Sunday, January 1, 2012

What I read at The Book Trout in 2011

Man, I read some really great books this year. I found some wonderful new authors courtesy of some Old Saratoga Book customers (I know, I know, I try to press books into their hands but I always seem to get several recommendations packed into my book bag by the end of a working day).

I managed to devour 96 books last year, which is less than I would like, but more than I thought. I am finding that my pre-menopausal bouts of insomnia are very useful for quiet, concentrated bits of reading and that I almost look forward to my times along snuggled up with cats and dog and a riveting book during the middle of the dark night.

There were of course lots of mysteries, travel memoirs, biblionovels, culinary titles, layman's science and biographies in my 2011 reading pile, but I also squeezed in some odd books here and there. I finally found time to read through the prolific Susan Wittig Albert's China Bayles mystery series, which feature great herbal and gardening tidbits. I most enjoyed savoring the seven Armand Gamache mystery novels by Canadian author Louise Penny that unravel murderous deeds in Montreal and the quiet Quebec village of Three Pines. Penny studs her books with poetry, antiques, history, great food and drink, art and there's even a quirky bookstore owner in the mix. Thank you John P. for insisting that I move these books up front and center on my bedside pile!

I finally got a chance to read the bestselling Steig Larsson series about the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and found myself having to focus on slowing down and not just skimming ahead. They are very good, and I did find myself hoping that the late author has indeed stuffed a lot of plot summaries and notes in the computer held by his late partner so that I can read more stories about these unusual protagonists (and what about Lisbeth's twin sister?).

Alongside oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer I plowed through the earth's eleven gyres, many eddies, several colossal garbage patches and numerous debris-strewn beaches, courtesy of his book "Flotsametrics". I journeyed to various tourist hellholes with extreme travel writer Chuck Thompson; recoiled in horror at the bibliomania gone bad of "The Man Who Loved Books Too Much", "The Poet and the Murderer" and in "Stuff"; delighted in learning about arachnid evolution with "Spider Silk"; shivered in a frozen cabin in the Maine woods with raven researcher and ultramarathoner Bernd Heinrich and enjoyed philosophical ruminations in Edinburgh with Alexander McCall Smith's heroine Isabel Dalhousie. Overall, a very exciting year!

Here's the list of what I read in 2011, in mostly chronological order.

2011 Reading List

The Second Mouse, by Archer Mayor

An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude, by Ann Vanderhoof

In the Kitchen, by Monica Ali

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett

Distant Mirrors: America as a Foreign Culture, by Philip R. DeVita & James D. Armstrong

Lunch in Paris, by Elizabeth Bard

China Bayles mystery series by Susan Wittig Albert: Thyme for Death, Witches' Bane, Hangman's Root, Rosemary Remembered, Rueful Death, Love Lies Bleeding, Chile Death, Lavender Lies, Mistletoe Man, Bloodroot, Indigo Dying, A Dilly of a Death, Dead Man's Bones, Bleeding Hearts, Spanish Dagger, Nightshade, Wormwood, Holly Blues, Mourning Gloria

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession, by Allison Hoover Bartlett

Cook Until Desired Tenderness, by Cleo Papanikolas

The Noble Legacy: The Story of Gilbert Clifford Noble, Cofounder of the Barnes & Noble and Noble & Noble Book Companies, by Betty Noble Turner

The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food, by Jennifer 8. Lee

Dodie Goes Shopping and Other Adventures, by Dodie Kazanjian

The Poet and the Murderer: A True Story of Literary Crime and the Art
of Forgery, by Simon Woorall

The Poe Shadow, by Matthew Pearl

U is for Undertow, by Sue Grafton

Coop: A Family, A Farm, and the Pursuit of One Good Egg, by Michael Perry

Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen and Cadillac Jack, by Larry McMurtry

Soul of a Lion: One Woman's Quest to Rescue Africa's Wildlife Refugees, by Barbara Bennett

Nature's Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants, by Samuel Thayer

Tahoe Beneath the Surface: The Hidden Stories of America's Largest Mountain Lake, by Scott Lankford

Spider Silk: Evolution and 400 Years of Spinning, Waiting, Snagging, and Mating, by Leslie Brunetta and Catherine L. Craig

Boogalo on 2nd Avenue, by Mark Kurlansky

Conservation Treatment Methodology, by Barbara Applebaum

Inspector Armand Gamache mysteries by Louise Penny: Still Life, A Fatal Grace, The Cruelest Month, A Rule for Murder, The Brutal Telling, Bury Your Dead, A Trick of the Light

A Sloth in the Family, by Hermann Tirler

Savannah Blues, by Mary Kay Andrews

The Complete Fawlty Towers, by John Cleese and Connie Booth

Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy, by Raghuram G. Rajan

On Rue Tatin, by Susan Hermann Loomis

Author Unknown: On the Trail of Anonymous, by Don Foster

Cooking for the Common Good: The Birth of a Natural Foods Soup Kitchen, by Larry Stettner and Bill Morrison

Dave Barry Does Japan, by Dave Barry

The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls

Grave Secrets of Dinosaurs: Soft Tissues and Hard Science, by Phillip Manning

Death of a Poison Pen, Death of an Addict, Death of a Gentle Lady, Death of a Witch, Death of a Valentine, and Death of a Macho Man, by M.C. Beaton

Used and Rare: Travels in the Book World, by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone

Warmly Inscribed: The New England Book Forger and Other Book Tales, by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone

The Drowning Room, by Michael Pye

Beethoven's Only Beloved: Josephine! by John E. Klapproth

Adam's Navel: A Natural and Cultural History of the Human Form, by Michael Sims

Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? by Morgan Spurlock

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise, by Ruth Reichl

To Hellholes and Back: Bribes, Lies, and the Art of Extreme Tourism, by Chuck Thompson

Driving with Dead People, by Monica Holloway

A Year in the Maine Woods, by Bernd Heinrich

Entertaining Disasters, by Nancy Spiller

The Wimbledon Poisoner, by Nigel Williams

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, by Stieg Larsson

Perfect Sax, by Jerrilyn Farmer

Isabel Dalhousie series by Alexander McCall Smith: The Sunday Philosophy Club: Friends, Lovers, and Chocolate; The Right Attitude to Rain; The Careful Use of Compliments, The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday, The Lost Art of Gratitude and The Charming Quirks of Others

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things, by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee

Tastes Like Cuba: An Exile's Hunger for Home, by Eduardo Machado and Michael Domitrovich

The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen, by Jacques Pepin

The Lost Dinosaurs of Egypt, by William Nothdurft and Josh Smith

Drawing Conclusions and A Question of Belief, by Donna Leon

Coin Street Chronicles: Memoirs of an Evacuee from London's Old South Bank, by Gwen Southgate

Outlaw Cook, by John and Matt Lewis Thorne

Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co., by Jeremy Mercer

Flotsametrics and the Floating World: How One Man's Obsession with Runaway Sneakers and Rubber Ducks Revolutionized Ocean Science, by Curtis Ebbesmeyer and Eric Scagliano

**So what did you read this past year that was really wonderful?  Leave me a comment below so I can add to my teetering book pile!

1 comment:

Annette said...

i loved Flotsametrics...I learned so much. Some of my faves in 2011?

The MInd's Eye by Oliver Sacks
The Lady in the Palazzo: at Home in Umbria by Marlena de Blasi
Head over Heel: Seduced by Southern Italy Chris Harrison
The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search of the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner

Happy Reading!