As 2012 comes to a close, I am happy to announce that I have indeed read 45 books this year. It has been quite the trek. Last year I made the goal to read 40 books, and honestly, it was by the skin of my teeth and me skimming the last 3. This year I actually did it! With the help of some lazy weekends, a new kindle, and a book club, I have made it!! Last year when I finished my 40 books I wrote a little synopsis for each. I did this when I finished each book, however, in my journal…this year I have done no such thing. I just have goodreads that has kept track of what I’ve read.
When I look over the books I have read this year I am actually fascinated and quite proud of myself. I spent days and weeks on some that were long and complicated–and then flew through some memoirs and Young Adult Lit. I will defend it to the end that Young Adult lit is an important form of literature, and is the reason why I love reading, so I think is completely ok that I count these in my 45 books.
I have not decided what to do next year, yet. I just (re)acquired my Dad’s set of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s theological books. I know that these are going to take me a long time to read. In the last couple of days I put down the great book I was reading for my book club about genetics in order to knock off 4 quick reads. Is this the proper way to read book? I don’t know. I finished The Giver today and had a great conversation with my mom about the ending, so I still am getting a lot from these books, but is the quantity what I should be shooting for? Still trying to figure that out. If you have any thoughts, please feel free to let me know.
So onto the list. It really is a list of the Good, the bad, the ugly, but mostly they were wonderful. I am proud that I have read a variety…an ACTUALLY did it this year!! To the list:
1. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (3 Stars): Wow. A book I feel I needed to read. Difficult, hard to read, what a first book to read for the year…and honestly: disturbing.
2. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom (3 Stars): From all you hear about it and how you have to read it, “Kara it is a must read!” Um. Kind of–it was a “how do you live” story. I did appreciate it, though.
3. When You Are Engulfed In Flames by David Sedaris (4 Stars): Listened to this by audio book before. Decided to read it. Hilarious. Read if you are trying to quit smoking.
4. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith (5 Stars): Brilliant. That’s all I want to say.
5. The Alchemist by Paulo Cohelo (3 Stars): Another book I was told I would love. It was a good read, but not the “philosophical gem” I had been told it was.
6. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain (4 Stars): A book about Hemingway’s first wife and their time in Paris. Loved it!
7. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (4 Stars): A second read through of this trilogy. The first is still my favorite.
8. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (4 Stars): Second in the Hunger Games, still really enjoy it.
9. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (3 Stars): Not my favorite of the trilogy, but still good!
10. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (4 Stars): A friend recommended this to me and it is a great read. Family History, Love, brilliant.
11. Paper Towns by John Greene (4 Stars): Another friend recommended this to me and anything that John Greene writes. This one was brilliant, a really good young adult read.
12. Operation Shylock by Philip Roth (3 Stars): I love Philip Roth, but this one was convoluted and hard to read, but interesting.
13. A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson (3 Stars): This was about a man traveling the Appalachian Trail with an unlikely hiking companion. I like the idea of the book, it just took me too long to read.
14. In One Person by John Iriving (4 Stars): John Irving is one of my favorite authors. This is another great one by him, and does not fail to engage the reader in characters written about beautifully, questioning sexuality, political issues. A classic John Irving read!
15. The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Lemmon (3 Stars): My mom sent me this book. It is a true story of women living under oppression and in order to make ends meet they make clothes and teach the women of the community to make clothes. Inspirational, easy read. (Though the oppression part makes it difficult)
16. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry (5 Stars): A classic.
17. Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou (3 Stars): Maya Angelou does not have a daughter so she writes different chapters to “all of her daughters in the world.” Good, but not my favorite of hers.
18. Food Rules by Michael Pollan (3 Stars): Some simple ideas of how to eat healthy (and actually eat food!)
19. Potluck: Community on the Edge of Wilderness by Ana Maria Spagna (4 Stars): My underlying interest is community. This was a great read about a small community in North Western Washington (the community right next to where my brother lived–weird.) A wonderful reminder of the importance of community.
