Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Year in Books

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

3. Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace

(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

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.

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...

  1. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell – Tucker Max
  2. Smoke Screen – Sandra Brown
  3. The Mirror Crack’d – Agatha Christie
  4. The Stone Diaries – Carol Shields
  5. Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie
  6. Life – Keith Richards
  7. Blue World – Robert McCammon
  8. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores The Hidden State of Everything – Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
  9. Welcome Home: Travels in Smalltown Canada – Stuart McLean
  10. The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera
  11. Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follet
  12. The Walking Dead Vol. 13: Too Far Gone – Robert Kirkman
  13. The Power of Myth – Joseph Campbell
  14. Stanley Park – Timothy Taylor
  15. The Face of Battle – John Keegan
  16. A History of Violence – John Wagner
  17. Three Day Road – Joseph Boyden
  18. Angela’s Ashes – Frank McCourt
  19. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
  20. The Cider House Rules – John Irving
  21. Black Ajax – George MacDonald Fraser
  22. In a Free State – V.S. Naipaul
  23. Clara Callan – Richard B. Wright
  24. Cutting For Stone – Abraham Verghese
  25. The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, The Most Devastating Plague of All Time – John Kelly
  26. The Rolling Stones Interviews – Jann S. Wenner
  27. The Butcher’s Boy – Thomas Perry
  28. Henry’s Sisters – Cathy Lamb
  29. Flashman – George MacDonald Fraser
  30. 6 x H – Robert A. Heinlein
  31. Scar Tissue – Anthony Keidis
  32. Every Man Dies Alone – Hans Fallada
  33. Just So Stories – Rudyard Kipling
  34. Dead Famous – Ben Elton
  35. People of the Book – Geraldine Brooks
  36. Hater – David Moody
  37. Think of a Number – John Verdon
  38. Thinner – Stephen King
  39. Drowning Ruth – Christina Schwarz
  40. The Stranger – Albert Camus
  41. The Phantom Tollbooth – Norton Juster
  42. A Spy in the House of Love – Anais Nin
  43. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union – Michael Chabon
  44. Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom – Peter Guralnick
  45. The Kin of Ata Are Waiting For You – Dorothy Bryant
  46. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting – Milan Kundera
  47. I Am Ozzy – Ozzy Osbourne
  48. A Long Way Down – Nick Hornby
  49. Where Men Win Glory – Jon Krakauer
  50. Endymion Spring – Matthew Skelton
  51. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
  52. Atonement – Ian McEwan
  53. Eleanor Rigby – Douglas Coupland
  54. Fifth Business – Robertson Davies
  55. Formosan Odyssey: Taiwan Past and Present – John Ross
  56. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Berniere
  57. Helmet For My Pillow – Robert Leckie
  58. Why China Will Never Rule The World: Travels in the Two Chinas – Troy Parfitt
  59. A Game of Thrones: Book One A Song of Fire and Ice – George R.R. Martin
  60. Middlesex – Jeffery Eugenides
  61. Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson
  62. Pygmy – Chuck Palahniuk
  63. Consider the Lobster – David Foster Wallace
  64. My Life as an Experiment: One Man’s Humble Quest to Improve Himself – A.J. Jacobs
  65. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Sherman Alexie
  66. Everything is Illuminated – Jonathan Safran Foer
  67. Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole – Benjamin R. Barber
  68. Dust – Joan Frances Turner
  69. Formosa: Licensed Revolution and the Home Rule Movement, 1895-1945 – George Kerr
  70. That’s Me In The Middle – Donald Jack
  71. The Education of Little Tree – Forrest Carter
  72. Sabriel – Garth Nix
  73. Let The Great World Spin – Colum McCann
  74. Moneyball: The Art of Winning An Unfair Game – Michael Lewis
  75. The Help – Kathryn Stockett
  76. The Eyre Affair – Jasper Fforde


Jonathan Wilhoit said...

Quite a nice reading list! I haven't read most of them, but your opinions on them seem to be quite insightful, so I'll be following your blog from now on. Good luck on your reading in 2012!

DMS said...

What a list! I am interested in quite a few on your list- The Eyre Affair, The Help, Angela's Ashes- just to name a few. I also found yout list of loved and hated to be helpful.

Thanks for sharing!

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