hugh laurie

My Top Ten Books 2011

I am normally very sure about what I like and what I don’t. So, doing top 10 best reads is usually a cinch for me. But last year was such a whirlwind! Also, my reading experiences were a bit of a mixed bag. There were a lot of books that I didn’t love but didn’t hate either. Thus, putting together a top 10 was more difficult than it usually is. Anyway here is my Top 10 Books for 2011 with excerpts from my reviews (Click on the titles for the full reviews),

1. 

Detective Stories. Philip Pullman.

The collection starts with The Speckled Band by Arthur Conan Doyle. The story was first published in the Strand Magazine in 1892. Panic grips a lonely woman when she starts to hear the same late night whistling noise that her twin sister spoke of in her dying moments…

2.

Very Good, Jeeves. P.G. Wodehouse.

Jeeves and the Song of Songs (1929) has Bertie right in the middle of Tuppy Glossop’s tangled love life as he is forced to sing at a concert for Beefy Bingham. Anyone who has seen the 1990 series Jeeves and Wooster will appreciate this story even more. I recently watched a re-run of the show (I am too young to remember its original run) and thought  Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry were absolutely marvellous in it!

 3.

 
Rebecca. Daphne Du Maurier.

For me, Rebecca is about Rebecca. Long after the book ends her laughing, beautiful, cruel face stays vividly alive. She wins, as always, even in death.

4.

The Diary of a Nobody. George Grossmith.

I found several parts of the book quite funny. Like Lupin recklessly driving a pony-trap and causing general havoc in the streets while Mr. Pooter being seated at the back has to bear the wrath of  ‘a gang of roughs in a donkey-cart’. Or Mr. Cummings becoming ill and being angry at his friends for not reading about his illness in ‘The Bicycle News’. And Mr. Pooter getting annoyed after having to eat the same blanc-mange repeatedly.

5.

A Short History of Nearly Everything. Bill Bryson.

I really liked how Bryson talks of the people behind the science. The lives of known and unknown people behind some of the greatest discoveries come alive through Bryson’s narrative.

6.
The Ninth Life of Louis Drax. Liz Jensen.

Louis Drax is an accident prone boy. Ever since he was a baby he has been involved in more than his fair share of near fatal accidents. But so far they have all been just that, ‘nearly’ but not wholly ‘fatal’. On his ninth birthday, however, things may change for the worse. Louis may never come out alive from this ‘accident’.

7.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Haruki Murakami.

Sprawling, odd, complicated, scary, these are the words that come to my mind when I say the name, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I tried to keep an open mind and take it all in. But still at times I had to stop and think,

‘What on earth is this?’

8.

The Inimitable Jeeves. P. G. Wodehouse.

In Introducing Claude and Eustace and Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch, Bertie’s cousins, Claude and Eustace, come home with a top hat, several cats and a Salmon. Meanwhile, Sir Roderick Glossop, the noted nerve specialist, comes to lunch and questions Bertie’s sanity.

9.
Mrs Lirriper’s Lodgings. Charles Dickens.

After Mrs. Lirriper’s drink loving husband perishes in an accident, Mrs. Lirriper starts to take in lodgers to make ends meet and also to pay off Mr. Lirriper’s debts. Mrs Lirriper’s Lodgings describes some of her experiences as a lodge keeper… I liked how Mrs. Lirriper keeps addressing the reader as ‘My Dear’, as though she knows us all and is having an ordinary conversation with us. It is sort of comforting somehow.

&

 
Mrs Lirriper’s Legacy. Charles Dickens.

Mrs. Lirriper’s Legacy is a worthy conclusion to the story of Mrs. Lirriper.  The hopefulness of the first book comes to fruition in the second one.

10.

It’s Only a Movie: Alfred Hitchcock – A Personal Biography. Charlotte Chandler.

I like the cover of the book. It is striking. As I read this book en route to my workplace many people asked me what book I was reading and they seemed genuinely interested in it.

Welcome Home: Books that Arrived in September & October 2011

“People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.” ― Logan Pearsall Smith

Some people ask me what I do for fun. When I say I read, they often give me a funny look. “Reading is a chore. Something you do only when you’re compelled to. WHY are you reading?” Okay, maybe reading is a chore for you but I do it for ‘fun’.

I don’t like to go to parties where I’d have to talk to people I don’t have anything in common with or even really like. “But it’s FUN. You’d like it when you get there.” No, I won’t. Why don’t people get that fun can have a different meaning for different people? For me fun is spending a quiet evening at home with a book, listening to some music or watching a good movie.

I am really alarmed by the increasingly conformist attitude everyone around me is taking. We are human beings, with our own individual tastes, likes, dislikes, our own lives and our own choices to make. We are not clones of each other. We are all normal and we are all abnormal in our own way. And who defines what’s normal anyway? Most works of art and most scientific discoveries were made by people thinking outside the box. If we were all alike then there would be no Isaac Newtons or Pablo Picassos and where would we all be then?

Our uniqueness makes us all beautiful. If we all became mindless zombies plugged into the wall, then the world would die. Please don’t kill this complex, impossible, difficult but ultimately beautiful and alive world.

Okay enough of my rant. Back to my original topic. Here are the books I bought in the months of September and October.

September 4, 2011.

The Inimitable Jeeves. P. G. Wodehouse.

Ring for Jeeves. P. G. Wodehouse.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Truman Capote.

Heart of Darkness. Joseph Conrad.    

                   

I have always been a fan of the Jeeves and Wooster stories by P. G. Wodehouse. I enjoyed the re-runs of the 90’s TV show Jeeves and Wooster immensely. For me Hugh Laurie would forever be the bumbling Bertie and Stephen Fry would forever be the imperturbable Jeeves. I read  Wodehouse’s Very Good, Jeeves earlier this year and loved it! So, when I saw these two books at the bookstore I just had to have them! I am reading The Inimitable Jeeves right now and liking it very much.

 I am trying to broaden my horizon by stepping outside my comfort zone of mysteries and old classics. Hence, Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote and Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad came home with me.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is not my usual fare. I have never read anything by Capote. Hopefully I’ll enjoy his writing.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is a scary read for me. I have heard so many negative comments about it from fellow readers that I am curious and afraid at the same time. Well, if I am to find out for myself, I am going to have to plunge into this ‘darkness’ soon.

October 1, 2011.

Gilead. Marilynne Robinson. 

I went to the bookstore for something entirely different but came out with Gilead instead. How did this happen? Well, I guess my quest to broaden my horizon continues. I have heard good things about Gilead. Hopefully I’d like it too even if it is not really the type of book I usually read.

So, these were my September & October purchases. Not much in quantity but good in quality in my opinion.