Happy reading!
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