I don’t know the last time I was so happy to see the backside of a year as it slugged its way out the door. 2011 was the worst year I’ve had in a long time–much worse than 2007, when simple surgery turned into a House, M.D.-worthy cascade of errors, unlucky breaks and near misses. It was probably my worst year since 1996, when my dad died–certainly the first time since then that I’ve had an episode of full-on depression. But! I told 2011 that I’d cut it a break if it would make one super-magical thing happen, and it came through for me in spades, so I’ll say no more about the major scheisse buffet it was for the first 9 months or so. Adios–or should that be a diablo?–TwennyLeven!

On the bookish side, I completed three of my four planned reading challenges; the To Read List got no love at all. RIP VI was, as ever, the highlight of the year, and the Science Books Challenge was easily and happily completed. That leaves only the massive Mt. Stephenson Challenge, which I did accomplish, but with less-happy results than I expected. It turns out–and this honestly surprised me–that there is such a thing as Too Much Stephenson for me. And it’s right about 3600 pages in under 6 months. I got to the top and found I had nothing to say, except, “Yeah…don’t follow me up here.” Well, I mean, DO, if you’re interested, but pace yourself better than I did. I’m so tired of Stephenson I can’t even think about tackling his newest, Reamde, until I get a good half-year of light, short, fluffy reading between me and the expedition. This disappoints me more than I can say, but there it is.

Science Book Challenge 2011
1. The Poisoner’s Handbook, Deborah Blum
2. Packing for Mars, Mary Roach
3. Two Sides of the Moon, Dave Scott & Alexei Leonov

Readers Imbibing Peril VI
1. Lying Dead, Aline Templeton
2. The Dark Room, Minette Walters
3. Horns, Joe Hill
4. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

Scaling Mt. Stephenson
1. Cryptonomicon
2. Quicksilver
3. The Confusion
4. The System of the World

There are 14 women and 17 men on this year’s list of authors, with several earning multiple appearances. All together, I read 26 books by women and 19 by men. I don’t pay attention through the year to the male/female breakout, so it’s always interesting to me to see how the balance falls out at year end.

1. The Liar, Stephen Fry
2. An Old-Fashioned Girl, Louisa May Alcott
3. Behind a Mask: Or, a Woman’s Power, Louisa May Alcott
4. The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin, Gordon S. Wood
5. Good Evening, Mrs. Craven, Mollie Panter-Downes
6. Eight Cousins, Louisa May Alcott
7. Rose in Bloom, Louisa May Alcott
8. The Darkness & the Deep, Aline Templeton
9. Minnie’s Room, Mollie Panter-Downes
10. The Face of a Stranger, Anne Perry
11. That Was The Millennium That Was, John Scalzi
12. My Man Jeeves, P. G. Wodehouse
13. A Dangerous Mourning, Anne Perry
14. Defend and Betray, Anne Perry
15. A Sudden, Fearful Death, Anne Perry
16. Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story, Christopher Moore
17. The Stone Gods, Jeanette Winterson
18. How Soccer Explains the World, Franklin Foer
19. Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson
20. The Poisoner’s Handbook, Deborah Blum
21. Spook Country, William Gibson
22. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
23. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling
24. Quicksilver, Neal Stephenson
25. The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family, Mary S. Lovell
26. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling
27. Wigs on the Green, Nancy Mitford
28. Wait for Me!: Memoirs, Deborah Mitford
29. The Pursuit of Love, Nancy Mitford
30. Love in a Cold Climate, Nancy Mitford
31. The Confusion, Neal Stephenson
32. American on Purpose, Craig Ferguson
33. Lying Dead, Aline Templeton
34. The Man in the Queue, Josephine Tey
35. Packing for Mars, Mary Roach
36. The Dark Room, Minette Walters
37. Horns, Joe Hill
38. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke
39. The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins
40. The Lady of the Shroud, Bram Stoker
41. The System of the World, Neal Stephenson
42. Little Brother, Cory Doctorow
43. Ready Player One, Ernest Cline
44. Two Sides of the Moon, Dave Scott & Alexei Leonov
45. Luther: The Calling, Neil Cross

Looking forward to 2012: YIKES, with the challenges already! I’ll do RIP VII, of course–I’m already picking up books and thinking, “Hmm…this would be good to put in the RIP pile.” But that’s the only challenge I’m committing to in 2012. I’m going to let my id guide my reading for a while–going strictly by interest and desire, seeking nothing but pleasure.

Having dropped most of my usual reading structure for the year, I feel I’ve got room to try something new, so I’ve signed on with the Geek Girls Book Club. That might sound contrary to what I just said about no commitments, but looking at their past selections, they’re likely to pick things I enjoy, and I’m only going to read the ones I really want to. I’ve already finished the January selection, Ready Player One. I hope that’s not bad book club etiquette, but I gave it a “quick peek” and ended up finishing it in three days–it was a fun, unchallenging rollercoaster read, just the sort of thing I need right now. I read it with gleeful greed.

Happy reading in 2012!

This entry was posted in Books and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 2011

  1. Marce says:

    Happy New Year. I was happy to have found you during RIP. Look forward to what you choose again.

    Wish you the best this year.

  2. kaizerin says:

    Thank you, Marce, and a very happy, healthy new year to you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *