29 December 2011

Wrapping up 2011 (Including My Top Reads)

This post highlights my reading life for 2011. I didn't keep very good stats this year, so take my numbers as best-as-I-can tell estimates.

I read and listened to a handful of books in 2011 that are not included in the following statistics because I haven't yet reviewed them. Those books will appear as part of my stats for next year.

I decided not to include recipes or movie reviews because I think you are more interested in the books.

Some Basic Stats

Total reviewed: 182 books
First review was Eat Your Feelings by Heather Whaley
Last review will be Take Me Home by Brian Leung (to appear tomorrow)
Female authors: 101
Male authors: 81
Total hours listening to audiobooks: 747 hours, 23 minutes (that's 31 days and a bit)

My Favorite Photos

Of course I love all the photos I posted in 2011, but here are my four favorite Wordless Wednesday photos: 112 (farmhouse in snow), 133 (New York City), 153 (Maine), 158 (Brugge).
Exciting Projects

Projects Abandoned
  • I let go of my participation in the Literary Road Trip.
  • I am no longer associated with Audiobook Jukebox.
  • I reviewed for Shelf Awareness, but decided to leave them. I am, however, still reviewing freelance for other organizations and publications. I left SA because, although they expect totally honest reviews, they will publish only positive reviews. That restriction did not sit well with me.
Top Reads in 2011 (alphabetical order)

The Barbarian Nurseries by Hector Tobar
Bohemian Girl by Terese Svoboda
Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie
Emily, Alone by Stewart O'Nan
A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
Lions of the West by Robert Morgan
Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan
Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt
Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich
The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

Top Books in Food and Cooking 2011 (alphabetical order)

Food Lover's Guide to Wine by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg
The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger
Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain
Molto Batali by Mario Batali
Rosie's Bakery . . . Baking Book by Judy Rosenberg

Outlook for 2012

Personal: I have decided that blogging must be a guilt-free zone. What that means for you is that, although I am reading and will continue to read all your blogs, I cannot feel bad when my job or my home life means that I am not commenting on every blog I read every day. I am going to experiment with how to be more efficient at leaving comments so you know I'm still reading and I'm still there. That may mean commenting only on weekends or only at night, or I may find some other solution. I am truly wracked with guilt when I don't comment on the blogs that I have been faithfully reading for more than three years, but I am ending the guilt today. :)

Blog: I really love the rhythm of my blog and don't plan on making any large changes. I am, however, working on some exciting new things for Imprint Friday. My Weekend Cooking feature is strong, and I have posts planned into February! And of course I will continue to have my camera at my side for Wordless Wednesday.

Happy New Year! Here's to a book-filled 2012.


Anita 12/29/11, 7:20 AM  

I enjoyed this recap very much. Imagine my goal is to read and review just 52 books this year. I just don't read that fast. I whittled my blogs down a couple of years ago but this year added more book blogs. So hard to balance.
I enjoy your blog so much. Wishing you a fabulous 2012.

Kelly Simmons 12/29/11, 7:44 AM  

Wow, what an accomplishment! Very inspiring as I contemplate what to do with my life, my blog, etc in 2012.

Chinoiseries 12/29/11, 7:52 AM  

I also enjoyed your recap post :) Great decision, to toss out the guilt! It's such a familiar feeling: wanting to comment faithfully, but simply not getting around to do so all the time. Blogging should remain enjoyable!
I love your Weekend Cooking feature, even if I don't participate on a weekly basis. Best wishes for a wonderful, bookish 2012!

bermudaonion 12/29/11, 8:13 AM  

I am loving all of these annual recap posts but, boy, are they adding to my wish list. Happy New Year!

Kaye 12/29/11, 8:16 AM  

Phew! Thanks for not scrapping Weekend Cooking. I might not participate too often but I love reading the posts. Looking forward to your posts in 2012. Happy reading in the new year!

