I completed 52 books in 52 weeks in 2011 (you can scroll down to see what I read with reviews). I'm planning on focusing more on quality than quantity in 2012 without a specific goal in mind. I'll still be posting my progress and reviews here.
Books Read in 2012
1. The Art of Forgetting - completed 1/7/2012. This debut novel features the narrator coping with the changes in her life and her best friend's life after her friend is hit by a car and left with a traumatic brain injury. My review is here.
2. The Frugal Duchess - completed 1/8/2012. An enjoyable book with lots of thrifty tips. Different from other books I've read on the subject since the author is African-American and discusses how she learned different lessons about frugality at various points in her life.
3. The Night Circus - completed 1/12/2012. I loved this book about two dueling magicians in a circus. The descriptions are delightful and delicious. My review is here.
4. A Place of Yes - completed 1/16/2012. A typical self help book made unique by author Bethenny Frankel's personal stories. I really enjoyed it. A review of sorts is here.
5. The Penny Pinchers Club - completed 1/23/2012. A fun bit of fluff about a shopaholic trying to reform herself because she finds evidence that leads her to believe that her husband is planning to leave her for his assistant.
6. The Underside of Joy - completed 2/2/2012. A tearjerker about a custody battle. My review is here.
7. Never Let Me Go - completed 2/2012. An expertly teased out plot, but I was left disturbed. My review is here.
8. The Three Weissmanns of Westport - completed 2/2012. It was supposed to be a modern take on Sense and Sensibility, but I just didn't like it. My review is here.
9. The Hunger Games - completed 2/2012. I loved this fast paced novel about a teenage girl participating in a futuristic fight to the death. My review is here.
10. The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb - completed 2/19/2012. I enjoyed the topic of this book very much, but I occasionally found the narrator's voice to be egotistical and grating. Still a good read. My review is here.
11. Catching Fire - completed 2/21/2012. This second installment of the Hungers Games trilogy was slow to start, but just as exciting as the first by the end. Can't wait to read Mockingjay!
12. 29 Gifts - completed 3/2012. Not the most unique concept in the world, but Cami Walker's personal story is still inspiring. My review is here.
13. Mockingjay - completed 3/2012. The final installment in the Hunger Games trilogy was a fast paced read with an ending that left me feeling a tad annoyed that the author felt obligated to resolve things so neatly. I'm still happy I read it though.
14. Supercoach - completed 3/2012. I found this life coach book to be inspiring and thought provoking.
15. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - completed 3/26/2012. This story about a girl growing up poor in Brooklyn in the 1910s was just as good the second time around.
16. Into the Wild - completed 3/28/2012. The true story of Chris McCandless, a 20 something year old man who took the road from 1990 to 1992 and ultimately succumbed to starvation in the Alaskan bush. My review is here.
17. The Tiger's Wife - completed 4/2012. Although this book got significant hype, definitely not my favorite. The writing style was detailed, but the story left me wanting more resolution.
18. Bel Canto - completed 6/2012. I read this one during our vacation on Cape Cod. It started off slow, but finished solidly. My review is forthcoming.
2011 52 Book in 52 Weeks
1. Grand River and Joy - completed 1/9/2011. It's a novel chronicling the summer of the Detroit race riots in the 1960s. It was exceedingly difficult to get into. Once I got midway, it became much more compelling and really got to the heart about the struggle for equality. I already knew the end of the story (as far as the riots went), but I wanted to know the outcome for the Jewish shoe salesman protagonist and his renters who are a black father and son. The ending was unexpected and satisfying.
2. The School of Essential Ingredients - completed 1/20/2011. A tasty little morsel that I ate over a couple of days. Loved the food descriptions---yum. Now I must eat... See my full review here.
3. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress - completed 1/28/2011. To quote myself (ha ha), "the book is a mixture of old family memories, current family happenings, and reflections about her divorce all mushed into one laugh out loud extravaganza." See my full review here.
4. High Fidelity - completed 1/30/2011. I really enjoyed it. Read my review here.
5. The God Delusion - completed 2/4/2011. If you don't want to challenge your views on faith and religion, don't read this book. See my full review here.
6. Summer at Tiffany - completed 2/5/2011. A light frothy memoir about two girls from Iowa in 1945 who travel to New York City and end up landing jobs as Tiffany's first female pages. See my full review here
7. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest - completed 2/24/2011. The third installment of Stieg Larsson's Millenium Trilogy. It's a violent roller coaster ride with a compelling female heroine. See my full review here.
