2012 Book roundup

I had such a nice Christmas, and hope you all did too!

Now that the year is winding down it is time to speak of the books. Since I did this last year I wanted to do it again.

The thing is, though . . . ugh. I had a Goodreads goal to read 70 books this year and came nowhere close. I had to go in and reduce the goal to 50 so I wouldn't be a loser, and I didn't even make that goal.

Except look, I had a garden this year, okay??? And I moved. And started a new, even bigger garden. And I had to leave my job where sometimes I got to read kids' chapter books at the reference desk. Also there was all that canning. Plus Pinterest happened. So back up off me.

Here, though, were some of my favorites this year--the ones I kept thinking about or talking about afterwards.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson. Between 1915 and 1970, almost 6 million black Americans left the South in search of better living conditions and opportunities. The author conducted thousands of interviews and focuses specifically on three people while showing how the migration changed our country & influenced history. This book was fascinating, and written so well that it moved quickly.

The Beast in the Garden: The True Story of a Predator's Deadly Return to Suburban America by David Baron. Reads like a thriller, and is the reason why I am now on the lookout for cougar in my yard. Like, constantly, constantly on the alert.

The Language of Flowers: a Novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. My sister Jenny kept telling me to read this book, and then I did--all in one go, between about 10pm and 2am one night. The ending is happy but there is a lot of heartbreak before you get there. So good, though.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I read this one because of all the buzz, and man are there some messed-up people in this thing. I did love the way I started out thinking I was reading a pretty predictable domestic crime story, but then got to Part 2. Which is when my jaw dropped, I said, "SHUT. UP." really loudly, and then could not stop reading until the (bitter, beyond twisted) end.

No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons around our Gay Loved Ones by Carol Lynn Pearson. Already talked about this one when I first read it--I think this should be required reading.

The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith by Joanna Brooks. That Joanna Brooks--so sassy. Did you know she got to go on The Daily Show and chat with Jon Stewart about this book? (Lucky . . . ) The way she describes some of her childhood experiences (being "a root beer among the Cokes") absolutely captures the way I frequently felt growing up. Later she describes her crisis of faith as an adult and her road back to church. I love reading and listening to her--she has such a positive, encouraging tone. And she's just a smartie-pants.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. The Gentleman Husband started reading this one before I did, and as soon as I picked it up I was hooked. Cline has created an amazing (awful) world where people understandably prefer to conduct as much of their lives as possible in virtual reality. Our hero, Wade, is searching for 1980s-pop-culture-related clues left behind by the game's creator. If he wins, he inherits the creator's fortune. As a child of the 80s, I loved all the movie/TV/music references. (Also, wasn't expecting to love the idea of the virtual schools so much, but seriously--they sound awesome.)

A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling her Husband "Master" by Rachel Held Evans. Just finished this one on Jana Riess's (whose Flunking Sainthood is also awesome) recommendation and it gave me a lot to think about. The author approaches her year-long experiment from a position of faith, but is still pretty funny about it.

The best part is that you can get this as a Kindle download right now for $1.99! The chapter about being a "Proverbs 31 Woman" (hint: think "Eight-Cow Wife") is worth at least that. And if you've read it you will understand when I throw up a fist and shout, "Woman of valor!" at you when you accomplish something like cleaning your oven or renewing your DMV registration or meeting your Goodreads goal.

Anybody else want to chime in with their top reads from 2012? Or link to their own post?


Bridget said... [reply]

My favorite book list for 2012 is here. One of them is Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, which I think I heard about from you. Thanks!

I've been thinking about reading a few of these and I might just try Gone Girl. I am tired of hearing about it without having read it.

How would one go about adding you on Goodreads? If that weren't too stalker-y, of course.

Bebe McGooch said... [reply]

Ugh. I seriously hated Gone Girl. I had predicted the second half twist, and the ending just pissed me off. It made me not want to read new fiction for awhile, and that's saying something. Although, it was well written.

Putting Ready Player One on hold at the library!

beckyww said... [reply]

2/3 through Warmth and loving it. Fascinating.

Liz Johnson said... [reply]

Just got "Year of Biblical Womanhood" for my Kindle! Woohoo! Thanks for the heads-up!

I love these posts. And Goodreads. Amen.

Jenny said... [reply]

The language of flowers is best read between 8pm-2am, I think. Everyone I know that's read it has pulled those kinds of hours. The thief series by Megan Whalen Turner is my favorite YA fiction series this year. I loved them! And then the emperor of all maladies, the biography of cancer my was favorite serious nonfiction.

Lauren said... [reply]

I discovered two series this year that I have really enjoyed: Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next and Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs. I also enjoyed John Stephen's The Fire Chronicle (I know the first one of that trilogy on audio book is read by Jim Dale and it helped fill the HP hole in my life.) For funny 'LOL' moments, I enjoyed Being Dead is No Excuse by Gayde Metcalfe and Let's Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (if you can get past the salty language.)

Thanks for your recommendations (and yours too, Bridget) for helping me add even more to my 400+ 'to-read' Goodreads list.

emandtrev said... [reply]

I haven't been reading a whole lot lately and I'll be honest--it's getting to me. Blargh. But! I too thought Beast in the Garden left me with a lot to think about. And now I'm even more hypersensitive to looking for cougars. :)

Thanks for all the great suggestions! I just loaded up on Kindle goodies and library holds.

lilcis said... [reply]

I read a disappointing number of books this year, but I listened to a record number thanks to my library's online media site! My favorite read was The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. And my favorite listen was the Bloody Jack series. Also loved Mindy Kaling's book.

Ashley Miller said... [reply]

I put "Year of Biblical Womanhood" on my Kindle just as we were getting ready to go to the hospital for the birth of my daughter. I'm about 2/3 of the way through it and am loving it! Thanks for the recommendation. I also read Gone Girl and think I said "HOLY CRAP" or an equivalent phrase so many times, my husband had to read it too. I read the third book in the Penderwicks series (charming YA fiction about a family of girls) and a really useful parenting book, "Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours," which fits in nicely with my husband's and my parenting approach while offering a new perspective and specifics.

abby said... [reply]

My favorite book that I've recommended to everyone this year is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (Jenny if you haven't read this you should if you liked Emperor of Maladies). I also loved Paris Without End by Gioia Diliberto (bio of Hemingway's first wife. I still don't know how she tolerated him) and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.

Science Teacher Mommy said... [reply]

Was supposed to read Warmth of Other Suns last January for my book group. But I'm doing this going-back-to-school thing and I've got to be honest. I'm barely surviving, let alone reading. Also my kids want me to do read alouds of chapter books. It is great, really, but do you have any idea how many hours it takes to read a Harry Potter book aloud? And I'm not talking the first one . . . like, the fourth. Anyway, it is a LOT. So, all that being said, here is my list anyway.


MBC said... [reply]

Hey, thanks for the recommendations. My library system actually has Book of Mormon Girl, which is a Christmas miracle. And now it's on hold.

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