It is with GREAT pleasure that I announce I’ve succeeded in completing my goal of reading 100 books this year!  I’m a bit behind on posting my reviews, but I promise you within the next week I’ll complete them and get on track for the new year! Since I’ve completed my goal of 100 for the year I’ve thought about increasing my goal for 2012 and am thinking of upping the goal to 110.  I’ll post my definite plans tomorrow in my kick-off post, similar to what I did last year.

2011 has been a pretty amazing year of reading for me.  Looking back I’ve read some fascinating memoirs, heartbreaking fiction, and  suspenseful mysteries among other things.  My top ten for the year with links to their reviews are as follows:

  1. Jane Eyre
  2. One Day
  3. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
  4. The Hunger Games
  5. Stardust
  6. The House At Riverton
  7. Lunch in Paris
  8. A Wife For Mr. Darcy
  9. Eat, Pray, Love
  10. Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian/The Silent Governess

It was SO difficult to come up with a top ten for the year; I have to pat myself on the back for choosing such a wide array of excellent reads.  I do hope that you’ll tell me what you’ve enjoyed reading this year! There is no better recommendation to read a book than a recommendation from a fellow reader!

In terms of the challenges I signed up for this past year I completed the Historical Fiction Challenge and the Page to Screen Challenge with flying colors.  The Chunkster Challenge continues through January 31, 2012 so I still have a month to finish my last two “mega-chunkster” books.  My Austen challenges I did not do so well on.  I only completed 2 of the Jane Austen mystery novels, and completed 50% of the Sense and Sensibility Challenge.  I’m disappointed that I did so terribly on them, but I guess the light at the end of the tunnel is that I still completed my 100!  I’ve already begun to sign up for 2012 challenges, so make sure you head over to my challenge page to track my progress.

I hope that you will all enjoy the holiday today, checking back in tomorrow to join me on my journey of reading in 2012.

Happy New Year, and happy reading!

#73 A Review of Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard

Cover Image

Studying abroad in London, Bard attends a conference where she meets a Frenchman named Gwendal, with whom she begins a friendship with.  After a few month’s correspondence she decides to travel to Paris for the weekend to see him.  That weekend begins a relationship that she’ll never forget, with Gwendal, Paris, and French cuisine.  Lunch in Paris is Elizabeth Bard’s memoir of how her life changed for better or for worse after that weekend trip to Paris.

This is one of the most delicious memoirs I’ve ever read, literally.  The novel is a journey of love, discovery, and food!  The recipes at the end of each chapter were a beautiful touch, adding to the readers’ ability to take this journey with Bard.  As someone who loves to cook I was delighted to follow along on Bard’s journey and be able to recreate the special dishes that become important parts of her life.  I’ve made a PDF copy of all of the recipes in the book to add to my collection of collected recipes.  I’m eagerly awaiting a long weekend home to try them out and get a sense of some French home cooking! (I really have my eye on the stuffed eggplants!!)

One of the most fascinating and surprising parts of the novel for me was reading about the difference between American dreams vs. French dreams.  I know that last sentence is confusing, so let me explain.  Bard explains how when her husband was growing up and was in school, he was taught that he couldn’t “dream big” as we Americans do.  Growing up in America you’re told that you can do/be anything you want to be.  No career is unreachable.  It’s the complete opposite in France.  Children are not taught to reach for the sky, rather they’re taught to focus on something tangible.  I was fascinated that I would get hit with that big of a culture shock just by reading this novel.  It added to the depth of the memoir in a surprisingly pleasing way.

Bard is a fantastic writer, one that gets the reader involved and excited to continue reading her story.  She is able to write about her fears, desires, and happiness with examples that the reader can relate too, which only increases the pleasure found in reading this novel.  There is much to love here, between Bard’s story and her recipes; I can’t recommend it highly enough.

5 out of 5 Stars

Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard
Little, Brown and Company (2011)
Paperback 326 pages