Booklist 2012 part 2
James posted about his reads of 2012 and I thought it might be nice to lend my voice too. I had never kept a list of everything I read in a year and it was nice to go back and recall all the books I picked up. Some were 'throw away books', books that I read and promptly dismissed because they weren't terribly memorable, but others have stayed with me and left an impression, some pleasant, some uncomfortable.
Now, it's true, this was not a competition, but for the record, I read waaaaaay faster than James :)
Some of the books I read this year were re-reads. I love reading favourites over and over, it's like catching up with an old friend. These included The Hunger Games Trilogy, the Hobbit, Persuasion, Danny: Champion of the World, The Time Traveler's Wife, The Westing Game, The Giver (so amazing!) and A Walk with Jane Austen.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - I had heard so much about this book and the others in the series, I had to give it a try. I was really happy with the level of detail and the various plot lines that all converged, but the big villain reveal left me with a bad taste in my mouth. There are some very graphic descriptions of rape and torture and murder and I couldn't bring myself to read the the other two books in the series, much less watch the movie. I'm not usually a prude when it comes to books, but this one was a bit much for me.
The Thief - My new favourite author!!! Megan Whalen Turner is the absolute best and this series is so well crafted it blew my mind. The world and its occupants are reminiscent of ancient Greece and with a particularly satisfying plot twist, this is the one book that I read twice this year. The others in the series are The Queen of Atolia, The King of Atolia, and A Conspiracy of Kings. Each one gets better than the one that came before it!
The Perks of Being a Wallflower - I heard this was being made into a movie, and was a little disappointed. It was kind of blah, but I suppose that might have been part of the point. Not great enough for a second reading.
The Lovely Bones - Fascinating story of a girl who is murdered and is able to exist as a spirit to watch her family as they try to solve the murder and find her body. I didn't love all the elements, the idea of heaven being something you can create and spirits able to inhabit the bodies of the living is definitely on the weird side, but the heart of the story is about loss and despair and the reality of missing children.
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court - A hilarious Mark Twain. It's a huge book but really enjoyable. I expected a typical time travel, where the hero experiences a new culture and promptly returns home. Hank, however, lives in medieval England for several decades, having convinced the locals that he is a magician. At the height of his glory he has established newspapers, factories, and a network of power lines and telephones.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret - We saw the movie Hugo last year without knowing it was a children's book and after reading it, I promptly put it on my 'To Buy' list. It's gorgeous, a blend between a novel and a picture book, where stunning black and white sketches tell parts of the story. Lots of information about the father of the 'moving picture', Georges Melies.
Slaughterhouse-Five - So weird. SO Weird. It's hailed as the greatest anti-war novel of our time, and I found it to be an exploration of post-traumatic stress disorder so I suppose that could be considered anti-war. Billy Pilgrim loses his grip on reality and 'time travels' with an alien race. Some description of the brutalities of war.
The Great Gatsby - I came to this book with such high expectations. I was under the impression that it was a luscious portrait of the roaring 20's, lavish parties, copious amounts of alcohol, schmoozing with the rich and famous. It was, but only for a few scenes. The rest was symbolic descriptions that I didn't understand (in part because I don't know as much about the 20's as I thought) and a few destructive relationships. Also, a morality tale about climbing the social ladder instead of staying where you belong. Perhaps the movie will be better?
The Casual Vacancy - JK Rowling astounded me with the Harry Potter series, and I was intrigued when I heard she was writing something completely different. *sigh* Biggest disappointment of the year. A huge novel set in a small English village, there was almost nothing terribly exciting or worthwhile in this book. I only had it on loan from the library for two weeks and I forced myself to finish it because I knew I wouldn't bother to request it again. That being said, Rowling does a good job of weaving a ton of characters together, the climax at the end showcases how entangled all these lives are, it just has none of the thrill and excitement of Harry Potter.
Life of Pi - If you haven't read this yet, put it on your list! So incredible. Yann Martel has created a masterpiece that makes you think and examine your acceptance of fantastic/unbelievable experiences. Pi, a young man, is adrift at sea in a life boat with a Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker. At the end of the novel, when we are presented with two possible explanations, I had a hard time deciding which one I would choose to believe in. Am I a purely logical being, dismissing anything that does not sound probable, or am a person who embraces the supernatural, no matter how astonishing?
The Fault in our Stars - The last book of the year certainly left me with the strongest reaction. Never ever have I read a book that elicited such an emotional response. Two teenagers with terminal cancer fall in love and I cried harder than I have in a long time. Interesting that the author, John Green, is the same man who brought us the hit YouTube channel Crash Course World History. (It's taught me so much!)
And there are my highlights of 2012! 2013 is already off to a great start with Game of Thrones and Wuthering Heights!