The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik
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December 8, 2011

This year's best reading

Interesting, and wonderful:  even though I think that my 'mix' of reading this year was the same as it is every year {biographies, older fiction (vs. new) and mysteries}, the books that I'll remember most aren't as lumped together into one category or the other as they sometimes are.  I fell for Elizabeth Gaskell {the person and her novels}, and Eudora Welty {the person, and now I need to read more of her work}, read Henry James, instead of just reading about him, and discovered new authors.

What I wanted to say most is that I read some of these with you, or because of you, and I'm thankful for that!

{At first, I thought I'd try to narrow this list down even more, but these were all almost equally memorable and pleasure-bringing.}

Biographies and history:
  • The Carlyles at Home, by Thea Holme
  • Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories, by Jenny Uglow
  • The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, by David McCullough
  • A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
  • Wait for Me! Memoirs, by Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire
  • What There Is To Say We Have Said: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and William Maxwell, edited by Suzanne Marrs

Fiction and Mysteries
  • The American, by Henry James
  • The American Heiress, by Daisy Goodwin
  • The Bookshop, by Penelope Fitzgerald  
  • Chloe Marr, by A.A. Milne
  • Instruments of Darkness, by Imogen Robertson
  • One Fine Day, by Mollie Panter-Downes
  • South Riding, by Winifred Holtby
  • Wives and Daughters, by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Bury Your Dead, by Louise Penny

Food writing
  • Kitchen Essays, by Agnes Jekyll {Persephone Reading Weekend, February}

I have a feeling that Claire Tomalin's Charles Dickens:  A Life {probably the only other book I'll finish before the New Year} will end up on this list, too. I hope your reading this year, and next year, brings you as much joy.

{the Savannah chair and ottoman from Pottery Barn ... someday!} 


Joan Hunter Dunn said...

One Fine Day was one of my favourites last year. I enjoyed reading South Riding but enjoy remembering bits from it more & Wait for me! Is waiting for me on the bookshelf.

Nancy/n.o.e said...

I always love hearing what you're reading; it's nice to know that my social media contacts include someone literate who is devouring books and reporting her impressions. All the best to you + your reading list in 2012!

A Bookish Space said...

What a great list - South Riding was one of my favourites for this year!

Darlene said...

'Wait for Me' was such a joy despite the Dowager Duchess having me in tears several times.

This is one of my favourite times of year in the blogsphere, reading about everyone's favourite reads. But how some people narrow it down to one book I'll never know!

Bellezza said...

I love your list from Biography. The only one I've read from that is A Moveable Feast, one of my favorites for 2011, too. I bought Americans in Paris, but I haven't read it yet. (It's a beast!)

Bellezza said...

p.s. I think you were the one who recommended Louise Penny to me, and I have to say that I liked the mystery I read of hers. My sister-in-law read it too, once she saw it on myu blog, and it's one of her favorite reads of the year. So thanks for that introduction! Love a good mystery!

Penny said...

How interesting to see your list of favourites! 'One Fine Day', 'South Riding', 'Wives and Daughters' and 'The Bookshop' are all favourites of mine, too. And I love to see other favourites down the side of your blog! Kindred spirits! :o)

Memo to self: Must get hold of Jenny Uglow's book. Or do I already have it?

Karen K. said...

I have One Fine Day checked out from the library, and South Riding has been on the TBR shelf for several months now -- might be just the thing for the Christmas break!

And Wives and Daughters is one of my absolute favorites. I read North and South this year and it was wonderful too.

Thank you for visiting!

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