20. God Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartolo (4 Stars): A friend gave this one to me as well, and I loved it. A “boy meets girl” story with depth.
21. A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines (4 Stars): Another brilliant book given to me by a friend. In a small, rural, Southern town, a man is sentenced to death and the teacher of the community is the only one who he will talk to.
22. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris (3 Stars): I love David Sedaris–but specifically his non-fiction. This collection of short stories about animals was a bit too odd for me.
23. Monster: The Autobiography of a L.A. Gang Member by Saniyika Shakur (3 Stars): If you don’t know anything about gang life, like me, this was fascinating. Dragged a bit, but good.
24. Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren F. Winner (3 Stars): A woman who used to be an Orthodox Jew converted to Christianity. She discusses the parts of Judaism that she misses and feels Christianity could benefit from. Very interesting concept, but not my favorite “theological read.”
25. The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy (4 Stars): A Woman’s European Experience (it was written in the 1940s though, so unique viewpoint!)
26. Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke (4 Stars): Rilke’s poetry is beautiful, and this is a set of correspondence with an aspiring poet.
27. The Magicians by Lev Grossman (3 Stars): I was told this was a great “adult Harry Potter.” I liked it, but it didn’t capture my attention like the Harry Potter series did.
28. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto by Chuck Klostermann (4 Stars): This is a second read for me. I am always hooked by the first chapter where he says his lack of meaningful relationships in his life is because of John Cusack. Hilarious.
29. Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut (3 stars): I love Vonnegut, but still appreciate some of his other stuff more, though I love the story of the chess game in this collection.
30. Drink, Play, Fuck by Andrew Gottlieb (2 Stars): Read this for my book club. Interesting, satirical view of Eat, Pray, Love. In this however, he goes to Ireland, Las Vegas, and Thailand. A Quick, easy read.
31. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (5 stars): Another amazing classic. And this is a first read for me. The puns and wordplay are amazing.
32. The Summer of ’43 by Joseph Bottum (3 Stars): This was a story about R.A. Dickey and his Knuckleball. At this point in my yearly reading I was obsessed with baseball, so it was a perfect summer read.
33. Sum: Forty Tales From the Afterlifes by David Eagleman (5 Stars). Eagleman calls himself a possibilian. He doesn’t know what will happen after we die, but a lot is possible. I listened to this as audiobook and decided to read it. Theologically great, amazing stories, brilliant.
34. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (5 Stars): This was my 3rd read of this amazing book. Young Adult Lit at its finest, and Chbosky also wrote the screen play for the movie that came out this year. That is amazing, as well, and the whole thing is based in Pittsburgh!
35. An Abundance of Katherines by John Greene (4 Stars): Another great John Greene read. After the two I read this year, I will definitely keep going back to this author.
36. I’m Proud of You by Tim Madigan (3 Stars): This was the story of a man’s friendship with Mr. Rogers. Contained great Mr. Rogers advice and was emotional.
37. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides (4 Stars): I read The Virgin Suicides by Eugenides and he writes beautiful sentences, no joke. This was a great book and had many layers and really looked into “young love.”
38. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (3 Stars): My next book club book. It was an interesting read, and I finally really got into it at the end, but it took a long time to read these odd N’awlins characters!
39. Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris (4 Stars): Sedaris is brilliant once again in this book. Especially his account of being a department store elf.
40. Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst (3 Stars): A man tries to solve his wife’s death, and the last witness was the family dog. Interesting concept.
41. The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby (3 Stars): Hornby accounts for what he read each month. Funny musings about each book and it gave me some great ideas for other books!
42. Persepolis: A Story of A Childhood by Marjane Satrapi (4 Stars): A graphic novel about growing up in Iran. Historic, witty, fascinating.
43. Night by Elie Weisel (4 Stars): A hard read, but a must read.
44. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle (4 stars): A great first Sherlock Holmes read for me!!
45. The Giver by Lois Lowry (5 Stars): A classic. Read it if you have not!!
So that is all. It has been a whirlwind of a year. Excited for this next year and what it will bring: in books and otherwise!