Here are the books that I read in 2012. I’m open to suggestions for 2013!
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo I wasn’t sure I wanted to get into this series. It’s so…dark. But I kinda loved it. I loved it enough that I ended up finishing the rest of the series in short order. Yes, it’s dark. But it is also intriguing and suspenseful and there is a certain curiosity about the main character that had me coming back for me–I wanted to understand and I wanted to see what would happen.
The Art of Fielding I liked it, but didn’t love it.
The Tiger’s Wife Loved this one! It had all the elements that really appeal to me–I like strange and mythical stories with a fantasy element. I thought it was a worthwhile read.
The Lodger I read this after I read that this was one of Hemingway’s favorite novels. Wasn’t my favorite book ever but it’s not my favorite genre either (thriller). All in all, a decent read.
Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef This is a chef memoir written by the chef/owner of a restaurant that Adam frequents in NYC. While I thought that parts of this book were great–full of humor and good stories–but I didn’t like the second half of the book as much, due to the focus on her messy personal life.
The Kitchen House Troubling story, in some ways, but I liked the fresh perspective here (a white servant girl on a plantation in the antebellum South).
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest Had to do it. Had to finish the series. Good read!
At Home in the World: A Memoir I needed something different after the last couple of books. I love a good memoir. I found this interesting–what a crazy story. The author spills here about her affair with J.D. Salinger. Weird guy!
Remarkable Creatures: A Novel I like everything that I’ve ready by Tracy Chevalier. This book introduced me to a subject that I know very little about: fossils. Interesting read.
In One Person Like all of John Irving’s books, this book isn’t for everyone. I found it engrossing and thought-provoking, to consider preconceived notions and judgments that I may have about sexuality.
The Weird Sisters This is a novel about sisters that I just didn’t really connect with. It was….ok, but not one of my favorites.
The Year of Magical Thinking I put off reading this book for so long because it never felt like the right time to read a book with so depressing a premise. And, indeed, as I read it, I would ask myself, every time, WHY am I reading this (with tears dripping down my face)? That said, it is a beautifully written book about loss and grief and coping with the aftermath of an unexpected loss. I do recommend it, despite the sadness.
Gone Girl This book was a good change of pace from the previous book–an easy reading, page-turning thriller. The contrast between the writing styles was sharp (I don’t think that Flynn is near the writer that Didion is) but I did enjoy the story, over all, for a fast-paced read. Good summer reading.
The Night Circus My very favorite book that I read this year. Loved, Loved LOVED this book. All my favorite elements are here: magic and mystery and beautiful sadness. A fantastical story. Can’t recommend it highly enough. I was so sad to finish it!
The Sandcastle Girls A great read about a subject that, prior to reading this book, I knew nothing about (the Armenian genocide of the early 20th century). I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
The Dovekeepers Another favorite of mine for the year. Absolutely loved the story. Though it is historical fiction, I could almost believe that somehow, someone had saved a historical document from Masada, from women’s perspective. Strongly and boldly told. Moving and sad. Sometimes horrific, sometimes lovely. Great, great book.
My Name is Mary Sutter I am a sucker for stories that take place during the Civil War. I have read and re-read Gone with The Wind countless times. This story tells of a woman (a brilliant and skilled midwife) who desires to become a surgeon/doctor, in a time when this was not an occupation open to women. A very good read. (Mom–I think you’ll like this one). Note: may be too gory for for some (you know, it’s the Civil War, told from a would-be doctor’s perspective. Removal of limbs is a big theme here).
Digging to America I like Anne Tyler’s works. This is a quick and easy read with an interesting story line.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet I wanted to like this book, I really did, but I just could not get into it. It didn’t speak to me, not sure why.
The Risk Pool Strange book, but one I couldn’t put down. A story of a boy being raised by adults that are, neither one of them, emotionally equipped to raise a child. I liked this story of a boy struggling in a small town.
Flight Behavior I usually love all things Barbara Kingsolver but this was my least favorite of her books, unfortunately. I thought that the book got bogged down too much by environmental details, losing sight of the characters themselves. I do have a special interest in the butterflies of this book as Santa Barbara is on the migratory path for Monarchs, but this story just didn’t speak to me and draw me in as much as I had hoped.
The Dog Stars I didn’t know if I would like this book or not but I found it strangely appealing. The narration is quirky but I got used to it. The story is brutal at times (because of course it would be brutal to live in a post-apocolyptic world where it is every man for himself–guns are featured heavily and there is some stomach churning gore) but it is also sad and lovely and, above all, fascinating to consider what the world would be like if most of the world’s population were wiped out and mankind had to begin again.
The Pillars of the Earth I really, really, really wanted to like this book. I loved the idea of it. I even loved the general storyline. What I could NOT live with, however, was the repeated (as in Every Single Chapter) sexual brutalization of women within its pages. It got so that I would start to get nervous before reading this book. It made me anxious. I had to put it down. I just don’t want to read about rape. Too awful. So this is my one abandoned book of the year.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity I’m about 2/3 of the way through this book right now. It’s a nonfiction book (though it reads, in many ways, like a novel) about the inhabitants of the slums of Mumbai. Absolutely amazing.
I also listened to these audiobooks:
Northanger Abbey Classic Jane Austen. There are so many parts of it that seem downright silly today (worrying over one’s reputation as an unsoiled female, for instance) and yet there is something so appealing about Austen’s writing. So much wit.
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)
Some parts (ok, many parts) were laugh-out-loud funny. I love this author’s blog. So freaking hilarious.
The Glass Castle: A Memoir I loved this audiobook. The author reads her book about her childhood growing up with the most dysfunctional parents I could ever imagine. Incredible book. Entertaining, insightful.