January 2012
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Sunday Salon – January 1, 2012 – HAPPY NEW YEAR!

January 1, 2012

Happy New Year! It is hard to believe, but 2011 is over and we are launching into a new year of reading. I did not participate in Sunday Salon last week because of Christmas, so today’s post will cover my reading over the last two weeks – as well as discussion of what is coming up this month and what I plan to read this week. So, pour your beverage of choice and put up your feet – it’s time to talk books (visit the Sunday Salon Facebook page for more Sunday Salon posts)!

Before I discuss the books I read in the last days of 2011, I wanted to point you toward my Best Books of 2011 post. 2011 was a terrific year of reading for me and I struggled to narrow down my choices. But ultimately, I chose books which moved me deeply. Later today, I will be posting a recap of my reading year.

I thoroughly enjoyed Midsummer Night in the Workhouse by Diana Athill (read my review) which is a collection of short stories. This is a slim book whose stories are easily read in one sitting. Athill’s writing is very accessible – fluid and funny, and intimately observant. In this collection, she includes stories which are connected by the themes of love with its joys, messiness, and heartbreak. Readers who enjoy the art of the short story should add this collection to their to-be-read stacks…it is classic.

I was swept away and found myself completely immersed in Justin Torres’s stunning novella We The Animals (read my review). This one made it onto my short list of best books of 2011 for its gorgeous writing and characters who stole my heart. We the Animals is a debut novel – and Torres is an author I will be watching. I should mention that this is not an easy, nor an enjoyable read – it is brutal, sad and heartbreaking. But, the writing and the characters are so well done…and there is a twist at the end which I definitely did not see coming.

My final book of the year was River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh (read my review). This was a slow read for me, but it is a dazzling historical novel. Ghosh juggles a lot of characters in this book which centers around the Opium Wars. Some of the characters are from the first book in the trilogy (which I recommend you read before this one), and some are new (both historical and fictional). I was surprised that it took me nearly 10 days to finish this book, but I think it had less to do with the novel, and more to do with my crazy schedule over the last two weeks. At any rate, although River of Smoke didn’t make my best of 2011 list (like I thought it would), it is still a novel I highly recommend.

Last night I picked up Elliot Perlman’s new novel: The Street Sweepers. I have never read anything by this notable author and I am really looking forward to this one. It is a fat, chunky book and we will be highlighting it over at the Chunkster Challenge blog this month (which includes a giveaway opportunity for those people signed up for either the 2011 or 2012 challenge and a guest post by the author). I hope to make a sizeable dent in the book today and tomorrow and be able to post a review towards the end of the week.

This month is Orange January and I have some great books on my list to read including:

  • Scottsboro by Ellen Feldman (2009 Shortlist)
  • Annabel by Kathleen Winter (2011 Shortlist)
  • Swamplandia! by Karen Russell (2011 Longlist)

I hope you’ll consider joining us over at the Facebook page…and also check Jill’s blog each day this month for opportunities to win some fabulous books (the first giveaway post is here). If you are not sure what to read, check out the Orange Prize Project blog for reviews of books which have either won or been nominated for the Orange Prize. Want to join the blog? Drop me an email at caribousmom (at) gmail (dot) com and ask for an invite!

Other books in my stacks for this month are:

  • Come in and Cover Me by Gin Phillips
  • Alice in Bed by Cathleen Schine
  • The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney
  • American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar
  • In the Time of the Feast of Flowers by Tina Egnoski
  • The Artist of Disappearance by Anita Desai

This month promises to be a fun one over on The Chunkster Challenge. Besides our giveaway of Eliot Perlman’s novel, we’ll be announcing the books for the Chunky Book Club (I hope you’ll consider voting in our Chunky Book Club poll which closes on January 10th). It is also not too late to sign up for the 2012 challenge. Watch for more giveaways of chunky books throughout the year as well.

Whew – this was a long post! I hope you stuck with me until the end!!!

What are you doing on this first day of 2012? I hope whatever you are up to, it involves a great book (or two!). Have a wonderful day and week ahead!




  1. January 1, 2012    

    Happy New Year, Wendy! I look forward to another blogging year with everyone, and exchanging life, recipes, and the books we all like! It’s been a fun year, I must say. I will definitely check out the Orange January site and just became a fan of the Facebook page (both from Coffee and a Book Chick and my personal page, just to make sure I don’t miss a thing). Here’s to another year with everyone! 🙂

  2. January 1, 2012    

    *exchanging life stories* … not life. 🙂

  3. Deb Nance at Readerbuzz Deb Nance at Readerbuzz
    January 1, 2012    

    You have certainly been busy in the last two weeks! Lots of great novel ideas…thank you! I always have difficulty finding worthy novels.

    Here are my Reading Resolutions for 2012.

  4. MJ MJ
    January 1, 2012    

    Your post reminded me that I want to read Swamplandia! this month. I just put in a hold at the library and I imagine I’ll be able to pick it up in a couple days. Happy New Year!

  5. January 1, 2012    

    Happy new year, Wendy!

    I just finished Artist of Disappearance a few days ago and liked it a lot. Hope you enjoy it!

  6. January 1, 2012    

    Can’t wait to read We the Animals! Happy New Year!

  7. January 1, 2012    

    Happy New Year, Wendy! It’s hard for me to believe it’s January already!

  8. Kay Kay
    January 1, 2012    

    Sounds like you’ve had some good reading, Wendy! Happy New Year to you and I look forward to hearing your reactions to your Orange books. Hugs and thanks for the kind words and support.

  9. Jill Jill
    January 1, 2012    

    Happy New Year! Enjoy Orange January!

  10. January 1, 2012    

    Natalie: I am definitely looking forward to reading you again this year (and sharing our lives!). And I am so glad you are planning to read some Orange books this month with us!

    Deb: It was a whirlwind end to 2011!

    MJ: Oh good – I’ll be interested to share thoughts with you about Russell’s novel!

    Teresa: Oh, I’m glad you liked Desai’s newest…It looks like a quick read too!

    Brooke: Hope it is as memorable for you as it was for me!

    Kathy: No kidding! Happy New Year right back atcha!

    Kay: I am SO glad you are “back” with your new blog!! Happy New Year 🙂

    Jill: Happy New Year to you as well – I’ll be starting my first orange book right after I finish the Perlman novel!

  11. January 1, 2012    

    A very happy new year to you! I hope 2012 is even better for you!

  12. January 1, 2012    

    Happy New Year Wendy! Looks like you’ve been reading some great books. I’ll see you around the Orange January page!

  13. January 1, 2012    

    The Street Sweepers looks good – I love that cover. 🙂 I haven’t had much time for reading today – only a bit of audio. I’m listening to Thanks for the Memories by Cecelia Ahern, which is a lot of fun. I’m hoping to get some reading time in this evening – I’ve got two going in print: That Distant Land: The Collected Stories by Wendell Berry, and Tipperary by Frank Delaney.

    Happy New Year!

  14. January 1, 2012    

    Thank you SO much for the reminder about Orange January! I’d totally forgotten about it, and have every intention of joining in. I really enjoyed Orange July.

  15. January 1, 2012    

    I would love to join the chubby bookclub, but I will see; too many books to read this coming year as I signed up for a lot challenges and read-alongs.

    You can view my Sunday Salon post here.

  16. January 1, 2012    

    Happy New Year Wendy!

  17. January 3, 2012    

    Just stopped by to wish you Happy New Year, Wendy!

    I look forward to following your reading, quilting, and Raven reviews in 2012 🙂

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