Thursday, January 05, 2012

Out of 61 books, these are my top reads from 2011

There is no shame in my heart to admit I'm a reading freak. I love stories. I love reading about long journeys and all the good and bad that characters experience as they trounce through them. Bookstores are dangerous for me, as I always want to leave with something. Used bookstores are the worst (or the best, depending on how you look at it.) 

Yesterday I listed out all of the books I read in 2011. My annual goal is 50, so 61 was pretty good. Of all on the list, these I would consider my top reads from the year:

Top Non-Fiction of 2011:

"How long before I would reread this?" is one of my simple rules of determining how good a book. Not wanting to reread something doesn't mean it's necessarily bad, but if you would reread it in a couple years or in 6 months, that book is pretty good. I could have started Unbroken over the minute I finished it. If I had to pick my "Read of the Year" it would be Unbroken. I had never heard of Louis Zamperini before reading this, but his story is one of the most heartbreaking and equally amazing I have ever heard.

2. Tribes ~ Seth Godin - Great read on leadership, but unique in that it breaks the molds on who can and should be a leader. Seth Godin is more and more becoming an inspiring read for me as I follow his blog and get more into his books.

3. Bossypants ~ Tina Fey  - HILARIOUS book that also includes a lot of really practical leadership principles. You don't have to be a 30 Rock fan to appreciate it. =) If you means to listen to audiobooks, I'd recommend that for Bossypants. Tiny Fey is the reader and it really adds to the experience to have her telling her own story.

4. Whispers ~ Bill Hybels - Great book on prayer and interacting with God. There's a decent balance between Biblical teaching and illustrative stories, though the scales do tip a little more in the favor of the stories. Either way, this is really practical and informative. I'm revisiting it as our church begins a series on Hearing God.

5. To Be Told ~ Dan Allendar  - First heard Dan Allendar speak in Oct '10 and immediately went to the library and checked out four of his books. If you have experienced pain in your life, ever asked "why?" about your life, or wonder where it is going...READ THIS BOOK!

6. Pearl Harbor Ghosts ~ Thurston Clarke - At the beginning of November I had the unexpected privilege of spending an afternoon at the Pearl Harbor memorial. It was surreal to walk the shores where that devastation occurred. Wanting to read on the history of the day, this was the book I purchased in the gift shop. It is an excellent account in that it links the present with the past.

Top Fiction of 2011: 
1. Game of Thrones ~ George Martin
The fact this is only the first book in the series makes epic a term of understatement. Any aspect of literature that should be done well is done excellent in Game of Thrones: plot development, characters development, descriptions, pace, twists, etc. My sister-in-law gave me the perfect advise: don't get attached to any of this characters. As true as this is, it really paints a picture of just how large this story is going to be. Just a note of warning: it's very graphic is some parts.

2. Towers of Midnight ~ Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson - Brandon Sanderson continues to carry on Robert Jordan's legacy with nothing less than complete excellence. This is book 12 of a the series, so it's hard to say anything without giving away spoilers. 

3. Feed – Mira Grant - Though I enjoy the horror genre in movies, I've never read anything in it beyond classics like Dracula and I Am Legend or more modern things like the works of Stephen King. But the book description for Feed intrigued me, so I gave it try. Superb story! Really a commentary in some ways on our modern political system and news agencies. The characters are awesome and the pace pretty fast.

4. The Hunger Games series ~ Suzanne Collins - Hadn't really cared about these books, however my two sister-in-laws recommended them. I think the description I heard goes as, "Imagine The Running Man movie meets Next Top Model." That's pretty accurate, though I'd tip things a little more to The Running Man. Good amount of action, great story. All three are excellent, though I didn't completely care for how she brought it all together at the end of the 3rd book.

5. Divergent ~ Veronica Roth - In our family name draw for Christmas presents this year, I drew my sister-in-law Val, and this book is what she had on her wish list. So I bought her a copy and me a copy. =)  I go back and forth in my mind as to which is better, Divergent or The Hunger Games. This is only the first in the Divergent series, so I'll withhold that judgment for now.

6. The Litigaters ~ John Grisham - Grisham can do little wrong in my mind. As usual, he writes characters better than most, and the three lawyers in this firm are great. Set in Chicago, The Litigators is pretty funny throughout.

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