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Oh my, I haven't read any of the books on your favorites list! I have read Sylvester, though, & also The Uncommon Reader.
These end of the year lists are so much fun, aren't they? It's so interesting to see who liked what books this year.


Primo Levi wrote a wonderful book many years after Survival in Auschwitz called Moments of Reprieve in which he focused on just those moments in the camp that reminded him -- in the most dehumanizing circumstances possible -- that he retained his human dignity in spite of his circumstances. It's a very moving read.

Andi (Estella's Revenge)

I just drafted a post about the books burning a hole in my shelves. It'll go up over the weekend. But one of the books I mentioned there was Ghost Light! I'm so glad you liked it, and now I'm even more excited to get to it.


I wasn't as keen on 'North and South' - it was interesting in parts, particulary for intercultural reasons, but it really dropped off towards the end.


Tiina--I enjoy finding out other people's favorites, too. I always end up with an even longer wishlist! Sylvester was a fun read as was The Uncommon Reader--I do love my comfort reads!

AJ--I'd like to read more by Primo Levi. It's important to read books like this to remember just what humans are capable of--both good and bad. I'll look for Moments of Reprieve--I bet my library has it--though I think it's a book best saved for spring or summer!

Andi--I really liked Ghost Light. It did take me a bit to orient myself but it was worth the extra effort to read it. I've since wanted to read more of his work and will get around to it eventually.

Tony--I've only read North and South and Wives and Daughters a few years ago (which I recall liking but enough time has passed that I'd have to read it again to bring it all back to mind). North and South totally clicked with me--I read so few classics this year that I was happy to find one that I could lose myself in so entirely like I did this one. Only I had to laugh at some of the foot notes that always pointed out the way Gaskell feminized Margaret's father!

Claire (The Captive Reader)

Of your top ten favourites, I've only read one, which is a bit humbling but also exciting as it means I have nine titles still to discover! The one I had read was North and South and, loving it as I do, I can only applaud and agree with you for ranking it so highly. I love your 'Best Comfort Read' picks, all favourites of mine, and completely agree that Bath Tangle is a disappointment.

May 2012 be filled with just as many if not more wonderful books!


Excellent list -- I haven't read them all, by any means -- I've seen the film of the Painted Veil, though. I am totally not a fan of Heyer, wish I was really but she just doesn't do it for me.


Oh I like this list. I was tempted to follow it as well but ended up doing my own categories.
Your two bleakest are my two bleakest as well. And we read one after the other... I think next year there is only one that may be as bleak as this but seems even better that those two.
Across the Common is the only one I can't remember... Luckily I have already bought a few on your list and had a few others. I really want to stop bying books next year. Or cut down. Not sure yet how many...


What a great list, Danielle!

Thanks to you, I have the Painted Veil on my Kindle and plan to read it sometime in 2012.

Am so pleased to see Ghost Light on your list! A truly lovely and very special book.

And This is How is brilliant, isn't it? I adore everything that MJ Hyland has written!

I read Notes on a Scandal a long time ago and don't remember all the details, but I do remember reading it in one go, I simply couldn't put it down.

And In Cold Blood is an old favourite — I read it when I studied journalism — and Capote quickly became one of my most-admired writers.

Happy New Year to you!

Kathy Johnson

Interesting list! The only book I know I've read on your list is 84 Charing Cross Road, but I may have read the Georgette Heyer books years ago--can't remember which ones I've read and which I haven't. I have two of your three top reads, though, and am starting North and South soon. I've seen the movie version of The Painted Veil, and I think I'll read the book. My mother-in-law loves and has read all of Somerset Maugham's work, so she may have a copy.
I like these posts where you evaluate what you've read and think about why you liked or didn't like or were moved/changed by what you read. This is one more good reason to read: letting the books enter you and change you and how you see the world.


Ok, I'm going to really have to read The Things They Carried now that it made it on your top reads of the year. I liked your other categories. The Hazzard book actually almost made it onto my top list. I think you did better with it than you give yourself credit for. Here's to good reading in 2012!


As in last year, your this year's favourites will be my inspiration for the new year! After your review I did expect The Things They Carried to end up high, quite a few I still look forward to read one day.


What a good reading year you had! I definitely want to read The Painted Veil: the only Maugham I've read is Cakes and Ale and I have the feeling it's not really representative. Best wishes for 2012!


Claire--Seeing everyone else's favorites lists always makes me wonder just what I've been reading all year! I always end up with a long list of books that I plan on reading in the next year! But you're right--that means there are more books to discover! I think that Bath Tangle may have only been the second Heyer that I just didn't get on with--I've loved all the rest, so I've got a pretty good track record with her! Happy New Year to you, too!

