Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2011 Favorites

Favorite fiction: Three-way tie!
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
The Known World by Edward P. Jones
Shibumi by Trevanian

Favorite non-fiction: Three-way tie!
Dark Alliance by Gary Webb
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Moneyball by Michael Lewis

Favorite mystery/thriller: Bury Me Deep by Megan Abbot
This literally came down to about five books because I practically stopped reading mystery/thrillers in Feb. This cannot be explained after a mys/thriller glom in 2010. I even meant to participate in a mystery reading challenge and, well, that didn't actually happen...

Favorite historical fiction: Roots by Alex Haley

Favorite fantasy: Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb
This was also a sparse fantasy year.

Favorite Sci-fi: Dawn by Octavia E. Butler

Favorite Romance: Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer

Surprise hit: Reality is Broken by Jane McGonagel

Surprise blunder: Tie!
The Calculus Diaries by Jennifer Ouellete
Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson

Favorite author discovered in 2011: Trevanian

Most re-read book first read in 2011: A couple Georgette Heyer books go here. They're short, cute, and comforting when I read a couple duds in a row or a book that leaves me emotionally wrung out.

Most recommended and recommendation actually taken: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Most recommended books I wish people would have read but usually didn't:
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Dark Alliance by Gary Webb
Reality is Broken by Jane McGonagel

And since I do occasionally do something other than read...

Favorite - Brokeback Mountain*
Surprise hit - Love and Other Drugs
Surprise blunder - 30 Minutes or Less and Source Code
*I know this is sort of cheating but I didn't watch it until 2011 so it was new to me. Also, I don't think I saw anything in 2011 that I was truly excited about
(I do actually watch films that do not star Jake Gyllenhaal)

Video games:
Favorite - Resident Evil: 4 (Leon is back!)
Surprise hit - Brickbreaker (which made getting rid of my Blackberry so very sad)
Surprise blunder - Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (but, of course, I still loved it even if I didn't love it - yeah, I can't explain it either)

Past Editions: 
2010 Favorites


  1. Wow. What a list! First off, always glad to see 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks' by Rebecca Skloot on this. Did that one in audiobook at the end of 2010 and it's still with me. Also, so glad to see author Trevanian still has a good effect on readers. I need to read 'Bury Me Deep', that's for sure.

    I guess I need to check out 'Love and Other Drugs', too. I don't know what shocked me more. Our diametrical opposition to 'Source Code', or the fact you saw '30 Minutes or Less' ;-). My son treated me to the latter for my birthday. Oh, well.

    Fun list, Rachel. Thanks.

  2. Hey Babe! Feels like I've been away from here for awhile. Ref: Rudyard Kipling: one of my favourite quotes, I think maybe by Erma Bombeck, is "If you keep your head when all around you are losing theirs, it's just possible you haven't grasped the situation."

    Ref: Henrietta Lacks: This is on top of my shortlist to present to my book group as a candidate for next year.

    Ref: Brokeback: I'm still not quite sure what I thought, after all the buildup. The mountains were pretty. I have the utmost respect for the two leads as actors. In the end, I don't feel more friendly towards sheep than I did before the movie (which I did towards cattle after watching City Slickers) and I'm not quite clear why it was thought necessary to expand the source material of a short story to a full length film. Loved Michelle Williams, though.

    The category "Surprise Blunder" made me laugh.

    I'm going to go find out about Trevanian and Oscar Wao, now. Black Hawk didn't quite do it for me, but it must have had merit considering that the previous four or so historical romances I started became DNFs. I think I need to take a break from that sub genre for awhile.

  3. lp13 - I've also been happy to see how successful Henrietta Lacks has been. I'm always reading books about the history of scientific research but I think this is the first I've come by that really shows people how science can and does affect individuals. It's sad to see how horrific some parts of scientific inquiry have been, and probably continue to be.

    I think you'll like Bury Me Deep. I especially liked the tone. I felt uneasy almost the entire time I was reading it and I thought that was a pretty cool thing for the author to impart between the lines.

    Love and Other Drugs may not be worth the time. Surprise hit just means it exceeded expectations. I can't say as my expectations were all that high. :) I think what sucked me in the most what the part of the movie about big pharma. Again, that science history...

    Don't you remember my post ranting about Source Code? :) As for 30 Minutes... I blame the trailer. I'm an excellent Trailer Deconstructionist and that trailer is misleading. Really pissed me off! Had the trailer done a better job of reflecting what the movie was really about I never would have started it.

  4. M - hehe, funny quote!

    I think you will like Henrietta Lacks. Very interesting topic.

    I avoided Brokeback Mountain for years (obviously) because I'm not a huge Ang Lee fan (my enjoyment of him seems to be predicated on subtitles:). I finally decided to give non-subtitled Lee a chance again and really ended up liking it. But, like Love and Other Drugs up there, my expectations were not high. It far, far exceeded them. I also enjoy the short story and I luuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrv Michelle Williams. She's my fave!!!

    Glad you enjoyed the blunder. It's mostly that I went into the book/movie/game thinking it was 'can't miss' even if it wouldn't be super great but came away feeling like I'd lost hours of my life never to be got back again.

    If you like thrillers then you will probably like Trevanian. He's got an odd sense of humor and does a very fine job of making fun of the very style he is using. I dig it.

    I thought Oscar Wao was better for the audio. If you do audio books that is what I recommend. I have the paperback as well but vastly prefer the audio (who knew?)

    Do you mean J. Bourne's Black Hawk? I also found it to be a let down. It's alright, of course, because she's an excellent writer but I didn't find it to be up to what I think she is capable of. :(

    Hope your New Year is starting off well!

  5. Michael, I forgot to ask what you thought of Robopocalypse. Did you end up listening to it yet?

  6. It's on my audiobook stack. I was going to schedule it this year.

  7. My advice is keep expectations low. :/ It was one of those books with parts I really loved and parts I found so unnecessary. It made it hard to get really into it. Super cool scenario, though.