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!