Friday, December 30, 2011

My Top 13 Books of 2011

Stealing an idea from Pinkies Blog I have My Top 13 Books of 2011. Most were published before 2011, but having only read them this year, my experiences with them can be considered fairly new. Why thirteen and not ten? Take a look at book one on the list (which is, otherwise, in no particular order.)

Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, by Maureen Johnson. She was one of those authors I was following on Twitter before ever having read her work. Funny, insightful and responding to tweets from her fans, I had to give her a read. And I loved it. This is one for the YA fans, full of adventure, a bit of romance, an awkward teenager (weren't we all one?) and lots of travelling.

Will Grayson Will Grayson, by John Green and David Levithan. I'll admit, I was a little bit worried about this one, given I had never read anything by the latter, but that didn't stop me giving it a read and falling in love with it. I love the ideas around friendship, the acceptance of people who are different, the excitement of the idea of the Tiny Cooper's musical and the sense that I wanted things to go well for everyone, if Will Grayson would just stop being an idiot. Again, one of the YA fans.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky. Can I pronounce his surname? No, but I can try! Did I love the book? Indeed I did. I was in dire need of something that might remind me of John Green's books, remembering his other three books too well, still, to read them again. So I Amazoned them, found what other people were buying, and found this one. It's a little bit weird, and the character can be a little bit annoying, but then I realised something: I can also be a little bit annoying. (Understatement?) A good book, though not as similar to John Green's books as I thought it might be.

All My Friends Are Superheroes, by Andrew Kaufman. I think I found this book in the same way as Chbosky's novel, though I can't be sure. It's a short book about a man who has a lot of friends, all of whom are - you guessed it - superheroes. Except, you know, they're not. Not really. You'll understand when you read the book, and I highly suggest you pick it up ASAP.

, by Philip Roth. A lecturer of mine, and head of the English Department in my college, recommend Roth to me as an author, just generally. I had seen his latest novel, Nemesis, in the shop where I work, but as much as I loved the look and the idea of the big yellow hardback, I was not willing to spend the money I didn't have on it. So I went looking for another book, and found this. A fairly short read, kind of depressing, but highly enjoyable.

Raggy Maggie
, by Barry Hutchison. While he released a couple of books this year (one of which I still haven't even bought! Shame!), this one still stands out for me as his book of the year. Yes, it came out in 2010. No, I didn't get it until February. It was freaky in all the right places, and really made me look at toys in a different light! A fantastic children's horror that will scare the adults in the house! Don't miss out on the fun!

The Warlock, by Michael Scott. Definitely one of the best books in the series. With everything coming to a finish, I was drawn in to the building climax. I love his system of magic, his mix of myth and history, the realism of the settings (since he describes real-world settings as exact as he can). I just really love this series! Plus, I got to interview him about it later and find out his little secrets!

Sh*t My Dad Says
, by Justin Halpern. I'm not one for biographies, really, but I saw this book and had to give it a shot. Easily one of the funniest books I've ever read, without losing the warmth and comfort of the father-son relationship that becomes more evident as the book goes on. You really get a sense of what his dad is like from his little quips about everything in life. I read it in one sitting, which I'd previously only done with Harry Potter books when I was obsessed with them!

, by Michael Grant. With this series getting creepier by the instalment, the FAYZ is falling apart. Well, not literally. But you get the point. Dystopia is just about all it's cracked up to be, when hunger, power-outages and bad politicians are the least of your problems! This is a series to watch, as society is pulled apart piece by piece.

One Red Paperclip
, by Kyle MacDonald. Again, a biography. I saw this one when it first came into my shop, way back when, and did't buy it. It went off the radar, I could never find it, and then my brother got it for me online. It's a fantastic little book, full of enthusiasm and excitement, adventure and Canada. God I love Canada! This one's worth checking out just to see how someone goes from a paperclip to a house in a year!

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life, by Bryan Lee O'Malley. Yep, a graphic novel! I loved the film, and then I found the book, so I had to get it. Had to. Literally. I couldn't stop myself picking it up and paying for it. Some dark, nerdy force had taken over and made me buy this book, then made me laugh with all the humour of the film in book form, with hilarious looking characters and a whole load of crazy. And chords to the songs. Oh yes. It's that cool. Definitely read it and watch the film. It will change your life.*

The Great Gatsby
, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This was on my reading list in first year in college (and I'm old now - third year!) but I couldn't get into it. Then John Green (yes, that guy who wrote the book mentioned above) encouraged all of Nerdfighteria to read it. And I did. And I loved it. And I John agreed with the points I made about the American Dream in the comments section of the video on YouTube. And I am aware that there are far too many conjunctions in this paragraph. But that's enthusiasm for you. Loved this book, and even though the ending can be a little bit odd, it's worth the read (even if you just want to read about the worst case of drunk driving in literature.)

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley. Unlike Pinkie, I have no problems mentioning a book I read for college. It was on our Gothic module, and while it took me a long time to read (because of the plethora of assignments popping up throughout the year... and a trip to France) I loved every bit of it. I made a point of reading it every morning with a cup of tea on the bench outside the college as a way of starting the day, until it got too cold and wet to continue doing that. Once you get used to the way it's written (there's a narrated story, within a narrated story, within a letter), it's a very enjoyable book, and it's no wonder it's lasted this long. What surprised me most was the way in which Hollywood has distorted the idea of Frankenstein over the years, making him out to be a blood thirsty monster from the off-set. To really understand the monster, and to get an insight on humanity that's as true now as it was when Shelley wrote the novel, you have to read this book.

Next year, I'll have lots of books to read that I've been really looking forward to. Expect a lot of excitement online when John Green's latest book, The Fault in Our Stars arrives at my house, as well as a look at Michael Scott's adult horror, Barry Hutchison's Doc Mortis, Herman Melville's Moby Dick and Maureen John's The Name of the Star, just to name a few. 2012 is going to be a big year!

*May not actually change your life.

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