2014 Reading & Favorites

It seems like a top ten list in a year I only read 34 books is a bit ridiculous, so let me just share a few thoughts.

Favorite: Girls in White Dresses, Attachments, and Yes, Please

Runners Up: Cress, We Were Liars, Dreams of Gods & Monsters, This Side of Salvation, Leaving Everything Most Loved, and One Plus One

Least favorite: Madam Bovary or Hemingway’s Girl

Best Audio Narration: Dreams of Gods & Monsters

Completed Series: Daugther of Smoke and Bone (finished), The Selection (finished), Maisie Dobbs (caught up)

And the complete list of books read:

  1. Parasite| Mira Grant | audio | 4 stars
  2. Fun Home | Alison Bechdel  | print | 4 stars
  3. The Dangerous Animals Club | Stephen Tobolowski |audio | 4 stars
  4. The Circle | Dave Eggers | audio | 1 star
  5. Cress | Marissa Meyer | audio | 4.5 stars
  6. Madame Bovary | Gustave Flaubert | audio | 1.5 stars
  7. Independent Study | Joelle Charbonneau | print | 3 stars
  8. Elegy for Eddie | Jaqueline Winspear | audio | 4 stars
  9. One Summer: America, 1927 | Bill Bryson | audio | 2.5 stars
  10. Attachments | Rainbow Rowell | print | 5 stars
  11. The Raven Boys | Maggie Stiefvater | ebook | 3.5 stars
  12. We Were Liars | E. Lockhart | ebook | 4.5 stars
  13. Dreams of Gods & Monsters | Laini Taylor | audio | 4.5 stars
  14. The One | Kiera Cass | audio | 4 stars
  15. Siren’s Song | Heather McCollum | ebook | 3.5 stars
  16. This Side of Salvation | Jeri Smith-Ready | print | 4.5 stars
  17. Hemingway’s Girl | Erica Robuck | ebook | 1 star
  18. The Golem and the Jinni | Helene Wecker | audio | 3.5 stars
  19. Graduation Day | Joelle Charbonneau | ebook | 3.5 stars
  20. Syndrome E | Franck Thilliez | ebook | 2 stars
  21. Looking for Alaska | John Green | print | 4 stars
  22. Panic | Lauren Oliver | ebook | 4 stars
  23. The Story Hour | Thrity Umrigar | ebook | 4 stars
  24. Leaving Everything Most Loved | Jacqueline Winspear | audio | 4.5 stars
  25. Girls in White Dresses | Jennifer Close | print | 5 stars
  26. Runaways – Vol. 1 | Brian K. Vaughan | print | 4 stars
  27. How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky | Lydia Netzer | print | 4 stars
  28. American Gods | Neil Gaiman | audio | 3 stars
  29. One Plus One | Jojo Moyes | print | 4.5 stars
  30. All Fall Down | Jennifer Weiner | print | 4 stars
  31. A Briefer History of Time | Stephen Hawking | audio | 4 stars
  32. Runaways Vol. 4: True Believers | Brian K. Vaughan | print | 3.5 stars
  33. Anna Dressed in Blood | Kendare Blake | print | 2 stars
  34. Yes, Please | Amy Poehler | audio | 5 stars

A Few Book Stats:


Aww,  2011-Michelle is so cute and naive. I gave up my stats last year. This is all you get now because TIME.

  • Books Read: 34 (down from 62 in 2013 and 80 in 2012)
  • Audio: 14
  • Print: 12
  • Ebooks: 8
  • Female authors: 24
  • Male authors: 10

How was your 2014 reading year?


My Reading Year In Review

I couldn’t let the end of the year pass without at least one recap, right?

My Seven Most Loved Books in 2013:

And Ten Runners Up:

And my husband’s favorite books of 2013 (his actually has an order):

  • 7. Symposium by Plato
  • 6. Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
  • 5. A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
  • 4. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  • 3. The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
  • 2. Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi
  • 1. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

A (Very) Few Book Stats:

  • Books Read: 62 (down from 80 in 2012)
  • Audio: 33
  • Print: 29 (including 8 ebooks)
  • Ben’s Books Read: 60 (Michelle with the win!)

