Monday, December 31

2012 Year of Reading

While I didn't actively participate in the Year of Reading 2012 - I challenged myself to read at least one book a week this year.

My challenge was to choose a favourite type of genre which is usually chick lit by an English author and a book or a genre that I would not really choose myself. 

I usually buy about two or three books from St Vinnies at a time; 

I have also been extremely lucky to have a bookshop called Oscar and Friends in Double Bay. One of the managers recommends books for me to read -  and I am blessed to have such a warm relationship with the staff and management of Oscar and Friends -

The following books are the books I loved reading this year and they are the ones I reviewed on my Twitter -

The books below are the books which really impacted me this year.
I read about 30 or so more than the books I have listed. But these are the ones that stood out and I posted brief reviews on Twitter:

1. Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend - this was an absolutely beautiful book to read. After I read this; I discussed this book with my bookworm friend and we were both moved by the sheer compassion in this book. My friend told me that she was touched by this book, because it stirred so many memories in her. I found this book heartbreaking; because there is so much innocence in the characters. I highly recommended this - 
2. Lawrence Anthony's book The Elephant Whisperer –  This was a sensational book to read. It gave me an insight into Lawrence Anthony's relationship with wild elephants and the work on his Thula Thula game reserve in Zululand. I learnt some sensational information about elephants and the bond that they formed with Lawrence and his wife. This book is a must read but be warned - it will make you cry!

3. Beautiful by Kate Piper - Katie's book is actually very difficult to read. without giving too much away; Katie has to face an immense struggle and this book is a very detailed account of her trauma and recovery. Throughout the book, you realise (well the reader) that Katie is incredibly strong and courageous. It is an immensely difficult story and an extremely graphic account of her experience but as you read this book - you end up liking Katie more and more. Katie has started a foundation for people suffering from Burns and Scars in the UK - read this book but be prepared to hold your hand over your mouth throughout.

4. Mindless Eating - this is fascinating. Did you know that there are food laboratories set up to test what, how and why we eat? Full of food facts and marketing information - this book will challenge your thoughts and beliefs about food and what makes us choose to eat. It also challenges the marketing behind food products and our food choices.

5. A Twitter Year  - 
 In 2011 - Kate Bussmann put together a review of top stories, events, news, facts and  Tweets. I loved this because I  love Twitter and found this is a great marketing book to decipher what was important to people on Twitter and why. Although it was written in 2011 - it's a fascinating book full of facts, tools, tips and things you probably don't know!

A friend of mine told me that they study John Barnes at uni because he is a sensational writer. After reading this book; I understand why. This book is short but his character descriptions are incredible. I have never got such an acute sense of character while reading and by the end of this I felt for Tony, for his sadness and for the path he chose for his life. I actually found this book incredibly sad and think I will read this again!

7. Hereafter – Tara Hudson – I took this book with me while travelling this year and I couldn't put this down. It's YA fiction about death (basically) and there is a lot of darkness in this book. Although it is a love story, I loved this book. It was chilling and intriguing and quite unusual. This book had some terrible reviews - but frankly I really liked it!

8. Annie Choi's book Happy Birthday or Whatever - Annie Choi is funny. I love her writing style and this book was a memoir about growing up with her Korean family while being exposed to a completely contrasting American culture. This book was charming. She writes with such wit and an accurate look into her culture and it was so wonderful to read a memoir that was laugh out loud funny (for a change!)

9. Dawn French's A Tiny Bit Marvellous - it may be because I absolutely love Dawn French so I found this book to be a lot like her; warm, funny and witty. Yet reading carefully about each character gave you an insight into their flaws and desires. It was a very light read, but her characters are spot on and her humour is perfect!
10. The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama - I love books like this! Set in South India; this book is all about a bored middle-aged man who sets up a matchmaking business inside his home. It combines everything; different religions, the Indian culture, love, marriage and Mr Ali's insight into what makes people tick. This is Farahad Zama's first book and I cannot wait to see what he writes next - I dream of writing in this way - it seems to be light and fluffy but you are learning so much as you read!

11. Brixton Beach - This book delved into the history of Sri Lanka and Alice's journey to London. While Roma's novel is fiction she fled Sri Lanka at the age of ten, travelling to Britain where she has spent most of her life. This book is a fascinating look into her personal history as well as experiences of her former country.

12. Sleepwalk With Me by Mike Birbiglia – I found this book, or rather book of true and unusual stories rather unusual. while this is not normally the type of book I tend to read; this book was quite funny and odd simultaneously.

13. Lunch In Paris - a love story with recipes - Elizabeth Bard - Complete with recipes and combining a love story - this book is for anyone who loves to cook and for anyone who is curious about Parisian culture.

