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Books Read in 2011

04 Jan
Every year I like to keep up a list of all that I have read, and then rate them on a scale of 1-5 that my friend Natalie made up. I also like to add little reviews to both explain my ratings and to give you an idea in case you want to read them. Feel free to strike up a friendly discussion if you’ve read any of these books, by the way! I could talk about books all day.
Here is the scale:
5-I REALLY liked it!
4-Also very, very good
3-Good
2-Okay, but not necessarily worth the time
1-Wouldn’t recommend it
  1. A Broom of One’s Own by Nancy Peacock – 5 – This is a nonfiction book written by an authoress who does not make enough money to support herself just from writing books, so she also cleans houses. The thing is, she enjoys it and feels like between the hard work, the people she meets, and the time she gets to therapeutically reflect actually helps her writing. A great book to start the year off with… very inspiring, and definitely makes a person want to go work a labor-intensive job and then come home and write. 🙂
  2. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte – 4 – This book was extremely depressing, and even kind of dark. But I loved it! It spans over a very long amount of time, and they characters are the epitome of a dysfunctional family. I’d honestly read it again, as frustrating as it was at points. It was a very interesting and I think about it a lot. I even wrote a poem about it later in the year.
  3. Dishwasher by Pete Jordan – 4 – A comedic, first person account of 20-something Pete who discovers that he has a calling to washing dishes for a living. Soon it becomes his goal to wash dishes in all 50 states. In doing so, he encounters many strange people and experiences, and eventually starts producing a zine for passionate dishwashers everywhere. At the end he falls in love with another dishwasher, though they up and decide to move to Ireland before Pete goes through all 50 states. But other than that disappoinment, it was a fun book to read.
  4. Microgreens by Fionna Hill – 4 – When I arrived at the farm I worked at in the winter and spring, I was assigned to research and then grow microgreens, which are greens grown very close together in trays and harvested after they have developed one or two sets of true leaves. They have not only compacted flavor (good for garnishing), but also it is supposed that they have compacted nutrients (handful of kale microgreens may be equal in nutritional value to a whole pound of full-grown kale. Little research has been done on this, though). This book was my research starting point, and it was super informative! It was very visual, and covered every angle I needed to know. I did some online research afterwards, but I really didn’t need to.
  5. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller – 5 – A story about telling stories, and how the author, Donald Miller, learned to make his own life into a story by putting himself out there and setting himself up for adventures and the unexpected. Very inspiring book on so many different levels, and also very sweet and funny.
  6. The Mystery of the Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux – 4 – A Sherlock Holmes sort of mystery written by the same dude who wrote one of my all-time favorites, The Phantom of the Opera. The only reason I gave it a 4 instead of a 5 was simply because it wasn’t SUPER exciting, but it was a great book.
  7. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway – 4 – A short, sad book. I read it mostly while sitting up in a giant tree which definitely added to it being awesome. My dear Hemingway never fails.
  8. Vagabond’s House by Don Blanding – 4 – Pretty book of poetry about traveling and settling down and then traveling some more. I’m not often the biggest fan of structured, rhyming poetry, but Blanding writes so beautifully that I quickly forgot to notice anything rhymed. I read a lot of it out loud to myself, which enhanced it just as the tree did for the Hemingway book.
  9. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer – 3 – I think I would have liked it more if it had been written by somebody else. Krakauer, to me, seemed to be trying too hard to write, to the point of nearly upstaging the story. Still, it was very interesting, and very sad in a frustrating way, as the kid was very rash. I’d like to see the movie.
  10. The Inferno by Dante Alighieri – 3 – The reason I gave this a 3 is a matter of personal preference. I’m not a huge fan of reading stories in poetry. But how else could it have been told? The translation was well done, and it was interesting to see Dante’s philosophy. I’ve yet to find both other parts of the Divine Comedy, but when I do, I look forward to reading them.
  11. Demian by Herman Hesse – 3 – Another philosophical kind of book… a coming-of-age story in which the characters sort of sit around discussing spirituality and conformity. I didn’t really agree with the philosophies, but it was interesting food for thought.
  12. The Witches by Roald Dahl – 5 – I didn’t even realize who Roald Dahl was until this year! I know, pathetic. So I picked up this book from the library and LOVED it. It made me feel like a kid again, turning page after page, not wanting to go to sleep till I could finish it. Which, in turn also inspired me to write more children’s literature myself that adults could also enjoy.
