Sunday, January 8, 2012

[2011 in Books] By Kifah Al Mahruqi

The past year was a good year for reading. I had originally challenged myself to read 30 books and I managed to read 35. Mainly thanks to owning a Kindle and being in a book club. Here's my top 11:

1. Fall of the Giants by Ken Follet: at over 1,000 pages, Fall of Giants delivers all the elements that fans of Ken Follett have come to treasure: historical accuracy, richly developed characters, and an intimate portrait of a past world. The story follows five families across the globe as their fates intertwine with the events of World War I, the political struggles within their own countries, and the rise of the feminist movement. Stories of love and loyalty, from a forbidden romance between a German spy and a British aristocrat to a Russian soldier and his brother in love with the same woman. This is book one of a trilogy. I highly encourage all book lovers to read this. Don't be afraid by its size.

2. Miss Wyoming by Douglas Coupland: I love this book for its contemporary themes and capturing the absurdities of our modern existences. Susan Colgate, a teen beauty queen and low-rent soap actress. Susan has hit rock bottom and suddenly finds herself the sole survivor of an airplane crash, takes the opportunity to start all over again. Strange bizarre events follow. This could easily be made into a movie or tv series.

3. The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafakby: I loved loved loved this book and its lively characters are so full of little quirks, humor and darkness. The story of two families, one Turkish and one Armenian American, and their struggle to forge their unique identities against the backdrop of Turkey's violent history. Filled with humor and misunderstanding, this dramatic novel is about memory and forgetting, about the tension between the need to examine the past and the desire to erase it. Some parts were shocking towards the end and some characters were redeemed and some were not.

4.The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain: This book follows Ernest Hemmingway first wife Hadely as they first meet, fall in love, get married in and move to Paris in the 1920s. I loved the description of Paris at the time. The second part was a leap from the first.. I couldnt justify their passive actions.. it made me angry.. but that's a good book.. makes you react with its characters.

5. Before I go to sleep by S.J. Watson: the theme of memory and psychology really fascinates and it's a theme I continue to explore in this book. A woman wakes up everyday with no memory of the day before.. her life before.. what happens if she starts to keep a secret dairy? what will she discover? would she rather not know?

6.The Marriage Plot by Jeffery Eugenides: Madeleine is pursued (manically, coyly) by two suitors, fellow soon-to be graduates of Brown University, whose personalities and backgrounds are not so much from opposite poles as they are from different galaxies. Each suitor is a disaster walking but you end up liking one more and rooting for the under dog. As the novel progresses, each suitor learns that in order to love Madeleine, they must first learn to love (or at least tolerate) themselves. Cliché, right? Not in this book. I actually hoped it would end in a cliche happy ending.. but it didnt.. but it made more sense that way. Some choices are life altering..

7. The forgotten Garden by Kate Morton: I have a soft spot for anything Australian and was thrilled when I started to read this ti find out it is set in Australia even if it was just the first part. This is a long book.. the first half is a bit slow and takes time to build up the plot once it starts you can't put it down. This is a story of the past, secrets, family, memory and mystery.

8.Morning in Jenin by Salwa Abulhawa: this is a multi-generational story about a Palestinian family. Forcibly removed from the olive-farming village of Ein Hod by the newly formed state of Israel in 1948, the Abulhejos are displaced to live in canvas tents in the Jenin refugee camp there is always the waiting, waiting to return to a lost home. The novel's voice is that of Amal, the granddaughter of the old village patriarch, a bright, sensitive girl who makes it out of the camps, only to return years later, to marry and bear a child. The story of her brothers, one who is kidnapped to be raised Jewish, one who will end with bombs strapped to his middle. none is more important than Amal's own. Her story is one of love and loss, of childhood and marriage and parenthood. Mornings in Jenin is a deeply human novel - a novel of history, identity, friendship, love, terrorism, surrender, courage, and hope.

9. The help by Kathryn Stockett - Great story about life in the 60s in Mississippi for women and their help. This is the story of three women coming together to tell their story of being a black american maid - the racism, poverty and all their struggles and sacrifices. The characters are really charming and you grow to love them and their humor. Great book.

10. The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell :is the coming-of-age story of one of the most iconic characters of our generation.
Before Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw was a small-town girl who knew she wanted more. She's ready for real life to start, but first she must navigate her senior year of high school. the story of how a regular girl learns to think for herself and evolves into a sharp, insightful writer. learn about her family background , how she found her writing voice, and the indelible impression her early friendships and relationships left on her. I read this on a lazy weekend afternoon - short simple and swe

11. Room by Emma Donoghue : Sad book beautifuly written but leaves you slighly shaken. Imagine your whole life is in a room.. a kidnapped has and raises her son in a small room. their whole life is trapped in their room. Will they survive on the outside? if they ever get out? desperation, curiosity, struggle and fear all in one


  1. I've read a lot about the Carrie Diaries. Still not sure if you should read it though. Great list!

    Good luck with the 2012 reading pile. ;-)

  2. Lets just say I am in love with beautiful creatures <3