My memorable books of 2011. Some things to take note of:
- These are books I read in 2011 – not necessarily published in 2011 but something I read this year.
- The books may or may not be any good but were nevertheless memorable for one reason or another.
1. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis
Why it was memorable:
I’m not much of a baseball fan – everything I “know” about baseball comes from watching countless baseball movies growing up, from Angels in the Outfield to Little Big League to Major League. However, I am a big fan of come-from-behind stories, of people who get things done when no one says they can. Moneyball’s human interest angle – chronicling Billy Beane’s rise and fall as a pro baseball player, his transition to the back office, and finally to the “broken” players he must somehow mold into a winning Oakland Athletics – is the glue that holds the book together. Lewis lost me during the all-statistics chapters but got me back when he talked about how a player ended up with the A’s.
2. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
This is the book that sparked countless debates spread over hundreds of web pages consisting of thousands of comments on what “proper parenting” really means. While I don’t think I’ll ever employ the “extreme” methods Mrs. Chua used on her daughters – threatening to burn Sophia’s stuffed animals if she didn’t get her piano piece right was really too much – she did say some things that stuck with me and got me thinking.
“What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences… Tenacious practice, practice, practice is crucial for excellence; rote repetition is underrated in America. Once a child starts to excel at something – whether it’s math, piano, pitching, or ballet – he or she gets praise, admiration, and satisfaction. This builds confidence and makes the once not-fun activity fun. This is turn makes it easier for the parent to get the child to work even more.”
That excerpt above is my favorite part of the book because it’s so goddamned true. Science was my favorite subject growing up not just because it was science, but also because I was naturally good at it. I took up Biology in college because I was good at it. Being good at something made me happy, and being happy made me continue doing it.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for my other endeavors, such as piano, guitar, ballet, and writing. Being the ambitious and supremely self-confident child that I was (ha!), I expected that I would take to other things the same way I did to science: naturally and quickly. What a wake-up call it was to read my attempts at fiction and think “This sucks. This really, really sucks.” Unused to failing, I saw these as signs that I should give up and move on to something else. It took several years before I wised up and committed myself to learning, reading, and practicing until I finally got it right (starting with writing!). I don’t believe in regretting anything or speculating, but when I was reading the excerpt, I couldn’t help but think of what could have happened if my parents weren’t so lenient with me quitting whatever lessons I signed up for just three months earlier.
3. The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan
Why it was memorable:
As the book I most looked forward to getting my grubby hands on this 2011, including The Son of Neptune in this list was a no-brainer. It definitely wasn’t perfect (Nico and Rachel get shafted again) but I appreciated seeing Percy again, especially Veteran Soldier Percy. I’m just hoping that Nico and Rachel get bigger parts in The Mark of Athena.
4. Scorpia Rising by Anthony Horowitz
Why it was memorable:
Such a fitting end to the long-running Alex Rider series. GAH. This was the best book of the series and, despite the ending, one of my favorites as well. The only things I could wish for is THAT THING to not have happened and an epilogue where we see Alex finally relaxed and safe.
Why they’re memorable:
No, I’m not cheating by lumping the three together. It just makes things easier 😛 The three of the eight books in the series are:
- The Viscount Who Loved Me (2000)
- An Offer From A Gentleman (2001)
- Romancing Mister Bridgerton (2002)
Confession time: I have a serious soft spot for romance novels, especially Regency romances. What I loved about these three books is the light and funny writing style. There’s the necessary drama of course, but it’s not heavy-handed. My favorite romance novel of all-time is still Until You by Judith McNaught but Romancing Mister Bridgerton and Colin Bridgerton are giving it a run for its money. Unfortunately, the Lady Whistledown plot line went on a bit too long to finally topple Until You from the top spot.
Of the five other books in the series, I’ve read When He Was Wicked and am currently reading The Duke and I. I tried To Sir Phillip, With Love and I couldn’t get past the first chapter. I don’t find Gregory or Hyacinth all that interesting so there’s no incentive to read their stories. Ah well. Maybe one of these days.
This year saw the release of Just Like Heaven, the first book in Julia Quinn’s Smythe-Smith series. While I liked the premise, Marcus is sick for more than half the book (if it isn’t the case, then it certainly felt that way) so the conclusion was very rushed. Sigh.
Honorable mentions for the list (not listed because of a lack of time):
- Insight Guides Hong Kong Step-by-Step – my main reference for our Hong Kong trip
- Trese Volume 4: Last Seen After Midnight by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo – AWESOMESAUCE.
- The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo – bought for $0.99 as a Kindle Daily Deal, was the best $0.99 I ever spent. The wonderful drawings by Yoko Tanaka are a major incentive to get a physical copy.
How about you? Any memorable books from 2011?