In 2012, I challenged myself to read 50 books. I included audiobooks in my progress, and as of 11:59 p.m. on 12/31/12, I had completed 47 new books. I finished the last half disc of the Bossypants audio book on 1/1/13.
What I Read
- 3 audio books and 44 books:
36 Fiction, including
- 1 short story collection
- 15 young adult/juvenile novels
- 10 mysteries
11 Nonfiction, including
- 3 memoirs
- 1 biography
- 2 collections of comic essays
- 2 Jane Austen related books
- 1 collection of Harry Potter essays
What I Didn’t Finish
I gave up on Practical Magic and The Shoemaker’s Wife. Both audiobooks, incidentally. Practical Magic was not much like the movie, as I remembered it, and I realized I didn’t care about these characters. When The Shoemaker’s Wife switched narrators, I tried switching to the hardcover and realized I just didn’t care about these characters, either. I call it the Tom Jones effect: I’m really unmoved by men who proclaim their love for one woman, then spend their time sleeping with anything in a skirt that crosses their path, while the supposed object of their affection pines away and remains faithful to the idea of them. Bah.
I also didn’t finish A Kosher Christmas (too dry and scholarly; I was looking more for pop culture history), The Marriage Plot (couldn’t get into it and didn’t like the characters), and Like the Willow Tree (far too depressing for me).
I signed up for two reading challenges: the Witches & Witchcraft 2012 Reading Challenge and the The Victorian Challenge. For Witches & Witchcraft, I challenged myself to read 1-5 books and read one: Shadow of Night, the second in the All Souls Trilogy
Thanks to favorite series (Lady Emily and the Parasol Protectorate), I did better with the Victorian Challenge and met my goal of 5 books. I read Death in the Floating City, The Yard, A Crimson Warning, A Spy in the House, and Timeless.
Because of work, I did not keep up with my book reviews, nor truthfully my reading journal. And now, my favorite reads (and honorable mentions) of the year:
- The Mirage by Matt Ruff–what if 9/11 were 11/2, the day when Christian Fundamentalist hijacked planes and crashed them into the Trade Center towers in Baghdad and the Arab Defense Ministry in Riyadah? Each chapter begins with an entry from the Library of Alexandria (this world’s Wikipedia) to add to the world building. The result is a thought-provoking, fantasy/mystery.
- In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez–I read this story of sisters battling Dominican dictator Trujillo’s regime while on vacation on the Dominca Republic for a little you-are-there reading. This is a novelization of the Mirabal sisters, told through their journal entries. An epistolary novel about remarkable women and the intersections of their personal and political lives? Yes please!
- Maman’s Homesick Pie by Donia Bijan–Recommended by Audra, the Unabridged Chick, I really enjoyed this Iranian memoir told through food and family recipes. I will probably buy a copy for myself, if only for the recipes.
- The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman—I picked this up at my library and read it in three days. It was an exciting thriller with historical mysteries, and I loved our heroine Nora, a high school girl who calls herself a feminist and is a brilliant Latin scholar.
- The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
- Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal
- When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
Far and away, my favorite read of 2012 was When She Woke by Hillary Jordan. Everything else is a distant 17th (not a typo). I’ve read this novel twice, and skimmed it a third time this year. In reviewing the books I’d read, I was certain this would have been on last year’s list; it feels like I have always read it. I’ve heard it described as Handmaid’s Tale meets The Scarlet Letter, which is accurate, but WSW is so much more than the sum of its parts. Read it. Read it now, please.
Mr. Churchill’s Secretary is another read I owe to Audra, the unabridged chick. It was such fun: WWII London, spies, cryptology, the IRA, and a kick-ass funny feminist protagonist. I adore Maggie Hope (great name, right?) and immediately requested her second adventure, Princess Elizabeth’s Spy from my library.
I read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight in one sitting. Some books are favorites not so much because they are remarkable literature, but because you connect with them on a deeply personal level. That’s why this book is one of my favorite reads of this year. I could relate to Hadley. Had my parents divorced when I was a teenager instead of a late twenty-something, I could have been Hadley. Also the idea of meeting a remarkable person by chance and falling for him on a particularly challenging day in your life appealed to the romantic in me.