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.

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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!”


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9) Crime and Punishment

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


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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.


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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.


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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.


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5) Goodbye, Chunky Rice

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


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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?

The Sunday Salon: 2010 Reading in Numbers & 2011 Goals

The Sunday Salon.comHappy New Year! (I realized I didn’t say that yesterday). Today is my final year-end wrap up post and it looks ahead to 2011 a bit at the end with some goals. This is one of my favorite posts because I love stats and figuring all of this out was really fun for me. It is my year of reading in numbers. And if you missed it, I posted my favorite books of 2010 yesterday).

Some Numbers:

Books Read: 76 (up from 42 last year)
Print: 56
Audio: 20
Pages Read: 18,214
Audio Hours: 286.7 (just under 12 whole days!)
Average Pages per Book: 325
Average Pages Read per Day: 50
Books Acquired: Somewhere between 100 and 150

Fiction: 70
Nonfiction: 6

Female Authors: 49
Male Authors: 27
New (to me) Authors: 47
Most Read Author: JK Rowling (7)

Age group:

Adult: 42
Young Adult: 28
Middle Grade: 6


Contemporary Fiction: 32
Fantasy: 10
Paranormal: 10
Classics: 8
Dystopian: 5
Memoirs: 2
Science: 2
Short Story Collection: 2
Social Issues: 2
Graphic Novel: 1
Science Fiction: 1
Verse: 1

Rereads: 7 (Just Harry Potter)

Longest Book: The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray (819 pages)
Shortest Book: The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy (134 pages)

Longest Audio: The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan (30 hours)
Shortest Audio: Stardust by Neil Gaiman (6.5 hours)

Library books: 43 (yikes!)
Books from my collection: 33

Average Rating: 4.18 out of 5

Published in:
2011: 2
2010: 27
2009: 13
2008: 3
2007: 0
2006: 2
2005: 3
2004: 0
2003: 5
2002: 0
2001: 1
2000: 1
1990s: 10
1900-1989: 6
1800s: 3 (*hangs head in shame*)

2010 Goals – How’d I do?:

  1. I want to read more adult literature than young adult/middle grade.  While I love YA/MG books, I felt like I got a little distracted from other books in 2009.  So it doesn’t matter if it’s one book more or 30 books more, I just want to read more adult literature than not. [Final count: 42 adult, 34 YA/MG]
  2. I’m aiming for 20% of my books to be classics.  That’s a little better than I did in 2009. [Boy did I fail this one].
  3. And I’m aiming for 15% of my books to me nonfiction/memoir v. fiction.  I’m trying to broaden my reading horizon. [Only 7% 😦 ].
  4. Specific authors: Margaret Atwood (never read); Isabelle Allende (never read); Kurt Vonnegut (haven’t read in awhile). [And Margaret Atwood remains unread once more. As well as Allende].
  5. Specific books: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld; The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein; David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (my one daunting read for the year) ; Finish the last 5 Betsy-Tacy books; The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharto. [Wow. I didn’t finish any of these. I did read two more of the Betsy-Tacy books. I think specific book goals are not good for me].

Five goals in 2011:

  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.
  2. Keep up with Goodreads. I’m going to just start from this point on and really try to use it.
  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.
  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.
  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.

Do you have any reading/blogging goals this year? Were you surprised by any of your stats?

My Favorite Books in 2010

I tried to just come up with a top ten list like I did last year, but when I started making it, it morphed into something new. So instead of a simple top ten, I give you my favorite books in various categories. These are books that I read in 2010 but not books that were necessarily published in 2010. I’m not going to say too much about each book. You can click on the title to read my full review.

Overall Favorites:

Finny by Justin Kramon is my absolute favorite this year. I loved it from start to finish. ★ Blankets by Craig Thompson was my first (and only so far) graphic novel. It was simply beautiful. ★ Up from the Blue by Susan Henderson is heartbreaking in a way that made me want to give the book a hug and filled with beautiful prose. ★ Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer is a necessary but jarring reminder that we all need to make intelligent decisions regarding our food. ★We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson is deliciously creepy. ★ Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde took me into a fantastically-crafted new world ★ My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares surprised me. I never knew I’d love a book about soulmates. ★ Bad Marie by Marcy Dermansky was so captivating that I accidentally read it in one sitting. ★ Room by Emma Donaghue is creative and sad and hopeful and I’m still thinking about it even if I haven’t reviewed it yet. ★ Mr. Peanut by Adam Ross is indescribable.

Favorite Young Adult/Middle Grade:

When You Reach Me  by Rebecca Stead deserves all the praise it has received and made me long for a reread of A Wrinkle in Time. ★ The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson seemed so possible that it was hard to call it Dystopian. ★ Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder, a novel in verse, held me captive on a rainy day until I had read every last word.

Favorite Audiobooks:

America, America by Ethan Cain has a terrific narrator and an intriguing story of a boy who gets wrapped up in a political family’s drama. ★ Stardust by Neil Gaiman is a grown-up fairytale that I couldn’t get enough of. Oh, and Neil Gaiman reads it himself. Awesome. ★ A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson is exactly what it claims to be – a great overview of the whole world of science. Perfect for the science nerd in me.

Favorite Reading Experience:

While Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins may not have been the conclusion to the Hunger Games trilogy we all hoped it would be, it was a lot of fun to wait it out and read it with the entire book blogosphere.

Favorite Book-I-Should-Have-Read-Years-Ago:

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is a book that should be placed in the hands of every teenager, male and female. I wish it had been placed in mine back then.

Favorite Comfort Reads:

I continued my late-to-the-party reading of Betsy-Tacy with Betsy in Spite of Herself by Maud Hart Lovelace and it continues to be simply wonderful. ★ And The Summer Before by Ann M. Martin, a Baby-Sitters Club prequel, surprised me by being incredibly enjoyable. I loved being back in Stoneybrook with some of my oldest friends.

Favorite Short Story Collection:

Zombies vs Unicorns edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier is probably the most fun I had reading a book this year.


And there you have it. My favorite books for a variety of reasons.

Stay tuned for my final year-end wrap up post: my year of reading in numbers (can you tell that I LOVE these year-end posts?).