Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 in Books

Can I just start by saying I look forward to this post all year long? I love to read, but it was one of the first hobbies that got lost after my first son was born. I realized about a year later that the only thing I'd really read in that year was a parenting book or two, and made a serious shift. Now I keep track every year, at least of my fiction reads. I tried to better track my non-fiction reads this year, but looking through the list I noticed several titles were missing (I know I read at least 5 canning books)... I'm going to do better next year!

My goal is to read 20 fiction titles every year and this year I made it to 23. I read a lot of YA titles- a lot were recommended to me by students, and some I was reading "ahead" for my kids. I really like to keep up on trendy titles so that I know exactly what we're dealing with when my kids ask to read them. Now that Ender is starting to read some chapter books on his own I know that day is just around the corner for our family.

What was the best new (to you) author you discovered this year? Suzanne Collins. I read The Hunger Games trilogy in May/June and it is definitely one of my favorte series now. In fact, I plan to read it again next month in preparation for the movie release this spring.

What was your favorite new (to you) series? The Hunger Games Trilogy, as I mentioned above. Second place goes to Gone and it's sequels by Michael Grant. Those books are *not* for everyone, with a sci-fi lean and some horror elements, but it was well written with some interesting characters. I am NOT a horror fan at all and there were places in these books that I was glad I was reading during daylight (but I know I'm a little more easily freaked out than most).

Book that made you cry? The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I think this book renewed my faith in well written non-fiction.

Book that made you laugh out loud? All Wound Up by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. Hilarious for knitters. :)

Book that totally changed your perspective on something? Canning for a New Generation by Lianna Krissoff. I've canned a little bit in the past, but usually just freezer jam. This book opened me up to feeling like a lot of different things were not only possible but pretty darn easy... and sooooo worth it to be eating our own food through the whole year, rather than only in the summer!

Best homeschooling book? The Core by Leigh Bortins. This is such a balanced approach to what we are looking for for our family. The Well-Trained Mind was a great jumping off point in pointing us toward materials that fit us well, but it feels so strict in what *must* be accomplished each year, and that is not always true for everyone- and that kind of restriction always makes me instinctively feel like it won't work for us.

While I'm not necessarily interested in joining a Classical Conversations group with my very young kids, we will be using much of the method here. My boys already love to memorize, and the fact that it only takes 24 weeks out of our usual 40 week school year means we have 16 weeks to explore interests or really sit on one week of material if they find something they really like.

Worst book that you managed to finish? Um, I don't really read bad books any more. If I listed books that I've started but not finished my reading list would be significantly longer. I used to feel compelled to finish everything, but my TBR list is just way too long and I want to get through the good stuff, you know? I did finish The Red Pyramid, but I had to push myself through. You know, Rick Riordan's stories and characters are really interesting but the writing is just bad. I do want to know what happens next but at the same time, the writing skill makes me groan and I have to put it aside for something else for awhile.

Most disappointing Book? Matched by Ally Condie. It felt like it was written to try to fit in with the Hunger Games fans, but it just doesn't resonate the way Hunger Games does. Many of the characters are flat or seem to be there just to help the plot get to the next point.

Best book-that-was-better-than-the-movie? Hahahaha... Twilight. Not even a close race. I'm not a huge Twilight fan, but I did read them again after a discussion with a friend (who suggested that I wasn't remembering the books accurately since it was about 2 years ago that I read them through in the course of a week). Just like The Percy Jackson books, the Twilight books have a compelling story but are badly written and I'm concerned about the underlying message of Bella and Edward's relationship. But the movie? I don't know how anyone who watched the movies knew at all what was going on.

Most over-hyped book of the year? Delirium by Lauren Conrad. It was a great idea, but felt flat to me.

Best young adult book of the year? The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Book You’ve been meaning to read for years and finally got to? The Artemis Fowl books. My husband has told me for ages that I would like them, and I finally read the first few this year.