8. The Forgotten Garden - completed 3/2/2011. Gothic meets fairy tale in this period piece about a 4 year old girl found unaccompanied on an Australian wharf in 1913. The book follows what happens when the girl as an adult attempts to uncover her past. My full review is here.
9. A Reliable Wife - completed 3/4/2011. A wealthy businessman places a newspaper ad in seach of "a reliable wife". A prostitute who wants to kill him for his money responds. This is the first book I've read this year that I can't recommend. My review is here.
10. Eating Animals - completed 3/13/2011. The author who is an on and off vegetarian investigates factory farming in a quest to decide once and for all whether or not he will continue to eat meat. The book is pro-vegetarian for sure, but takes a pretty even handed approach overall. If you do not want your beliefs about eating animals challenged, then this book is not for you. My review is here
11. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother - completed 4/14/2011. Author Amy Chua is raising her two daughters as a "Tiger Mother", a champion of the Chinese parenting philosophy. Although the results of her children's strict upbringing are undeniably successful on the surface, I wonder about the cost to the kids down the road. My review is here
12. Bossypants - completed 4/27/2011. A refreshing and interesting memoir by Tina Fey about growing up, SNL, her career, and her hopes and dreams for family. My review is here.
13. Other People's Dirt - completed 5/4/2011. The Cobbler always teases me that I'd rather read about cleaning than actually clean. He's right. My review is here.
14. Prodigal Summer - completed 5/13/2011. Three stories of man and nature twisted together into one literary feast. My review is here.
15. Breakfast with Buddha - completed 5/15/2011. A man goes on a road trip with a holy man as a favor to his sister, and change ensues. My review is here.
16. The Faith Club - completed 5/24/2011. The true story of three women --- a Christian, a Jew, and a Muslim---who come together to write a children's book about Moses, Jesus, and Muhammed. Instead of just writing, they begin to discuss their faiths, their differences and their commonalities. They find they have more in common than they even imagined. My review is here.
17. The Art of Racing in the Rain - completed 6/11/2011. A story of a dog's life with his race car driver owner from the dog's perspective. The story without the dog could have been a Lifetime channel movie. With the dog---what a great book! My review is here.
18. Cleaning Nabokov's House - completed 6/2011. Barb loses her children, her job and her home. She has hit rock bottom. Then she cleans Nabakov's house, finds an unfinished manuscript, and things take a turn in an unexpected direction. My review is here.
19. Room - completed 6/2011. Jack and Ma live in Room, an 11x11 room inside a garden shed. Why are they there? Will they escape. My review is here.
20. Throw Out Fifty Things - completed 7/6/2011. I thought this would be your typical organization/decluttering book, but it's not. The author's style is appealing and she spends a lot of time addressing dealing with emotional baggage and mental clutter too. My review is here.
21. Tell No One - completed 7/2011. A great mystery/action book with lots of twist. Go for it and pick this one up!
22. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - completed 7/2011. This book about a life long relationship between two women in China in the 1800s cut me to the bone. Wow---this book is something. I recommend it wholeheartedly.
23. The Help - completed 7/30/2011. Another memorable book about black maids in the 1960s who find their voice in a young woman named Skeeter who offers to write their stories down. Another two thumbs up!
24. Sliding Into Home - completed 8/3/2011. This is a memoir by Playboy founder Hugh Hefner's former girlfriend Kendra Wilkinson. Yes, it's trashy. Yes, you get all the crazy questions answered. No, it's not earth shattering. Yes, I liked it. My review is here.
25. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner - completed 8/2011. This novella by Stephenie Meyer elaborates on the life of a character that appeared in her book Eclipse for a few pages. It was a nice way to round out that story and fill in some holes and answer some questions. Beware---if you haven't read the other Twilight books, it just won't make much sense.
26. Round Robin - completed 8/2011. This is a book about a quilting club that was okay, but not super memorable. I don't think I'll be reading the rest of this series.
27. The Host - completed 8/8/2011. Awesome sci-fi book about the relationship that a parasitic alien named Wanderer develops with her human host. My review is here.
28. Dead Until Dark - completed 8/10/2011. I really enjoyed this book about a small town telepathic waitress and her vampire beau. I'll be reading the next book in the series. My review is here.
29. I Just Want You to Know - completed 8/12/2011. Kate Gosselin's 3rd book contains lots of anecdotes about her family and letters to her children. Nothing life changing here, but I did enjoy some of the stories and I felt more sympathetic to her after she conceded in the book that she wasn't as kind to her husband as she should have been.
