My Favourite Reads of 2011

Posted: January 4, 2012 by Rachel

2011 was the year that I finally took the 50 Book Challenge seriously, and yes, it didn’t hurt that I had made the move from Canada to Las Vegas in January and wouldn’t be able to legally work for months until my immigration process was complete. With all that time on my hands I managed to complete my goal of reading 50 books that year. Actually, I read 58 books in all.
I’m a huge bookworm – always have and always will be – and I’m really not embarrassed to admit that (some of my favourite people are the same way!). I love when people ask me for book suggestions; evident by my sudden improved posture and the silly smile plastered all over my face. I once handed over a handwritten list to a friend here in Las Vegas and was intrigued by her surprise that I had written it all out instead of typing it up. Yeah, I’m still that girl that loves to write letters to people and mail it to them (come on. it doesn’t get much better than receiving a personalized letter like that!)
So without further adieu I give you a list of some of the funniest, most touching, most I-couldn’t-put-this-down books that I read last year in hopes that some of you might fall in love with them the way that I did.
  1. Left Neglected by Lisa Genova“Sarah Nickerson is busy trying to have it all. One morning while racing to work and distracted by her cell phone, she looks away from the road for one second too long. In that blink of an eye, all the rapidly moving parts of her over-scheduled life come to a screeching halt. After a brain injury steals her awareness of everything on her left side, Sarah must retrain her mind to perceive the world as a whole. In so doing, she also learns how to pay attention to the people and parts of her life that matter most.”
    1. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand“On the surface, it is a story of one man, Howard Roark, and his struggles as an architect in the face of a successful rival, Peter Keating, and a newspaper columnist, Ellsworth Toohey. But the book addresses a number of universal themes: the strength of the individual, the tug between good and evil, the threat of fascism. The confrontation of those themes, along with the amazing stroke of Rand’s writing, combine to give this book its enduring influence.”
      1. If You Have to Cry, Go Outside by Kelly Cutrone“In her trademark, no-bullshit style, [Kelly] combines personal and professional stories to share her secrets for success without selling out. Raw, hilarious, shocking, but always the honest truth, If You Have to Cry, Go Outside calls upon you to gather up your courage like an armful of clothes at a McQueen sample sale and follow your soul where it takes you. Whether you’re just starting out in the world or looking to reinvent yourself, this book will be the spark you need to figure out what you have to say to the world—and how you’re going to say it.”
        1. Bossypants by Tina Fey“Tina Fey had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon — from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence. Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.”
          1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – “This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction. This is the story of what it’s like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie’s letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.”
            1. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins“In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.”
              1. Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeir Hansson“Most business books give you the same old advice: Write a business plan, study the competition, seek investors, yadda yadda. Rework shows you a better, faster, easier way to succeed in business. Read it and you’ll know why plans are actually harmful, why you don’t need outside investors, and why you’re better off ignoring the competition. The truth is, you need less than you think. You don’t need to be a workaholic. You don’t need to staff up. You don’t need to waste time on paperwork or meetings. You don’t even need an office. Those are all just excuses. With its straightforward language and easy-is-better approach, Rework is the perfect playbook for anyone who’s ever dreamed of doing it on their own. Hardcore entrepreneurs, small-business owners, people stuck in day jobs they hate, victims of “downsizing,” and artists who don’t want to starve anymore will all find valuable guidance in these pages.”
                1. Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson“As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I’m still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me. . . .” Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love—all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may be telling you only half the story. Welcome to Christine’s life.”
                And just for fun, my disappointments included:

                1. The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption and Pee by Sarah Silverman
                2. The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg
                3. Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs by Kaira Rouda
                4. Things my Girlfriend and I Have Argued About by Mil Millington

                Did you read any great books in 2011? I’d love to hear from you!