14. Before The Storm by Diane Chamberlain  -  This book reminded me of Jodi Picoult's writing or We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. It's about Andy a boy who has FAD, his relationship with his mother, and a night in a Church. It's a fascinating piece of fiction which tests the readers because we tend to make assumptions and this book was surprisingly well-written.

15. The Midwife's Confession - Diane Chamberlain. I loved this book. It's based on a character Noelle and is full of secrets and plot twists! I read this in one sitting. I think Diane is very good at writing characters and helping the reader realise the depth of a character.

16. 100 things - This was so fantastic I ended up emailing the author Sebastien Terry (who responded straight away!) and including myself as a helper on the website he set up -
I liked Sebastien; he wrote with such honesty about his life and a struggle he had as well as why he wrote a list of things he wanted to do in the first place. I found him to be very approachable and likeable and I was inspired to write a little list myself!

17. Wonder-RJ Palacio  - Wonder was aimed at 9-11 year old facing the school system. They also face other issues such as popularity and bullying. While this book is aimed at really young kids; I found that this book covered a really simple premise - Choose Kindness.
This book blew me away - it focuses on such a simple thing; Who are you? And what kind of person are you? I absolutely loved Jack's character and his journey in this book (and I would love to write something this well!) This book inspired at anti-bullying campaign in schools - and I would suggest that everyone reads this book!

18. Band-Aid for a Broken Leg- Damien Brown - This was a fantastic book. Damien Brown wrote about his journey with Medecins Sans Frontieres in Africa. It gave me an insight into a world I have never seen myself and into people who struggle on a daily basis. This was Damien's first posting away from home and the reality was that it was very difficult. I wish I could have been there - it's full of stories about the people he met but it became a journey about the kind of person he was, a journey about all the assumptions he made along the way and the discovery of the person he wanted to become. Read this book, now!

19. Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children - As soon as I saw the bizarre images; I knew that I would love this fantasy novel. It's an utterly strange and compelling read. It was completely original, delved into fantasy and sci-fi and although it was written for young adults; I found that using quirky and highly improbable interlinking stories made this a must read on a very dark and rainy night! It will completely creep you out!

20. Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran. An amazing look into the history of the museum, the story of Marie, & the French Revolution. there was so much about this period of history and about this woman I didn't know and this book was a highly enjoyable read.

21. The Lost Girls - 3 friends, four continents and their separate accounts of their trip around the world. Holly, Amanda, and Jen are very passionate about finding themselves and this travel memoir is really all about their journey. They seem like 3 very sweet, passionate, grab the world with both arms sort of girls and I loved their style and energy.

22. Saving Private Sarbi is about a cross lab/Newfoundland who got lost and found in Afghanistan. In Dogs We Trust is the unofficial motto in the Explosive Detection Dog Section If you love dogs - this is a fantastic book for you.

23. Jack The Ripper, was he really a woman? In this book John Morris analyses whether in fact Jack the Ripper was a woman and attempts to prove it via records, witness accounts etc. I was not sure what to believe but the evidence and analysis in the book was utterly compelling and quite convincing!

24. How To Make a Camel Smoothie - I absolutely adore pop science and pop maths books. This is a quirky collection of short, slightly weird mathematical facts, figures and calculations (review by an Amazon reviewer).

25. The Terrible Thing that Happened to Barnaby Brocket - I actually felt very sorry for Barnaby Brocket because he was born into such an ordinary family. A younger person would read this book as a whimsical fantasy sort of book; but I as an adult read into it about being different, having to confirm and then deciding to just be yourself. It is very nicely written with fantastic illustrations by Oliver Jeffers.

26. Anna Fienberg's Escape - I had the pleasure of meeting Anna Fienberg this year and I liked her instantly. This is her first novel for adults and I felt that I really understood the characters in this book. It looks very deeply into two aspects, escape by using magic and the desire to escape from life. While I found this book extremely sad - I loved her writing.

27. Call The Midwife - a true story about a 22 year old midwife in the East end of London in the 1950's. It was fascinating to learn about 1950s London and the very intimate role a midwife played within family dynamics. what really struck me is how much times have changed. There were also references to the best children's hospital in the world - Great Ormond Street Hospital. If you're interested in the history of London and the roles woman played - this book is fantastic.

28. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green - Would wow, just wow suffice as a review?
John Green said on Tumblr that he wanted the reader "to feel all of the things". I think this book made me think. I have never had cancer; I have no idea what it is to be a teenager and have cancer and have to fight through all the incessant so called having to be brave about having cancer. Hazel was wonderfully searingly honest and John green poses a lot of questions to readers about dying, living and looking at yourself!

I also updated my Shelfari and GoodReads  accounts and received some ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies) from this incredible site -

What were your favourite books this year?

 I'd love to hear and I'd love any recommendations.

Contact me using the comment box below or via Twitter or

Just one of my many piles of books

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