Sunday, January 1, 2012


This was really difficult this year! I have read an absolutely unprecedented eighty-three books! Normally I read fiction and non-fiction in pretty much equal amounts, and many more in print than on audio. This past six months I have been plagued by migraines, so I have listened to a lot of, mostly fiction, books. My final total is twenty-nine nonfiction and fifty-four fiction titles for the year, of which forty-one have been audio and forty-two in print.

2011 Top Ten: 
Since I read in unequal amounts, I have given four slots to nonfiction and six slots to fiction.  Books are in order of preference for each category.  Click on the book's title to link to its review.

Best Nonfiction:

1. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (World War II Pacific theater/biography: fantastic writing; story so amazing in parts it is difficult to believe it is not fiction)
2. The Fear by Peter Godwin (Contemporary Zimbabwe: possibly the most powerful book I have ever read)
3. Plastic: A Toxic Love Story by Susan Freinkel (history, science, balanced environmental moving and very accessible)
4. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (1893 Chicago World’s Fair: serial murder and the story of the fair itself)

Best Fiction:

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (World War II Germany: an ordinary German neighborhood...narrated by “Death”...profound)
2. The Forever Queen by Helen Hollick (Saxon England, early 1000’s: Emma of Normandy...very accurate history, fast paced plot, wonderful love story)
3. Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally (World War II Poland: story of German industrialist Oskar Schindler’s efforts to save 1,300 Jews...very well written and researched)
4. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (1800s rural England: deep characters, gorgeous writing)
5. Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey (Post French Revolution Europe and America: characters you can’t help but root for and a fun plot)
6. Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier (early 1800s, Lyme Regis, England: lovely character portraits, excellent picture of science in the society of the time)

Best Audio:
I listened to so many audio books that I could not pick just one favorite-I loved these two in equal measure.

Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey
(narrated by Humphrey Bower, who does such an excellent job with Parrot’s and Olivier’s voices that I thought there were two separate narrators)
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
(narrated by Allan Corduner, who is absolutely pitch perfect as the narrator, “Death”)


  1. Great list, Care. While I read it a few years back, I thought The Book Thief was excellent. While The Forever Queen didn't make my best of list, I Am The Chosen King definitely did!

    Looking forward to seeing what you read in 2012. All the best for the New Year.

  2. You know, your comment just made me realize that I meant to put I am the Chosen King on my list of must reads for 2012-how did I miss that one? After your review, I really want to get to it!

    I laughed at your declining to make buying fewer books a resolution, because you always just break it. So hear you there!