Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday Post 2011: On books and reading

It is a small tradition for me to do a small series of holiday posts at this time of the year.  It is the time when I wish my three readers a happy and safe holiday season, whatever holiday or holidays they may celebrate (or not). Also, it is my small gift to those three readers and the Internet folks at large to entertain a while. This year I am starting with the post related to books mostly because it was the topic I wanted to work with first. It was what I felt like, so there is no other rhyme or reason.

As I've said before, I could not call myself a librarian if I did not have at least one post related to books and reading as part of my holiday posting series. Whether you read in an e-reader or you prefer print books, it's all good in the end. Let's have a look at some good books and lists. Maybe you will find a last minute gift idea, or maybe you will find something to add to your reading lists.

Book Lists 

These are mostly items by mainstream media, or the usual stuff.  It may be something I am noticing this year, but the gag of "asking a bunch of folks what they read and put it on the list" seems to be the theme.Whether it is a publication's own writers or asking a bunch of famous (by varying degrees) people, they basically let others make the lists for them.

  • The New York Times presents their 100 Notable Books of 2011
  • So does The Telegraph over here.
  • Via The Wall Street Journal, "Twelve Months of Reading," where the newspaper asked a bunch of famous folks what they have been reading. 
  • Via The New Yorker, their list of their reviewers' favorite books
  • Amazon also gets in the list bandwagon with their list of 100 Best-selling books.
  • Here is the list from the folks at Newsweek and The Daily Beast. It is not so much a books of the year; it's really a favorites they read during the past year or that they recommend.
  • Here are the picks of authors that Salon gathered.
  • Via The Economist, their books of the year. Some serious and deep stuff here, but that is consistent with a serious publication known for its depth in reporting. 
  • Here is The New York Times Book Review's list of best 10 books in 2011 without the extra NYT baggage.  Via the blog 1001 Books To Read Before You Die. I tend to like when people take some famous list, remove all the extra verbiage the oh so famous publication puts in and just copies out the actual list so I can get to the point.
  • The Financial Times has another serious and grave list of nonfiction for the year. The list is divided into categories such as business and history. There is even a book on testicles; that may be the one I am adding to my reading list.
  • Here is The Guardian's Books of the Year list for 2011
  • Via Brain Pickings, here are their 11 Best History Books. The site is also doing a best of series for books, so you may want to go back to the site and browse as well. 
  • NPR offers their list of "The Best Comics of 2011." There are some interesting items in here. I've read the Locke & Key series, which did start pretty good, but the last installment I read was dragging a bit. So I wonder if the series may be about to jump the shark. Missing from this list is something I definitely regard as one of the best this year: American Vampire. If you are sick and tired of those shitty sparkly vampires or other poor substitutes, you owe it to yourself to pick this series up. 
  • The Daily Beast has a list of Best Coffee-Table Books

Some More Book Lists 

These are not quite the usual stuff. These items are mostly quirky things I found that I wanted to share with readers. These include science fiction, graphic novels, and other things that I know a few people out there find of interest and enjoy, but the big mainstream folks pretty much fail to cover.

Stuff to avoid

Anybody can do a "best of" list. When I see a "worst of," I pay attention. So maybe these will be a warning to you of what to avoid so you can focus on the good stuff. Folks may agree or disagree with some of the choices. After all, someone's overrated piece of tripe may well be someone else's treasure. As that wise man said, "every book its reader, and every reader its book." Anyhow, here is the worst stuff others picked out.

  • Steve Donoghue, of Stevereads,offers his lists for the worst nonfiction and the worst fiction for 2011.
  • The New York Daily News picks out "The Most Overrated Books of 2011." My favorite review in the bunch is the one about John Hodgman's writing. The faux pretension does get thin. It's the same reason Stephen Colbert can wear thin on me at times. I can only take so much faux pretension, but at least Colbert tends to do it better. 
And this little item does not quite belong in the categories above, but I figured it was an important one and one that would be of interest. Many people read magazines, and these days they may want to read those magazines using a tablet or an e-reader. So, for those people, here is a little something too:

Another item that does not quite belong is this series of gift guide for readers. No, they are not books (mostly). They are gift ideas for readers based on what they read, which I think is a very neat idea. So, if you have a reader in your life, and you want to get them something other than a book (no idea why you would do such a thing, but variety is the spice of life, and readers are known to do other things once in a while), then this may be helpful. Via the RT Daily Blog:

    On a final note, if anyone wants to see previous years of the holiday series, feel free to click on the "Celebrations and Events" tag. Additionally, if there is some reading topic you did not find here, feel free to comment and add your own suggestions. I am always looking for new things to read. Or if you want reading suggestions from the Itinerant Librarian, you can comment as well. Happy reading. By the way, I will be posting my end of year reading summary and book list over at The Gypsy Librarian sometime during the first week of January 2012, so if you are interested, I hope folks will come back.

    Update note (12/21/11): Another neat addition I just had to share. Via Flavorwire, "Stereotyping you by your favorite book of 2011."  Yes, now you can be judgmental (in a lighthearted way) of people based on these books choices. Then again, don't we always do that anyhow with anyone who has pretty much any book on hand? It may well be another reason why e-readers are becoming popular; you can't judge someone's reading tests if you can't tell what they are reading. And sorry to disappoint some folks, but I have not read (and possibly do not intend to read) any books on the linked  list. However, if you just feel a need to see and try to figure out what kind of whacked out reader I am , my GoodReads link is on the right hand column of this blog.

    Picture credit: Page from the book "A Christmas Carol."By Flickr user Diamond Meadows, used by terms of Creative Commons License.

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