My Books for 2011

I keep track of the books I read in a Book Notes organizer that I bought from Quality Paperback Book Club back in 1987. I write down the title, author, and date I finish each book. This year was a little different. I still used the Book Notes notebook–it’s one of my prized possessions–but I also kept track through the Facebook group The Centurions of 2011. The group’s organizer, Paul Hankins, encouraged members to contribute posts about what we read each month: fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels, picture books, anything we read cover to cover, with the goal of reading 111 books in 2011. I read 114 books in 2011. Many others read more, and I’m glad it’s not a competition.

Here is a list of my books for 2011 with links to those that I wrote about more thoroughly elsewhere on this blog, followed by a few thoughts on my 2011 reading and what I have in mind for 2012. 

1. Smile: Raina Telgemeier
2. Columbine: Dave Cullen
3. Pippi Longstocking: Astrid Lindgren
4. Happy Birthday, Moon: Frank Asch
5. Out of the Dust: Karen Hesse
6. Swan Lake: Mark Helprin
7. The Girl in the Song: Michael Heatley & Frank Hopkinson
8. The Innocents Abroad: Mark Twain
9. Happy Birthday Bad Kitty: Nick Bruel
10. Countdown: Deborah Wiles
11. Bad Kitty: Nick Bruel
12. I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone: Stephanie Kuehnert
13. Horton Halfpott: Tom Angelberger
14. The Pigeon Wants a Puppy: Mo Willems
15. Hush! A Thai Lullaby: Minfong Ho
16. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth: Jeff Kinney
17. A Gate at the Stairs: Lorrie Moore
18. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: Rebecca Skloot
19. Little Brother: Cory Doctorow
20. The Shallows: Nicholas Carr
21. Half a Life: Darin Strauss
22. The Secret School: Avi
23. Big Nate From the Top: Lincoln Peirce
24. Mockingbird: Kathryn Erskine
25. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda: Tom Angleberger
26. Theodore Rex: Edmund Morris
27. Instructions: Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess
28. Mister Wonderful: Daniel Clowes
29. Judy Moody: Megan McDonald
30. Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us: Daniel H. Pink
31. This Tree Counts!: Alison Formento, Illustrated by Sarah Snow
32. Nineteen Minutes: Jodi Picoult
33. Master of Disguises: Charles Simic
34. Bossypants: Tina Fey
35. Judy Moody Gets Famous!: Megan McDonald
36. The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Alexandra Robbins
37. Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer: Megan McDonald
38. The Sixty-Eight Rooms: Marianne Malone
39. Elvis: A Graphic Novel: Terry Collins
40. Duck! Rabbit!: Amy Krouse Rosenthal
41. Testing the Ice: Sharon Robinson
42. The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation: Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon
43. Divergent: Veronica Roth
44. Saving the Baghdad Zoo: Kelly Milner Halls
45. Interrupting Chicken: David Ezra Stein
46. Feel-Bad Education: Alfie Kohn
47. Marty McGuire: Kate Messner
48. Time to Say Please!: Mo Willems
49. Kitten’s First Full Moon: Kevin Henkes
50. Get Well Soon: Julie Halpern
51. Never Smile at a Monkey: Steve Jenkins
52. Memoirs of a Goldfish: Devin Scillian
53. The Year We Left Home: Jean Thompson
54. What the Dog Saw: Malcolm Gladwell
55. Scaredy Squirrel Has a Birthday Party: Melanie Watt
56. Elsie’s Bird: Jane Yolen
57. A Sick Day for Amos McGee: Philip Christian Stead
58: Ron Santo: A Perfect 10: Pat Hughes and Rich Wolfe
59. American Salvage: Bonnie Jo Campbell
60. Stitches: David Small
61. Sanibel Flats: Randy Wayne White
62. Lullaby Raft: Naomi Shihab Nye
63. Fire and Rain: David Browne
64. Press Here: Hervé Tullet
65. The Heat Islands: Randy Wayne White
66. Emily’s Fortune: Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
67. A Repair Kit for Grading: Ken O’Connor
68. Pearl: Jo Knowles
69. Chester: Melanie Watt
70. Chester’s Back: Melanie Watt
71. Burned In: Fueling the Fire to Teach: Audrey A. Friedman and Luke Reynolds, Eds.
72. American Widow: Alissa Torres
73. Sea Monster’s First Day: Kate Messner
74. The Man Who Invented Florida: Randy Wayne White
75. The Candymakers: Wendy Mass
76. The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore: Benjamin Hale
77. Can You Count to a Googol?: Robert E. Wells
78. Camille McPhee Fell Under the Bus: Kristen Tracy
79. Captiva: Randy Wayne White
80. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: Aimee Bender
81. I Am Number Four: Pittacus Lore
82. Eleanor, Quiet No More: Doreen Rappaport
83. Faith: Jennifer Haigh
84. Blockade Billy: Stephen King
85. Elements of Grading: Douglas Reeves
86. Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World: Vicki Myron and Bret Witter
87. North of Havana: Randy Wayne White
88. Dinner With Dracula: Hilarious, Hair-raising Poems: Bruce Lansky, Ed.
89. The Power of Six: Pittacus Lore
90. City Dog, Country Frog: Mo Willems
91. Thanksgiving at the Tappletons’: Eileen Spinelli
92. Falling Up: Shel Silverstein
93. When Bob Met Woody: Gary Golio
94. The Night Bookmobile: Audrey Niffenegger
95. The Tiger’s Wife: Téa Obreht
96. Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring: Jan Greenberg
97. It’s a Book: Lane Smith
98. Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite: Anna Harwell Celenza
99. The Bay of Marseilles and Other Stories: Greg Herriges
100. I Want My Hat Back: Jon Klassen
101. The Mangrove Coast: Randy Wayne White
102. The Gift of the Magi: O. Henry (Candlewick Press)
103. Red Sled: Lita Judge
104. My Name is Elizabeth: Annika Dunklee
105. Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1: Mark Twain
106. The World of Pooh: A. A. Milne
107. Balloons over Broadway: Melissa Sweet
108. Identical: Ellen Hopkins
109. The Kite Runner: Graphic Novel: Khaled Hosseini
110. A Dog Is a Dog: Stephen Shaskan
111. The Death and Life of the Great American School System: Diane Ravitch
112. Winter Town: Stephen Emond
113. Page by Paige: Laura Lee Gulledge
114. You Will Be My Friend: Peter Brown

