Tuesday, 28 December 2010

2010 Reading Wrap Up

With 2010 just a few days away from coming to a close I'm revisiting the year in many different ways, from favourite films to movie memories to what I've seen but also what I've read and a lot of what I read this year was influenced by my 2010 Book to Film Challenge List. I actually did very well with this challenge, finishing all 20 books (albeit the last Lord of the Rings I put on hiatus for several months) on the list and overall reading over 80 books this calendar year and hope to sneak in 2 more before 2011 chimes in. Although I haven't been writing about the books as much as I'd like to along the way, I'd like to rectify that now with the remaining books on the challenges list and also touch on some the great books and things I've noticed this year.

If you are a book to film fan, be sure to swing back here in early 2011 as I'll be announcing my play-along 2011 book-to-film adaptation challenge. It's gonna be fun and I hope you will play along!

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Lots of things surprized me when reading this 5th book in the Harry Potter series, I obviously didn't retain tons from the first read (or more likely the film imprints stronger with me) and there were way more changes book to film or ... shifting I should say than I remembered - but a lot of it is done really well and some of the non-plot but important character things were shifted to Half-Blood Prince. I did really enjoy re-reading this one, but it is where it certainly where things gets harder and harder. But there is still a lot of great foreshadowing for later, I think that's the thing I like most about re-reading the books is that I get more and more out of them every time, seeing more about the characters, their motivations, and their histories can be clearer. And I know it's a small part of it but I love the character of Frieze. Wish they kept him in the film. Ah, well!

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
This is a bit of a weird on for me because I know I re-read it in 2009 in anticipation for the film so this is the 3rd read for me but I don't seem to retain that much from it. I actually love the film adaptation and it pulls out very different themes an focuses than I imagined, and so that highly influenced my re-reading of it this time. I do stand strong on the fact that it feels like one of the oddest titles of the series, because it doesn't feel that important of a focus although that could be intentional. Not my fave of the books by far, but still an enjoyable read.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
I really left this one to the last minute, literally finishing the book at 4am when I was seeing the film Part 1 at 9:45am. But technically, I guess I didn't have to finish it considering the films are part I&II but I didn't know how they were splitting them. I actually am really glad that I re-read The Deathly Hallows, I read it so quickly the first time round I didn't retain that much and I was so worried / focused on what would happen that I wasn't enjoying the journey getting there. This time I enjoyed the journey and I actually really enjoyed the focus on the trio in this book, which although the omnipresent ominous world around them is giving no safe place to turn it feels great to see them stand on their own 2 feet (times 3). I enjoyed it much more than the first time round and would honestly, whole-heartedly re-read the series again and again, although (thankfully) won't feel the need to do for Deathly Hallows Part II!

The Tempest by William Shakespeare
I'd be totally lying if I said that I understood all, or even most, of The Tempest. I found it a challenge to get what was going on from simply reading the lines of the play. I did switch to reading a bunch of it aloud, but that felt kind of silly - although I did understand it a lot better when I did that. Ha! Proof that silly is efficient! That's awesome. Anyhow, I kind of got the gist of what was going on in grand strokes and am now very much looking forward to seeing the film adaptation from someone who understands it much better than I! I might re-read it afterwards to see what that's like too. If nothing else it was the shortest of my reading entries this year at 84 pages!

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the Kings by J.R.R. Tolkien
The last 'to read' on my 2010 challenge and I was kind of dreading it, which feels awful to say for such a beloved book. I was downtrodden from not reading back when I projected in April, I had started it already so I was picked up mid-story, plus in terms of the book-to-film-ness, the film is one that I almost can't bear to watch because I just want to cry because so much is sad in it. So imagine my surprize when I started reading the book and was immediately drawn back in and felt strongly centred in the war of Middle Earth, feeling ridiculously familiar with the characters, their journeys and the tasks at hand. Could be the biggest surprize of the year that I really *enjoyed* reading this one. The fact that I've read a lot more througout the year might have something to do with it as well, being more comfortable in general.

Learnings & Leanings
  • Non-Fiction: Where did the Non-fiction go? I want to read more Non-fiction. I don't 'track' my NF reading as much because I tend to not 'read' the whole thing therefore it might not go on my read list or in Good Reads, especially for education/reference stuff like knitting. But this year I didn't work though almost anything that was an a work book, or anything with exercise, and that makes me kind of sad because I like books like that and I love learning. I LOVE it. I might have to actually set aside time a week to work on/read non-fiction because unlike fiction you need time away from it, and I tend to read things straight through. Hopefully I'll be bringing more non-fiction into the mix in 2011.
  • YA/Kids Books - Although I love YA and kids fiction, I want to add more adult fiction to the roster, especially after reading books like the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Never Let Me Go where the writing is so strong, it made me realize a lot of the YA stuff out there is crap. Enjoyable crap, but still crap!
  • Series - As of early December 2010 I noted that I was in the middle of 18 (!) different book series. This feels more than a little ridiculous, even in the light of reading over 80 books over the year and the fact that I love tracking things, it just feels kind of crazy. Some are on hiatus, some are not all yet even written and there is even one series I hope to finish by the end of the year (yes, I know it's Dec 28th, but there is still time!). Anyhow, I'm having the strong urge not to start any new series until I've completed a different series, unless I really feel drawn to them and/or if they are already written in completion. Not that I'm against series as a concept but some seem never to know when to call it a day, and really drag things out (House of Night felt like this for sure), or even seem to continue after their projected book numbers. I prefer to know what I'm getting into from the beginning, and knowing I'm a completist by nature I want to know how long I'll be on the journey. That feels like a huge disclaimer as the next thing I'm going to say was that there were several series that I absolutely adored and therefore wanted to share the love on them.
So, read a lot. Learned a lot. Didn't write about it as much as I thought I would have throughout the year, but I'm going to highlight a few of the best, most interesting, enjoyable and/or influential books I read in 2010.

