2011 is a proud year for me in terms of reading, as it’s the first year since 2007 that I’ve successfully reached my goal of reading 50 books in a year. Due to the combination of working on a mayoral campaign and writing my own book, I was woefully under-read in 2010, and I’m so happy to have gotten back on track again this past year.
To briefly sum up some of my reading highlights in 2011, here are the winners in a few categories, with my brief Goodreads reviews attached (and if you want to see everything I read in 2011, you can check out my 2011 Reading Challenge bookshelf on Goodreads – and you can friend me over there, too):
Best New Book (published in 2011): Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan
This book easily and thoroughly swept me up in its magic, transporting me directly into the times and places inhabited by its characters. Despite a few slower sections, the story was incredibly compelling and kept me on my toes right until the very end. The characters were excellently realized and although the period/cultural slang was a bit off-putting in the beginning, it quickly became very natural and definitely helped to immerse me in the story.
Best YA Book: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (tie)
Fascinating YA read for young adults and adults alike. Alexie’s characterization of Junior is flawless and engaging, and the story’s exploration of both race issues and the struggles of growing up is just as messy and compelling as real life. Really great read, and I look forward to reading more of Alexie’s books.
Absolutely fantastic book. A delight to read and incredibly enjoyable to try to unravel its very clever mystery. If you loved Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time as a kid (I know I did!), you definitely must read this. Its plot is integral to When You Reach Me, but Stead’s book is still extremely charming and clever even if you have no knowledge of its related predecessor. I read a lot of YA, but this is definitely one of the very best books of that genre that I’ve read in a while.
Best Canadian Book: The Incident Report by Martha Baillie
The concept of this novel was brilliant and expertly executed. Don’t for a second think that the storytelling might be limited by the incident report style – quite the opposite, in fact. Baillie’s prose is beautiful and detailed as she intertwines reports from her love life, her past, and actual library interactions. A quick and engaging read that you’ll easily gobble up.
Best Short Story Collection: Once by Rebecca Rosenblum
Such a wonderful debut collection of stories. Rebecca Rosenblum is all at once self-assured and tentative, harsh and tender. A captivating look at human relationships. I’m really looking forward to reading her new collection, The Big Dream.
And because I love stats, here’s a few key stats I pulled out from my 2011 reading list:
Female Author: 36
Male Author: 14
Canadian Author: 28
Non-Canadian Author: 22
Adult Book: 30
YA/Kids Book: 20
As for 2012, I still have a goal of reading 50 books (and you can follow my 2012 Reading Challenge on Goodreads, too – I’m still currently on book #1, Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant), but I’m not sure if I should try to put any other structures around my to-read list. I want to continue reading at least 50% Canadian authors (I was at 56% in 2011), and I enjoyed reading 40% YA/Kids books last year. Looking at my stats, I feel like I should increase my non-fiction reading, but I rarely feel the pull towards non-fiction, like I do towards fiction.
What were some of your favourite reads in 2011? And what are your reading goals for 2012?