A Year of Reading

It was a year ago that I started this blog with some lofty goals: blog at least once a week, read 25 novels in the spring, achieve world peace, blah, blah, blah. Judging from the date of my last post (September!), you would think that I would feel what most people do when they make those silly resolutions that they never keep: inadequacy, regret, failure. Nope, nope, and nope. Deep down in my heart, I knew that I wasn't going to stick to those ridiculously high expectations, but I like to set the mark high even if I don't always quite reach it. 2011 was not a year of failure in my reading and writing life: Contrary to the evidence on this blog, I count it as a year of success.

Here's what I did right in 2011: I completed my reading goal of 111 books, thanks to the help of the 2011 Goodreads Reading Challenge. That's 11, 374 pages that I read this year while juggling all of my mom/wife/librarian responsibilities. I'm proud of that because it proves that you are never too busy to read. Viewing my stats gives me a sense of accomplishment. Time for full disclosure: most of these are picture books, and some purists might say, "Those don't count!" Well, why the heck not? I'm an elementary librarian who reads books to kids for a living--that should count for something.

What I did right in 2011 was that I made time EVERY DAY for some kind of reading--reading to my girls before bedtime, reading for myself--often just a paragraph before my eyes got that blissful heavy feeling, and I am more convinced than ever that there's no better way to drift off to sleep than with someone else's story dancing in your head-- and I spent most of my work days doing what I love--reading to other people's children. No, I did not read at the pace that I wanted to, but I read books that utterly changed me at my own speed and on my own terms. Isn't that what an authentic reading life should be? Overall, 2011 was a great reading year.

Here are my favorite books from my 2011 reading experience. In order to make this easier, I've broken them down into two categories: fiction/nonfiction and picture books.

Ten Best Fiction/Nonfiction Books that I Read in 2011 (ranked in order by emotional reaction that was stirred) :
1. Out of my Mind--Ugly cried twice
2. Same Kind of Different as Me--Ugly cried once. Changed my perspective on homelessness.
3. Unbroken--Kept having to remind myself that this man LIVED THROUGH HELL
4. Room--Had to walk away several times because of the book's INTENSITY
5. Bossy Pants--Laughter that turned to tears--that's the best kind
6. Because of Mr. Terupt--A must-read for all educators. Got my 6th grade teachers and students hooked on this book. That's high praise!
7. The Language of Flowers--Beautiful writing and riveting story
8. Revolution--Fantastic story that kept me warm and entertained while we were held captive in our home during the Ice Bowl of 2011
9. Matched--The Giver meets Hunger Games
10. Shiver--Mindless Escape that was more well-written and had more wolves than Twilight

Top 10 Picture Books (ranked by Kid Reaction):
1. Shark vs. Train--My favorite read-aloud of the year
2. Chalk--Freaking Amazing wordless picture book
3. 14 Cows for America--I had to fight back tears every time I read this aloud. And the kids
fully understood the significance. A very powerful teaching moment for me.
4. Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse--When fifth and sixth grade boys request a book
of poetry because they think it's COOL, well, that's pretty spectacular.
5. Twelve Terrible Things--A HUGE hit last spring and still never on the shelf
6. Art and Max--AMAZING illustrations and so much to discuss
7. Goal!--A favorite of my upper grades
8. Red Sled--A holiday hit this December for my school kids as well as my own girls.
9. Back of the Bus--Extremely powerful. I love when picture books have such depth.
10. The Boss Baby--The perfect baby shower gift. A kids' book written for grownups--especially
parents. The kids didn't appreciate it as much as I did.

(To see the covers of all of this fantastic books, look on the left side of my blog.)

There's always room for improvement. In 2012, I want to Facebook less and read more and write more. Maybe I can get into a consistent blogging habit. Maybe not. The only concrete goal I will set is my 2012 Goodreads Reading Challenge. I will read 150 books in 2012. (And yes, a majority of those will be picture books, but I do want to read more novels.)

So far, 2012 has started with a reading bang. On December 28, I started a fantastic book that I know will be on my Top 10 List of 2012: 11/22/63. I am not a Stephen King fan--I admire him as a writer and storyteller, but I'm too chicken to read his scary stuff--but this book has grabbed me by both shoulders and sucked me in to its time-traveling world. The sign of a great book is when you catch yourself thinking about the characters during the day and anticipating that moment when you can re-enter and become absorbed in the world of the story. That's me. Right now. I want to get back in that book and see where it takes me.

Since the New Year brings about a time of self-reflection and puts most in that goal-making spirit, make some reading goals for yourself. Join Goodreads. It's such a great place to get recommendations and keep track of the books you've read and want to read. But no matter what you do, READ. It's the best thing we can do for our minds, our hearts, and our spirits.

Happy 2012! Happy Reading! Hopefully, three months won't pass before I come back to the blog. I'll make that a goal.


  1. I really really enjoy reading your blog Amianne! I don't have time for much reading but I keep a few on ereaders just in case I can grab a paragraph here & there. But, I don't want to spend the time I do have reading jackets trying to figure out what I'll read next! Also, I've started walking this year (part of how I lost the 60 lbs plus training for the Komen 3Day...so many walks are 2-4 + hours). I'm not a big music person & could never make it through a 4+ hour walk listening to music. I have fallen in love with audiobooks. I have used your blog to sort of filter my book search! I love love your concise reviews! Thanks!

  2. Your comment has made my day! Audio books rock! I hope to do a better job updating the blog this year. I'm loving 11/22/63. Congrats on your walking success! That is so awesome!!


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