End of Year Book Survey for 2011: A 3-in-1 Collaborative Blogpost from the GatheringBooks Ladies

This meme is hosted by The Perpetual Page Turner. I remembered that we did something similar to this last year (click here to be taken to my post). We (Fats, Iphigene and myself) thought that we could do another one to welcome 2012. Rather than make three separate posts, we shall be dividing the list of questions amongst ourselves (orange-colored fonts for Fats, blue-colored fonts for Iphigene and purple-colored ones for me). Here is our response to this cutie End of Year Book Survey.

1. Best Book You Read In 2011?

Fats: I’ve read a lot of good books last year that I found it hard to choose only one. You would have to excuse me for mentioning four titles: I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, God Went to Beauty School by Cynthia Rylant, and The Poet Slave of Cuba by Margarita Engle. 

2. Most Disappointing Book/Book You Wish You Loved More Than You Did?

Fats: It was a tie between Click by various authors and Enclave by Ann Aguirre. With Click, I expected more fluidity. With Enclave, it left me with a few unanswered questions, as I have mentioned in my review.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2011?

Fats: Gail Carriger’s The Parasol Protectorate. I initially didn’t want to read the book. I thought the cover was too much of an adult novel, and nowhere near a steampunk/urban fantasy book. Besides, I was ‘forced’ to buy it when I forgot to decline the SFBC selection at the time. However, I’m so thankful I got the 3-n-1 copy of the book. I’ve only read Soulless but the story’s been good so far. Better than what I expected.

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2011?

Fats: I thought about this question a few times over and realized I wasn’t really big on recommending books to people last year. For the purposes of this interview, however, and based on my constant rattle on Facebook, it’s a tie between The Parasol Protectorate and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland.

5. Best series you discovered in 2011?

Fats: Trese by Budjette Tan. The complete series was given to me as a gift by Iphigene, who was kind enough to supply me with books on Filipino lit on special occasions. I’m really happy and proud to have discovered a Filipino graphic novel.

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2011?

Iphigene: Paolo Fabregas. I picked up his graphic novel, The Filipino Heroes League out of curiosity and I was so happy that I did. It’s interesting, funny and very Filipino. While it has elements that may be standard to typical super hero comic books, the details make it very Filipino whether its from the owner-type jeep, the padyak, or the overseas contract heroes.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

Iphigene: This would probably Brene Brown’s I Thought It was Just Me. I read non-fiction, but I don’t read much of the psychology/self-help genre. I read this book because I was moved by Brene Brown’s talk in Ted.  The book was a fleshed out version of the talk and it was, I felt, very insightful and timely.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2011?

Iphigene: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. The book isn’t new, but I only got to read it in 2011. I love the story and how the author gets you involved in the twist and turns. You get absorbed into the gothic like atmosphere of the book making it thrilling and uputdownable. Another would probably be the Millenium Trilogy. The series at times was dark and too violent but I couldn’t help wonder what would happen to the heroine. Of the three books, book 2 and 3 were the most engaging for me.

9. Book you most anticipated in 2011?

Iphigene: The release of Murakami’s english translation of 1Q84. There’s only one explanation: I’m a fan.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2011?

Iphigene: Death by Garrote: Looking Back 3 by Ambeth Ocampo. I love it when Type is used to create the image as opposed to the usual illustrations which accompany the title of the book.

11. Most memorable character read in 2011? 

Myra: Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. I’ve read the trilogy but since I loved it way too much, I couldn’t write a review about it. Strange, huh? I truly am looking forward to the movie adaptation.

12/13. Most beautifully written book read in 2011? Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2011? 

Myra: This is going to be tough. It’s good that we have documented all the books we have read in our Annual Reading Calendar. Hehe. Again, in no particular order, here are my top five beautifully written books across different genre:

Nick Bantock’s Griffin and Sabine Trilogy (and the Morning Star Trilogy)

Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan

My Name is Mina by David Almond (apparently I failed to include this title in our Reading Calendar for 2011)

TALA MUNDI by Tita Agcaoili Lacambra Ayala

The Dreamer by Pam Muñoz Ryan and Peter Sis

Life Does not Frighten Me by Maya Angelou and Jean-Michel Basquiat

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2011 to finally read? 

Myra: Patricia Polacco is a fairly-recent discovery. So was Jon Muth. I would say that the books January’s Sparrow by the former and the latter’s Zen Shorts, Zen Ties, and Zen Ghosts would fit in this section.

15 and 17. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2011? Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? Be careful of spoilers! 

Myra: Lemony Snicket’s The Beatrice Letters – in particular his love letter had me reeling! So much so that I actually posted the entire letter here for our Valentine Special on February 14 – I called it the love letter to end all love letters.