Amanda 12/29/11, 8:53 AM  

2011 was all about making blogging guilt-free for me. Now, I'm finally to a place where I want to start commenting and such again, rather than just lurking in the background.

rhonda,  12/29/11, 8:55 AM  

Love the wraup.Loved Barbarian nurseries &Emily alone.Happy New year.

rhapsodyinbooks 12/29/11, 9:00 AM  

Fun recap - I like that you included things other than book reviews!

Esme 12/29/11, 9:40 AM  

Thanks for this-I agree with guilt free blogging-it is supposed to be fun-for me it is a hobby - I have enough to stress over at work. SA only positive reviews I would have abandoned them also-I do like them. Your favourite books did not make my reading list-thanks for the introductions. Favourite cook books-hmm I received two copies of Plenty by two different authors-both are mediterranean cooking which I believe I am going to really enjoy. Peas and Thank you was a huge winner for me.

Favourite photos-my kitties and photos from France.

Have a good day.

Beth Hoffman 12/29/11, 10:16 AM  

Three words: You. Amaze. Me.

Nise' 12/29/11, 10:26 AM  

Happy New Year to you as well! I am still choosing my favorite reads for 2011, it is hard to narrow it down!

Peppermint Ph.D. 12/29/11, 10:30 AM  

I struggle with the amount of time I spend commenting as well...there are days when I spend hours reading and commenting instead of reading books? What I'm thinking about doing is setting myself a limit of 1 hour each day maybe...I don't know yet; I enjoy commenting and don't feel guilty if I don't BUT sometimes I'm so tired after commenting that I don't read. Then, I feel guilty. Why do we do that guilt thing to ourselves? Very silly.

Wendy 12/29/11, 10:39 AM  

Great recap! I let go of the guilt about commenting months ago - I just could not keep up with leaving comments everywhere. I read a ton of blogs, and I comment when something strikes me (like this post!)...

I am SO impressed with the number of books you read!!! I am shooting for 120 in 2012 and that will be a big deal for me if I manage it :)

I loved Shadow Tag and The Weird Sisters too. And I have Maine and The Pictures of You in my stacks to read (maybe in 2012!). I also am curious about O'Nan's novel. Ah, so many great books!!!

Hope you have a wonderful, guilt-free 2012 :)

Eleanor Brown 12/29/11, 10:43 AM  

Awww...thanks, lovely! I'm really touched TWS landed on the top of that list and SO grateful for your support. I owe you about eleventy billion hugs at this point.

I am a terrible blog commenter - I think I have never gotten the hang of doing it gracefully, so I continue to feel guilty, but I rarely do it. It's less embarrassing for everyone that way. :)

Andi 12/29/11, 11:00 AM  

Thanks for sharing your stats, favorites, and your goals for 2012, Candace! I'm of the mind that blogging should always be a guilt-free zone, so I hope you're able to resolve some of those feelings. :)

Cheers to 2012!

Erica 12/29/11, 11:28 AM  

I've also been struggling with how to keep up with blog reading and commenting lately. I've been experimenting with abandoning google reader and just clicking on links to posts as I see them on twitter (or favorite-ing the tweets to read later.) Trying to be less concerned about reading everybody's posts all the time and just making sure I check in every so often.

Zibilee 12/29/11, 11:52 AM  

You did some amazing things this year, and I applaud your decision to break away from Shelf Awareness. I just can't get behind a place that will only publish positive reviews. It doesn't seem ethical to me.

I also am getting into a guilt-free zone with blogging, and even though that doesn't apply to commenting for me, I am making some changes to the way that I read and the things that I read. I don't think that blogging should be stressful and we have to do whatever works for us personally.

Great end of year post today. I enjoyed reading your reflections on the year.

Florinda Pendley Vasquez 12/29/11, 12:24 PM  

I was curious about whether you were still reviewing for Shelf Awareness, and I think you have a good reason for not doing it anymore. (I've been lucky, I guess--I haven't read any real clunkers for them yet!)

