My 2011 Reading List

I read 87 books in 2011. I’ve arranged the titles I’ve read this year into genres. Yes, Alexander McCall Smith is a genre unto himself! Each list is presented in the order of my preference, the top being the favorite. I found it very difficult to rank disparate books. How does one compare Elisabeth Elliot’s novel with Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts? The omega icon (Ω) indicates an audio book. K = Free Kindle K$ = Kindle at a price. I only read a few of these on my Kindle, but I’m especially interested in free Kindle books, and think you might be too.

Last year I began noting the date of publication, which helps me see trends in my reading. I find it interesting/curious that as much as I think I love the classics, the only classics I read this year were children’s books. Unless you count Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, which I read to get a feel for Hemingway’s taut and sparse writing style. If I didn’t care for it, it doesn’t count as a classic, right? Seeing this list makes me determined to read Dickens, Trollope, Chesterton and Shakespeare in 2012.

All in all it was a satisfactory year of reading. I look over the list and sigh many happy sighs. My 2011 book of the year is Unbroken. My children’s book of the year is Auntie Robbo, which you are obliged, if you have a Kindle, to read for free. Why I’ve never heard of this book before this year perplexes me. I found it on a fluke: curious about a reference to the author, I Googled her name. That’s one Google I will never regret.

The quotes interspersed are from this year’s reading.


As the train drew out of town, Matthew looked out into the gathering darkness
of the late autumn evening. There were clusters of light here and there, and beyond
them the dark shape of the hills. That was what the world is like, he thought:
a dark place, with small clusters of light here and there, where there is
justice and concord between men. 
~ Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith                             

The World According to Bertie 2009 K$ review
Love Over Scotland 2006 K$ review
The Unbearable Lightness of Scones 2008 K$
The Charming Quirks of Others  2010 K$
La’s Orchestra Saves the World 2009 K$
The Double Comfort Safari Club 2010 K$


And when the fresh curling trout had been eaten, with a mound of scones and butter,
they lay late round the fire, swilling cocoa, arguing again about stags and cows,
telling stories, and looking back on yet another well-spent perfect day. ~ Ann Scott-Moncrieff

Children’s Fiction

Auntie Robbo Ann Scott-Moncrieff, 1941 K review
Moccasin Traill Elouise Jarvis McGraw, 1952
Tamar Mal Peet, 2007 K$ review
Hans Brinker Mary Mapes Dodge, 1865 K review
Escape from Warsaw Ian Serraillier, 1963
Tom Sawyer Abroad  Mark Twain, 1894 K review
A Wonder Book  Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1852 K review
Nothing to Fear Jackie French Koller, 1991
The Christmas Rat Avi, 2002
Tanglewood Tales Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1853 K
Onion John Joseph Krumgold, 1959
A Dog of Flanders Ouida de La Ramée, 1872 K review
Pinocchio Carlo Collodi, 1882 K
Tom Sawyer Detective Mark Twain, 1896 K
The Peterkin Papers Lucretia Peabody Hale, 1880 K review
The Little Lame Prince Dinah Mulock Craik, 1875 K review


I used to tell my children that learning was like building shelves for the mind,
some of which would come to bear much weight, some little,
but all useful for reasoning and classification. ~ Janie B. Cheaney

Children’s Non-Fiction

String, Straight-edge & Shadow Julie E. Diggins, 1965 review
Duel in the Wilderness Karin Clafford Farley, 1995 review
Meter Means Measure S. Carl Hirsch, 1973 review


Beauty is a key part to understanding God. ~ Brian Godowa


A Godward Life Book 2 John Piper, 1999 K$ review
One Thousand Gifts Ann Voskamp, 2011 K$
No Graven Image Elisabeth Elliot, 1966
Wind from the Stars George MacDonald, 1992
For Women Only Shaunti Feldhahn, 2004 K$
Passion and Purity Elisabeth Elliot, 1984
50 People Every Christian Should Know Warren Wiersbe, 1984 K$
The Wisdom of Tenderness Brennan Manning, 2002 K$
The Ragamuffin Gospel Brennan Manning, 1990 K$
Women of the New Testament Abraham Kuyper, 1934


On Thanksgiving Day, anyone who wants to wash dishes
is my friend for life.  ~ Rick Rodgers


Thanksgiving 101 Rick Rodgers, 2007 K$ review


Despite its seeming mundanity, the ritual of flying remains indelibly linked,
even in secular times, to the momentous themes of existence—and their
refractions in the stories of the world’s religions. We have heard about too
many ascensions, too many voices from heaven, too many airborne angels
and saints to ever be able to regard the business of flight from an entirely
pedestrian perspective, as we might, say, the act of traveling by train.
~ Alain de Botton

Cultural Studies

A Week at the Airport Alain de Botton, 2009 K$ review
The Crisis of Civilization Hilaire Belloc, 1937 review
How Proust Can Change Your Life Alain de Botton, 1997
From Cottage to Work Station Allan C. Carlson, 1993


An essay is more than just a report; an essay takes a position or makes a point.
It requires higher-level thinking. ~ Janice Campbell (not exact quote; cobbled from my notes)


Heirloom: Notes from an Accidental Tomato Farmer Tim Stark, 2008 K$ review
Small Wonder Barbara Kingsolver, 2002 K$ review


I love fiction, strangely enough, for how true it is.
If it can tell me something I maybe suspected, but
never framed quite that way, or never before had
sock me so divinely in the solar plexus, that was a
story worth the read.   ~ Barbara Kingsolver


