A Year in Books: 2011

Here it is: the annual list and reading retrospective for the year. I have to admit at the fore that I’m slightly embarrassed about the lack of literary fiction devoured. I seem to hear Stephen King gruffing in my brain about how really serious writers need to read at least one novel per week.

Although if the spirit of Stephen King has actually taken up residence in my brain, I probably have more serious problems than the quality of my literary output…

I know.

It’s a predictable and fairly lame rimshot.

But I’ve spent the last two days recovering from a  nasty stomach flu, and it’s the best I can do right now. Also regular readers of this blog will know that while I do brush my hair on a daily basis, I don’t just whip out the blow drier and nonpajama apparel for any old occasion, and TODAY was supposed to be an occasion of enormous and uber-caloric crepe importance at this fantastic coffee shop in Plymouth over many cups of (decaf) coffee and open laptops in affectionate silence—

And then I came downstairs—in street clothes with glossy smooth hair, please note—AND CARL’S BOSS CALLED TO SAY THAT HIS COWORKER HAD PROMISED CARL WOULD DO AN EXTRA VIDEO FOR THE WEEKEND. A video that Carl was never told about but was still due in approximately 4 hours. While said coworker fled the state for the remainder of the holidays.

For real.

This is the kind of disorganized, irresponsible crap that will be eliminated from the universe when I become sole dictator.

Until then I’m falling back on very small acts of personal intellectual organization and possibly some reality TV. We’ll have to see.


I’m not sure how we got there, but here’s the book list anyway:

Books Read in 2011


  • Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells*
  • The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  • The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
  • Little Bee by Chris Cleave*
  • Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
  • Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows*
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by by J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling*

Spiritual/Personal Interest:

  • The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd*
  • Love Wins by Rob Bell
  • Victory over the Darkness by Neil Anderson
  • Self-Esteem by Matthew McKay*
  • Roaring Lambs by Robert Briner
  • Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner*
  • The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin*


  • On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo
  • Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon-Rosegg
  • What to Expect when You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff
  • Skimmed half a dozen others…

Writing & Related:

  • Growing: An Autobiography of the Years 1904-1911 by Leonard Woolf
  • Beginning Again: An Autobiography of the Years 1911-1918 by Leonard Woolf
  • Watching the English by Kate Fox*
  • Wait for Me!: Memoirs by Deborah Mitford
  • The Best American Essays of 2010*
  • Pleasure Bound: Victorian Sex Rebels and the New Eroticism by Deborah Lutz
  • Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas*
  • Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell*
  • The Immortal Game: A History of Chess by David Shenk*
  • An Autobiography by Agatha Christie*

I starred my favorites, though I always hesitate to do that because I may have enjoyed them for reasons you might not especially share. I think recommending books to strangers on the Internet probably qualifies as one of the least productive uses of time.

Much like reality TV, which reminds me of the afternoon’s other pressing engagement.

Cheers and happy holidays, friends. May your 2012 be full of books and the good conversations that come out of them!


5 thoughts on “A Year in Books: 2011

    • Well, I heard the episodes available on Netflix were good, but I ended up folding laundry and reading about zen instead… The road to productivity is apparently lined with bad intentions in this house. 🙂

    • It’s basically one of those charming and episodic books that doesn’t really have much plot but makes up for it by presenting a world that you really, really wish you could visit (for tea if not more). There’s a nice miniseries version of it with Judi Dench and Michael Gambon (among others). We enjoyed it.

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