I would also add Distant Rain as seen in Shaun Tan’s Tales from Outer Suburbia. I would forever be indebted to Shaun for sending me the original page-spreads from the book via email for my Keynote Presentation for the International Conference on Early Childhood and Special Needs Education in the Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang, June of last year. I shared his poem to inspire the conference participants. I was floored by Shaun’s generosity of spirit. 

16. Book That You Read In 2011 That Would Be Most Likely To Reread In 2012? 

Myra: I would include all the wordless books of Suzy Lee and Shaun Tan’s books as well. My two absolute favorite authors. And yes Jon Muth’s Zen Ties, Zen Ghosts, and Zen Shorts – I’m hoping to review more Muth books this 2012.

Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2011

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2011? 

Myra: I actually discovered quite a number of book blogs in 2011, many thanks to our being more active members of the Kidlitosphere community and the YA blogosphere last year. I have chosen our top ten favorite book blogs (in no particular order) – and I would also encourage you to explore their sites! Click on their headers to be taken to their site.

The lovely ladies from

Miss Marple’s Musings: Joanna Marple

Linda Baie at Teacher Dance

Jama’s Alphabet Soup

TBM’s 50 Year Project

A Poem a Day from Maria Horvath

Tara from A Teaching Life

Jo from Wear the Old Coat

Zoe at Playing by the Book

Tabatha Yeatts from The Opposite of Indifference

I actually want to add more – but this post would prove to be quite lengthy. We are forever indebted to the kidlitosphere community, our fellow Poetry Friday enthusiasts, and Filipino bookbloggers for giving us so much love.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2010? 

Myra: I actually have quite a few. I enjoyed writing the collaborative blog post on Shaun Tan’s The Arrival with Fats. I also overextended myself with The Morning Star trilogy – but I truly enjoyed writing that, despite its length.

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?

Myra: While there have been quite a few stellar discussions on some of the reviews we had – particularly our Poetry Friday posts – I would still dare claim that Fats’ post on Griffin and Sabine would be the most enigmatic and heated and interesting one to date.

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?

Myra: Zoe’s review (from Playing by the Book) of Jon Klassen’s I Want my Hat Back definitely made me want to read the book for myself – given her review which ‘goes against the grain.’ As was Danielle’s review of the same book (but with contrasting views) in There’s a Book, and Joanna Marple’s own insights about this book in Miss Marple’s Musings.

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

Myra: If it’s blogging-related, I would say that participating in the Picture Book Reading Challenge hosted by Danielle Smith from There’s a Book was definitely one of my favorite blog events of 2011. I felt that among all the reading challenges we joined, we did feel and experience a greater sense of community here – with the lively interaction from the participants. 

Another definite favorite would be participating in (and blogging extensively about) the Asian Festival of Children’s Content here in Singapore as well as organizing the panel discussion on blogging (Building a Nation of Readers via Web 2.0: An introduction to the Kidlitosphere and the YA Blogosphere) with Corinne from Paper Tigers and Tarie from Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind.

(L-R): Tarie from Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind; Myra from GatheringBooks, Corinne from Paper Tigers

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2011?

Myra: I feel that 2011 has been a good year for us – we have more than 200,000 views coming from more than 190 countries. For a site that has no sponsors, no ads, no compensation – I feel that this is quite a feat. As Sara Bareilles says it in her song Bottle it Up: We do it for love, love, love! 🙂

We feel blessed and enriched by the friendships we have gained virtually over the year. As Iphigene would put it – at first glance, people might assume that we have such a huge chunk of time available, thus, we can churn out almost-daily posts – and sometimes even double post on a single day! This could not be further from the truth – given my huge amount of responsibility in the university (one deadline on top of the next, lots of manuscripts to write, dissertation papers to review, courses to teach, graduate classes to coordinate, my own research to do – my role as a mother, friend, wife, etc); Iphigene’s juggling her graduate school and work, and Fats’ slaving away in night shifts as a Nurse in San Diego – to say that we are busybusybusy would be an understatement. Yet we manage – because you make time for that which you love to do. And GatheringBooks is our Baby. Seeing it grow brings unparalleled joy to our hearts – and makes all our hard work soo worthwhile.

Fats: It’s a tie between my review on Nick Bantock’s Griffin & Sabine and the collaborative blog post that Myra and I did on Shaun Tan’s The Arrival. The former because of the overflowing responses that the review has received and it was recently included in the module of Contemporary Literature in one of the Bernard Township Schools in New Jersey. The latter because of Shaun Tan’s wonderful email that Myra shared in relation to the review and the website.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Fats: April 13, 2011 was the busiest for our blog with profile views of 1,083. My review of Alexandra Adornetto’s HALO also had a great number of hits. And as Myra mentioned above, we have over 200,000 views for 2011, that’s simply awesome. The post with the most comments (39 and counting) was our launch of Award-Winning-Books Reading Challenge for January-December 2012. Oh yes, we are geared up for 2012! (Sign up now if you haven’t already!)

