Best and Worst Reads of 2011

I read a lot of books this year (and still may finish a few yet!) but honestly, many of them were just okay. How did I know they were just okay? I was hard pressed to even remember the plots of some. This is the best and worst part of reading though, right? Not every single book is a gem, but the act of finding the ones that are is such a pleasure. Even if every single book doesn’t stay in my mind forever, the quiet and relaxation that reading brings to my life is ALWAYS a pleasure! I’m so glad I kept track so well this year, and I think I’ll do it again next year.

In case you’re interested these are the books I most enjoyed reading in 2011 — the ones that stuck in my mind, lolly-gagged in my psyche and made me continue thinking and missing (sometimes) fictional characters long after they was over.  (The month of “Read In:” links to the original reviews as well as links to the books themselves)


Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
Read in: The end of December 2010 but I’m including it because I have never mentioned this book on the blog and it is AWESOME!

I didn’t start recapping books until this year but this book, and end of 2010 read, is still stuck in my head in a year later so I want to mention it. It changed my running life! Also, it’s just a good story with kind of a journalistic-bent to it. If you are one of the few people who haven’t read this book, get to it!

***I would recommend this book to: Those who are interested in stories where they learn something. Those who are fascinated by Fitness Marketing. Those who have a slight curiosity about barefoot running.

The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin
Read in: January

I know I’ve said this before but I will read/watch/listen to anything Steve Martin does. I’m like this silent but rabid fan and I have no idea why except to say that he is charming and quirky and speaks to my heart.

***I would recommend this book to: Those who enjoy quirky romances, interesting sentences and books that don’t always come to resolution but still leave you satisfied.

An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken
Read in: February

Surprisingly even though this has such a sad premise, it is now vying for my favorite book of all time — the writing is just lyrical. Not that I can ever pick a singular favorite, but it’s up there.

***I would recommend this book to: Those who enjoy re-reading sentences because of their profundity. Those who aren’t scared of a sad story. Those who need a good cry.

The Long Goodbye by Meagan O’Rourke
Read in: May

I like O’Rourke’s style and frankness. I also thought this book had a lot of heart and insight into losing a parent.

***I would recommend this book to: Those who have lost a parent, or someone close. Those who need a reason to cry some crocodile tears but usually hold back.

The Wave by Susan Casey
Read in: May

***I would recommend this book to: Those who subscribe to Vanity Fair. Those who love finding excitement in topics they didn’t think they were even interested in. Those who have the hots for Laird Hamilton.

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
Read in: October

Freaky, dense plot masquerading as a serial mystery. Loved it.

***I would recommend this book to: Those who enjoy a good scary movie. Those not afraid of a translation. Those who like to chew on a book even after they are done reading it.

And just for fun, the books I felt were the WORST reads:


Room by Emma Donoghue
Read in: February

Dude…could not handle a book narrated by a 5 year old. Apparently this is just one of my things since the world at large loved this book.

The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris
Read in: April

I love what Penelope Trunk says about hating Tim Ferris. It’s exactly how I felt about his idea of “work”. Also, that spam story is amazing! Amazingly ass-holish, which is how the author came across.

How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author by Janet Evanovich
Read in: March

This was a bad audio book choice for me as I wrote in the orignal review, but I’m not sure I would have liked it anyway. I continue to always love to read books that writers write about writing (WHOA!) but this one was a miss for me.

The End of Everything by Megan Abbot
Read in: November

If you missed it, just click up there on the month and read the recent review. HATE HATE HATED!



My goal for next year is to read better books.  I know, it’s vague!  And how do you KNOW they will be better?  But that is where you come in, I hope.  Tell me 2 of the best books you read this year, I’m already compiling a list for 2012! 

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10 comments to Best and Worst Reads of 2011

  • Jessica
    December 20, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    I know you’re not into it….but my two faves of 2011 are World War Z and what I am reading right now…Ready Player One. Just can’t stop reading it, thinking about it, etc…

    • Holly
      December 20, 2011 at 5:53 pm

      Thanks Jessica! A number of people have recommended Ready Player One to me so I am waiting for it to come in at the library. It looks unique and I love that in a book most of the time. Garrett had World War Z on audio but didn’t get to start it before it was due back but maybe he’ll read it and then I’ll get the plot synopsis :) I’m talking Garrett into doing a What He’s Reading series on the blog next year, so probably that will show up!

  • Carol
    December 20, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell

    • Holly
      December 20, 2011 at 5:55 pm

      I’ve heard such good things about Night Circus…I’m definitely intrigued! I’ll have to look up the other reco. Thanks!

  • Jesabes
    December 20, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    My husband LOVED Born to Run! He kept trying to convince me to read it, but I haven’t yet.

    Best two books I read this year:
    The 19th Wife, by David Ebershoff
    State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett

  • Amelia
    December 20, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    I was laughing when I read what you wrote about Tim Ferris. I know he also wrote a book called The Four Hour Body that is very close to Paleo. I can’t bring myself to read it, though — too big of a Penelope fan :) I heard him on a podcast once (Jimmy Moore?) and he sounded like he knew what he was talking about with the food, etc. I think he can/does appeal to a certain demographic (which is not me) so I’m happy the word’s getting out, regardless of the messenger!

    My favorite series of the year was The Hunger Games. I was slow to catch on to it, but I am so glad that I did. I pretty much inhaled all three books in one week. I listened to them as audiobooks nonstop until the end. So. Good.

    • Holly
      December 20, 2011 at 5:57 pm

      I’m feel the same way — get out the message, who cares about the messenger — but UGH, Tim Ferris was a little hard to take! :)

  • 2012 Reading Goals
    December 28, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    […] me because this is the first year I have read the number of books I set out to read. There were some great books and some duds, and of course just middle of the road pics but as I’m wont to do, I have made some new book […]

  • April
    January 2, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    I’m so glad to hear someone else didn’t like Room either-I could only make it through one chapter! The narration was so hard to read and didnt engage me at all.

    Personally, my fave reads from 2011 were Life as we Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer and Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashers. I’m a sucker for books aimed towards teens haha.

    I just found your blog through Melissa Joulwan and I love it! I love that you like reading and paleo! Cant wait to see what you read and cook in 2012!





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