It’s time for the annual what-I-got-around-to-reading-because-there-are-so-many-books-and-so-little-time-blog post…or what I read this year and think you should (or shouldn’t) read. With 56 books on the year (yep, squeezed one in last night), I’mma give you my favorites (both paper and audio) in no particular order, make a few suggestions, and probably tell you to stay away from some other stuff. Here goes…
Best Audiobook of 2012:
If I’m really honest, this just might have been the best book I read/listened to all year. I loved that I listened to this one as there were so many voices portrayed and the story and the characters…wow. The Kitchen House was haunting and amazing and enlightening and you either need to listen to or read it. Pronto
Best Trilogy (and there were a few this year):
Yep. The Hunger Games. It was the first trilogy challenge at work this year, and I’m pretty sure we all saw the movie as well. This series sucked me in and I was sad when it ended–mostly because I, and I’m sure many of you, became so involved in the lives of the characters that they’d become friends…or something. (Now that I’ve totally geeked out.) This series was the first young adult series since Harry Potter that I was totally sucked into and loved all the way through.
Favorite New (to me) Author: Lee Child
He’s the creator of Jack Reacher–who you’ve heard of by now either because you read the books or because you’ve seen at least the previews for the movie starring Tom Cruise. I first learned about this series from my local used bookstore matron and I secretly hated her a little bit for it…mostly because these books will make me an irresponsible adult if I let them. (Fact: I sat at home alone on a Friday night and BLEW through 200 pages of one book.) I’m thankful that there are so many books to get through at this point (I’m currently on book 5)…because they are ALL freaking amazing…if you like the badass ex-MP drifter thriller type of book. The Kitchen House is quality literature. This stuff is quality thriller. Go get you some.
Indie/Self-published: The Colonel’s Mistake
If you follow this blog, you know I’ve spent a good bit of my year reading books I’ve been sent/requested to review. Perhaps my favorite of the indie/self-published variety was The Colonel’s Mistake. It was Dan Mayland’s first novel, which was set in Azerbaijan and the Middle East. Honestly, I forget that Azerbaijan exists most days, but I developed a new appreciation for that area, the complexities of life in and around the Middle East, and the decisions our people make on a daily basis–about which not many of us are aware…probably for good reason. This book also was in the thriller/spy genre, and I look forward to more from Dan Mayland.
You can’t go wrong with Jen Lancaster (My Fair Lazy). Ever. She is laugh out loud funny and her
adventures antics are worth the price of admission. However, I had to give a shout out to Wanderlust, which is a combination coming of age/travel memoir. And when I get a hankering to travel, sometimes the only way to make it happen is reading someone else’s stories of wandering.
Both of these books are on my Must Read list for parents. Even if you don’t have an explosive child, there is still a wealth of information regarding better ways to communicate with your child(ren)–namely to collaborate WITH your child to solve problems or come up with a better way to approach/handle/deal with any kind of situation. The Bully, The Bullied, and the Bystander gives all kinds of information (for parents AND educators) regarding bullying in its variety of forms–and how you, as the adult, can model and address situations in a better way. Please go read these books. Please. And then, when you have a second, toss in A Nation of Wimps. Just for fun.
Surprise Book of 2012: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
So this book came out in 2009 and I remember it being wildly popular for so long. But I was in the throes of graduate school and a self-imposed book embargo, so I didn’t get around to it until this year. Reading the plot, I wasn’t sure. Reading the first few pages, I still wasn’t sure. But then something happened and this book became a magical and quaint surprise of a book that I couldn’t put down. If you haven’t gotten to this one yet, you should.
You know I love my spies and thrillers…especially when they come from particular authors whom I’ve grown to love over the years. I did work to get caught up on some Nelson DeMille this year and read both The Lion’s Game and The Lion. The former is one of the honorable mentions here. But if you’ve never read any of the John Corey books (and you like snark and action), you NEED to get your hands on those books. Starting with Plum Island. The other spy/thriller author I’ve come to love is Daniel Silva and his protagonist, Gabriel Allon. So I made sure to read another of those books this year and finished The English Assassin shortly before Christmas. This one is the third(?) of the Gabriel Allon books, and I’m again thankful that there are many more to come. Allon is a former-who-can’t-quite-retire-from-the-business-because-he’s-so-good Mossad agent who’d rather spend his time restoring art. However, you don’t have to be a fan of art to love these books. Finally, the third honorable mention goes to Cinderella Ate My Daughter. Because I’m a feminist who is always thinking about how to teach our children–girls AND boys–that there are no gender lines when it comes to toys or colors, and that we can and should love and appreciate the other for the strengths each of us has and the ways in which we compliment the other. And because I’m not a girly girl.
Finally…what I thought I’d like but didn’t this year:
The Lonely Polygamist: I for real thought this book would be humorous pretty much all the way through. It wasn’t. It barely had funny moments. And maybe that’s why I was disappointed. The story in and of itself became a very touching one by the time it ended. But boy howdy it sure took its time to get there. It was, however, a bestseller, so I felt better about that? (nope)
Patriot Games: You know. Tom Clancy’s Patriot Games. Jack Ryan. A man’s man. And I love action and spies and political thrillers and plot twists. But I just cannot get into Tom Clancy’s books. There. I’ve said it. (ducks and covers)
Oh and wait. I’ll leave room for a Confessional Read. I did read the 50 Shades trilogy. Now before you go all judgy on me, let me explain. This series got so much hype that I felt like I needed to read it for cultural awareness. So I subjected myself to it. No really. You can silence your pshaws. There seriously were moments all the way through where I thought I’ll never get this time back can we please just move it along and get to the end already? But I realized quite a few things about women, men, and sex–more from the hype and interest in the series than from the books themselves. But that’s a post for a different day.
So. There you have it.
Books I probably should have gotten to but didn’t this year but have on my list for a future date include: Gone Girl (am I seriously the only one in the country who hasn’t read this yet?); Fobbit; The Orphan Master’s Son; Wild; Drift; Spying in America; The Longest Way Home; This is How You Lose Her and more. Much, MUCH more.