Gilead Marilynne Robinson, 2004 Ω K$
Green Journey Jon Hassler, 1985 review
In the Company of Others Jan Karon, 2010 K$ review
Dear James Jon Hassler, 1993
Half Broke Horses Jeannette Walls, 2009 K$
The Marriage Bureau for Rich People Farahad Zama, 2009 K$
The Rector of Justin Louis Auchincloss, 1965
Up and Down in the Dales Gervase Phinn, 2004 K$
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand Helen Simonson, 2010 K$
Staggerford Jon Hassler, 1977 K$
Small Island Andrea Levy, 2005 K$
Shanghai Girls Lisa See, 2009 K$
Olive Kitteridge Elizabeth Strout, 2008 K$
Amy Inspired Bethany Pierce, 2010 K$
News from Thrush Green Miss Read, 1970 K$
Miss Julia Strikes Back Ann B. Ross, 2008 Ω K$
No Dark Valley Jamie Langston Turner, 2004 review
The Sun Also Rises Ernest Hemingway, 1926 K$


Commit to one thing: You must change your life.
But if you don’t have fun doing this thing, my friend,
then it will be the dumbest damned thing you have
ever done. You won’t know if you enjoy it until you do it.
 ~ Richard Watson


Hormone Harmony Alicia Stanton, 2009
The Philosopher’s Diet Richard Watson, 1985 K$


History lessons were my joy.  ~ P.D. James


Unbroken Laura Hillenbrand, 2010 K$ review
Truman David McCullough, 1992 K$
The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris David McCullough, 2011 K$
Eisenhower Stephen E. Ambrose, 1983 review
1,001 Things Everyone Should Know About American History John Garraty, 1989


The years are getting so they flash past me like pickets in a fence.
~ Dwight D. Eisenhower on 61st birthday


West With the Night Beryl Markham, 1942 Ω
The Sword Of Imagination Russell Kirk, 1995 review
The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis Alan Jacobs, 2005 Ω K$
Time to Be in Earnest  P.D. James, 1999 K$ review
Blind Hope: An Unwanted Dog and the Woman She Rescued Laurie Sacher, 2010 K$
German Boy: A Refugee’s Story Wolfgang W.E. Samuel, 2000 K$ review
Heat Bill Buford, 2007 K$


It’s not the tragedies that kill us, it’s the messes. ~ Dorothy Parker


Original Sin P.D. James, 1995
The Singing Sands Josephine Tey, 1952
Break In Dick Francis, 2007 Ω K$
Old House of Fear Russell Kirk, 1961 K$ review
Dead Heat Dick and Felix Francis, 2007 Ω K$
Crossfire Dick and Felix Francis, 2010 Ω K$
Poirot Investigates Agatha Christie, 1924 Ω K$


To be proud of knowledge is to be  blind with light. ~ Benjamin Franklin


In a Word Margaret Ernst, 1939 review
Poor Richard’s Almanac Benjamin Franklin, 1747 K$ review


We were as happy as people can possibly be in a malarious country. ~ Jessie Currie
I like roads. I live to move. ~ Harry S. Truman


A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains Isabella Bird, 1873 K
Unsuitable for Ladies: An Anthology of Women Travellers ed. Jane Robinson, 1994 K$ review
The Crofter and the Laird John McPhee, 1969 K$
Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure Matthew Algeo, 2009 K$ review
The Guynd: A Scottish Journal Belinda Rathbone, 2007 review
Two Towns in Provence M.F.K. Fisher, 1964 K$ review
Palladian Days: Finding a New Life in a Venetian Country House Sally Gable, 2006 Ω K$
Wonderlust Vicki Kiyper, 2007 review


Happy Reading!


9 thoughts on “My 2011 Reading List

  1. Carol, scroll down to the post just below the Saturday Review. I gave you some suggestions, but I forgot to mention that Home the companion/sequel to Gilead is also a lovely read. Now I’m off to add many of your favorites to my TBR list.

  2. @SemicolonSherry – Yes, Home is definitely on my TBR list. I miss some of the generic reading challenges where I committed to reading certain titles. I think it kept me more disciplined in reading. I have some goals that I’m not chipping away, e.g. if I want to read all of Shakespeare, I should be reading 4 or 5 a year. One would think. 

  3. If you like Dickens and Trollope, I strongly encourage you to try Wilkie Collins and Mary Elizabeth Braddon (beginning with Lady Audley’s Secret).  I adore Victorian fiction…and do read Vanity Fair by Thackeray (although I’ve never been able to like other Thackery novels as much as that one).  Did you like Small Island?  My favorite scene (it made me cry) is Gilbert trying to help Hortense find new dreams when she realizes she can never be a teacher.I think I’m going to have read Unbroken.  It’s on *every* good list I’ve seen so far.

  4. Carol, thanks so much for your comment on my post!  It was so fun to hear what someone else thought of some of the books I read this year.  And do you know we were in the same room there at Edman Chapel this fall?  It was so wonderful to meet Ann–wish I would have known to look for you too!  I sorta know you through Diane at Circle of Quiet and I believe through Mental Multivitamin, which were a couple of the very first blogs I started reading.  I didn’t follow you so much because I wasn’t sure about commenting on Xanga–I think it used to be harder. But I recognized a kindred spirit. 😉  Loved your review of Unbroken. I loved that you captured some of those wonderful turns of phrase!  Your categories are fun–we have similar tastes in mysteries and fiction!  Blessings in the New Year–~Jeanne

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