Booking Through Thursday – My Best Reads of 2009

This week’s Booking Through Thursday asks — It’s the last day of the year, and you know what that means … nostalgia and looking back. What were your favorite books of the year? (Books that were new to you in 2009, if not necessarily published this year.).

BBT just so happened to be my post for today so this was an easy one this morning. πŸ™‚

I took a look back at my list of books that I read this year and here are the best of the bunch. Some are old and some are new. I decided not to separate out any particular genre, so in the end, it’s just my list of what I read and liked this year in no particular order.

What I liked

The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell – It was funny, slightly educational, and entertaining.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – This book sat on my shelf for years before I picked it up. It made me mad, made me cry, and made me laugh. I’m sorry I waited so long to read it.

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates – This was a phenomenal book. You should read it.

Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell – This year was the year of Cornwell for me…I read a lot of his books this year. Agincourt was probably my favorite.

Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament by SG Browne – OK, I know, zombies…but it was really funny, like laugh out loud funny.

Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji – I read, no devoured, this book in one sitting. It was just wonderful.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – Again, another book I don’t know why I waited so long to read. It took me forever to finish because I kept going back to re-read passages.

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger – I think this was a love it or hate it book. I didn’t love it as much as The Time Traveler’s Wife but I still loved it.

The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran – She has become one of my new favorite authors. I can’t wait for her next book.

An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon – What can I say, I have a soft spot in my heart for this series.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson – Jackson is just a wonderful writer. She pulls you in and you can’t put her books down until you’ve finished the last word.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater – This is the first book of her’s that I’ve read but I will be looking for more in 2010.

What I didn’t Finish

Memnoc the Devil by Anne Rice – I don’t know what it is but I can never finish an Anne Rice novel.

Drood by Dan Simmons – I liked The Terror but for some reason, couldn’t get into this one.

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett – I tried, I really did. I plan to pick this one up again in 2010.

Powers by John B. Olson – I didn’t like any of the characters. What can I say, it happens sometimes.

Well, that’s it for 2009. I’m starting my list anew for 2010 and wish you all the best for another year of great reading.

Happy New Year!

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Booking Through Thursday on Friday

Booking Through Thursday asks – What do you think of speed-reading? Is it a good way to get through a lot of books, or does the speed-reader miss depth and nuance? Do you speed-read? Is some material better suited to speed-reading than others?

The BBT question went up late yesterday so I didn’t get a chance to participate. I thought I’d put something up today since I so enjoy these questions.

No, I don’t speed read. I’m a pretty speedy reader and have been known to finish a book in one day but if it’s a book I’m loving, I try to slow down and savor the ride.

I think speed reading has a place and will admit to doing it at work when I need to get through things on my desk. The problem with speed reading, at least for me, is that I don’t always remember what I read and I like to remember what I read so I don’t do it often. I also think it takes more concentration to speed read. I feel I have to focus more so I can take the words in and have them mean something to me in the end instead of being a blur of words on a page. It takes away the fun of reading for me. Although, at work, sometimes it pays to read fast because no matter what you do, it won’t be fun reading and it’s just best to get it out of the way fast. πŸ™‚

So, my answer is no, I’m not a huge fan. It’s the little quirks in books that I adore. You miss so much when you fly by instead is take the long route.

Booking Through Thursday

Booking Through Thursday asks – What items have you ever used as a bookmark? What is the most unusual item you’ve ever used or seen used?

I have one favorite bookmark that I use pretty much all the time. If I’m reading more than one book, the slip of paper from the library and, on a plane, my boarding pass. I’ve also used the receipt from the bookstore on occasion. I have a stack of bookmarks sitting on the bookshelf that I somehow accumulated over the years so I have plenty to go around if needed.

I don’t dogear. Never have, never will. I would never ever consider putting a book down open to hold my place. That’s just mean! I usually remove slip covers if I can but I’ve once or twice used it as a bookmark when nothing else was handy.

Honestly, I can’t say what I’ve seen other people use as bookmarks. My face is usually buried in a book and I don’t come up for air long enough to notice what others do sometimes.

What about you?