30. Living Dead in Dallas - completed 8/14/2011. This 2nd Sookie Stackhouse book is just as good, if not better than the first. There's more character development, more sex, and more mayhem. I enjoyed it and will definitely read the third installment too.
31. The Beginners - completed 8/17/2011. What a pretentious piece of crap. If you are even tempted to read this book, read my review first. Then you won't be.
32. To Be Sung Underwater - completed 8/22/2011. This book was warm and tragic at the same time. Well written and hopeful. My review is here.
33. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - completed 8/29/2011. Over the years, Jacob's grandfather has told him story after story about the children with strange gifts who lived in an orphanage with him during World War II. Jacob regards these stories as mere fairy tales until the day he discovers his grandfather dying in the woods behind his house --- the victim of a three tongued monster. This combined with his grandfather's last words begins Jacob's quest to find out what became of those children and whether they still are alive today. The vintage photographs in this book really brought the characters to life. You can read my review here.
34. Club Dead - completed 8/30/2011. This 3rd installment in the Sookie Stackhouse series was enjoyable...mostly because Bill wasn't in it that much. Go Team Eric! ;-)
35. Financial Peace Revisited - completed 9/1/2011. An interesting financial book by Dave Ramsey that contains an intro to his renowned 7 baby steps. My review is here.
36. The Total Money Makeover - completed 9/2/2011. This book builds on the previous one and includes a detailed appendix to help you get started on the road to financial peace and fitness and lots of success letters from Dave Ramsey's followers. This is the book to read if you're interested in his financial philosophy. My review is here.
37. The Kitchen House - completed 9/23/2011. A historical fiction that takes place in the late 1700s and early 1800s about an Irish indentured servant and her relationship with the slaves at a Virginia plantation. I really enjoyed this book. My review is here.
38. A Tale of Two Cities - completed 10/12/2011. I never thought I would finish it, but I DID!!!! The last 50 or so pages made it all worthwhile. What an ending! My review is here.
39. Leap of Faith - completed 10/14/2011. I enjoyed and learned a lot from this memoir written by Jordan's Queen Noor. Some of my book club peeps complained it was too much political history and not enough memoir. My review is here.
40. Dead to the World - completed 10/16/2011. Another Sookie Stackhouse book that was great fun. Why does Eric have to be so yummy?!?!?
41. 8 Weeks to a Well Behaved Child - completed 10/16/2011.
42. Dead as a Doornail - completed 10/19/2011. I didn't like this Sookie Stackhouse quite as much as the others. I'm not as into the wolves I guess. Still, it's some good, mindless brain candy.
43. City of Ember - completed 10/21/2011. Great story about a city engulfed in darkness that is crumbling. Can two 12 year olds save them? My review is here.
44. Let the Great World Spin - completed 11/20/2011. A book about hope set in Vietnam era New York City. The best book I've read this year. My review is here.
45. Kona with Jonah - completed 12/18/2011. A book diving into the biblical book of Jonah. Do you want the nitty gritty details about this prophet? You'll find them here.
46. The Elegance of the Hedgehog - completed 12/20/2011. Renee is a concierge trying to convince people she's not smart. Paloma is a 12 year old trying to find meaning in her life before she commits suicide and sets her apartment on fire when she turns 13. They both find hope when a Japanese man named Kakuro Ozu moves into their apartment building. A book about the beauty of life. My review is here.
47. Garden Spells - completed 12/24/2011. After all the heavy reading I've done lately, Garden Spells was a welcome reprieve. I truly enjoyed reading about the Waverly family and their enchanted garden. My review is here.
48. The Sugar Queen - completed 12/27/2011. When Josey, a woman who seeks comfort in food, finds hard living Della Lee hiding in her closet, her life takes a swerve. You're pretty sure how it will end from the beginning, and for the most part you're right. Another pleasant read by Sarah Addison Allen. My review is here.
49. Red, White and Muslim - completed 12/28/2011.
50. The Eyre Affair - completed 12/30/2011.
51. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - completed 12/30/2011.
52. The Mysterious Benedict Society - completed 11/5/2011. This book about four brilliant children who band together to save the world absolutely captivated Red. I wasn't going to count this book toward my 52, but once I realized it was 400+ pages and I wasn't going to make the 52 goal without it...well, that made my decision. My review is here.