Read aloud that the family enjoyed the most? Charlotte's Web! What a fun read.

Best non-fiction? I read a lot of really good non-fiction this year, but the one that I think is going to really affect our family is The Rhythm of Family by Amanda Blake Soule.

All-around best story of the year? The Hunger Games again. I know, I know. Broken record, right? I just really liked this trilogy!

Book that you feel is so integral to your library, you’d even pay full price for it? Real Learning by Elizabeth Foss, 3 R's by Dr. Ruth Beechick, and The Core by Leigh Bortins. I pull these out every few months as I plan the next quarter's goals and book lists.

Complete List for 2011:

Goal: 20 fiction books


1. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (January)

2. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer (January)

3. Worst Case by James Patterson (February)

4. Stolen Children by Peg Kehret (February)

5. The Magic Half by Annie Barrows (February)

6. Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix (February)

7. Redwall by Brian Jacques (March)

8. The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan (May)

9. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (May)

10. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (June)

11. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (June)

12. The Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer (June)

13. Gone by Michael Grant (July)

14. Naamah's Blessing by Jacqueline Carey (July)

15. Delirium by Lauren Oliver (August)

16. Matched by Ally Condie (August)

17. The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan (September)

18. Hunger by Michael Grant (September)

19. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling (October)

20. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (October)

21. The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan (November)

22. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (November)

23. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (December)


1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (March)

2. Decision Points by George W. Bush (March)

3. Respect the Spindle by Abby Franquemont (April)

4. The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer (April)

5. Sew Liberated by Meg McElwee (April)

6. Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff (May)

7. The Core by Leigh Bortins (June)

8. The 3 R's by Ruth Beechick (July)

9.  Real Learning by Elizabeth Foss (July)

10. The Rhythm of Family by Amanda Blake Soule (October)

11. All Wound Up by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (December)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Yarn Along

{Knitting with Ginny this week...}

While I was in the middle of ripping and re-knitting mitten thumbs, I picked up a super fast project: Schmatta. Quick to memorize, quick to knit and best of all? My 6-year-old contributed a few stitches every few minutes, and at one point even did a whole row. He told me he was ready to move past finger knitting and this was the perfect opportunity for him to knit a little without feeling like he had to do a TON to finish it. It was really my project and he "just helped", which was the perfect amount of work for him.

I picked up Wendy Knits Lace yesterday but haven't had a chance to do more than glance through it. I'll be sure to share more when  I get a chance to look through projects (and probably knit one!)

I did finish All Wound Up by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee over the weekend. I'm already a big fan of hers, so it's probably not shocking that I really liked her latest book. How can you not like a famous knitter who very openly shares her knitting boo-boos, even when it might be a rookie mistake?

Not only do we share a birthday (June 14 FTW!), but as I was reading a few of the chapters in All Wound Up I felt like she'd been peeking in my windows stealing bits of my life... or that we're long lost twins born years apart... I too recently had the great time of no knitting due to stress and grief and as hard as it is to believe that a serious knitter would totally stop knitting for months, it really did happen. My *husband* even noticed my lack of knitting and tried to get me to knit again!

I'm making plans for baby knitting that I'll share soon, and also making a list of UFOs for the 2012 stash busting/finish your UFOs challenge. I want to be ready to go on January 1!

Do you have any knitting plans for 2012?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Postcard #4

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas Day!

We spent the day playing a few new games found under the tree. The current favorite is Ruckus, but we also had great fun with Too Many Monkeys and Sleeping Queens. We also played Bananagrams and Scrambled States with Ender, and those were fun too, just not something that Ezra can quite participate in yet.

Ender learned how to keep score, and we ate way too much pie and baked ham.

And now it's back to "regular" life this week, except that I'm not working this week. Instead the work for this week is getting the house back to where it should be after several days of celebrating with family and friends.

And knitting.... lots and lots of knitting!
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