I’ve never been much for memes. While I enjoy reading them, and have even taken my turn at writing one, I’ve never felt like the questions related to my life in a way that made me want to return year after year. For the past few years, however, I’ve been keeping a reading journal where I note down the books I’ve read and try as often as I can to write my thoughts during and after reading. I don’t always succeed, but it’s a habit I enjoy improving.

Recently, the idea of a Reading Meme popped into my head. (Read: this morning.) After a few basic searches didn’t turn up a series of questions that seemed quite right, I sat down and wrote my own. So in the span of a very short time, I’ve gone from a meme skeptic to a meme writer. Well, there you go! Here’s my first Annual Reading Meme for 2011. I invite anyone interested in reading to share their own reading memes as a fun way to swap recommendations for great reads and new authors!

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What books did you read in 2011?

Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris by Graham Robb

The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious—and Perplexing—City by David Lebovitz

Markets of Paris by Dixon and Ruthanne Long

Paris Art Nouveau by Janine Casevecchie

What Matters Most by Luanne Rice

A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena de Blasi

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The French Gardener by Santa Montefiore

Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

Sea of Lost Love by Santa Montefiore

Echoes by Maeve Binchy

Last Voyage of the Valentina by Santa Montefiore

The Italian Matchmaker by Santa Montefiore

La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with Italian, the World’s Most Enchanting Language by Dianne Hales

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Gelato Sisterhood on the Amalfi Shore by Chantal Kelly

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas

Secrets of Paris by Luanne Rice

The French Gardener by Santa Montefiore

Favorite book of 2011

Favorite book of the year?

This is a tough one given that I read books by some of my favorite authors in 2011. Top of my list for last year would be a tough call between several books by Santa Montefiore. If I had to choose just one, it would be The French Gardener. I’ve loved all Montefiore’s books that I’ve read so far, but this one has a spot in my heart as the first book by her that I read. I’m thrilled to look over at the stack of Montefiore’s books I have still to read on my desk waiting for me in 2012. Even better, Montefiore’s hard at work writing more, with a new book, The Legacy of Fairfield Park, scheduled for a July UK release and a book set in Ireland in the works. Such a relief that I won’t soon run out of books to read by my favorite author!

The book that surprised you the most?

Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor. I was taken by the beauty and intensity of this mother and daughter co-authored book. After reading Traveling with Pomegranates, I’m eager to sample Sue Monk Kidd’s fiction writing style in The Secret Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair. Both are on the bookshelf waiting to be read in 2012!

The book that inspired you the most?

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. This one tops my list as most inspiring read of 2011 due of its impact on my personal life, as well as my work and writing. I picked it up in the Omaha airport last March to read during the flight home, and was most of the way through by the time I arrived back on the Amalfi Coast. It’s a book I returned to again and again over the year, and I continue to enjoy Rubin’s daily Moment of Happiness Daily Quotation emails and insights. Looking forward to her next book, Happier at Home, due out this coming August.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Most inspiring read of 2011

How many fiction and how many non-fiction?

Fiction: 12, Nonfiction: 9. This number surprised me since I was left with the impression that I read only fiction last year.

Are there any books on the list that you’re embarrassed to see there? Why?

I’m embarrassed to see Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf on my reading list for 2011. Certainly not because of the author, but because I had to admit to myself last year that I was 31 and hadn’t yet read anything by Virginia Woolf. Phew, glad I took care of that one!

Favorite new author of 2011?

This is an easy one to answer for 2011. Without a moment’s hesitation – Santa Montefiore. (Have you picked up on a theme for 2011 yet?) Her writing style, intriguing plots with twists and turns that often keep me guessing, and lovely characters I don’t want to leave behind at the end of each book has made her not only my favorite new author of 2011, but my favorite author period. Santa’s enthusiasm and generosity are gifts I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Last Voyage of the Valentina by Santa Montefiore

Currently rereading from 2011

Is there a book on the list you know you’ll read again?

There are two that I can guarantee I’ll read again, because I’m currently rereading Last Voyage of the Valentina by Montefiore. I rarely reread books (with the exception of Pride and Prejudice, which I read about every other year), but some books are just too good to read only once! I was enchanted by this book—and its sequel The Italian Matchmaker—set on the Amalfi Coast. Stayed tuned … soon I’ll be sharing reviews of both of them on Ciao Amalfi!

5 Comments
  • As a keen reader myself this was a very interesting post Laura, like you I am a fan of Santa Montefiore but I have too many other books I want to read to think about reading them more than once. By the way you may want to correct your spelling of the surname of your other favourite author.

    February 21, 2012
  • Cathy

    I too am a keen reader Laura. I am also a big fan of Gretchen Rubin. I haven’t read her book but I have followed her blog for a couple of years now.

    February 21, 2012
  • Sher

    Thank you so much for bringing this writter to your blog. You had said something about her several months ago, and I bought one of her books. Since I have gotten several more. I do enjpoy her writting, and as always I love anything about Italy and the Analfi Coast. I can close my eyes and I see just what she sees. Hows the scooter? I wish I had enough guts to drive one when I am there, but the bus is safer for an old woman. Have a wonderful day . Sher

    March 9, 2012

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