Sunday, January 6, 2013

My Year in Books: 2012.

Ever since I challenged myself in 2009 to read 52 books in the year, I established some good reading habits to keep up the momentum. I've relaxed on the challenge aspect of reading, since I don't want to deter from reading longer books just because they may take more time. This year I managed to read 30 books; this guy read 366. Whatever.

I wish I could keep up with books as they are published--that I could make a 'Best Books of 2012' list, but I don't have the money (or desire) for hardcovers and I have enough unread books on my shelves--which is the main reason I try not to buy new books on my Kindle or at a store. (I cheat sometimes.) And my family does a good job of gifting me books! I think I read one novel that was released this year, and that was because of the hype, which it lived up to. I would recommend it to anyone: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

Here are the rest of the books I read this year in chronological order, the star rating I gave them on Goodreads, and those that are bold became all-time favorite books of mine.

01 The Best American Magazine Writing 2011, ASME *****
02 Post Office, Charles Bukowski **
03 The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Joseph Gordon Levitt ****
04 East of Eden, John Steinbeck *****
05 Belle de Jour, Joseph Kessel ***
06 Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Leanne Shapton *****
07 The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton ****
08 The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories, Ernest Hemingway *****
09 The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood *****
10 A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway *****
11 Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri *****
12 Victory, Joseph Conrad ****
13 The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing ****
14 Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy Kaling ***
15 Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami *****
16 Three Lives, Gertrude Stein *
17 Evelina, Frances Burney ****
18 Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury *****
19 Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn ****
20 The Beautiful and the Damned, F. Scott Fitzgerald ****
21 Frankenstein, Mary Shelley *****
22 The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Eugenides **
23 The Rest of Life, Mary Gordon ****
24 The Heretic's Daughter, Kathleen Kent ***
25 My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead, Jeffrey Eugenides ****
26 Monster: Living Off the Big Screen, John Gregory Dunne ****
27 On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King *****
28 1Q84, Haruki Murakami **
29 The Stand, Stephen King *****
30 The Best American Magazine Writing 2012, ASME ***** (even though I'm not done yet, this volume is already at five stars...)

I would recommend East of Eden to everyone. If you're looking for something weird and creative, Leanne Shapton's Important Artifacts and Personal Property..., structured like an auction catalog and made up of the remains of a fictional relationship was a fun experience. And for years I've been kind of 'meh' on Stephen King, but upon reading On Writing and asking my dad (a King aficianado) his favorite novel by the author, The Stand is a new favorite. In fact, my dad and I challenged each other to a 'cast that novel' challenge since there are rumors Ben Affleck wants to direct a film version (hopefully a trilogy). I even made a page of who I would cast, like a nerd.

My shelves have been replenished since Christmas, and I've got The Group by Mary McCarthy, The Liars' Club by Mary Carr, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, another Gillian Flynn, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, and The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller in the queue.

What was the best book you read last year? Have any recommendations? Any other The Stand fans or other books on this list? Contrarian opinions? Did anybody actually like reading Gertrude Stein? Any 2013 books you're excited about?


  1. This year was unfortunately one of the years I read the least. Last semester almost killed me. It was the first time in my life that I had to leave a book on my nightstand to attempt 10-15 minutes every night. I can hardly even remember what I read (obviously it must have been so great seeing as how I can't even recall any of it). I did just finish The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and sobbed through the whole second half. I've only read a couple of the books on your list: A Moveable Feast is on my all time favorites list. I'm ashamed to say that The Blind Assassin has been sitting on my shelf unread for a few years now. I really should read Interpreter of Maladies as I loved The Namesake so much. And I, too, was disappointed by The Marriage Plot. It was so....meh. I'll have to try and think back on what I read this year and if there's anything worth recommending I'll get back to you.

    1. I've heard good things about The Fault in Our Stars -- but when you mention crying, I just think of myself reading on the subway, bawling. Not that that doesn't happen ALL the time when I read anyway. Haha.

      Read The Blind Assassin! Love Atwood. And I loved the stories that made up The Interpreter of Maladies! The Namesake is one of my favorite books of all time.

      Hopefully you find more time to read this year, I know it's so tough with school (-work & -reading) simultaneously!