Note: I usually do an extensive stats post (2012|2011|2010|2009|. It takes a long time to prepare (especially since I never keep up with my spreadsheet during the year) but I love the result. However, I don’t have hours to spend recreating a reading spreadsheet this year, so as sad as this makes me, these stats are going to remain unknown. Likewise, my favorite books of 2013 lists above were not given the level of thought and creativity which I usually put into them. They are simply a compilation of the books I gave 5 and 4.5 stars to, respectively. If anyone is still reading this blog, bear with me here. And stay tuned for tomorrow’s post where I talk about the upcoming year.

How was your reading year? Are you ready for 2014 for a fresh start like me?

The Sunday Salon: 2012 in Numbers and 2013 Goals

Books Read: 80 (down from 93 last year)

I read quite a few fewer books than last year, but I also had a baby, so I think it’s cool. And actually, I only read 76 in 2010 , so I’m doing pretty well.

Print: 42 (18 of which were e-books)
Audio: 38

Pages Read: 13,220
Average Pages per Book: 330.5
Average Pages Read per Day: 36.21 
Longest Book: The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak (550 pages)
Shortest Book: Countdown by Mira Grant (84 pages)
Average Time Spent Reading a Book: 14 days

Audio Hours: 433.4 (over 18 days)
Average Length of Audiobook: 11.1 hours
Average Time Spent Listening to Audiobooks per Day: 1 hour 11 minutes
Longest Audio: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (24.3 hours)
Shortest Audio: Is Everyone Hanging Out without Me by Mindy Kaling (4.6 hours)
Average Time Spent Listening to a Book: 8 days

I read 7000 fewer pages in 2011 but listened to 120 more hours (about 20 fewer pages a day and 20 more minutes of audio).

Rereads: 1

Female Authors: 49
Male Authors: 31
New (to me) Authors: 53
Most Read Author: Lauren Kate and Jacqueline Winspear (4)

Adult: 51
Young Adult: 28
Children: 1

Fiction: 71

General Fiction: 17
Paranormal: 16
Mystery/Psychological Thriller: 9
Women’s Fiction: 7
Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic: 6
Classics: 6
Other Fantasy: 5
Historical Fiction: 3
Humor: 1 
Play: 1

Nonfiction: 9

Memoirs: 3
Science: 3
Cultural/History: 3

Library books: 34 (mostly audio)
Review Copies: 21
Books from my existing collection: 25

Mean Year Published: 2006

2012: 33
2011: 19
2010: 5
2009: 4
2008: 0
2007: 3
2006: 3
2005: 3
2004: 3
2003: 0
2002: 0
2001: 0
2000: 0
1900s: 5
1800s: 0
1700s: 1

2012 Goals – How’d I do?

  1. Aim for reading a print and an audio a week.
  2. Write reviews within 5 days of finishing the book.
  3. Read more backlist and classics. Less emphasis on new releases.
  4. Read more of my own books.
  5. Catch up on my series.

Yep – failed them all. Can I blame the baby?

2013 Goals

None. 2013 is a free year for me. I am still trying to find a good balance between work and parenting and reading and blogging and everything else. So I guess my only goal is to find this balance.

Top Posts of 2012

I am trying a new type of wrap-up post this year. One that is focused more on blogging than reading. These were the top posts – by traffic – on my blog this year. I would have liked to track them by comments because I think that’s a better metric, but page hits is much easier. Enjoy.

Top Book Reviews*

Top Non-Review Bookish Posts

Top Non-Bookish Posts

Did you see anything you missed the first time around?

*Interestingly, these are all print reviews. No audio.

My Husband’s Favorite Reads of 2012

Today, my husband makes his annual visit to the blog to share his own favorite books of the year. Unlike me, he actually puts his in order (he calls my way “no fun”). So, let me turn the mic keyboard over to Ben to share his top 7 books of 2012.

(7) The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling


Though I don’t believe Rowling to be a particularly talented writer, she is one of the best storytellers around. This book is no exception. Her first foray into the adult market is a very dark and disturbing exploration of the politics of human relationships. Nonetheless, it’s a very engrossing read with wonderful characters.

