Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Diane's Top Books of 2011

After a few nights of endless typing, I finally had my spreadsheet.

Since mid-June 2004 I've kept several sheets of loose-leaf paper on a clipboard, neatly recording each book I've read, plus the author and the month I finished it. For nearly the last five years, I've read exactly eight books per month. Before then, it was sometimes more, sometimes, less.

Even with the handwritten list, it was difficult to keep track of what I had and hadn't read. I once reserved Washington Irving's "A History of New York" from the library, only to discover when I picked it up that the cover looked extremely familiar. Sure enough, when I took a closer look at my list, I realized I already read it -- less than two years before, in 2009.

So I now have a neatly organized spreadsheet, searchable by title, author and month. I still have my clipboard because, honestly, that's often easier to scan. And that's what I used to look over the 96 books I'll have read by the end of the year.

I noticed a theme this year: new books. In the past year or two I've made a concentrated effort to read new bestsellers and critically acclaimed books, ones that might be the classics of tomorrow. In 2011 I still fit in classic authors like Charlotte Bronte, Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh, but my fastest reads and favorite books were from living authors:
You may also remember that in July I read what I then considered my eight favorite books. While the entire list didn't live up to my expectations, it did convince me that I should be rereading many of the books I checked out 10 or 15 years ago. To start with, I reread "1984" in October, and I have "Brave New World" waiting for me on the shelf. I also want to dig up some Edith Wharton next year.

Do you have suggestions on what I should read in 2012? Please let me know in the comments!

Or are you looking for more books to read? Check out my favorites from 2010 and 2009. Or ask me for tips. After all, I now have a spreadsheet of 700+ suggestions.

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