If I have to pick one book, just one book, from this list to call my favorite book of 2011, it’s The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1.  That book made me laugh, made me think about how similar and how different his world is and was from ours, and showed the way to make autobiographical writing interesting to both reader and writer.

When I consider the books I read this year about the state of schools, I see that most of them are about what’s wrong with schools. My professional reading choices were based on learning about what is causing so many problems in education. Diane Ravitch and Alfie Kohn helped me clarify and articulate some ideas about what I believe, and the two books I read about grading also gave me insights into larger forces at work in our school system. One book–The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth by Alexandra Robbins–was the best book I read about schools this year because it focused directly on students, frequently the forgotten entity in schools these days. My professional reading in 2012 will, I hope, focus more on what is right with schools that with what is wrong. I’m sure to gain some new ideas from recent books by Tom Newkirk and Kelly Gallagher.

This year I also discovered thrillers by Randy Wayne White. I don’t usually like whodunit-type mysteries because I feel like I miss the clues along the way. (Story of my life too.) At the end of those books, there always seems to be a big revelation that the unlocked door back in my chapter four was the clue that explains why all the murders happened and who was responsible. And I usually don’t even remember that detail from chapter four. Even when I look again, I’d swear that unlocked door wasn’t mentioned the first time I read it. Anyway, back to Randy Wayne White. The Gulf Coast of Florida is our spring break spot. It looks and feels different from anywhere else I’ve ever traveled. Time stops for me when I’m on vacation there. Circle Books in Sarasota has a large selection of books by Florida writers, and Randy Wayne White is one of the most popular writers featured there. He focuses on the area around Sanibel Island and writes with humor, integrity, and details that bring the Gulf Coast to life for me back here in Illinois. White has written eighteen novels about the adventures of Doc Ford. I read six of them in 2011, and I’ll be delving into more of them in 2012.

When I check out picture books from our great local library, Ruth at the circulation desk always jokes, “You really need to bring up your reading level, Gary.” Because I work in a high school, and my daughters are in upper elementary and middle school, I depend on others to recommend the best picture books. I appreciate my daughters still reading them with me. When I rate picture books on Goodreads, the ratings are not mine. I give stars based on whatever Abby and Grace say.

I’m grateful that Abby and Grace share their reading lives with me, and I’m just as grateful for everyone else who shares their reading experiences with me online and face-to-face. If I see someone reading a book, I’m usually awkwardly trying to see what it is. (Kindles and Nooks make this more difficult but not impossible.) If the book is one I know, I’m not shy about striking up a conversation with a stranger. (This is not always welcomed.) Talking with my students about books and reading their book blog posts is one of the best parts of my job.

Thanks to you for reading this, and for sharing any thoughts you have about your books of 2011 and 2012.

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5 Responses to My Books for 2011

  1. Mindi Rench says:

    Gary, it wasn’t until I started using Goodreads and Facebook a few years ago that I started keeping track of my reading. I had tried using paper notebooks before, but I wasn’t good about keeping it up. There’s something about the immediacy of the keyboard and screen that keep me tracking.

    Too bad the same idea doesn’t apply to my weight watchers tracking…..

    Loved your post!


  2. Cheryl VanHouweling says:

    Great post, Gary. I hardly ever read a book from cover to cover. Your list puts me to shame. I think it will help me make a New Year’s resolution – read more books.


  3. Gary,
    I too love Florida’s West coast. For many years we spent summer weeks vacationing on Sanibel Island. It’s a gorgeous place which works to conserve some of the wilds of the Florida coastline. I will have to check out White’s novel! Your post reminds me that I should update my book list for the year and do some reflecting. Best wishes!


  4. I hugged myself after I read Countdown. In fact, I’m still hugging myself. Thanks for sharing your 2011 reading list.


  5. Pingback: My Books for 2012 | What's Not Wrong?

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