My Year in Books
Holy cow, it's 2012! How did that happen? I was still writing 2010 on deposit slips and stuff well into November and now I've got to remember to write 2012. Actually, it only occured to me the other day that the 1990s are over a decade ago now... insanity. Years fly by.
It still seems like only a few weeks ago that I started this blog but it has already been over a year. I have somehow managed to write something (sometimes only just) about every single book I read. I didn't think I would have very much to say after the first few books but I found that I was already crafting many of my blog posts in my head somewhere in the middle of most books I read. It has become part of my reading routine, which I think is worthwhile.
Not all of the books were fun to write about, mind you. There were some real clunkers on my reading list this year and since I always finish what I start, writing about some of these books was far more difficult than I would have expected. It's hard to muster the ambition to write about a book you barely finished, didn't like and would sooner forget. It is even harder to make it interesting. I suspect I failed on more than a few posts over the course of this year.
I started this blog as a bit of a reference experiment, really. I read so much that I often forget about a lot of books I read. I pick books up that I have read and forgotten about and it takes me dozens of pages for me to realize what's happening. This actually happened this year when I picked up How to be Good by Nick Hornby and realized about 30 pages in that I read it a few years ago. It obviously hadn't made an impact.
I wanted a place where I could record my thoughts, snide comments and theories about everything I read and maybe spark up a discussion or two along the way (and I won't lie, I'm more than narcissistic enough to enjoy knowing that people are reading what I write and I love comments). In that respect, this blog has been a huge success for me and I look forward to writing it (almost) every time I finish a book.
Moving forward, I am going to try carrying a notebook with me while I read. I found that I often had great ideas about a book only to forget about the idea when it came time to post a blog. This lack of planning made many of my blog posts feel rushed and superficial. I want to be a bit more astute in the coming year.
That being said, I didn't take any notes on this post and I'm writing it with a New Year's hangover. Even so, I'm going to try and divide my year in reading into a few year-end lists, with some superficial comments to go along with them. I provided the links to the actual posts, some of which aren't terrible. All of these are in no particular order.
Best Fiction of the Year
1. Hater by David Moody
I cannot wait to read the second in this series. What a great take on the zombie mythology.
2. The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
This book surprised the hell out of me. I expected to hate it and it blew me away.
3. Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Who knew that fantasy could be so riveting. Another first in a series that I expect to continue in 2012.
4. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Absolutely sublime. One of the best books I have read in a decade.
5. Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides
If not for Never Let Me Go, this would have been the best book I read this year. It is such a masterful piece of fiction.
Best Non-Fiction of the Year
1. Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer
2. Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom by Peter Guralnick
3. Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace
4. Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole by Benjamin R. Barber
5. Moneyball: The Art of Winning An Unfair Game by Michael Lewis
(I read so much good non-fiction this year that I could have had five more here and I wouldn't have felt I left anything off.)
Worst Books of the Year
1. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max
Blogs don't make good books (My Life in Books: The Movie!). Besides, college humor is so 2000.
2. Henry's Sisters by Cathy Lamb
This book is quite probably the worst book I have ever read. If anyone brings this book up in conversation I still go off on insane rants.
3. The Kin of Ata Are Waiting for You by Dorothy Bryant
New age hokum.
4. Endymion Spring by Matthew Skelton
Harry Potter without an ounce of fun.
5. Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk
Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.
Anyway. Hope everyone had a great New Years (I did) and I look forward to continuing the blog into 2011... I mean 2012. As a parting gift, here is the complete list of my reading this year...
- I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell – Tucker Max
- Smoke Screen – Sandra Brown
- The Mirror Crack’d – Agatha Christie
- The Stone Diaries – Carol Shields
- Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie
- Life – Keith Richards
- Blue World – Robert McCammon
- Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores The Hidden State of Everything – Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
- Welcome Home: Travels in Smalltown Canada – Stuart McLean
- The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera
- Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follet
- The Walking Dead Vol. 13: Too Far Gone – Robert Kirkman
- The Power of Myth – Joseph Campbell
- Stanley Park – Timothy Taylor
- The Face of Battle – John Keegan
- A History of Violence – John Wagner
- Three Day Road – Joseph Boyden
- Angela’s Ashes – Frank McCourt
- Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
- The Cider House Rules – John Irving
- Black Ajax – George MacDonald Fraser
- In a Free State – V.S. Naipaul
- Clara Callan – Richard B. Wright
- Cutting For Stone – Abraham Verghese
- The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, The Most Devastating Plague of All Time – John Kelly
- The Rolling Stones Interviews – Jann S. Wenner
- The Butcher’s Boy – Thomas Perry
- Henry’s Sisters – Cathy Lamb
- Flashman – George MacDonald Fraser
- 6 x H – Robert A. Heinlein
- Scar Tissue – Anthony Keidis
- Every Man Dies Alone – Hans Fallada
- Just So Stories – Rudyard Kipling
- Dead Famous – Ben Elton
- People of the Book – Geraldine Brooks
- Hater – David Moody
- Think of a Number – John Verdon
- Thinner – Stephen King
- Drowning Ruth – Christina Schwarz
- The Stranger – Albert Camus
- The Phantom Tollbooth – Norton Juster
- A Spy in the House of Love – Anais Nin
- The Yiddish Policemen’s Union – Michael Chabon
- Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom – Peter Guralnick
- The Kin of Ata Are Waiting For You – Dorothy Bryant
- The Book of Laughter and Forgetting – Milan Kundera
- I Am Ozzy – Ozzy Osbourne
- A Long Way Down – Nick Hornby
- Where Men Win Glory – Jon Krakauer
- Endymion Spring – Matthew Skelton
- The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
- Atonement – Ian McEwan
- Eleanor Rigby – Douglas Coupland
- Fifth Business – Robertson Davies
- Formosan Odyssey: Taiwan Past and Present – John Ross
- Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Berniere
- Helmet For My Pillow – Robert Leckie
- Why China Will Never Rule The World: Travels in the Two Chinas – Troy Parfitt
- A Game of Thrones: Book One A Song of Fire and Ice – George R.R. Martin
- Middlesex – Jeffery Eugenides
- Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson
- Pygmy – Chuck Palahniuk
- Consider the Lobster – David Foster Wallace
- My Life as an Experiment: One Man’s Humble Quest to Improve Himself – A.J. Jacobs
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Sherman Alexie
- Everything is Illuminated – Jonathan Safran Foer
- Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole – Benjamin R. Barber
- Dust – Joan Frances Turner
- Formosa: Licensed Revolution and the Home Rule Movement, 1895-1945 – George Kerr
- That’s Me In The Middle – Donald Jack
- The Education of Little Tree – Forrest Carter
- Sabriel – Garth Nix
- Let The Great World Spin – Colum McCann
- Moneyball: The Art of Winning An Unfair Game – Michael Lewis
- The Help – Kathryn Stockett
- The Eyre Affair – Jasper Fforde