I have a hard time narrowing favorite books down to a concrete number, so instead, here is a look at the books I read this year that I consider new favorites! I should note that my current read, The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, will probably be added to this when I finish it.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
I hadn't read this one in years, and a few days before Christmas I pulled it off the shelf. Even though the story was familiar to me, I was surprised by the depth and emotion in the novella. It wasn't overly sappy or preachy.
I think this is a book I definitely need to pick up and read again for future holidays. It left me feeling inspired and I remembered bits and pieces from it as I met with family over the last few days. I cannot wait to discover more of Dickens' Christmas stories, as well as sharing this one with future kiddos.
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
I kept up my new yearly tradition of reading an Austen around Christmas-time. Last year I read Emma, and this year I treated myself to this one. It had been so long since I read it, that I brushed it off as one of my least favorites.
No, I was surprised by the depth in this one, and it jumped a few places in my list of favorite Austens (although, every time I read an Austen, that title immediately becomes my favorite until I pick up another). It also had me debating if I was more of a Marianne or an Elinor. If you don't know what that means, then you best get yourself a copy and find out. :)
The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
My thoughts on this book are going up as we speak, so it is perfect timing if you haven't seen them yet. :)
This book? Hands down my all-time favorite of 2011. I was blown away by the story, the writing, and the outright emotion of this book. It actually made me cry at the end (which my husband made fun of me for), but I am STILL thinking about how wonderfully crafted this novel was.
You need to read this at some point. Trust me.
(and it isn't a difficult read-I've heard some of James' later novels are more difficult).
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
I wasn't too sure what I would see in a book about a big white whale. I mean, really, a whale?
What I didn't expect was how different this book was, and about how every small detail mattered...and didn't matter. It was wonderfully written, with immense passion and insight. It is a book I know I will come back to multiple times in my lifetime.
Don't be intimidated by this one!
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
I always blew this one off as a "boy's" book when I was younger, and I wasn't too keen on picking it up for this project. Imagine my surprise when I found myself enjoying it!
Pirates, shooting, treasure, and ships-what more could you want out of a book? I was swept away by Jim and the pirates, including Long John Silver, as they fought, searched for treasure, and explored the island.
This was one was just plain FUN.
Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
After Eva reviewed this one, I knew I had to read it. So I found this lovely edition and it sat on my nightstand for months. I finally picked it up when I couldn't think of anything else to read.
This is another book that I couldn't believe I waited so long to finally read it. The prose? Beyond explanation.
I know this one is a "modern" classic, but it is so worth it.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I had read this before when I was in high school, and while I could remember the story, I couldn't put my finger on exactly why everyone loved it so much. I was surprised by how much I didn't remember, and how much I fell in love with the characters. Atticus is hands down the best dad ever. I loved Scout and Jem's imagination and shenanigans, and Boo Radley stole my heart.
It has also made me want to name a future daughter Scout, but Matt isn't going for it.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
I put off reading this title for as long as possible. I was worried I would hate it. I was worried it wouldn't live up to all the hype, my expectations, or Villette, which I read in 2010.
I was very, very wrong. I cannot believe I waited as long as I did. Jane Eyre blew my mind. It had beautiful description and passages that I still think about. Do me a favor, if you haven't read this one yet, go get yourself a copy.
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Tolstoy has always scared me, and before I began this process and began researching other authors, I would have said he was the scariest writer I would have to tackle. Imagine my surprise when I started reading and was hooked! Like Dostoevsky last year, I was blown away by how accessible his writing was and how much I loved it!
Everyone needs to give this a try at some point. The story is huge, but well-written and emotionally compelling.
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
I had never heard of Collins until I started blogging. That might sound crazy, but I had no idea who he was. I continually read his name in blogs when I first started, and I eventually decided to add two of his books to my list (I removed some of the non-fiction titles, since I wanted to focus on fiction). For my first jump into Collins' work, I was blown away. The villain in this novel is my all-time favorite (if there can be such a thing), and the two main female characters were perfect foils for each other.
I cannot wait to read The Moonstone by Collins in 2012!
Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
This was the very first book I read in 2011. I had always been apprehensive about reading it, but I was blown away by the mystery and power of the story. It is a book I often think about picking up again, as well as inspiring me to pick up more by DuMaurier in the future.
If you haven't read this one yet, you need to add it to your TBR! It is a fabulous book!