Thursday, December 22, 2011

Best Books I Read: 2011

2011 really flew by fast! Even so, I read quite a few amazing books in 2011 and I've decided to share those with you in another end-of-the-year wrap-up. Even though I read less books this year than last year, I have eleven books on this year's list. Ten made last year's list.  Like my Best Books post from last year, the best books are those that received 5/5 Stars from me and the runner-ups received 4.5/5 Stars. If any of these books have been reviewed, I will add the link.

Best Books - 5/5 Stars

Catching Fire by: Suzanne Collins
This book was a cardiovascular workout. All I did was sit on the couch and read this nonstop and meanwhile my heart was pumping like crazy the whole time, so much that it actually made me worry. This second installment in The Hunger Games Trilogy was just as good as the first with its action and morbidity interloping to form such a mesmerizing story. If you haven't read these books yet, you need to. Right now.

Putting Mockingjay down was painful. This is the final book of The Hunger Games Trilogy and it still held onto action in the midst of fighting against the disturbing government, but this time it was more of an emotional ride for me. After I plowed through all the pages, I couldn't stop crying. In fact, I don't think I've ever cried so much because of a book. I've never read something with such a bittersweet ending. The night I finished it, I had nightmares about different endings with no happiness at all - that's how far this story was embedded in my brain. I loved it so much; Suzanne Collins couldn't have done a better job.


Night by: Elie Wiesel
Although this autobiography is short, extremely well-written and keeps one's attention, it was so hard for me to read. I don't really see how anyone can get enjoyment out of reading it. It tells the story of Elie Wiesel's life in concentration camps during the Holocaust, living in a world of death and unimaginable circumstances. Right from the start I knew I was in for a very bleak reading experience, but I feel like this book changed me in some way. As I was reading, I had to force myself to eat. I didn't want to eat anything anymore. How could I when Elie was starving? If you're an empathetic person, be prepared.
Oh, Juliek...

The Diary of a Young Girl by: Anne Frank
Another Holocaust autobiography, but this story was not a survival story in the end. Anne's diary that she kept as her family hid in an attic for a couple of years isn't what you'd expect from someone her age; she really was a good writer, just as she aspired to be. Even though Anne could only ever be herself, I think a lot of coming-of-age girls could relate to her feelings of being shut out and cast as a child without her own ideals. Personally, I could relate to Anne's feeling that people don't prefer her to speak out, but they still complain when she holds her opinions back.

Even so, the irony of Anne's words will make you feel so heartbroken by the time you've finished reading this. She really did live on after she left, but in a different way than anyone would have expected.

Awakened by: P.C. Cast + Kristin Cast
Another awesome addition to the House of Night series! Stevie Rae's story finally gives us all some closure and Zoe always has something to deal with, but the theme that love is always the best choice really made this book special. These characters are starting to become more and more admirable as I go, and I plowed through the pages completely satisfied but looking forward to more.

The Catcher in the Rye is one of the strangest books I've ever read, and I loved it to death! I wanted to reread it again as soon as I put it down, and I've never had the urge to do that before. Of all books to want to reread as soon as possible, I ended up picking the one with basically no plot in terms of events, but a huge plot in terms of Holden's psychology. A lot of people who read this novel were bored for this reason and fed up with Holden. Though I understand this point, I find that the things people complain about are what make The Catcher in the Rye so unique, along with the fact that I could relate to this book in unusual (and less extreme than depicted) ways despite that Holden's such an odd and pitiful character. This misunderstood is by far one of the best I've ever read, perhaps the best.

I don't scare easily, especially when it comes to zombies, but the Unconsecrated freaked me out. To add to that, I don't even like zombies. I've always thought they were dumb and unnecessary, but Carrie Ryan knew what she was doing and created a fantastic dystopian novel! The bits of romance included do not take away from the creep-factor or make it gushy in any sense. Mary was a strong main character dedicated to exploration and I enjoyed reading about her struggles in the messed up world her story took place in.

Another thing I will always remember about this book is Carrie Ryan's wonderful writing. Her writing style is beautiful and more than effective, making this book even darker and emotional than the storyline already promised.

Jesus Freaks: Martyrs: Stories of Those Who Stood For Jesus, the Ultimate Jesus Freaks by: dc Talk and the Voice of the Martyrs
A book of dying for something you believe in with all your heart... Yeah, it was good. Every story included in this book is one of many true accounts of people giving up their lives and sanity before oppressors due to their undeniable Christian faith. Many of these stories talk about the miracles that were experienced by these martyrs before they died and even the miracles experienced by survivors. I don't really think you necessarily have to be a Christian to read this book, just a fan of those who stand for something in the midst of cruel treatment and even persecution. Personally, it really made me want to be a less grudging person, to learn not to hate enemies.

The Help by: Kathryn Stockett
This book will make you laugh, cry, and tell everyone about how you laughed and cried. It follows the intertwining stories of three loveable characters (Abileen, Minny, and Miss Skeeter) and how they live in the midst of racism in Jackson,  Mississippi during the 1960s. I think this is the only book that I have a hard time choosing who out of the three narrators is my favorite, but I suppose if I had to choose, it'd be Aibileen (with poor Miss Celia at number two). Although this book deals strongly with racism and the need for equality, there are a lot of different themes involved, adding complexity and adding to the list of things I love about this awesome book.

Runner-Ups - 4.5/5 Stars

The cover of this book itself pretty much screams that it's a unique story, just look at it. This book was extremely interesting, combining a good amount of mournful moments with humor as one of America's most beloved presidents is turned into one of Buffy's collegues.
One highlight from this was how Edgar Allen Poe and Abraham Lincoln were buddies! My favorite poet and my favorite president fighting vampires? Hell yeah! Plus, other famous figures were included as history meets fiction, and some were actually vampires. I liked this book even more than I thought I would, especially with that surprise ending...

Well, who knows if I really like this book or not? The first time I read it I found  nothing special about it, but the second time, I loved it! Somehow I could suddenly relate to Nora and find my own voice in her dialogue. Hush, Hush had a number of now-you-see-it-now-you-don't moments, and I find that such moments can't be visualized well in a lot of books, but it worked well in this case. Plus, I like stories with angels. They have a certain feel to them.
Of course, being the fangirl that I am, I must say that I really liked Patch...

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic list! I read Catcher years ago and loved it! I still need to read the Hunger Games trilogy, and I love Hush, Hush!