The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau
So, I didn't read tons on non-fiction, but I did read The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau, which I adored. Adored! So many times while reading this book I just wanted to find Chris Guillebeau and say "Thank you!" or "You understand" or "Yes!!!". If you have any interest in leading an unconventional life, changing the world, thinking big and doing all of that while being yourself and positively impacting the world around you - this book is for you! Out of the 80+ books I've read this year it has been the most influential and most inspiring. For fans and keeners, there is a unconventional book tour going for the book and has a bunch of Canadian stops in January 2011.

Darkest Powers Trilogy: The Summoning/The Awakening/The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong I honestly think one of the reason I love this series is that it's only three books, and it uses those three books to tell it's story very, very well. It's a young adult paranormal fiction with romantic elements but the focus is very much on survival and not knowing or understanding what is going on at all. I loved the journey of discovery and the mystery vibe along with anti-establishment energy, and really loved the characters. I really cherished reading these books, they are high up there in terms of the fact that I'd put them as own & re-readers which is rare for library-centric me. I am looking forward to getting into Kelley Armstong's Women of the Underworld series, but I think I might leave that until I have lots of time on deck as I hear it's really absorbing.

Maximum Ride Series by James Patterson
I love the sheer audacity of the short chapters and everyday kid language in these books. I also love that it's a flock (literally, mostly) of make-shift siblings that are avian/human hybrids lead by out fearless leader and female protagonist, Max. There is lots off stuff in the books that are totally off the wall but I love the quick-witted, real-emotion, rag-tag family of the flock. Loved it. Although this kind of breaks the rule of series because it's 5 books then keeps going. I'll forgive it, because I continue to enjoy them.

Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan
Modern re-visioning of Greek Mythology in current day New York. These books are brilliant, great use of mythology and respinning it to the contemporary, and I also really liked the characters and their journeys. It's when I read books like this that are so smart and engaging, I know I won't just cut-off reading YA - because there is still a lot of awesome to explore out there!

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
I have mixed feelings about these books as a trilogy. I adored The Hunger Games, I've rarely been as engaged in a book as I was during reading Hunger Games (top 5 pageturners, ever). I was surprized there was a sequel, but riproared through Catching Fire with almost the same intensity as Hunger Games. But Mockingjay wasn't quite for me, it was harder to get into and I was upset during a lot of the time reading it and the fact that felt intentional made me upset *and* mad. In a lot of ways I wish it was just a stand alone book with The Hunger Games - I would have been satisfied with just reading that sole book. It's a very dark post apocalyptic world and very brutal scenarios and young protagonists, so although it's certainly for a YA audience, I'd be hesitant to recommend it to non-adults. There is an upcoming film adaptation, so this one is worth checking out if you are a book-to-filmer as I'm sure we are in for lots of talk about it in the future.

The Saga of Darren Shan
This is the one that I'm trying to finish by the end of the year, and I started the 12-book series in 2009 and I've really enjoyed almost sauntering through this vampire kids series. I really like the character of Darren, who continues to be open, inquisitive, suprized and surprizing throughout the epic mixed with everyday saga.

Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
O.M.G. Loved this series, and that's before even reading the last book which I got for Christmas. This is the perfect blend of YA intensity with actual good writing. I love, love, love the series. Strong female protagonist, vampires, romance, friendships and of course the weight of the world on her shoulders. Love it. Can't wait to see how it all gets summed up.

Worst Book: The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer
Most challenging read: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë - I really wasn't sure I was going to get through it. But I did!
The one that really got me: Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Most varied results: House of Night - started off loving it, especially the matriarch structure and alignment to pagan beliefs, but my goodness it went on way too long and didn't like some of the places it went. And it didn't stop as there is and 8th book coming for the 7-book series.
Favourite book of the year: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Favourite series of the year: Darkest Powers and Vampire Academy
Favourite non-fiction book: The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau

Wow, that was an epic long post! Thanks for making it to the end. For fellow book lovers, feel free to friend me over at GoodReads and keep an eye out here at Movie Moxie in early 2011 for my new play-along book-to-film challenge! If you know of upcoming book-to-film adaptations that you are interested in, let me know!

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