Amy’s Books of 20120
In the spirit of Best of 2012 book lists, I wanted to share the books I’ve read in 2012 and maybe a few thoughts about them along the way. Really, I just like to look back to see what path I followed with my books each year, and maybe you’ll find one or two you want to check out, too.
More or less chronologically, here we go:
Faithful Place, Tana French: I’m a fan. French wrote one of my recent favorite books, The Likeness, which had me so enthralled I took a half day off of work to come home and keep reading it. A young man flees his home after his young love abandons him, only to have to return home and deal with every single problem and person he himself left behind—and learn a painful truth.
The Wordy Shipmates, Sarah Vowell (audio)
San Francisco Poems, Lawrence Ferlinghetti
The Inner Circle, Brad Meltzer (audio): I love Brad. He’s funny on Twitter and he has a show, Decoded, that I’m kind of addicted to, which examines “the meanings behind various symbolism, alleged secret codes and conspiracies that surround us everyday.” I love that kind of thing, so I had to check out one of books. A great diversion for my commute. And that it took place in the National Archives with an archivist protagonist/hero, all the better.
Witches on the Road Tonight, Sheri Holman
Atmospheric Disturbances, Rivka Galchen: See my earlier post, which combined with this one indicates just how long this remained unfinished.
The Consolations of Philosophy, Alain de Boton (audio)
The Walking Dead, Book 2: I felt I needed to catch up for the next season of the TV series, but it’s already gone so far afield it doesn’t really matter.
Aloha from Hell, Richard Kadrey: Third in the Sandman Slim series, which is terrifically well-written and a ride of story if you enjoy the devil, vampires, angels, zombies, and all manner of preternatural beings . Which I do.
The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
Freedom, Jonathan Franzen (audio)
The Four Fingers of Death, Rick Moody
Shopgirl, Steve Martin (audio)
I Drink for a Reason, David Cross (audio)
Point Omega, Don Delillo (audio)
Pygmy, Chuck Palahniuk (audio): Wow. This was a great one to listen to. The cadence of the story, the “dialogue” or narrator’s voice, was so out of the norm it was a fresh “reading” experience. A young exchange student insinuates himself into a caricature of a “typical American” family, absorbs the oddities of American culture, and secretly seeks to infiltrate the country to enact Operation Havoc against it.
The Gunslinger, Stephen King
Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes: The Authorized Adaptation, Ron Wimberly: Something Wicked is one of my all-time favorite books, a bittersweet story of the innocence of childhood being left behind, of facing difficult decisions that speak to your true nature, of two friends choosing different paths. I couldn’t pass up the graphic novel.
Tell-All, Chuck Palahniuk (audio)
Gonzo: A Graphic Biography of Hunter S. Thompson, Will Bingley & Anthony Hope-Smith
The Ice Queen, Alice Hoffman (audio)
Everything I Needed to Know about Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume, Jennifer O’Connell, ed.
This Is Where I Leave You, Jonathan Tropper
Unseen Academicals, Terry Pratchett (audio)
A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan
Look Me in the Eye, John Elder Robison
Throttle, Joe Hill and Stephen King
The White Devil, Justin Evans
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
Stalin’s Ghost, Martin Cruz Smith (audio)
Summer of Night, Dan Simmons
In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan (audio): The Omnivore’s Dilemma opened my eyes to the reality of where our food comes from, even what we consider organic. Who knew that corn is in pretty much everything we eat? In Defense of Food taught me some more important lessons, particularly that the more health claims a food’s packaging has, the farther you should run from it. Also, if your grandmother wouldn’t recognize it as food, it’s not food.
The Devotion of Suspect X, Keigo Higashino
The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
WIZZYWIG: Portrait of a Serial Hacker, Ed Piskor: A local guy getting lots of good attention; I had to make my purchase in support. Once again I discovered that my choices of graphic novels are inevitably very sad stories. Such was the case with this one as well, but, another eye-opening text, it was well worth the read.
Horns, Joe Hill
Good Omens, Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
Indignation, Philip Roth (audio)
The Subterraneans, Jack Kerouac: Reading this on an airplane coming home from Chicago, my row-mate turned to me and said, “That must be a really good book.” I held it up and said, “Yeah, Jack Kerouac.” And the blank look on his face was the end of our conversation.
Wreck This Journal, Keri Smith: Okay, not really a book one reads, but I learned a lesson from this one, too: I’m not nearly as creative as I think I am. I took the directions on each page pretty literally (yeah, I guess that’s how I am), and then I visited the book’s Tumblr and saw all the awesome things people were doing… Inspired by other people’s creativity, I wanted to throw my book away and start over again. (But I didn’t.)
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Stieg Larsson (audio)
Stardust, Neil Gaiman
Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger: Perks and Catcher were re-reads for book club, and also because a) I couldn’t remember the book well enough to see how faithful the movie was, and b) I didn’t really remember the connection it was supposed to have to Catcher. For some reason, I found Catcher humorous this time around. I know it’s not supposed to be a funny book, but I definitely interpreted all of Holden’s activities and concerns through the eyes of an older person.
The Coldest Winter: A Stringer in Liberated Europe, Paula Fox: I have this thing for war memoirs and the like. It started, I think, when I was a manuscript reader then freelance editor for a small publishing company; they were my favorite jobs. This book is poetic in its remembrance of the author’s experiences among the people and the locales her work carried her to. It’s lovely.
The Night Strangers, Chris Bohjalian: Just pages into the book, while nothing had really happened yet, it was already the spookiest thing I’d read in quite some time. I’m still reading this one, but after a father’s tragedy, he and his wife and two daughters move to a “house with a history” in New England so he can heal. But there’s a strange little door in the basement, and something a little more is brewing where I am now.
When She Was Good, Philip Roth (audio)
What were your favorite books on your nightstand this year?