I didn’t read as much this past year as I’m accustomed to, and my reading focus was different from my usual. I read more career-related books and less fiction than I usually do… but the fiction I read was fun.

Here’s a list of books I read this year.

I checked out a lot of books that I skimmed or didn’t finish, but here’s a handful that meant the most to me.

Kershisnik: Painting From Life – a series of essays, some by and some about Brian Kershisnik, one of my favorite local artists. (I particularly like what he has to say about collaborating with his Down Syndrome neighbor on some of his paintings.)

Starting Your Career as an Artist – a highly informative book dealing with the business end of being an artist. Lots of practical advice that I didn’t get when I was in art school.

Drawn to Stitch – I found this at the public library and reviewed it. Most of the principles were things I learned in my art and design classes in college, but coupled with practical embroidery tips. It’s a book primarily for people who embroider but have little to no art training.

The Meaning of Everything, by Simon Winchester – About the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary. An extremely complicated endeavor to shape and define the English language. Fascinating read! I’ve heard people complain about Simon Winchester’s writing, but I think he writes interesting history.

Austenland, by Shannon Hale – A cute romance about a woman whose wealthy aunt wills her an all-expenses-paid vacation to a very unusual amusement park, where everything is scripted to give its guests a unique experience from the pages of Jane Austen’s novels.

Pegasus, by Robin McKinley – I have loved just about everything Robin McKinley has written. This book begs for a sequel, and I hope it comes soon!

The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson – His beginning of an epic fantasy. Well crafted and exciting – and again, there will be a sequel. (At least this one is being written. Who knows when it will be done! Sanderson has been busy finishing up Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time books.)

I also re-read Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma and Mansfield Park, all by Jane Austen. I’m in the middle of Persuasion again.

I also read quite a number of children’s fiction books – more than I can list! – aloud to my children. How To Train Your Dragon is NOTHING like the movie. Just saying.