I decided to join in on Top 10 Tuesdays hosted by The Broke and Bookish. This week’s list is the top 10 books you enjoyed in 2011. Since I haven’t blogged for most of the year, I had trouble remembering if I’d read certain books this year or late last year and think I’ve forgotten a few library books I really enjoyed, but if I can’t remember them for sure I suppose they wouldn’t make it on to my top 10 list anyway, right? My list is heavy on English literature and history because I read a lot in anticipation of visiting London.
In no particular order:
1. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand – I was shocked when I finished this and it ended up being my favorite book of the year. I was so miserable reading it at first, but fell in love with John Galt, and Dagny carried me through the 1,000+ pages of deep philosophy.
2. The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford – Another surprise. I thought this would be fine enough, but I didn’t have high expectations. I ended up loving it and how it made me think about how we view and treat others.
3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – This one is ended up on a lot of both top 10 lists and overrated lists. The magic of the story made me overlook the flaws in character development and pacing and made me long to visit the Night Circus. I think this would make a great movie and theme park idea.
4. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgen Burnett – I don’t normally include rereads on lists like this, but I reread this one while flying to London for the first time and loved being able to relive the story that sparked my love affair with all things British while anticipating landing in London.
5. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe – Yet another surprise! I was afraid this would be a bit boring. How interesting can being stuck on island alone really be? Apparently very interesting! This was a fast-paced action story and I think it should be used more in junior highs to get kids interested in reading the classics.
6. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe – I’m seeing a trend here. I think books that end up being my favorites tend to be the ones that surprise me. I read this one primarily because Austen pokes fun at it in Northanger Abbey and yet seemed to enjoy it herself. It’s so long that I thought the melodrama would be too much for me over so many pages, but it ended up being a fun, easy read.
7. The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith – One final surprise. I’m not sure why I was surprised by this one because I love 18th-century British literature, but for some reason I just thought this one would be okay. It was hilarious! It’s easy to see why it was one of the most popular novels of the time and is mentioned in many other works. There is a TON of action packed in to a slim novel, making it a quick read, unlike many doorstopper classics.
I made myself select a few non-fiction books to finish off the list:
8. The Story of Art by E.H. Gombrich – This is a great introduction to art. It starts at the very beginning of known artwork in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome and moves through to modern times (around the 1960s). It’s very readable and accessible and doesn’t feel too textbooky, even though it is commonly used as a textbook. There are hundreds of beautiful photos of the artwork, with cross references throughout the text so you can see how pieces were influenced by earlier styles. I enjoyed art before and had taken a humanities class in college that had some of the basics, but this gave me a firmer foundation and exposed me to some new pieces. I think it helped me during my trip to London get even more out of the various museums we visited and all of the amazing architecture all around.
9. Imagined London by Anna Quindlen – This was another book I read in preparation for going to London. Quindlen is one of my favorite authors and I enjoyed reading her experience visiting London’s literary places. I had many of the same feelings – what if I’ve built this up so much I can’t help but be disappointed? And, I had to remind myself many times that I would be visiting London in 2011, not in the 1850s. Fortunately, I loved the trip and can’t wait to go back someday!
10. A Brief History of British Kings and Queens by Mike Ashley – No trip to London would be complete without background information on all the kings and queens! This book gives an overview of all of the kings and queens of Britain in an entertaining way. It would be easy for a book like this to be very dry, but Ashley includes interesting tidbits and writes in normal English rather than scholarly or textbook language.
What were your favorite books of 2011? Link to your lists if you made one!