stacked :: 2011

by Samantha ~ December 23rd, 2011. Filed under: stacked.

I set a goal to read 50 books in 2011, and I actually did it.  Some were fantastic new reads, some were re-visits, and some were not so great.  Some were accidentally packed for the big move before taking this photo, and some others were diet and nutrition books that I will start adhering to again (soon-ish).

The Night Circus was, by far, my absolute favorite read this year, and will definitely be re-read in the future.  It was well crafted and beautifully descriptive, especially for a debut novel.  Open only from sundown to sunrise, the black and white tents appear out of nowhere.  Le Cirque des Rêves is a world of illusion and magic, and also a secret stage for a competition between two young magicians.  They have been trained since childhood for this, and were not meant to fall in love.  The duel will leave only one standing, and will affect the fates of both performer and patron of the circus.

Not since the first time I read my top two favorites, A Trip to the Stars and Veronica, have I loved a book so dearly.

Aside from The Night Circus, my other five favorites from the year were :

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children : As I just finished this late last night, the love love love for this story is still fresh. The title says plenty, and spotted throughout the book are photographs of the children and their many talents.  Totally devastated by the death of his grandfather, Jacob sets off to a small island off the coast of Wales to find out if the fantastical tales the old man told him of his childhood in World War II Europe were true.  Jacob finds the house of what he believed was a sanctuary for refugees of war, but was actually (still) the home to so much more.

The Secret History : Despite this being published in the 1990s, it had slipped by me over the years.  Recommended to me by my friend Eboni after I read The Likeness (the similarities were quite striking), I’m very glad I got to this one.  In retrospect, there is nothing specifically outstanding about this book other than its absolute construction of the very isolated world of the characters.  At times, you almost forget that the main story is that of a conspiracy to cover a murder within their group because of how intricate the dynamic is.

Just Kids : Patti Smith wrote this so casually that it felt like you were having a conversation with her.  It was warm and welcoming, honest and innocent, almost making me nostalgic for an era that I wasn’t even alive during.  It’s a prequel to her fame, telling the story of her relationship with Robert Maplethorppe, and mostly set in the Chelsea Hotel in the late 1960s. I’ve worked in a bar down the street from there for the past year and a half, and it made me appreciate the history of the neighborhood in a way I hadn’t before.  Reading this made you feel like she was an old friend, aside from being a cultural icon.

St. Lucy’s Home For Girls Raised by Wolves : Each story in this collection of shorts was charming.  I was totally surprised at how much I enjoyed this, as I had picked it up and set it down in the bookstore a few times before finally buying a copy.  Mostly set in swamplands, the stories have reminded me that I need to visit the bayou with my Holga.  My favorite story in it was “Haunting Olivia”, in which two brothers search each night for their drowned sister’s ghost.

Blood, Bones, and Butter : Although I’ve only been eating meat for a year, and still haven’t had the chance to have a meal at Prune, I loved this book.  The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef was not only the story of Gabrielle Hamilton becoming a renowned chef, but was the story of all the years beforehand when she didn’t know what the hell to do with her life, but knew and loved food.

Honorable Mentions :

Disclaimers :

*I haven’t finished A Game of Thrones, The Rum Diary, or The French Quarter history book.  I didn’t count them towards the 50 mark, but did count the graphic novels.  My husband said that was cheating, but a book is a book, right?
*I have a copy of the third book in The Strain Trilogy but haven’t gotten to it yet. I’m just going to assume I’ll like it as much as the first two.
*I love Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs mysteries. I love them a lot. Don’t judge me.

What was your favorite read in 2011?

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3 Responses to stacked :: 2011

  1. malky

    harry potter :(
    game of thrones ;)
    lols My elderly mother reads Patricia Cornwell, no judgements.

  2. dave piper

    i have my share of re-read books, keepers.

  3. Recommended Reading: The Night Circus | Gothic Holiday

    […] Samantha has been going on about Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus for months, so I finally got around to reading it. It is fantastic. There will be obvious comparisons to Geek Love, to Tim Burton’s work back before he sucked, and to Neil Gaiman, but the book manages to take in all of those influence without becoming trite or genre or predictable. It is a fairy tale and a love story, and it is truly enchanting. […]

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