Monday, December 5, 2011

ON BOOKS ~ 2011 Reading In Review...

In the past year, it is entirely possible that our kitty, Tedy, read more books than I did. I blame this entirely on the arrival of baby Sam the end of July. Before he arrived, I felt guilty reading for pleasure rather than reading to educate myself more on child rearing. But those kinds of books required focus, attention and effort. Things that were not my strong suit as a pregnant old lady. So I didn't read a lot for pleasure and the baby books that I read took me a while to get into and through. Once the baby Bumble arrived, I discovered that it is nearly impossible to read with a newborn in the vicinity. And apparently, they are always in the vicinity! So I didn't read much those first few months either. As I returned to work part-time I was able to hit the gym twice a week which meant that I had two whole hours each week to read. It is hard to get much reading done in that small a window of time. But I am slowly building my way back into the world of books. I may have read more board books this year than grown-up ones, but to be able to say that I found time at all is quite an accomplishment as far as I am concerned. I always try to read one more than the year before. Last year's total was 29. This year I have read 11. I've just started another one but highly doubt it will be finished before the year wraps up.

I read 7 works of fiction and 4 non-fiction. That is an increase for me in non-fiction, but that was mostly due to baby prep - not exploring more of history, culture and self-discovery. Of those 4, one was a memoir. I like to dive into memoirs when I need a boost back into reading. I find that they capture my interest more quickly and get the brain cells churning with interest. Any recommendations for a few to explore over the winter months?

On Goodreads' rating scale of 1 to 5 stars, nothing earned 5 stars from me - but then again, nothing earned the lowly 1 star either. My reading landed me squarely in the mediocre range. I gave 4 stars to three books - a baby book, a culture pictorial and a work of historical fiction. I gave 2 stars to a different baby book because I didn't like the author's tone. Everything else got 3 stars - Classics, Thriller, Memoir, Historical Fiction, Fiction and Non-Fiction.

I read a total of 4,200 pages with approximately 25% of those belonging to The Count of Monte Cristo. I never shy away from the Chunksters, even if they may gobble up a lot of my reading time. It makes no difference to me if that time is spent with a few long books or a ton of short stacks - I just want them to be entertaining.

I read 1 book specifically for a group discussion which I hosted right here back in the Spring. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet was one of my 4 star reads and it was a joy to be able to discuss it live with a small group of fellow bloggers who seemed to enjoy it as much as I did.

I managed to read 3 Classics and reviewed them, along with 2 more modern fiction works, on the group book blog, Quirky Girls Read. I have loved having that collaborative blog as an outlet for my bookish thoughts. Please stop by to read our reviews, banter and bookish quirks whenever you can. We cover such a wide range of genres every week and it has been a terrific first year.

I took time away from baby Sammy to visit the Boston Book Festival again this year - their second. It has improved and even though I was not as familiar with this year's authors on the endless schedule of panels, I was consistently entertained and educated, adding several new-to-me titles to my To Read pile.

I didn't buy any books this year - new, used or digital. 2 were books that I won on blogs. 1 was from the library. 3 were loans from family and friends. 4 were passed along from bloggers. 1 was a free download to a reader app on my iPad. Here they all are - can you match the descriptions to the titles?

1. Who knew one Iowa townspeople could be so interesting?
2. Revenge is not always as sweet as you imagined, back when you dreamed it up in a dungeon
3. I see soon-to-be-dead people - all around me in stormy Florida
4. The world of internment camps through the eyes of children coming of age
5. High society comes with tragic lows
6. If your baby doesn't sleep enough, it will be a fat brat
7. You are in charge of your baby's routine - don't get played by a newborn
8. A model survivor
9. A retro love story that could make Shakespeare proud
10. Solitude can erase morals
11. All babies are worth keeping

A. On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep - Gary Ezzo & Robert Bucknam (4*'s)
B. The Oxford Project - Peter Feldstein & Stephen Bloom (4*'s)
C. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet - Jamie Ford (4*'s)
D. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad (3*'s)
E. The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas (3*'s)
F. The Memory Keeper's Daughter - Kim Edwards (3*'s)
G. The Cypress House - Michael Koryta (3*'s)
H. The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott - Kelly O'Connor McNees (3*'s)
I. Fall to Pieces: A Memoir of Drugs, Rock 'n Roll and Mental Illness - Mary Forsberg Weiland (3*'s)
J. The House of Mirth - Edith Wharton (3*'s)
K. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child - Marc Weissbluth (2*'s)

Here are the answers to the above:
#1 = B
#2 = E
#3 = G
#4 = C
#5 = J
#6 = K
#7 = A
#8 = I
#9 = H
#10 = D
#11 = F


Janet said...

I'm laughing so hard at the picture I can barely type LOL!

"You are in charge of your baby's routine - don't get played by a newborn"...also goes for toddler, I imagine. I have a friend who could benefit from reading that!

Margot said...

I see your philosophy: If your reading time is limited only read really good books. You may not have hit any 5-stars, but what you did read kept you entertained and your mind humming. So - you had a very good reading year.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I think I went about 5 years without reading ANYTHING. Two kids in 3 years and then all the puking and diapers and work. I'm actually very impressed with 11 (and one of them being a chunkster!)

LJ said...

Just dropping in to say "hi". I've been reading your reviews on Goodreads when they appear, but haven't visit this site much. I just wanted to say Merry Christmas and that I was thinking of you. I'd hope that Mr. Bumbles has fared well over the year and needs no new repairs :-) But even if he did - you know where he can be fixes! Hugs.

stacybuckeye said...

Reading is tough and it takes effort from me. I can't imagine getting any reading done if I worked too!
I'm sorry you didn't like the second book I sent you. I didn't read the whole thing, just relevant parts here and there, and don't even remember the tone!
Kudos to you for a well-rested baby. Gage still needs to fall asleep with us in bed. There are still a few issues that make it advisable for at least a little while longer. But I look forward to the day when he's as good a sleeper as Sammy.

stacybuckeye said...

Almost forgot my guesses!

How'd I do?

jehara said...

I really enjoyed Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. I recommended it to my book club and we will be reading it in February. I look forward to visiting it again. Thanks for hosting the group read! :)

diaryofadomesticgoddess said...

It's probably fr the best that you didn' tread all the baby books - they're full of conflicting advice and whichever you choose to go with, you ca npretty much guarantee that it won't work for you and then you wonder what it is you can be doing wrong when you're following the books to the letter. The thing you're doing wrong, you will eventually realise, is folowing those damned books - LOL! Things get a whole lot easier once you throw them al laway and go with your own parenting instincts. 99 times out of 100, your own instincts will be right. And that one time that they're not? You'll find, with hindsight, it was right after all. ;)

Congratulations on joining the world of parenting. It's a wild ride but it's the best one ever! :)