Memorable Reads in 2011

It has been a memorable 2011 both in reading and sharing, one of my aspirations this year having been to learn how to create a blog.

What joy it has brought, the creation, the writing, the reading, the sharing and the community of readers and wonderful like-minded souls who comment and share and have opened their worlds to me. I didn’t expect or foresee all the joy and wonderful interaction that would come from creating a virtual entry into my world of books and reading and that this would lead me to so many others.

So thank you to all those who follow this blog, my wish for 2012 is that the inspiration and motivation we provide each other will long continue.

To rank anything would be torturous, and even to list favourites is near impossible, so I will mention some memorable reads in no particular order and no doubt regret those I have left out later.

muze 62

1. Muze No.62    ҉   not a big consumer of magazines, in February I discovered this volume at Le Mans TGV station. The words CULTURE, ECRITURE, LECTURE jumped out at me, then Louise Bourgeois – Eugénie Grandet, Proust à l’écran, Flannery O’Connor, Argentine and Le Sacré excited me and the cover just melted my heart. It did not disappoint, I now have another favourite magazine (and a most enjoyable way to improve my French).

2. Fear and Trembling by Amélie Nothomb    ҉   Recommended by mon amie B, this was my first foray into popular French fiction. A hilarious account, said to be based on the author’s experience of a year working in Japan, you end up thinking she’s either a saint or a masochist as she fails to integrate into the work environment.

3. The Children’s Book by A.S.Byatt   ҉   having not read her work for a long time, I was pulled into this Edwardian world of potters, ceramics, the Victoria & Albert museum and the varying sensitivities of children. A mesmerising and colourful journey.

4. Seven Days to Tell You by Ruby Soames   ҉   will remain with me always as a turning point, the first book I read prior to publication, fear and delight combining to produce this review.

5. The Diving Pool, The Housekeeper + The Professor by Yoko Ogawa   ҉   I will remember 2011 for discovering Yoko Ogawa’s short story collection in Oxfam, introducing me to her gripping and evocative style, followed by the poignant and memorable novella ‘The Housekeeper and Professor’.

6. Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh   ҉   this classic collection of ‘coming of middle age’ essays published in 1955, stays with me because it arrived the day my daughter was admitted to hospital and was one of my choices of books to accompany me during those challenging two weeks.

7. The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver   ҉   the ten year wait club, I recall awaiting Louis de Berniere’s ‘Bird without Wings’, one of my all-time favourite books and this year there was Jeffery Eugenide’s long awaited ‘The Marriage Plot’ and Kingsolver’s ‘The Lacuna’ which I loved and review here.

8. A Kind Man by Susan Hill   ҉   shortly after reading an author’s interview in Mslexia and a subsequent visit to Daunt Books in Marylebone, I couldn’t help but be tempted (and indulged, thank you G) by Susan Hill’s ‘A Kind Man’. I respected her attitude and perspective in the interview and instinctively savoured each page of this fable-like novella. I then read ‘The Beacon’ confirming Hill as a writer I know I will continue to read, happy there is a lengthy backlist.

9. The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B by Sandra Gulland    ҉    my first blog review and wonderful memories of two trilogies shared with my best book reading buddies C and M.

And finally, no memorable list could be complete without mentioning the companionship of:

10. Mslexia   ҉   the quarterly magazine for women who write and more often women who juggle at least one or more jobs, a family and numerous responsibilities but who find 2, 5, 10, or just any hours to dedicate to writing, they are all an inspiration to me and I love to read all those who succeed in becoming published through its pages. An inspiration, a writing prompt and always a great read.

Happy New Year Everyone!

27 thoughts on “Memorable Reads in 2011

  1. Claire, happy new year! I haven’t read any of these books and I love kingslover! I am going to try to read that short story collection you mentioned from oxfam as well. Sorry to hear tour daughter was in the hospital; my dad was as well this year so I can relate to the waiting and not knowing. I wish you and your family lots of dreams come true this year and lots of good books!


    • Happy New Year to you and family too!

      Your fabulous list inspired me to this, a great way to round off the year and definitely books, writing and kind souls (even the virtual) are a real comfort in the hard times. Happy Reading 2012!


  2. Claire! Thanks for sharing your reviews and your memorable reads of the year…You gave me ideas on what to add to my TBR pile.

    WIshing you the very best for 2012, bonne et heureuse année 🙂


    • Bonne année à vous aussi! I thought of you when I mentioned ‘Muze’, wondering if you have encountered it, visually beautiful as well as being intelligently constructed and written.


  3. Thank you so much for this list, Claire. Some were familiar, others not, and I’m definitely looking into Susan Hill and Mslexia.
    I love getting recommendations, but GoodReads is too big, too complicated, so I appreciate your offerings!


    • Thank you Nancy, Mslexia is like a small slice of writerly Christmas every three months, I read it from cover to cover and love that it’s offline, but up with all the latest everything, conveniently held together in one place. And yes, Susan Hill was a wonderful find for me, I love her writing and attitude.


  4. I share your passion for the joy that creating a blog can bring, I had no idea that I would be able to keep it up for so long never mind anything else.
    A lovely post, with some great recommendations that will more than likely find their way onto my ever growing reading list.
    Congratulations on your success and looking forward to following your blogging journey in 2012. 🙂


    • Thanks Jen, yes, it’s like a virtual book club with an increasing number of members and I do find it’s the followers that are the real source of motivation and inspiration. Thanks for visiting.


  5. Happy New Year and thank you for the lovely list. Byatt once was one of my greatest reading pleasures and I’ve let her latest novel languish. The Diving Pool is yet another book that I have and need to read.


  6. Happy New Year! I haven’t read any of the books you mentioned, but they do sound interesting, I’ll have to look up some of them (Fear and Trembling sounds good, for a start).


  7. What a list of books. I picked up Byatt’s book but at the last minute I put it down. I too haven’t read anything by her in a long time. She’s dependable writer, but sometimes she can lose my interest, which is why we have been estranged and why I put the book back. I might revisit this one (after I get through on 2011 outstanding TBR list). Not enough time to read and write, but if I don’t read I am cranky.


    • She’s not always an easy read, although I found ‘The Children’s Book’ very engaging and not as challenging as ‘Possession’. I have other books of hers I’d like to read, not necessarily as popular, but they are good nourishment for a writer I do believe.


  8. I loved both The Children’s Book and The Lacuna. I’d never read any Barabara Kingsolver before but this book was an un-put-downable! I think my favourite book from 2011 however was Pigeon English.


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