Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: a Year in (Book) Review

I didn’t read as many books this year as I did in 2011, but my toddlers are getting older and crazier and some nights, it’s hard to find the time.  This year’s reads were inspiring in some ways and rather disappointing in others.  Let’s just get down to it, shall we?  The books were, in no particular order.

Wicked by Gregory Maguire—perhaps the biggest disappointment, given the wildly popular musical and the fact that my friend met the author and said he is one of the humblest people she’s ever met.  I just couldn’t get into the weirdness of it all.  Of course, I never really liked the Oz books as a kid, either, and the monkeys in the movie…well, let’s just say, perhaps it wasn’t meant for me to like this book.

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver—liking it better than La Lacuna, but not as much as Prodigal Summer.  I don’t know if she’ll ever top The Poisonwood Bible.  Or Pigs in Heaven

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris—fables in which the animals mimic human foibles.  Mildly entertaining, but this is not the Sedaris we all fell in love with.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.  YA novel which came highly recommended.  It was weird and the plot was a little bit difficult to understand.  Like 12 Monkeys, only not as good, and for kids, and without Bruce Willis and what will perhaps be Brad Pitt’s greatest roll, ever.  The book did allude to A Wrinkle in Time, which is another book I could never get into, which is why I might not have been that thrilled with it.  L’Engle fans may understand it more. 

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis—because I hadn’t read it for a while and this summer I found myself thinking about the part where Aslan breaks the stone table with the magic that existed before all magic.   I was not disappointed.  At all.

Ron Rash
The World Made Straight
The Cove
Saints at the River

I guess this was my author study for the year.  I love this man’s writing.  Rash is an Appalachian writer who has inspired Silas House and is lauded by Lee Smith.  Saints at the River was my least favorite because the voice seemed the least authentic, but Rash still creates characters I think I know.  The World Made Straight was my favorite because it’s contemporary, and the characters are people I definitely know.  For example, a high school boy thinks he is going to be smart and steal a drug dealers marijuana plants.  Nothing good can come of that, can it?  The Cove is his newest work.  It told a great, little-known historical story and connected families and place from The World Made Straight, much in the manner of Wendell Berry.  I still need to read another book by Rash, Serena, which was his best-seller.

The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco—hated the main character the entire 100 first pages.  Put it down.  Would much rather spend time on Foucault’s Pendulum again (so I can mock Dan Brown’s feeble, yet financially successful, attempt to be the next Eco).

50 Shades of Gray by E.L. James—50 shades of self-loathing for having wasted the money and the time.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green—beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.  I think I blogged about this one.  If I didn’t, it’s because I was too moved by the book to be able to write about it.  What happens when critically ill teenagers fall in love?  It sounds maudlin, but that’s part of the beauty of the book—it’s not.

A Yellow Raft in Blue Water by Michael Dorris—very eloquent storytelling of the highest caliber.  The kind of book that separates the real novels from pulp fiction.  This was recommended by a friend, and I thoroughly enjoyed the book and then being amazed by the tragic story of Dorris, Louise Erdrich and their children. 

Wonder by P.J. Palacio—another beautiful YA story.  It was nice to take a break from all the Hunger Games, Divergent, post-apocalyptic teen stuff and read a nice story about a nice boy who wanted to be normal.

Other Stuff a Bit Less Memorable:
One for the Murphys
Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger, short stories by Lee Smith
Hitler Youth
A biography of Eminem
A biography of Adele
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Happy Accidents by Jane Lynch
Matched by Ally Condie
Divergent by Veronica Roth
The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Healing Waters by Joyce Hostetter
White Sands, Red Menace
Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill

More than 20 books, not that great, for a librarian.  But, I guess it’s quality, not quantity, that counts, and I’m happy with the books I really liked. 

What’s up for 2013?  First I have to finish this Kingsolver book, and then I believe there’s some new Lee Smith.  I also need to re-visit Margaret Atwood.  I can’t believe the year went by without reading something she wrote. 

Suggestions, anyone?

Oh, and Happy New Year!

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