  13. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – 2 – This book is about writing…. it had some very good parts, but all in all it could have been said in half the book. Mid-way it just started to feel redundant. I’ve met plenty of people who love it, though, so you don’t necessarily have to take my word.
  14. Becoming a Tiger by Susan McCarthy – 5 – BEST BOOK EVER. From genetic imprinting to learning styles to creativity to animal rehab gone wonky, this book is full of funny case studies on how baby animals learn to grow up. I highly recommend it, unless you are not really into animal stuff.
  15. A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink – 3 – A great book; the reason I personally give it a 3 is because most of it was not new information for me. It’s about how technological skills are becoming less and less relevant to this society, giving way to the creative mind, just like the technical mind replaced the farmer/laborer back in the day. A quick read with lots of good resources.
  16. Horseradish By Lemony Snicket – 3 – A book of witty Lemony Snicket quotes. Short and fun; would make a good coffee-table book if itwas bigger.
  17. The BFG By Roald Dahl – 4 – Roald Dahl again! I’m only giving this a 4 because I liked The Witches better.
  18. The Bad Beginning
  19. The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket – 4 to both – Depressing and frustrating in the coolest way possible. Snicket is an amazing author; this year was also my first time reading anything by him, and he almost lives up to Roald Dahl.
  20. The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hill – 2 – Cool way to learn about Toaism, but the author does not live up to A.A. Milne’s writing style in the slightest when he tries to emulate it. So that bothered me.
  21. The Town and the City by Jack Kerouac – 5 – Kerouac’s first book, much more clear and structured than his later, beat-poet-jazz works, but still an amazing book. It is set in my favorite time period, 30s and 40s, and tells of a large family growing up together in a small town and later parting ways, never to be brought together again. Beautiful, and tear-jerking in many places, too. I highly recommend it.
  22. Crazy Love by Franis Chan – 3 – Christian book about how God loves us and how we should work harder on loving. Unfortunately, a lot of the book came off as very judgemental towards certain other types of Christians, which is unfair and hypocritical. Further proof we probably just need to shut our flappers and stop talking about how we SHOULD love, and just go DO it. (See? Here I am doing the same thing. It’s hopeless.)
  23. Emily of New Moon
  24. Emily Climbs
  25. Emily’s Quest by L. M. Montgomery – all, 5 – Written by the same person who wrote another favorite book series, Anne of Green Gables. Another set of witty, sweet novels. Emily has been recently orphaned and has gone to live with her two spinster aunts and bachelor uncle. Very , very similar to the Anne books, but I think that is one of the main reasons I liked them so much.
  26. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt – 2 – I more just read this to kill some time, it is very short and I’d seen the movie years ago. Eh, it was okay, not really a page-turner.
  27. Banana Rose by Natalie Goldberg – 2 – I was so disappointed! I’ve mentioned before that I really look up to Natalie Goldberg as a writer; I have read most all of her books on writing and they have helped me so much. But this book was mostly horrible, I am sorry to say. I liked a couple of the secondary characters enough to keep reading, but the two main characters were just awful, in my opinion. Also, her style jumped around a lot – it was metaphorical at some points, almost too metaphorical, like an acid trip, and then other times it was bland and with no description or anthing. Honestly I would not recommend it, which makes me so sad to say. But I can see why her other books are the ones that sell so well and that it took me forever to find this.
  28. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck – 5 – Another short book, but sooooo good! The first book I’ve ever read by Steinbeck, and I must say he is an excellent story teller. Even as it was very sad, it was a lovely book, and I’d read it again and again.
  29. Unintentional Music by Lane Arye – 4 – Part zen, part psychology, part in-depth study of creativity. Arye writes about “process work”, which is following subconscious processes of all different sorts of artists, turning mistakes into something better. He uses musicians as his examples most of the time: so, say you are playing a piece on the piano and at one point you make the same mistake every time you get to that point. Lane Arye would tell you to emphasize it, and see how that works. It’s hard to describe, but at any rate, I highly recommend it to help with any times you feel blocked creatively. Cool book.
  30. The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac – 5 – And the best book to end the year as well. Zen, poetic travel-adventures had by Jack Kerouac and his other poetic and adventuresome pals. It doesn’t really have a plot, but it is such a wild and lovely book, it doesn’t need one! I know it’s probably not for everyone, but I loved it.
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1 Comment

Posted by on January 4, 2012 in Books and Literature, Life Pursuits

 

One response to “Books Read in 2011

  1. Blake Boles

    January 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Damn girl, that's a lot of books!

     

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