Books: 2011 Recap

I promised myself I’d have this recap done by the end of January. Look at me and my photo finish! In my defense, I’ve started a new ‘content reader’ job that requires me to sit at my computer and read things for 4-8 hours a day, 6 days a week, which has made me extremely uninterested in writing or reading anything else at my computer. On the plus side though, the job is awesome and I love it.

But! Books, let’s do this, finally! I read 59 books in 2011, but that number is kind of misleading. I didn’t read a single book from January of 2010 until June of 2011. So really it was 59 books in ~6 months. I’m pretty happy with that, especially after taking a year and a half off from reading.

Of the 59 books, 23 were written by women, which is not acceptable. This year I’m working my way through the Orange Prize winners, so that should be improved.

Of the 59, I received 40 of them as review copies from either the publisher or the author directly. That’s way too high, and while I was introduced to some interesting new voices, I also felt like I had very little control over what I was reading. This year I will be much more selective about which books I’ll review. So far I haven’t accepted a single book for review.

26 of the 59 were non-fiction/memoir. I’m pretty happy with that number. If my reading goes as planned this year, 1/3 of the books I read will be non-fiction.

OK, now that the boring stuff is out of the way… Let’s just come out with both guns blazing and discuss…

The worst author of the year.

Jesus Angel Garcia did not enjoy my review of badbadbad. Why? Well, because it wasn’t ‘valuable cultural dialogue,” for one thing, and also because I was apparently just too damn stupid to understand his extremely complex characters! After strangers come out of the woodwork to try and convince him that he should not be attacking people who leave negative reviews, he deleted all his comments from GoodReads and ran away with his tail between his legs. Unfortunately for him, someone took a screen shot and uploaded to ye ole internet. Enjoy the mess.

The niceset author of the year.

My review of Wine to Water wasn’t exactly all positive, but for some reason it ‘stuck out’ to the author, Doc Hendley. He wrote me a really fantastic email thanking me for it, and told me that it made him smile. It made me feel all famous and awesome, and was definitely one of the highlights of my reading/reviewing year.

The best self-published book of the year.

It took reading Grip  by Nina Hamberg to give me hope that there are a few fantastic authors out there self-publishing. This book impacted my life in a very real way, and it deserves to be widely read.

The most poorly written book of the year.

I will admit that I absolutely loved this book. It may very well have been the most enjoyable book I’ve ever read, but certainly not for the reason’s the author intended. My Heresy is a book about an incestuous relationship about two consenting adults. The writing, well… “I deliberately kept my mind filled with Robert and unceasingly sensed that profound chagrin inside me. It was a paradox, but I felt better that way.” Plus, at one point they eat loafs of steak, which is great.

The most vile book of the year.

American Gangbang was a really gross book that I wish I could unread. Weird, racist business + sexual assault that no one seems to think is sexual assault = not party times, excellent.

The other most vile book of the year.

Come of Age: The Road to Spiritual Maturity is pretty much the opposite of American Gangbang. Instead of detailing sexual assault, it details how Heath Ledger died on account of all that ‘simulated homosexual sex’ he had during the filming of “Brokeback Mountain” and because he had a baby out of wedlock. Also, the author is a Mike Tyson apologist, which I didn’t even realize was a thing.

My favorite book of the year.

Anyone who knows me in real life has had to listen to me go on and on about how much I loved Blueprints for Building Better Girls: Stories by Elissa Schappell. My review doesn’t do it justice, and I have every intention of re-reading it and writing a much better one. First though, it has to continue making the rounds because everyone I’ve ever known needs to read it.

So there you go. This year I’m signed up for a few challenges and I have a tentative goal in mind as far as how many books I’d like to read. So far I’m really behind on that goal, thanks in part to this new job. It’s really hard to read for 8 hours straight and then sit down and read your own stuff. I need to figure something out though, because there a lot of books out there, just waiting to be read by me!

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