This post is a bit overdue, but better late than never.
I keep a list of just about every book I have ever read since the age of 8 (first book on the list is Little House on the Prairie). I find it fascinating to look back on the years of books that I chose to read, and my choices really reflect where I was at emotionally, personally, professionally in my life. These books trigger memories and tell a story all their own.
I wrote a post last year around this time summarizing the books I read during 2011 and the story they told, and in this post I am doing the same for the books I read in 2012, in the order I read them.
First of all, I only read
15 16 (apparently I forgot one – which is now #10 on the list) books in 2012 (compared to 21 in 2011), which is the least number since 2005, and that makes me sad. Looking over the list, I think the reason for the small number was because I was trying to get through books that didn’t fully capture my fascination, and that means the process took much longer. For 2013, I plan to spend time choosing books that are more pleasurable to me – I’ve already started World War Z, so I think I’m on the right track.
(all pictures are from Wikipedia)
1. Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson
This book was recommended to me by Brian, and it was fairly interesting, but took me a long time to finish for whatever reason. If I remember correctly, this book is set in the future, and I describe it as being like The Matrix, even though it was published in 1992. The main character is named Hiro Protagonist, and he’s a high-speed pizza delivery man and professional hacker. We’re introduced to this whole virtual world that has its own set of rules and ethics. Hiro’s good friend is basically turned into a vegetable by this virus/drug called Snow Crash that affects a person’s nervous system in the real world when that person’s avatar is infected in the virtual world. Hiro is then launched into this adventure with a sassy, scrappy young woman named Y.T. that involves murder, samurai sword fighting, cults, drugs, and the giant mass of garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean.
2. *The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
The asterisk means that I had read this book before, and I was reading this book a second time in preparation for seeing the movie. I lurve this book. I love dystopian fiction, and I love a good fight-for-survival story, especially one where the main character is a strong female. I admired Katniss for her strength, for her competence, and for her courage. I also admired Effie’s outfits.
3. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened – Jenny Lawson
I had been waiting to read this book for a while, and I was definitely not disappointed. Jenny Lawson is The Bloggess, aka one of the reasons I started blogging. This book is a mostly true autobiography that was laugh-out-loud and pee-your-pants hilarious, blunt, vulnerable, and endearing. I feel like I know her now, better than I ever did before, so maybe I can take a break from some of my weekend stalking escapades.
4. Dune – Frank Herbert
I read this book because Brian and I struck a deal. I really wanted Brian to read Half The Sky because it changed my life, and in exchange I told him I would read a book of his choosing, and he chose Dune. This book was exciting during the action scenes, but it really dragged for me during the downtimes. From what I remember, this book took place on two distant planets, where a ruling family moved from their home planet to rule over a foreign planet where water was a very scarce resource and sand dunes covered the land. The family is plunged into turmoil when the husband and father is murdered, and son and heir Paul is forced to flee with his mother into the dunes. There, they work to earn the trust and learn the way of life of the sand people who have entirely blue eyes (what would normally be the whites of the eyes are blue as well) due to consumption of Spice, which is the main valuable resource on the planet. The story basically reminded me of Star Wars – picture Paul as a young Luke on his home planet. One of my favorite parts was Paul’s struggle to learn the coming-of-age task of riding the humongous and highly dangerous sand worms. Yee-haw!
5. Politically Correct Bedtime Stories – James Finn Garner
This short, fast read was absolutely hilarious. Ever wanted to shake the traditional damsels in distress and tell them to take control of their own lives? Ever thought they should open up a bank account and run for congress instead of fretting about a lost shoe and caring selflessly for 7 little people? Read this book.
6. Night – Elie Wiesel
This book is Elie’s true account of surviving the holocaust, including the harrowing death marches right before the liberation. I cannot even begin to describe how horrifying, powerful, and moving this memoir was for me. This is the type of book that I am constantly drawn to (I have a problem picking “fun media,” which you’ll see gets worse as the year goes on), and I think it’s because of my thirst to read about human resilience in the face of pure evil. This book definitely satisfied that need for me.
7. The Tenth Circle – Jodi Picoult
After Night, I needed a much easier read, and Jodi Picoult was just the answer. I’ve read a few of her books in the past, and they are all the same, so I knew exactly what to expect for this one…or so I thought. This book hit a little closer to home than I thought it might since it dealt with rape and the after-effects of it. Throw in some infidelity, murder mystery, and running away from home for good measure.