I like the way you just listed your top reads alphabetically and didn't rank them. I may steal it, since I'm having trouble narrowing to my "best of the best" :-). And I hope to join Weekend Cooking, at least occasionally, in 2012.

I'm glad I met you in person (at last) at BEA 2011, and hope we'll see each other there again in 2012!

Carrie K. 12/29/11, 12:33 PM  

Thanks for sharing your stats - and your top reads. Of the ones you mentioned, I've only read The Weird Sisters, so I've got some catching up to do!

I know what you mean about the commenting - that is a source of guilt for me, too. With homeschooling my four kids, taking care of household stuff, and actually reading - there's just not enough time. Sometimes it feels like it's a choice between writing on my blog or commenting on others. I'm hoping to be more consistent in 2012 about commenting, but there many days when I only have time to read posts in my reader.

Sandy Nawrot 12/29/11, 1:45 PM  

You are really an inspiration to me, you know. I almost want to hang my head in shame knowing you and I started at the same time, and here I am! I love your features, love your eclectic reading tastes, love your audio input, and don't feel bad about the commenting. It is getting on my nerves a little as well, the guilt and the time commitment. Whenever you come by, I am happy!

Laura @ I'm Booking It 12/29/11, 1:50 PM  

What a great recap post! You've given me some ideas I might copy for mine.

Congratulations on so many books read and reviewed, and so many other accomplishments as well.

Vasilly 12/29/11, 2:00 PM  

Great recap. I agree with you that blogging must be guilt-free. Next year is going to be so crazy for me. that I've been wondering how much to blog and comment. I might have to only comment on the weekends.

I'm looking forward to reading A Game of Thrones and Shadow Tag next year. I'm placing them at the top of my reading stack since you enjoyed them so much.

Michelle 12/29/11, 2:58 PM  

Guilt-free is fantastic! I'm hoping to feel a little less so in 2012 as well. You have to prioritize things and if blog comments fall by the wayside so be it. You can only do so much and I think people know you have love for them and their blogs.

Kris Meyer 12/29/11, 3:02 PM  

You had a fantastic year! I say don't feel guilty for not commenting. I myself used to be pretty darn good at following a handful and commenting and that went to crap this year. I hate it and feel guilty but it just hasn't been possible. I know next year I'll have zero time too. So we can both work on feeling guilt free about not commenting a lot.

Jenners 12/29/11, 3:03 PM  

It is critical to let go of guilt vis a vis blogging. Otherwise it becomes a burden and who wants that??? I'm struggling with it myself.

And wow on the audiobooks!!! That is a lot of time!

Michelle (my books. my life.) 12/29/11, 3:06 PM  

I've only read one book on your list - I better get reading!

Happy New Year. :)

softdrink 12/29/11, 4:51 PM  

Happy guilt-free 2012!!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 12/29/11, 7:10 PM  

182 books _ fantastic year!

I read 3 books from your top list and enjoyed 2 of them (Weird Sisters didn't work for me).

Happy New Year and Happy Reading.

caite 12/29/11, 9:07 PM  

I have not read one book on your top read list! How can that be?

But I agree that I am happy with my relationship with my blog and the only thing I want to try to improve is to write reviews for all the books I read. This year I think I hit about half. I really need to be more disciplined...but if it does not happen that is ok too actually.

caite 12/29/11, 9:08 PM  

forgot to say I LOVED #158

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) 12/29/11, 9:37 PM  

The Weird Sisters was a fantastic book, I gushed about that one.

Amy 12/30/11, 2:03 AM  

It looks like you had a great year! and yay for the guilt free zone!

leeswammes 12/30/11, 5:05 AM  

Nice wrap-up post!

I agree about the guilt-free zone. I'm going to go there too, I hope. I did a post every day of 2011 (over 365 posts) but will do fewer in the new year... no stress! And I need to get more efficient in dealing with emails, reading other people's posts, and commenting on them. It's too ad-hoc and therefore costs extra time.

