Well, I did it. I set out to read 40 books in 2011, and I read 45. My cousin recently asked me how I am able to accomplish this, what with a full time job, another full time job consisting of raising an 8 year old kid and keeping house. So I told her my secrets, and now I’ll tell you. Here it is, Pretty Girls Make Gravy’s foolproof plan for leisure reading:
1. Get a Kindle, or at the very least, download the Kindle app for your smartphone. Then you, like me, can read anywhere. My most productive reading time of the day is while I am on the stationary bike or treadmill during my lunch break, but I have also been known to break out the Kindle while waiting for The Kid during her swim class, kung-fu class, or at any other time that involves waiting for something or someone.
2. Take baths. There is nothing more lovely than reading in the bathtub, I’m here to tell you. Get yourself a mug of tea, and read until the water gets cold.
3. Use a booklight and read after everybody else goes to sleep. Its kind of like reading with a flashlight in the olden days.
4. Read with your kid. This one works well for parents of elementary school age kids who have a reading requirement for their homework. “Mom, do I have to read for 20 minutes?” “Well, yes, but I’ll tell you what, I’ll read at the same time that way we’re both doing our homework.” Oh, the sacrifices we make for our kids…
5. This one is the biggie. Become a homebody. When The Boyfriend, who is infintely more social than I goes out to one of his countless events, I kiss him good-bye sweetly and then happily retire to the couch with my book. I would rather read than go out almost always. But then, I am a reclusive nerd.
Ok, so about the 45 books I read. Well, I read a few great ones, a good number of good ones, a lot of ok ones, and one bad one. Mental illness, World War II, and Paris turned out to be reoccuring themes, and some of the books I loved most came out of them. You can read about my favorite books from the first 20 books I read here, in a post I wrote back in September at the request of a friend who wanted some book recommendations. I’m so glad I did that, because trying to pick favorites out of the whole group now would be difficult indeed. Out of the last 25 books, these stood out as my favorites:
An oldie but a goodie, I can’t believe I hadn’t read it before this year. We all know the story, right? Spoiled southern belle gets rejected by the man she loves and gets back at him for marrying his cousin by marrying his other cousin… and a couple of other men. This wacky love triangle is set to the backdrop of the Civil War. Georgia gets ripped to pieces and Scarlett, and her family and friends, are in the thick of it. I saw the movie years ago, and there are parts of the movie that are spot on from the book, but the book has so much more of everything… drama, history, detail, scandal, war… this is what historical fiction should be.
Note to those that are sensitive to these things: Margaret Mitchell didn’t discriminate when it comes to racism; there are plenty of insults to go around. Seems like those high-society Georgians didn’t like anybody but themselves; blacks, less-than-rich whites, and Jews were all looked down upon by the high and mighty planters. Also, I’ll never understand Scarlett’s infatuation with Ashley… he seems utterly useless to me.
A good friend of mine, who knows me well and is also a reader, recommended this one. I had never heard of it, but thankfully my local library had it on the shelf just waiting for me. The story is hard to summarize, but involves a Norwegian boy, a runaway mom, geneology, a road trip to Greece, and a miniature book containing a fantastical world that may or may not be reality. If you like fantasy a la Alice in Wonderland or Labyrinth, just do yourself a favor and read it, its a quick read.
This novel tells the story of Ernest Hemingway’s marriage to Hadley Richardson, the first of his four wives. The newlywed couple leaves Chicago for the excitement of 1920’s Paris, where they fall in with the crowd of well known writers and artists that includes Gertrude Stein, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, James Joyce, and Ezra Pound, among others. The story alternates between the voices of Hadley and Ernest, giving the reader a peek inside each of their brains during their tumultuous marriage. The Hemingway’s story is heartbreaking, but the setting is beautiful.
I picked this up after finishing The Paris Wife, and I recommend you do the same. Ernest Hemingway had written this memoir of his years in Paris during the 1920’s in his later years, and had edited it into final draft form shortly before his death. The book was published posthumously by his fourth, and final, wife Mary. I recommend reading the revised edition that was released in 2009 by his grandson Sean Hemingway, as it includes some passages that had been omitted by Mary.
Read this book after The Paris Wife, otherwise there will be some spoilers. Also, after you read both of them, celebrate by watching Midnight In Paris, a fun little Woody Allen movie that came out in 2011 about time travel back to 1920’s Paris.
This novel tells the story of Ree Dolly, who lives with her siblings and mentally broken down mother in the poverty striken, drug ridden, Ozarks. When her dad turns up missing she takes on the responsibility of making sure her family doesn’t lose their house and land, and has to make some difficult choices to do it. The whole book takes place in just a week or two, but man, those couple of weeks are action packed for poor Ree.
I saw the movie adaptation of this book last year during Oscar season, as it was nominated for Best Picture. I loved it. It was my pick for Best Picture winner, hands down. I handn’t read the book, but when I saw that my local library had the Kindle version available I snatched it up. I’m glad I did, because I loved the book as well. This was one of those rare cases when a movie pretty accurately captured the essence of a book.
If you want to see the entire list of the books I read in 2011, I kept track of them all, along with my rating of 1 to 5 stars, in this post. I hope you take a look, and take a read. Please let me know what you’ve read and what you’ve enjoyed. Happy reading in 2012!