This was an especially bookish year for me. The biggest highlight of the year, of course, was marrying my best friend and the love of my life. This is arguably not very bookish (although we read some books to help plan our ceremony), but with my blog buddy Nora as a bridesmaid and my top read of the year accompanying me on our honeymoon, I’ll let it count. Italy, where we spent our honeymoon, also has the most bookstores I’ve ever seen. In Florence, for example, there were three bookstores on the street where our hotel was located, not to mention the many other stores throughout the city.
I also started a new job this year, working at my local library as a library assistant and later in the year taking on the role of Library Director. Some of my favorite tasks of the job are collection development and helping folks find the books they want and the books they didn’t realize they wanted. I love library work and I love working in the community where I live. I couldn’t have asked for a better job. Nora also got a new job this year. After finishing up her M.S.I.S. in the Spring, she found work as a school librarian! YAY!
Another bookish highlight: my 11 year old buddy Quinn and I started a radio show called Bound By Books at the beginning of the year, back when our community radio station first launched. We toyed around with calling the show Donkey Cabbages, after a Grimm’s fairy tale with a funny name, but after finally reading the story decided that it was just too plain weird to name our show after it. So Bound By Books was born, we had two new friends join us later in the year, and the three of us have a grand old time talking about books on the radio each week.
And, of course, a big highlight of the year were the amazing reads that sparked my imagination, made me laugh, made me cry, and made me bake (true story). I almost exclusively read YA fiction, but I have a couple titles highlighted below that are more A than YA (they’re too good to ignore).
The Passage by Justin Cronin, is easily my favorite read of 2011. In the rush to catch a train, I neglected to pack any books to bring with me on my honeymoon and so bought a copy of The Passage at the airport bookstore. Aside from my super-sweet-awesome husband, I could not have asked for a better travel companion. If you haven’t read it, I highly suggest it! No reservations! Don’t let the enormity of the book dissuade you (as it did me for a good year) from picking it up; it’s a fast read, because you won’t want to do anything but read it until it’s through (and you won’t want it to end). I haven’t figured out how to successfully describe the story without giving too much away or making it sound kind of stupid. Here’s my latest effort (tell me how I do): The Passage is the story of a very unique girl named Amy and the many people around her whose lives are greatly impacted by an outbreak of vampiric creatures who either kill or convert those they come in contact with. It’s scary. It’s post-apocalyptic. It’s awesome. I can’t wait to read the sequel, The Twelve, coming out sometime in 2012.
My favorite audiobooks of the year include another adult title, Room by Emma Donoghue, whose narrator, Michal Friedman, had me convinced that she was a five year old boy named Jack. It’s an amazing bit of storytelling that I’m glad to have finally gotten around to reading. But now on to the YA! Another audiobook highlight for me was Patrick Ness’ The Knife of Never Letting Go narrated by Nick Podehl. I listened to this one while gardening during the summer, and can say it definitely did wonders for my garden by keeping me out there all day long. Podehl is a fabulous narrator who, along with MacLeod Andrews, also narrated another favorite audiobook from 2011, John Green and David Levithan’s fabulous Will Grayson, Will Grayson. The beauty of this audio recording is not just the narration, but also that the songs of Tiny Cooper are brought to life! And lastly, my most recent audiobook favorite is the debut from Wendy Wunder, The Probability of Miracles, a wonderful story with a lot of heart, read by Emma Galvin in an understated performance that I much appreciated.
My suggested books list is quite extensive for this year (for a link to reviews of my favorite reads, click here; Nora’s here), but I’ll list my top picks below (minus those titles already listed above):
Nothing by Janne Teller
Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor
The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston
Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
Huntress by Malinda Lo
Level Up by Gene Luen Yang
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Don’t Stop Now by Julie Halpern
Trapped by Michael Northrop
Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have) by Sarah Mlynowski
Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (another great audiobook!)
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (this one made me bake)
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
I still owe many of these lovely reads a review, so look for those in the coming year. I’m currently reading three books (yes three) that have great potential for making the best of 2011 cut, if I am able to finish them before the new year: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith, Winter Town by Stephen Emond, and The Rock and The River by Kekla Magoon (narrated by Dion Graham who is one of my favorite audiobook narrators).
On that note, I’m off to do a little pre-party reading! Hope you all have a wonderful New Years Eve! And happy reading in the new year! Thanks to Nora and Alicia and all our fellow bloggers, authors, booksellers, librarians, publishers, publicists, and readers out there in the blogosphere for sharing this wonderful year with us!