Harriet--I still have yet to watch The Painted Veil though I've had the movie ever since I finished the book. Maybe I'll finally watch it this weekend. As for Heyer--she is totally a comfort read for me, but I know she's not to everyone's tastes. Thankfully there is no end to good books out there to appeal to all of us! :)

Caroline--I did my odds and ends according to the books I read and it was fun, but it's also fun seeing what other readers come up with. I'm glad I'm not alone in how I felt about the Endo and Levi--both were really excellent books but they were very challenging in their way, too. I'm glad I read them--and glad they were summer reads! I don't mind hard books like that and fully expect war literature not to be 'easy' but spacing them out is a good idea. I'll be making the blog rounds later today and will do so with paper and pencil in hand to note down titles!

Kimbofo--I hope you enjoy The Painted Veil as much as I did. I want to read his short stories now--I've heard he was an excellent story-writer. As I totally admire your reading choices I am happy to see that several of mine overlap with books you've enjoyed as well--something of a compliment, so thanks! And I will be reading more of Hyland's work in the new year by the way! Happy New Year to you as well!

Kathy--Isn't 84 Charing Cross Road wonderful? I wanted to read more of Hanff's books this year but I didn't get to them (though I did finally read The Duchess of Bloomsbury)--I think I will go now and pull another off my shelf for next year! I hate to admit that some of the Heyer books I've read have sort of meshed together and just giving me a title won't ensure whether I'll know whether I've read it or not (though I do always recall my faves). She's wonderful but definitely also a little predictable (in a good way, though). The Maugham is a book I can heartily recommend to people and I can't wait to hear what you make of North and South--I do hope you like it. I agree that reading widely is a way to look at the greater world and hopefully gain a new understanding of other cultures! I'm already thinking about what books I might read next year to widen my horizons more!

Stefanie--The O'Brien is a fast read and it totally gripped me. I just clicked with it and I hope you enjoy it if you do happen to pick it up. Actually I think I did better with Shirley Hazzard, too, though I know I missed some important moments that only came about through our discussions! It was a good book--challenging but in a good way!

Catharina--The Things They Carried has still stuck with me and I hope to read another of his books next year. I had several checked out from the library but then ran out of time. It's fun to get inspiration from people's lists and I am looking forward to hearing which were your favorites, too!


Rohan--I've heard that Maugham was really a master of short stories, so I hope to read some of them next year. I've not read enough of his books, but I think Cakes and Ale must not be one of his best--it certainly inspired an interesting discussion amongst the Slaves! Best Wishes to you to for 2012!


What a great list! Practically everything on it is either a favorite of mine (North and South, In Cold Blood, and What Was She Thinking? stand out) or a book on my TBR list. I suppose that means I should just go ahead and add the others to my TBR too :)


Yes, yes, to so many of your choices --and, of course, there are those I haven't read.
The Things They Carried is stunning and wonderful and all the things an (anti)war book should be.
In Cold Blood is a tour de force. So very well written.
Both slightly out of my usual comfort zone.
I think my top read of 2011 was Ford Madox Ford'sThe Good Soldier.
Also loved Far From the Madding Crowd which I had never read before .
Most disappointing In the Garden of the Beasts......


Teresa--In Cold Blood seems to have been widely read (deservedly)--now I wonder that I waited so long to pick it up. I really loved North and South and I would love to find another book that reads so grippingly like What Was She Thinking? I need a book just like that at the moment (could reread it I suppose!). It's always fun looking back over the year and choosing the stand out books!

Elizabeth Wix--I'm glad I am not alone in having liked Tim O'Brien's book so much--it really clicked with me at the time and I want very much to read more of his work. I read The Good Soldier several years ago and liked it very much, too--it's one that I will have to reread again. Too bad about the Larson book--I thought it looked interesting but maybe it would be better to start with his book about the Chicago World's Fair. I know what you mean about reading books outside your comfort zone--sometimes they can end up being the best reads!


Love your list - several on there that I have read and loved already, several others (yay!) that I have yet to read. I'm looking forward to Rose Macaulay in 2012, and really must get the Tim O'Brien for Mister Litlove, who will appreciate it very much. I also laughed and laughed at your categories. The book that's been longest on my nightstand really ought to be a category I confess to!


Litlove--I want to read more Rose Macaulay, too. I'm so glad to have discovered her and have a couple of books at the ready to pick up soon. Tim O'Brien is great and I hope Mr Litlove will enjoy him as well if he happens to read him. It was fun messing about with my list--will have to do it again next year. And hopefully that poor book will be read very soon in the new year--it's been feeling awfully neglected!


I love your list, especially the categories. I agree with you about N&S. I read it & then listened to the Juliet Stevenson audio, just wonderful. Are you sure it's John Thornton you love or is it Richard Armitage?! Just asking... I have lots of Maugham on the tbr shelves, I must read some this year.

Rebecca H.

I agree with you about The Painted Veil -- what a great book! Interesting about Rose Macauley; I've been meaning to read her for a while, and I hope I like her as much as you did. Your comfort reads are great, also.


Interesting list! I like the idea of secondary categories to enable you to note what was so appealing about a specific title as well. And I am SO with you on the idea of John Thornton stepping out the pages of North & South...mmmmm.....