8. Room – Emma Donoghue
This book marked my profound descent into the world of trauma and choosing traumatic books for pleasure that I manage to do every year. This book was also unlike any book I have ever read in a way that’s hard to describe – I think because we get to see the world through the eyes of 5 year old Jack who has never been outside a 12×12 room. The narration reminded me of the blunt starkness of Push, but the remarkable similarities to Jaycee Dugard’s real-life account of her 19 year imprisonment freaked me out. Let me back up: Jack is narrating this story where we find that he and his mother are being held captive by a sick kidnapper who fathered Jack by rape. Jack describes the normal-as-possible routines that his mom has created for him that involve mealtimes, reading, TV, bathtime, exercise, games – including one “game” that involves screaming at the top of their lungs towards the one skylight they have in Room. I won’t ruin any more of the book for y’all, but it was exciting and an interesting look into PTSD from the confused and scared eyes of a very isolated, yet hopeful 5 year old.
9. Fear – Michael Grant
This book is the 5th in a series of 6 books called the Gone novels. My friend originally recommended Gone to me by saying that it was a young adult series where everyone over the age of 15 suddenly disappears. My interest was more than peaked. Basically, these books turned into Lord of the Flies on steroids pretty quick, with a hint of sci-fi in there because some kids realize they have powers. Sam, the main character, can create balls of burning light with the palms of his hands. A struggle for power and order ensues, good kids and bad kids emerge, leaders and followers are identified…and they are all trying to figure out where the hell all the adults went and how they’re supposed to survive without them.
I almost didn’t keep reading this series because it started to feel all crazy like Lost did in the second season. When Gone introduced talking coyotes I figured I was done. But, something lured me back to this series…it’s fun, they are fast reads, and I like the characters. The plot is unpredictable and exciting. I’ll be waiting for all the answers to be revealed in April when the final book comes out.
10. We Thought You Would Be Prettier – Laurie Notaro
So, in the first published draft of this post, I totally forgot this book. I read it during my vacation to Puerto Rico because it was easy, fun, and it was paperback. It was recommended to me by a friend because this author was like The Bloggess – and it was, in that it was absolutely hysterical. I suppose I forgot it because of all those rum punches…
11. Black and Blue – Anna Quindlan
Sigh, here I went again. I dove back into trauma land and I kind of regretted it. I had this book for a long time and just never read it. It’s fiction, and it’s about a woman and her son fleeing a very abusive husband and dad who also happens to be a cop. This woman basically goes into hiding, gets a new name for herself and her son, and tries to start over. While you’re reading this, you’re fucking scared the whole time. You’re just like the main character – at every moment you’re waiting for her husband to turn up. This book had a sucky ending and it made me sad. I usually like to keep books I read but I am planning to give this one away.
12. Tomorrow When the War Began – John Marsden
Since I liked the Gone books so much, I decided to try this other young adult series that came highly recommended by Brian. This one is written by an Australian teacher and is about a group of teen Aussie friends. They go camping in the Australian bush and come back to find that their country has been invaded by a foreign country and all their families have been taken hostage. What I love about these books is that the kids do what they can to fight back as guerrilla warriors rather than just waiting it out. Also, all the cool Aussie slang is really great. Did you know that “chooks” means “chickens”?! Amazing, mate!
13. The Dead of the Night – John Marsden
14. A Killing Frost – John Marsden
There are 7 books in this series and I began to lose interest after the 3rd book. The books had bursts of action, but really dragged when they were dealing with angst and squabbles amongst themselves. The young adult books that I like are written as if they were written for adults, and these books are written in a way that talks down slightly to teens and seems to trivialize their inner struggles. My waning interest directly influenced my next book pick.
15. *Eclipse – Stephenie Meyer
I’ve read the Twilight books before, and I have a love/hate relationship with them. Eclipse was my favorite book in the series, and I find myself going back to these mindless reads when I feel like I need to escape life for a while and live in the land of vampires, talking wolves, and annoying powerless females.
16. Darkness Be My Friend – John Marsden
I tried one last time to get through this series, and I decided that this would be my last Tomorrow book. Sorry, Mr. Marsden. I gave it a good try…onto bigger and better books for 2013.
My fellow psychos – what was your favorite book you read in 2012?