Booking Through Thursday

Booking Through Thursday asks – What’s your favorite part of Booking Through Thursday? Why do you participate (or not)?

Why participate? I like taking a moment each week to think about what I’m reading and books in general.

My favorite part is reading what others have said. Obviously, the more controversial or crazy the topic the better the reading. I’m not in any way suggesting the questions have to be this way every week but I think that’s when the most creative and thoughtful answers appear. It’s a challenge some Thursdays to answer the question and I enjoy that. I think it’s a good reminder of why we do this.

I found so many wonderful blogs through BTT that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to read and, well, my TBR has grown to gargantuan proportions that I abandoned it until 2010 when I will be starting over. New year, new list.Β  And that’s a good thing and a good reason to participate.

What about you? Do you participate and why?

Booking Through Thursday

Booking Through Thursday asks – Do you think any current author is of the same caliber as Dickens, Austen, Bronte, or any of the classic authors? If so, who, and why do you think so? If not, why not? What books from this era might be read 100 years from now?

This one today requires too much thinking for me this early in the morning. So here’s how I’m answering — I’m going to talk about a few of my favorites and if I think they’ll be around 100 years from now. Yes, I’m going to cheat and that’s twice this week with memes but at least I’m telling you up front.

Some of my favorite books:

(Not a complete list by any means but what I can come up with quickly and usually my go to books when I need a comfort read.)

Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen

Little Woman by Louisa May Alcott

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

The Lord of the Rings by JR Tolkien

Harry Potter by JK Rowling

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Do I think any of these books will still be read 100 years from now?

Some, yes. Others, no. JK Rowling maybe. The books are a phenomenon regardless of whether you like them or not and I think because of that they will be around for a while. I don’t know if Gabaldon and Niffenegger will be though. I love their books but who am I to say they will turn into classics.

Looking over my list, these books are about love, heartbreak, life, death, family, friends, understanding, and the challenges and torments of life. I think a unique take on everyday life is what makes a book a classic and the ones that do it best are the ones we find ourselves reading over and over. Maybe it shouldn’t be about who wrote the books but what they are about.

Any thoughts on this one?

Booking Through Thursday…on Saturday

Booking Through ThursdayBooking Through Thursday asks – β€œLife is too short to read bad books.” I’d always heard that, but I still read books through until the end no matter how bad they were because I had this sense of obligation.

That is, until this week when I tried (really tried) to read a book that is utterly boring and unrealistic. I had to stop reading. Do you read everything all the way through or do you feel life really is too short to read bad books?

I was out of town all last week and didn’t have a chance to read Booking Through Thursday’s question. I was having trouble with one of the books I took on my trip and kept wondering whether I should plod through it or just give it up so when I finally recovered from the red-eye flight, I was surprised to see how timely this week’s question was!

I have been trying for weeks to read The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I got about 25 pages into it on the first attempt and then decided to renew it at the library because I thought it would be a good book for a long trip. It’s BIG, 973 pages big. On my second attempt, I got to page 40 and then picked up another book. I’m now on page 53 and haven’t opened it in a week. I think I may have to give it back to the library and try again next year. The few pages I read were fine but I wasn’t pulled in and with so many other books vying for me attention, I think it’s time to stop feeling guilty about not finishing it and move on.

Normally, I give a book a lot of leeway before I quit. Usually 250 pages is my threshold but I didn’t get anywhere near that on this one but I do plan to try again after the new year. Maybe 2010 will be my year to finally finish The Pillars of the Earth.

Booking Through Thursday

Booking Through ThursdayBooking Through Thursday asks — Which do you prefer? Biographies written about someone? Or autobiographies written by the actual person (and/or ghost-writer)?

Biographies written about someone. It’s not one of my favorite genres though and unless it’s something that really interests me, I tend not to read many.Β  It’s odd, I love stories but somehow when they are based on real people I find them less fascinating.Β  I wonder why that is…and it’s too early for me to delve into that.

Although, one of my most fascinating reads has been a biography — Augustus by Anthony Everitt. I also have his book Cicero. (I love reading about ancient Rome.) I got about 40 page in before I put it down. I should start it again one of these days.