Lyn--Juliet Stevenson is a wonderful reader. I'm very picky about audio books, but this one was a wonderful choice. I may have to see what else she has read! Um, about John Thornton....I think he's a great character, but well, Richard Armitage is rather appealing as well... Isn't he just totally suited for that part! :) You must admit he is very easy on the eyes--LOL. I loved Maugham and want to read some of his short stories this year.

Rebecca--I think The Painted Veil will eventually be a book that I reread! And I really liked Rose Macaulay and can't wait to try another of her books. I wasn't sure what to expect from that book but it just clicked with me! And you can't beat a good, dependable comfort read. :)

Melwyk--I had never done more than a favorites list, but this was fun and I'll have to do it again next December. John Thornton is such an interesting likable character and Richard Armitage played him perfectly... :)

Jackie (Farm Lane Books)

The Painted Veil and In Cold Blood were on my list of books I must read in 2011, but I didn't get around to them. I really must do something about that in 2012 as I'm sure I'll love them. I've enjoyed most of the other books on your list - especially Notes on a Scandal. Have a wonderful 2012!


As promised here are my favourite books of 2011 Danielle.
In no particular order:
John Steinbeck, Travels With Charley;
Non Fiction: Adam Nicolson, The Smell of Summer Grass
Memoir: Alix Kates Shulman, Drinking the Rain;
Poetry: Twenty Poems by Anna Akhmatova, translation Jane Kenyon
Reread: Margaret Atwood, Surfacing;
Comfort Read: Mary Stewart, My Brother Michael;
Dutch best: Koos van Zomeren, Een vederlichte wanhoop

Books coming from 10 different countries, spanning every decade from 1890 to 2011, total amount read 56, including 18 volumes of poetry and I came to a total of 27 woman authors.


Jackie--Both were wonderful reads for me in different ways. It took me a while before I could pick up In Cold Blood, but I am so glad I finally did. I loved Notes on a Scandal--I wouldn't mind trying some of her other books, but I am afraid they won't live up to my experience with that one! Happy New Year and happy reading in 2012 to you, too!


Catharina--Thanks so much for sharing your list! I bought Travels with Charley last year thinking I would read it along with Cornflower, but then I wasn't able to squeeze it in--maybe this year? I also really enjoyed My Brother Michael and plan on reading something else by her this year, too. Not sure which yet. And I have the Alix Kate Shulman on my pile--I hope to read more NF this year--and I do love memoirs. It's so good to know that is a good one. You have a great list. That's an amazing number of books of poetry--I wish I was a better poetry reader--I bought a book of poetry by Robert Frost that I had in my hands only this afternoon. I love the idea of a book per decade--it sounds like you have read widely, too!

Liz F

Maugham's short stories are excellent - I got a collection of his novels very recently and have The Painted Veil marked as my first read from that.
The Things They Carried is next on my library pile - I will need a change from 19th and early 20th century novels soon and I know next to nothing about the Vietnam War apart from the very basic information.
I read Notes on a Scandal very quickly a couple of years ago and felt the same about it as I did The Slap when I read it in 2011 - a compelling book but seriously dislikeable characters!
Haven't read North and South yet although I saw the Richard Armitage TV adaptation and I am sure that will be a definite benefit when I do get around to reading it!
My current favourite character to walk out of a book would be Gianrico Carofiglio's lawyer hero Guido Guerrieri - a clever, principled and well read man and Italian too!


Liz--I've only got the first volume of Maugham's stories--I think Penguin has a four volume set--will have to pick up the others at some point. Yay for The Painted Veil--I was going to watch the movie over my break, but then I ran out of time--typical. Let me know what you think of the O'Brien. I think I've only read two or three novels about Vietnam--and those two were just from last year. I'm not sure why I've avoided it--modern war I guess--even though I was a baby when it was happening. WWI and WWII are firmly in the past for me, so easier to read about, maybe. Yes, the characters in Notes on a Scandal were really pretty bad--now I did feel like a voyeur reading it, but it was so totally compelling I couldn't stop myself. I have thought of reading The Slap, but it doesn't appeal to me quite as much as Notes did. Maybe eventually I'll get to it. I wonder if RA has helped sell lots more copies of North and South? Hmm. I am enjoying the audio of it as well. I have the first Carofiglio novel--it is within arm's reach even as I type....will have to try and get to it this year--maybe I'll do another summering in Italy read. What is is about dark (and particularly Italian) men?

Buried In Print

It's true, what you say: these "Favourites" posts add astronomically to one's TBR list. I have only read one of your top books (the Hyland novel which, I agree, was astonishing), so now I suddenly am intrigued in all sorts of new directions!


Buried in Print--I have a list of books sitting by my computer from all the lists I read at the end of the year. There was a time before blogging when I read just one book a week--all under my own steam--not much influence from outside sources, but I have to say I much prefer discovering all sorts of new books!

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