(6) Tinkers by Paul Harding

I read this book a week after our son, Evan, was born. The themes of family, the nature of time, and death seemed very prescient at the time. I think had I read this prior to being a father, I would have had a different reaction to it. But it affected me very deeply.

(5) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green


Despite being called heartless and soulless for not crying my eyes out while reading, I still found this to be a very emotional read. Since reading this book I have developed a pretty serious man-crush on John Green.

(4) A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

This year I devoured the first four books of the fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, but the third installment, A Storm of Swords, is in a league of its own. Such rich characters and landscape, combined with intriguing political chess and backstabbing, and of course, a healthy dose of Tyrion Lannister. And then there was the Red Wedding. Damn.

(3) The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

I love baseball. There’s something special about the game, and Harbach got it just right. Henry Skrimshander’s story is heartbreakingly beautiful and moving.

(2) The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson


A true story about one of the most significant architectural projects ever undertaken, set against the backdrop of turn-of-the-century Chicago, along with the emergence of America’s first serial killer. What’s not to like? This was unputdownable.

(1) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Every now and then a book taps into that ineffable feeling that there is some higher power at work, that there exists something in the world that is so beautiful, so perfect, so hopeful that it leaves you emotionally drained yet wanting it to never end. This is one of those books. A perfect mix of mystery, regret, love, hope, and heartbreak. It’s been a very long time since a book spoke to me the way The Night Circus did.

Does your significant other read? What were some of their favorite books?

2012 Favorites

It’s time to kick off the year-end wrap-ups (I believe in waiting until the year is actually over to give every book a fair chance). Today, I have my 2012 favorites. Later this week, my husband will make his annual appearance with his favorites. I am still undecided if there will be a 2012 music wrap-up post (music took a back seat this year). My final wrap-up post will be my reading stats and goals for this year.

In no particular order, here are my favorite reads of 2012, with a one-sentence description why. You can click on each book to read my full review. These are books I read in 2012, not books that were necessarily released in 2012.

Adult Fiction 2012

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendkar is a beautiful love story reminiscent of a fairytale. The Cranes Dance by Meg Howrey is a fascinating look at the life of a professional ballerina as well as a disturbingly honest look at mental illness. Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon combines a charming, funny, and honest tale of marriage with unique storytelling. Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer is beautifully quirky. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (not yet reviewed) is an engrossing tale of first love and consequences.

Audiobooks 2012

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling (narrated by Mindy Kaling) made me want to hang out with her. Death by Black Hole by Neil deGrasse Tyson (narrated by Dion Graham) makes astrophysics entertaining. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (narrated by Holter Graham) is about so much more than baseball – it might be my favorite book this year. The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney (narrated by Dan Stephens) is a mystery in a mysterious culture. Redshirts by John Scalzi (narrated by Wil Wheaton) is hilarious and surprisingly moving. 

Young Adult 2012

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green made me SOB with its gorgeous story of star-crossed love. Shine by Jeri Smith-Ready provides a satisfying end to a much-loved series. Cinder by Marissa Mayer is completely enthralling despite, or because of, its cyborgs and moon people. Across the Universe by Beth Revis is so good I was willing to ignore logic. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, though different from Johnson’s other books, is just as good, if not better.

Your turn. What were your favorites this year?

The Sunday Salon: 2011 in Numbers and 2012 Goals

The Sunday Salon.comI know everyone loves the end of year lists, but I personally like this post the best. I like looking back and seeing what my reading year looked like. So maybe this post is mostly for me, but I hope a few of you enjoy it as well. You can skip to the bottom if you just want to see my goals for 2012.

Some Numbers

Books Read: 93 (up from 76 last year)

100 books wasn’t really my goal, but when I saw it in reach, it unofficially became one. However, the pregnancy threw my reading for a loop and my numbers fell drastically the last three months of 2011 (it’s a sad day when reading makes you nauseous). All in all, I am happy with 93 and it is still my best year ever.