Meghan 12/30/11, 6:32 AM  

I think the guilt-free zone is a fantastic idea. It's SO difficult to comment everywhere I read. I need to work out a better way of dealing with this, too. But letting go of the guilt for that is always a good idea.

Otherwise, it looks like you've had an excellent year! I really need to read Massie's Catherine the Great, too.

Heather 12/30/11, 6:53 AM  

I think all book bloggers hit "a wall" at some point. I know I did about a year ago. I still don't feel like I'm where I should be, but I'm getting there with the balancing. I hope you are able to find that balance you desire this year.

I really enjoyed reading your recap! You had a great reading year! I got The Barbarian Nurseries out of the library yesterday; now I just need to find time to fit it in!

JoAnn 12/30/11, 8:43 AM  

Great recap - you are one amazing woman!!
Emily, Alone made my list, too. Hurray for Stewart O'Nan!

Trish 12/30/11, 8:58 AM  

this post left me with a lot of things to comment on, but I'm also trying to work on efficiency (I always wonder how many more comments I could leave if I were brief).

31 days!! Wow! Audiobooks was my big saving grace this year and I look forward to more of them next year.

Interesting about Shelf Awareness. I'm actually one of those weirdos that prefers to see a bit of negative in a review (all positive leaves me leery).

I hope that 2012 is a wonderful year for you! I've enjoyed connecting with you via Weekend Cooking and hope to continue next year. It's hard to let go of the guilt--I will sometimes go days without posting just because I feel guilty for not returning comments. But...most bloggers are very understanding that time is limited.

Best wishes and happy new year!! (so much for brief commenting...). ;)

Karen White 12/30/11, 9:46 AM  

I am so glad I found your blog this year! I have so enjoyed participating in and reading Weekend Cooking as well as all of your reviews.
And I'm so happy that you read (and reviewed) more female authors than male. The skew is so much the other direction in the general media.
Have a great guilt-free (or at least -less) 2012!

joanna 12/30/11, 10:51 AM  

I only started reading your blog this year and really enjoy your posts and features. I agree, blogging should definitely be guilt-free, that's a good decision to make!

Jessica Keener 12/30/11, 12:03 PM  

What luck that I discovered your blog this year. Thank you, and have a great New Year.

Leslie 12/30/11, 5:54 PM  

Wonderful recap and a great year. I enjoy reading your blog. I credit you with nudging me towards audiobooks several years ago and this year I read 25 of them. That's 25 more books than I would have ordinarily read.

I too often struggle with the 'guilt' of not being able to comment all the time but I think we all understand that it's just not practical.

TheBookGirl 12/30/11, 8:27 PM  

I am so glad that you will continue to host Weekend Cooking; I enjoy those postings so much.

You did an amazing amount of book things this year. I look forward to what you have in store for 2012.


Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 12/31/11, 10:10 AM  

Fantastic wrap-up -- I've read only 3 of your "Top Reads" this year (adding to my list now, of course!).

31 days listening to audiobooks?! That's an amazing statistic!

Lenore Appelhans 1/1/12, 12:14 AM  

I really enjoyed SHADOW TAG too! Good "hanging out" with you this year online :)

Julie P. 1/2/12, 9:54 AM  

Here's to another great book year in 2012!

wordsandpeace.com 1/2/12, 3:34 PM  

great year! here is my own recap: http://wordsandpeace.com/2011/12/30/year-of-reading-2011/

Molly 1/3/12, 8:13 AM  

Wonderful post!!

I am always in awe of how much you are able to accomplish --- 31 days of audiobooks?! I have yet to complete a single one (although I now own all 7 Harry Potter audiobooks and hope to read/listen my way through the series in 2012).

I LOVE your outlook for 2012. Guilt-free blogging is something that I long to do. I also find it difficult to keep up with the comments - and the way I handled my guilt was to not post on my own blog (thus the very erratic blogging routine of 2011). If you find a great balance --- I hope you will share with the rest of us. :)

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