Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Favorite Books of 2011:

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!


  1. Such great choices and commentary, Allie! I see several here I've read and loved for myself, but I also see several I'd like to tackle in 2012. I'm definitely working in more classics this year, and there are several I've ignored for a long time that deserve their moments!!!

  2. Yay for Jane Eyre, The Woman in White, and Rebecca!! :D I'm glad I kept peer pressuring you to read Jane Eyre, and that it worked out in the end, haha!

  3. I loved The Woman in White. I read that this year and fell in love. And To Kill A Mockingbird is amazing as well! I love reading your posts on your adventures through some of the classics.

  4. I'm glad to see you championing Moby Dick. It really gets a bad rap, but I think it is wonderful and so much fun to think about once you are through.

  5. A Christmas Carol and To Kill a Mockingbird would be on my all time favorite list...and I'm excited to be back on the War and Peace extended ReadAlong so that hopefully it will make my end of the year faves next year :) Wonderful list of classic reads :)

  6. I meant to reread A Christmas Carol this year but never got around to it - I definitely will before Christmas 2012!

    And The Woman in White is fantastic, I recommend it to everyone. I hope to read The Moonstone soon.

  7. I have a feeling, once I get them read, every one of these will be on my favorites lists as well. The ones here I have read, or have begun to read, are already there. :-)

    (I am SO excited to read The Portrait of a Lady!)

  8. Jane Eyre and A Christmas Caol are easy to love (at least for me)and I haven't read the other books yet but seeing that you consider both Moby Dick and War and Peace as your favourites gives me hope! I aim to read them in 2012, but to be honest they are pretty intimidating.
    I hope I will be able to count them to my favourites next year too.

  9. So glad you re-read and loved A Christmas Carol! I've recently started reading it every year, and really enjoy it every time (even though I know what is going to happen, of course).

    I've been itching to read the rest of these, especially War and Peace (which I'm determined to read before my 26th birthday) and Rebecca.

    Also, can't wait to hear your thoughts on The Age of Innocence!

  10. A Christmas Carol, Rebecca, Sense and Sensibility, To Kill A Mockingbird and A Woman in White are among some of my favourite books. I think I am going to have to add Portrait of a Lady onto my tr list.

  11. There are so many books on your list I keep meaning to read. So many books, so little time. Anyway, Austen, Dickens and Brontë are some of my favorite authors and I'm so glad to see they made your list.

  12. You have so many great books on this list! Rebecca, Jane Eyre, To Kill a Mockingbird, what an awesome year of reading.

  13. What a great list! You've mentioned some of my favourite classics - Jane Eyre, The Woman in White, To Kill a Mockingbird, Rebecca and A Christmas Carol. Moby Dick still intimidates me, but I might give it a try in 2012!

  14. Moby Dick and War and Peace remain epic fails for me. But Jane Eyre, Rebecca, and TKaM are huge favorites. I was just as surprised as you when I read them. And I'm going to have to look into Ceremony!

  15. I've read 7 of these and loved them all - especially agree with you on The Portrait of a Lady! Will get to W&P one of these days...

  16. Great choices! Those I've read I totally agree are awesome, and those I haven't are already on the to-read list.

  17. Portrait of a lady was surprising NOT a favorite for me. But I'm with you on Jane Eyre! One of my all time favorites! I need to reread Rebecca. I haven't read it since I was a teen, and I remember really enjoying it.

  18. Of those books in your list which I've read, I think I've loved them all, especially Jane Eyre, so that suggests I might love the books on your list which I haven't read yet...

    I think the only reason I'd heard of Collins pre-blogging was because I saw an adaptation of The Woman in White on PBS. I still haven't read it (2012!) but I really enjoyed The Moonstone.

  19. I loved To Kill a Mockingbird too. I'm sorry to admit that I've never read A Christmas Carol, I keep meaning to each Christmas.

  20. What a great list, full of my favorites! I've decided to tackle War & Peace next year. It'll be my 2012 project. I'll listen to it in audiobook, 5 hours a month, from January to December :)

  21. I'll be reading A Christmas Carol this year for my Year of Dickens and I'm already excited even though I won't read it until December! I have Moby Dick and Treasure Island starting at me from my TBR shelves. Maybe this is the year I read them!

    I've loved following your progress and I love seeing these great classics on your favorites list!

  22. lots of my favorites in your list. here are my 2011 favorites, more modern in tone:

  23. Great books! The Woman in White was my favourite read of 2011. I've had The Portrait of a Lady unread on my shelves for ages. I must get around to it :)

  24. Since you liked Ceremony, may I recommend that you seek out The Delicacy and Strength of Lace, which are letters between Leslie Marmo Silko and James Wright. I think they just re-released it last year, making it easier to find than a few years back, and it is phenomenal.