Print: 60
Audio: 33

Pages Read: 20,264
Average Pages per Book: 337.7
Average Pages Read per Day: 55.5
Longest Book: Habibi (672 pages)
Shortest Book: Our Town by Thornton Wilder (114 pages)

Audio Hours: 354.9 (almost 15 days!)
Average Length of Audiobook: 10.2 hours
Average Time Spent Listening to Audiobooks per Day: 55 minutes
Longest Audio: The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukerjee (20.8 hours)
Shortest Audio: Earth, the Audiobook by Jon Stewart (3.6 hours)

Fiction: 79
Nonfiction: 14

Rereads: 12

Female Authors: 67
Male Authors: 30 (2 books had both a male and female author)
New (to me) Authors: 57
Most Read Author: Jasper Fforde (6)

Target Age

Adult: 58
Young Adult: 33
Middle Grade: 2


Contemporary Fiction: 29
Paranormal: 14
Dystopian: 10
Other Fantasy: 9
Classics: 5
Memoirs: 4
Science: 4
Verse: 4
Gothic: 4
Short Story Collection: 3
Biography: 3
Other Nonfiction: 3
Graphic Novel: 2

Library books: 38
Review Copies: 23
Books from my existing collection: 22
Purchased in 2011: 10

Average Rating: 4.06 out of 5

Published in:
2011: 41
2010: 18
2009: 5
2008: 6
2007: 1
2006: 4
2005: 1
2004: 1
2003: 1
2002: 2
2001: 1
2000: 1
1900s: 11
1800s: 1

2011 Goals – How’d I do?

  1. Read more during the week. I do most of my reading on the weekend but there is no reason that I can’t read for 30 minutes or an hour every day. [I did alright at this one in early 2011. Not so great the second half.]
  2. Keep up with Goodreads. I’m going to just start from this point on and really try to use it. [Done!]
  3. Read more of my own books. I read a lot of library books this year. I’d like to balance this out a little. [Fail. Fewer library book but more review copies.]
  4. Along those lines, limit myself to two books on hold at once at the library. I hate when all 10 of the books I have on hold come in on the same day. [I did pretty good with this one.]
  5. Use audio mostly for nonfiction and rereads. I enjoy these audiobooks the most and I really want to focus a little more on nonfiction and rereads in general. [All of my rereads were audio and I read a lot more nonfiction.]
2012 Goals:

  1. Aim for reading a print and an audio a week.
  2. Write reviews within 5 days of finishing the book.
  3. Read more backlist and classics. Less emphasis on new releases.
  4. Read more of my own books.
  5. Catch up on my series.
I have no idea what my reading life is going to be like once this baby gets here so I tried to keep my goals pretty vague (except number one). What are you hoping to do differently in 2012?

My Favorite Music from 2011

As you know, music is my other favorite type of media to consume. And because year-end lists are fun, here are my favorite albums of 2011 (with little to no commentary).

Note: I often give you samples of music but with the abundance of streaming sites these days and my own lack of energy, I’m going to let you discover it on your own.

The Top 5 (aka the albums that were often kept on repeat for  weeks)

The King is Dead – The Decemberists

El Camino – The Black Keys

Young the Giant – Young the Giant

What Did You Expect from The Vaccines – The Vaccines

Circuital – My Morning Jacket

The Rest 

In the Mountain in the Cloud – Portugal the Man

People and Things – Jack’s Mannequin

Helplessness Blues – Fleet Foxes

Virtue – Emmy the Great

21 – Adele (I know it’s overplayed by it’s a seriously good album)

A Creature I Don’t Know – Laura Marling

Young Love – Mat Kearney

Bon Iver – Bon Iver (it’s no For Emma but still pretty darn good)

The People’s Key – Bright Eyes

Most Anticipated Album of 2012:

Human Again – Ingrid Michaelson

What was your favorite album of 2011? And what are you looking forward to in 2012?

Guest Post: My Husband’s Top Ten Books of 2011

Since it was so popular last time, I asked my husband to put together a list of the best books HE read this year. So today you get a break from me as I turn the blog over to Ben.

