Saturday, January 03, 2009

Happy New Year!

I have a bunch of friends who keep track of everything they read in a year and then send out their stats and I always envy their organizational skills.

This year I am nearly able to do that thanks to the Beverly Library's habit of sending me an email whenever I have an inter-library loan in! Since I get almost everything I read through ILL, I have gone through all my ILL mail from this year to find that I have read 63 books of the ones they have sent!

I don't keep track of books I didn't finish. I am allowed to stop at 20 pages if it isn't going to grab me and I seem to read one book for every two I cavalierly cast aside... Also, I didn't keep track of picture books and books that I have to read for assignments. I only go back as far as May with the ILLs and I don't have everything I read that I may have borrowed from the high school library or that I borrowed from friends or bought. But still it is an interesting list.

A quick note about those well organized friends - they all belong to GoodReads, which I have just joined. I am sure that another time-suck is just what I need!

So here is my New Year's book report. Enjoy!

These are the books that got 5 asterisks in my excel spread sheet of reading. That means I loved them and I found them to be nearly flawless. They are fiction unless noted otherwise.
City of Thieves -- Benioff, David -- Russia during WWII, two young men search for eggs. Funny, harrowing and brilliant.
Hunger Games -- Collins, Susan -- YA -- Kids are forced to kill one another by their government for entertainment. So much better than it sounds.
Jim the Boy -- Early, Tony -- Sweet story of a boy being raised by his mother and uncles during the depression.
What Was Lost -- Flynn, Catherine -- A little girl who is an amazing real-life Harriet the Spy goes missing and 20 years later it still affects people.Not at all what you would expect.
The White Darkness -- McCreaghen, Geraldine - YA -- A young girl and her mysterious Uncle go to Antartica. Gripping!
Ahab's Wife -- Naslund, Sena -- What happened to her before, during and after he was hunting Moby Dick. A door stop of a thing that still feels too short.
Run -- Patchett, Ann - Politics and race and family in Boston. It is Ann Patchett, just read it!
The Gurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society -- Shaffer, Mary Ann -- A group of friends new and old dealing with the aftermath of WWII and how love of literature helped them survive the German occupation of the Channel Islands. Lovely, simply perfect epistolary novel.
East of Eden -- Steinbeck, John -- Seriously, you haven't heard of it? It is a classic! California, lettuce, whores, wars, fathers and sons.

(notice the lack of exclamation point)
These are books I loved, but for some reason, they just didn't get that last star.
Life Sucks -- Abel, Jessica - Graphic novel about Vampires working in convenience stores.
The Penderwicks -- Birdsall, Jeanne -- Four wonderful little girls on vacation.
What I Saw and How I Lied -- Blundell, Judy -- YA -- Post WWII teen-noir.
Airhead -- Cabot, Meg -- Supermodel brain transplant - need I say more?
Freddie and Me -- Dawson, Mike -- Graphic novel about how the music of QUEEN influenced an English boy's life.
The Hypocondriac's Pocket Guide to Diseases That You Probably Already Have -- DiClaudio, Dennis -- The title says it all. FUNNY!
The Blue Star -- Early, Tony -- Only slightly less-perfect sequal to Jim the Boy.
The Trouble Begins at 8 -- Fleischman, Sid -- Children's non-fiction - Biography of Mark Twain's early life.
We Are On Our Own -- Katin, Miriam -- Graphic novel about a young woman and her daughter living through the Holocaust in Poland.
Dreamhunter -- Knox, Elizabth -- YA -- New Zeland set fantasy about Betsy Tacy era entertainment through dreams. Weird and beautiful.
Into Thin Air -- Krakauer, Jon -- Non-fiction account of an Everest climb gone horribly wrong.
Tender Morsels -- Lanagan, Margo -- YA -- Bizarre, brilliant, dark fairy tale about a girl who is allowed to raise her babies in heaven. With bears.
Keturah and Lord Death -- Leavitt, Martine -- YA -- Katurah can see Death - and he has a big old crush on her...
The Shape of Mercy -- Meissner, Susan -- A rich girl gets a job transcribing a journal written during the Salem witch hysteria.
Hero -- Moore, Perry -- YA -- A boy has to come to grips with being gay and also having super powers.
The House at Riverton -- Morton, Kate - England's wealthy between the wars. Gosford Park-ian wonderfulness.
Harlem Summer -- Myers, Walter Dean - YA -- Mobsters, bootlegging, jazz, girls and fun.
Unwind -- Schusterman, Neal -- YA -- In a world where the abortion wars are over, all life is precious. But parents can choose to have their teenagers "unwound" if they fail to meet their expectations. Scary and thought provoking.
When You Are Engulfed in Flames -- Sedatis, David -- David Sedaris being his hysterical, wonderful self.
Black and White -- Shapiro, Dani -- A woman has to deal with the photographer mother who made her famous by taking pictures of her as a child and who she hasn't seen since she was a teenager.
Freak Show -- St. James, James -- YA -- a sweet teenaged drag queen goes to live with his father in a very conservative part of Florida. Hilarity and tragedy ensue.
Becoming Billie Holiday -- Weatherford, Carol Boston -- YA -- This is a biography in the form of poems titled after Billie Holiday songs.

I had a million three-star books - meaning I liked them just fine. And I only had five two-star books because usually I will stop reading a book if it is only 2 star worthy, but I kept thinking the two-stars were about to get better. Sadly, I was wrong.

An I had one one-star - I was proctoring the SATs and there was nothing else to read so I kept going. The book was A STEP FROM HEAVEN by An Na and it was really annoying. It won the Printz and I was expecting to love it, but I was just bothered.