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Fats: Review of Alexandra Adornetto’s HALO, which you might find a little surprising, considering I have just mentioned it in my answer above. While it is true that it was one of our most popular posts in 2011, I was expecting more comments – positive or negative – from fans of the book/series.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Fats: Book-related sites: the Science Fiction Book Club and Pseudonymous Bosch’s website (because I am partially infatuated with the elusive author).

Bookstore: BookOff in San Diego.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Iphigene: For gathering books we’ve completed successfully all of our challenges as seen here. Personally, however I failed to finish my personal goal of reading 20 additional books from the 1001 Books You Must Read list. I only was able to read five. Sigh.

Looking Ahead

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2011 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2012?

Iphigene: Probably Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad. I’d love to say its 1Q84, but given my schedule this first quarter of 2012, reading 1Q84 would be too ambitious. It would probably be my second priority.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2012?

Iphigene: Two books all coming from Pansing: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and Please Look after Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin. While they were published in 2011, I’m only getting to read them in 2012. 🙂

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2012?

Iphigene: Read all of my TBR pile. Since I haven’t  bought much books this year and I don’t plan to buy any, anytime soon (yes, I’m in a book buying diet). I’m hoping that 2012 would be the year that I at least get to read 3/4 of that TBR pile. For blogging per se I’m hoping to “clean” our site’s design. I’m generally the one responsible for all that stuff. I’m hoping that I can get it to look slicker and make it work more efficiently.

9 comments on “End of Year Book Survey for 2011: A 3-in-1 Collaborative Blogpost from the GatheringBooks Ladies

  1. Love the photo of Tarie, you and Corinne – and am a little jealous that you all got to meet up! And a little proud that one of my posts was a highlight of your 2011. Thankyou 🙂


  2. This is a great meme, as I love the questions. Loved Zoe’s review, by the way, and am not at all surprised by her take on it, as I have read it elsewhere. I also appreciate the fact she has tried reading it with a bunch of kids, which I have not! This could be cultural, but I didn’t think wry humour is limited to cynics and adults (or adult cynics)… I shall be very interested to see how it fares in awards! I do like a little controversy now and again 🙂 Thanks for the shout out, ladies 🙂


  3. What a great review of 2011! Zoe – thanks for the kind comment above! I was the exact same as you Myra…as soon as I read Zoe’s review of I Want My Hat Back I rushed down to the library to take it out and read for myself.

    I’ll throw in a few of my thoughts from the year….

    Best Event – definitely AFCC and meeting Myra and Tarie

    Best Quote – This was the first book I read after spending 2 weeks in Singapore and Hong Kong and perfectly summed up my thoughts on traveling….From James Rumford’s Traveling Man “traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller”.

    Most Recommended Book of 2011 – As my kids are 11 and 15, I have been recommending Holly Thompson’s Orchards to many of my friends who have kids similar ages. Suicide is such a tough topic to approach with teenagers and I think this is a must read book for parents and kids!

    Best book that was a new genre – I admit I wasn’t a fan of free verse but that changed in 2011 with Holly’s book and Karma by Cathy Ostlere

    Favorite Cover of a book – Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes. This is one book you can judge by it’s cover!! 5 stars!



    • Corinne dearest,

      I truly am looking forward to seeing you in a few months’ time. There’s a great great place I am dying to take you and Aline to – BluJaz Cafe, very artsy ambiance, plus a few other stuff besides that I know you’d love too (you’d know as soon as we get there) – simply because you are a woman after my own heart. Mwahahahaha. If you check out my facebook photos of said place, you’d be able to figure out exactly why I’d love to visit the cafe again. 😉

      I love your quote! I should bring James Rumford with me next time I travel. And yes, I also enjoyed Orchards – I’ve done a 4-part Feature on Holly several weeks back.

      I have Ninth Ward (I won a copy of the book from the PoC Reading Challenge) but I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet – which reminds me, will you be participating in the Black History Month? We’re seeing whether we’d have the energy to join again this year. I haven’t heard of Karma by Cathy Ostlere – will check that out too.

      Happy New Year to the Paper Tigers Ladies too!


  4. I’ve checked our site stats again. Apparently, our most popular post is Halo at nearly 25,000 views! Fats post on “More Fractured Tales of the three little Pigs” is next at nearly 19,000 views, followed by Adeline Yen Mah’s Chinese Cinderella at nearly 17,000 views in all. 🙂 Not bad!


  5. Pingback: [Saturday Reads] Best Books Read in 2016 from the GatheringBooks Ladies (1 of 2) – Gathering Books

  6. Pingback: [Saturday Reads] Reading Stats and Best Books from GatheringBooks’ 2016 Reading Themes – Gathering Books

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: