The books I read and loved in 2011

My year of reading is done! I did better this year than last. I found more time to enjoy reading and although I got through a mere eleven books – I thoroughly enjoyed them.

Here are the books that I read in 2011. I don’t read a great deal. I am more a lover of films and theatre.  My comments below are my views on the books. You may agree or disagree with my views. Perhaps you wish to comment or to recommend my some ‘great reads’ for the year.

One Day by David Nicholls (2009)

Is it possible for anyone to read this book without crying? Possibly one of the best books that I have ever read. It is truly heartwarming and beautifully written. I loved the characters and felt as though I knew them so well. I also felt as though I had lost someone. I was shocked at the end. I didn’t see the shock coming and I didn’t want to believe it for a few pages… If ever there was a book to make you sit up and think about your life and how it is too short, then this is it. Pure masterpiece!

A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French (2010).

From the first sentence I was drawn in. Dawn French is brilliant on TV and her writing is just as brilliant. The story takes you on a journey with one family. An ordinary family. The mother (almost 50) and the daughter (almost 18) have a difficult relationship which comes through from both perspectives. I felt as though I knew them both. Oh, there are real people that I can imagine being just the same. The brother in the story had me in fits of laugher. Oscar Wilde reborn. Brilliant. Heartwarming. Hillarious. So very realistic. This is an easy book to read and one that is well worth doing.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K.Rowling (2000).

A superbly written book by Rowling. The first of the mammoth books and a real page-turner. I couldn’t stop reading it. There were so many wonderful elements to the book and lots that had been missed out of the film-adaption. Rowling starts to bring in dark twists and a more mature approach to the story. Brilliant throughout. Of course, knowing the story from beginning to end, it is fantastic to re-read and appreciate where clues are continually dropped in. o many unanswered questions… I surprised myself with how much I’d forgotten. For anyone who’d ever doubted the depth of Rowling’s novels – this is the book to sway even the most sceptical reader. A must read. I can’t wait for the next one – the biggest book (a pause in the series first….).

Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban by J.K.Rowling (1999).

The third book had always been one of my favourites. I love the twists in it especially the use of the time-turner by Hermione and Harry later on in the book. Again, Rowling drip feeds the reader with more clues about how the whole story will develop. Great stuff. When I first read the book I didn’t get the clues about Scabbers until late on in the story. How could I have missed it?! The anticipation from this book was immense. The last of the ‘little’ books. The big instalment next…

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K.Rowling (1998).

Back in 1998 when this was written, Harry Potter was still new to the world. The real craze had not quite started… I hadn’t queued up for this book at midnight to buy it. The return to Hogwarts is not without adventure. Rowling needed to summarise many of the important parts of the plot from the previous book (Dursleys, Quidditch, the four houses, etc). The second book flies by. The story has all the ingredients of the last and speeds through a year in the life of Harry Potter. Great to see the plot thickening,….. Harry Potter has a link to Lord Voldemort from the night he was attacked. Of the mystery,….. I love this series. Next book, please! :))

Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (1997).

Re-reading the first if Rowling’s Harry Potter book’s has been thoroughly enjoyable. When I first read the book back in 1997 it took some convincing to finish. I tool the story at face value and saw it as yet another ‘witch and wizard fantasy adventure’. Knowing how the entire series unfolds I’m amazed at the clues that she managed to weave into the first book. An extremely well written and multi-layered book with super characters. The first hints that Harry has similarities to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named are planted in the story, the pain in the scar, the importance of wands and the invisibility cloak are also mentioned. Wonderful, wonderful stuff. Book 2 here I come!

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby (2005).

What an anti-climax. There were parts of the book which I felt were so funny, but after weeks and weeks and weeks or reading, I’ve finally finished the book. I’m not impressed. I wish I’d given up, but I never do. I slogged on through it. Depressing at times (it is about suicide after all) and funny at others. I just thought the story drifted into a nothing story. I don’t think I’ll be reading more by Nick Hornby.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne (2006).

 A fast but addictive read. (Full review here). After finishing the book I was left speechless. Whilst reading, Ireally felt as though I was back in 1940 observing the effects of the war on Bruce, his family and the Jews. The story centres around the Auschwitz ‘death’ (concentration) camp in Poland where Bruce is moved when his father is promoted to the position of Obersturmbannführer. Bruce and his family live in the guard house and it is only after some exploring and questioning that Bruce begins to become more aware of who the people are on the other side of the fence.

The innocence of Bruno and the friendship that grows between him and Shmuel is heartwarming. The book touches on the horrendous truths of what happened back during World War II. By the end of the story the hairs on my arms were standing on end….

Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour by Kate Fox (2004).

Phew – I finally finished! It took me long enough to wade through this heavy book. Funny in most parts and quite deep (exploring the English and class) in other parts. I survived the journey. Kate Fox’s exploration into what makes the English – well, English was great to read. There were so many truths that I could relate to. Saying “sorry” for almost everything (including breathing), tutting at everything in life but never complaining directly, the joys of tea and the interest in everyone else’s lives were all mentioned. Since reading the book I have to say that I am more interested and more aware of the things my English friends do. I even find myself putting them onto a scale of Englishness. Maybe I’m not so English after all.

I have already blogged a little more about the book and Englishness in general here.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (2003).

I started reading this book alongside a Dutch student that I have been tutoring for the past 18 months. The book takes the first-person perspective of a fifteen-year old boy, Christopher, with ‘learning difficulties’. It is not explicitly stated in the book, but there are characteristics behaviour from within the autistic spectrum. This book opened my eyes to autism and really made me think about what the world would be like from their perspective. The book begins with the death of Christopher’s neighbour’s dog. He sets out on a quest to find the dog’s killer and ends up crossing boundaries that he’d set himself. A gripping plot that made me want to keep reading until the very end. This was a very satisfying read.

The Legend of Dragonmoon by Alison Zeitler (2010).

My first book to finish in 2011 and it was one written by a friend of mine. This book, written for children, is all about a girl’s unexpected adventure as she travels to stay with family in Norway. There’s plenty of mystery and a legend that the local people keep well hidden. I blogged about this book and my friend Alison. You can read it here.

9 thoughts on “The books I read and loved in 2011

    • You’ve never read Harry Potter!?!? Really? After book one and two, which will whizz by you may well fall in love with the series. Don’t dismiss them as children’s stories as you’ll be amazed at how full of clues the first simple books are.
      Glad you liked the reviews. Thanks.

  1. Watching the English is one of my favourite books of all time. I found it so well written and insightful that I just whizzed through it (having studied a bit of anthropology at uni I found Kate Fox’s style refreshingly light!). It also made me laugh out loud on the tube, which as we all known is terribly unEnglish.

    • I kept laughing while reading it. Great book and scarily true. Luckily I was in the comfort of my home when I read it so I didn’t embarrass myself with public giggling.
      I wonder which books I will read in 2012.

  2. You’ve just reminded me of the promise I made to myself to read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
    I have Nick Hornby’s ‘How to be good’ – I’m sure I read it! I remember thinking, I liked his writing style, but I cannot, for the life of me, remember the content of the book!

    Have a great Christmas Jamie!

    • Merry Christmas Terri. Hope your holiday has been wonderful too. I’ve been over in England at my mum’s house. Having a fab time. Let me know when you get the book. It’s very English so I hope you ‘get’ it.

      • Well, I’ll certainly bug you if I need a bit of tutoring on the English stuff. Not that you offered. LOLOL Glad you’re having a wonderful holiday. I hope you have some FUN New Years plans?

      • As a fully trained teacher, I am always happy to support maidens in distress.

        The holiday has taken a bit of a dip. I’m sitting in the car in awful traffic. Traffic jam for over an hour now. I’m not driving, clearly… I am sitting being driven.. slowly mad.

        We’re going to a new years party…. 70s 80s theme. I was only 4 months old when the 80s started. Hehehe.

        You? What will you be up to?

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