10) Inherit the Wind

“The individual human mind. In a child’s power to master the multiplication table there is more sanctity than in all your shouted ;Amens!’, ‘Holy, Holies!’ and ‘Hosannahs!’ An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral. And the advance of man’s knowledge is more of a miracle than any sticks turned to snakes, or the parting of waters!”

9) Crime and Punishment

One page into the book and you know you’re dealing with a writer simply on a different level.

8) Everything Beautiful Began After

Simon Van Booy’s short stories are some of the most poignant I’ve ever read, and his first novel held the same power.

7) Earth: The Audiobook

The first time I listened to this book I cried I laughed so hard. The second time I read this book I cried because of how sharp the satire was.

6) The Watchmen

The mystery and incredible artwork sucked me in and held my attention, but it wasn’t blowing me away. Then I got to the last chapter. I was knocked to the floor by an ending I didn’t see coming.

5) Goodbye, Chunky Rice

Craig Thompson, why must you break my heart so? Unspeakably beautiful and sad.

4) Bossypants

I’ve always admired (and had a huge crush on) Tina Fey. Her first book perfectly captures her self-effacing and self-deprecating humor that we’ve come to expect from one of the funniest voices of this generation.

3) Ulysses

I was fortunate enough to take a course in James Joyce taught by the amazing Jeri Johnson at the University of Oxford in England this summer. She opened my eyes to the sheer power of the most talented writer of the 20th century.

2) America, America

I think a large part of why I loved this book was because of Robertson Dean’s narration. The best narrator I’ve ever heard.

1) The Weird Sisters

Eleanor Brown is a genius. I love the Shakespeare references, the characters, the story, the pain, and the symmetry. The collective narrator is so unique and inventive. But above all, the command of language elevates this book above all I read this year. I would sometimes have to put the book down because the beauty of her sentences would reduce me to tears.

I hope you enjoyed Ben’s list, although I am a bit concerned that my husband may want to run off with Eleanor Brown now. Are the rest of your family members readers? What were some of their favorites?

The Sunday Salon: 2011 Favorites

The Sunday Salon.com

This is the week I like to look back on the previous year. I’m kicking it off today with the one everyone anticipates the most: my top reads of 2011. I’ve broken them down by category this year. Later this week my husband will be making an appearance with his top ten and I will also share my favorite albums. Finally, I will round out the reminiscing with some reading statistics and goals for 2012. Enjoy.

In no particular order, here are my favorite reads of 2011, with a one-sentence description why. You can click on each book to read my full review.

Adult Fiction 2011 




Vaclav and Lena by Haley Tanner is a heart-wrenching novel about two kids who lose and find each other. The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown is a beautifully-written novel about family and growing-up. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is simply magical. Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy employs gorgeous writing on its jarring emotional journey. Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman is both a hilarious and poignant look at modern family.

Audiobooks 2011

Bossypants by Tina Fey made me laugh out loud – constantly. The Langauge of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh is a beautifully-written and beautifully-narrated story of a newly emancipate foster kid trying to find her way in life with the only thing she knows: flowers. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is my absolute favorite audiobook experience of the year, and I don’t think I’m alone. Faith by Jennifer Haigh follows a family through an unimaginable accusation, examining religion and relationships along the way. I discovered both Feed and Deadline by Mira Grant this year and found myself completely caught up in its zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic world. 

Young Adult 2011 

Shade and Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready is my absolute favorite discovery of 2011.  Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is cute and romantic and quirky – sometimes that’s all we need. Divergent by Veronica Roth kept me on the edge of my seat and has me eagerly anticipating its sequel this spring. Saving June by Hannah Harrington took me on a musical roadtrip across the country that left me emotionally exhausted. The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson surprised me enough to make it here.

Pre-2011 Books I Just Got To in 2011

Our Town by Oscar Wilde is a heartbreaking play made even better because I read it with my husband. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer is an often-sad-but-ultimately-uplifting novel about a boy who loses his father on 9/11. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan was ambitious and unique. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson somehow sucked me into a European adventure while I was already on one. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr showed me that faeries are not for little kids.

Your turn. What were your favorites this year?