Favorite Books Read in 2012
2012 was a pretty good year in reading for me. I set a goal to read 50 books and as of today I'm at 45, which puts me a little behind pace but I'm alright with that. Below is a list of my favorite books I read in 2012, listed in order. Some are new releases and others are much older.
1 . Native Son by Richard Wright, 1940: This might be the most powerful book I've read in my adulthood thus far. Not only is this an explicit and heart-wrenching account of the perils of the black man in 1930's America (and in some cases, they story is also relevant today), but it is truly a page-turner. Despite the brutal and affecting details, I was completely engrossed in this book.
2. Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, 2012: I don’t have anything profound to say about this novel, except that I enjoyed it immensely. Bernadette is certainly one of the more memorable characters I’ve read this year; she has her flaws but is completely likeable at the same time. The novel as a whole is funny, sharp-witted, and immensely readable.
3. 11/22/63 by Stephen King, 2011: The premise of the novel is what initially drew me to this book, but in the end the reasons I adored it so much was not because it was a time travel novel (I'm a serious sucker for those) but because it was truly moving and really made me think about destiny how the choices we make today change our future in a way we can't even imagine.
4. East of Eden by John Steinbeck, 1952: Steinbeck's prose is straightforward and his setting rich. The novel spans three generations of two families and although it's a thick book, it is not at all hard to follow and reads a lot quicker than I thought it would. The novel delights and engages from start to finish.
5. People Who Eat Darkenss by Ricahrd Llyod Parry, 2012: I didn't expect to read this one in just a few days, but it was just so fascinating. This non-fiction book reads like fiction and follows the disappearance of Lucie Blackman; a young English woman who moves to Toyko in hopes of a more exciting life. It turns out, this is much more than a true crime book. It's also a lens for what happens behind closed doors in eastern culture, like an anthropological look at the darker, hidden aspects of this culture and their obsession with ritual and role play.
6. The Round House by Louise Erdrich, 2012: When I first heard about this novel I pegged it for a powerful book that could expose me to a way of living with which I was not very familiar and Erdrich delivered. This is a story that will pull at your heart strings and make you reconsider the rights and tangle of laws surrounding Native Americans.
7. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, 2012: This was probably the most widely talked about book of 2012, and for good reason. I had so much fun reading it mostly because Flynn is really good at setting you up to believe one thing and then turning it around completely, leaving your head spinning.
8. Moon Palace by Paul Auster, 1990: This is a book that offers unlikely adventure, a bit of mystery, and a whole lot of heartache. As always, the characterization of Auster's main character is incredibly believable, but also unconventional. The plethora of characters and events of the novel are whimsical and odd, but also complex and exuberant, making for a fun and intelligent read.
9. Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski, 1982: Ham on Rye is a semi-autobiographical novel of Bukowski's childhood; it's a coming-of-age story, but it's quite different from most other novels I've read in that genre. The prose is straightforward but powerful, the diction is crude but intriguing. The novel as a whole is about the awkwardness that is adolescence and growing up in a time when there was little opportunity and making the most out of it.
10. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1985: There is so much to examine throughout this novel. It explores a myriad of human emotions. It's a novel about love, loss, sex, passion, hope, and obsession. Although the chapters go on forever, there is careful attention to detail that I really enjoyed. But this isn't your mushy-gushy love story, not even close. This novel takes patience, but it's worth the effort.