There were a lot of great excuses to curl up with a good book and ignore the world in 2011. I read a lot. I wrote a lot. And I generally partook of shenanigans on the Internet in the times between reading, writing and working.
It has been, in all, a really great year. So here are some of the wonderful things I read this year. Some are old, some are new, and some you may think I’m crazy for recommending but hey, to each person, their own taste, right?
It’s where he was born, it’s where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. There are endless wonders that let loose Jack’s imagination – the snake under Bed that he constructs out of eggshells, the imaginary world projected through the TV, the coziness of Wardrobe beneath Ma’s clothes, where she tucks him in safely at night, in case Old Nick comes.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it’s the prison where she’s been held since she was nineteen-for seven long years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in that eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But Jack’s curiosity is building alongside her own desperation—and she knows that Room cannot contain either indefinitely….(source)
Room was recommended to me by every “must read” list I follow and by a number of well-read friends. And yet I was leery. There was something about the plain white cover with childish scrawl that just didn’t make me want to give it a chance. Plus, it had that “bestseller” stigma. Everyone was raving about it, and I do mean everyone.
I rarely find I love things that come with the “bestseller” stamp of approval.
Except for Harry Potter but then again what kind of person in possession of a soul doesn’t like Harry Potter?
Room was a remarkable surprise in that case though. I found the characters engaging and fascinating even if I could hardly relate to their situations in life. Also, reading this book made me reflect on the way I read as I met, and judged, characters with my own preconceived notions. Apparently, in a brain that regularly gorges on TNT marathons of the various Law & Order shows, any male character of a certain age must be a predator of the child in the story. The central theme of the story – abduction and recovery – didn’t help quiet these preconceived fears either.
But really, read this book. It was refreshingly honest. The five year old narrator is beautiful in the way that only a five year old narrator can be. And you will find yourself rooting for almost everyone in the story.
I’m not going to summarize this one. If you have never heard of it, Google it. And don’t tell anyone you’ve never heard of it. They will judge you, probably laugh at you, and walk away calling out “as you wish” which you won’t understand because you haven’t seen the movie.
You should read this book. I know I’ve already written about it a little here on Hello Giggles but it needs to be said again.
You need to read this book.
If you’re at all a pop culture junkie, like I am, this book is almost like a really awesome rifftrax of the movie and a behind-the-scenes featurette and a great director’s commentary, all in one.
You will laugh with Westley and Princess Buttercup. Not only that, you’ll laugh at them too. And it will feel so good because in the back of your mind, you can just hear Fred Savage protesting from his sick bed.
Andrew “Ender” Wiggin thinks he is playing computer simulated war games; he is, in fact, engaged in something far more desperate. The result of genetic experimentation, Ender may be the military genius Earth desperately needs in a war against an alien enemy seeking to destroy all human life. The only way to find out is to throw Ender into ever harsher training, to chip away and find the diamond inside, or destroy him utterly. Ender Wiggin is six years old when it begins. He will grow up fast. (source)
I reread Ender’s Game at least twice this year which led to some rereading of the other books in the Ender universe that Card created, and I find it as enthralling now at 29 as I did the first time I read it at ten. I’ve recommended it to science fiction geeks and literary snobs, and I have yet to have one tell me “God, I hated that book you recommended.” Usually I get, “OH MY GOD! How have I not read this before!?”
Read it this year. Mostly because it’s awesome. But partially because they’re making a pretty anticipated film adaptation of it, and you’re going to see it more and more in entertainment news next year. Don’t miss out.
The Imperfectionists is a novel about the quirky, maddening, endearing people who write and read an international newspaper based in Rome: from the obituary reporter who will do anything to avoid work, to the young freelancer who is manipulated by an egocentric war correspondent, to the dog-obsessed publisher who seems less interested in his struggling newspaper than in his magnificent basset hound, Schopenhauer.
With war in Afghanistan and Iraq, the climate in meltdown and bin Laden still in hiding, the paper has plenty to fill its columns. But for its staff, the true front-page stories are their own private lives. As this imperfect bunch stumbles along, the era of high terror and high tech bears down, the characters collide, and the novel hurtles toward its climax… (source)
My dad likes to give me books. I think some of it has to do with an unspoken rule in his home that he must give up some books in order to bring more books into it (my stepmother is a wise woman), but rarely does a visit occur without him handing me a pile of books he’s read recently that he thinks I should read.
The Imperfectionists was in one of these piles early in the year, and I put off reading it for months. I wasn’t really all that drawn to it. But when I finally did pick it up to read, I found characters I loved because of their flaws, not in spite of them.
Reading their stories was like the best game of people-watching ever. There was the woman looking slightly unhinged who really quite happily takes for a boyfriend the man who cons her out of money and living space. The man who shuffles to and fro, quite literally, but with purpose.
Each character, in their own little way, was the car crash you couldn’t look away from as gridlock crawled by it on the freeway. But each character had something about them that made you want to keep reading because you wanted them to succeed.
Pick it up. Even if you think reading about journalists at a dying newspaper in Rome isn’t your cup of tea, the characters studied within will make up for a subject matter you may have ignored otherwise.
This is but a small sampling of the material I read in 2011. A questionably honorable mention goes to Game of Thrones which I picked up and put down rather quickly last fall. I’m ready to give it a go again, and I think it will be my first hurdle of 2012. Now that I’ve accepted the graphic scenes that made me think I needed brain-bleach, I’m ready to dive back in and see what the fuss is all about. Apparently, I’m not supposed to get too attached to any characters.
Something tells me I’m not going to do well with that.