Thursday, January 3, 2013

My year in reading

Happy New Year! I have been a bad blogger (read: AWOL blogger) recently, and there are many reasons for that. One of the big ones, though, is that my life has changed a lot in the last eight months and that has thrown a lot of my reading habits into disarray. I love reading and I love blogging about it, so I'm going to really think about how to better prioritize those two things in 2013.

In the meantime, here's what I read in 2012:

Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov (translated by George Bird)
The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
The Antagonist by Lynn Coady
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon
The Paris Wife by Paula McClain
Dr. Brinkley’s Tower by Robert Hough
Coventry by Helen Humphreys
Radio Belly by Buffy Cram
Irma Voth by Miriam Toews
Touch by Alexi Zentner
Alone in the Classroom by Elizabeth Hay
Seen Reading by Julie Wilson
Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton
Instruction Manual for Swallowing by Adam Marek
The Headmaster’s Wager by Vincent Lam
Magnified World by Grace O’Connell
Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
A Complicated Kindess by Miriam Toews
All Wound Up by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Above All Things by Tanis Rideout
That Summer in Paris by Morely Callaghan
Open by Lisa Moore
The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester
The Reading List by Leslie Shimotakahara
Better Living Through Plastic Explosives by Zsuzsi Gartner
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
One Good Hustle by Billie Livingston
The Blue Book by A.L. Kennedy
The Deception of Livvy Higgs by Donna Morrissey
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Mister Roger and Me by Marie-Renée Lavoie
Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
The Blondes by Emily Schultz
My Life in France by Julia Child
Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner
84, Charring Cross Road by Helene Hanff

That's 41 books. I'm partway through the 42nd book I started in 2012 (Sleeping Funny by Miranda Hill) and also listened to 3 audiobooks (When You Are Engulfed in Flames, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, and Me Talk Pretty One Day all by David Sedaris, who I think his hilarious). 
As a total number, it's fewer books than last year, but in a way I'm happier about what it represents. It can get really easy to start reading for numbers – choosing short or easy books because you know you'll get through them quickly and they'll pad your total. Competitive reading may sound silly, but on the Internet there is always someone to compare yourself to, especially if you admire them. Certainly one of the reasons my reading list is shorter this year is because I have partially changed jobs and thus have much less of a commute during which to read. Another big reason is because of all the knitting I did (that, at least in part, explains the audiobooks). I also joined a couple of book clubs, and experience I'm really enjoying because they push me to read outside my comfort zone. 

Here's what my reading looks like, by the numbers:
Novels: 27 Non-fiction: 7 Short-fiction: 6 Comic: 1

Female author: 28 (two novels by Miriam Toews) Male author: 12

I had a great year for short-fiction and non-fiction, and I can remember plot details about every novel I read, as well as how I felt about them, which is pretty great. Overall, I'm happy with my reading, and that I let myself linger with books I loved rather than trying to race through them on some self-imposed deadline. 

2012 was, for me, a great year for reading. I've been debating whether to do a best-of list, and I think instead I'll just make a list of the books that still stand out as memorable and recommendable now that I have the whole list in front of me (it's easy to be enthusiastic while reading or just after finishing, only to have the book recede after some time has passed). In no particular order, here are the books I read this year that I want to reread (or want you to read, so we can talk about them):

The Antagonist by Lynn Coady (I stil think about Rank sometimes and wonder how he's doing.)
Irma Voth by Miriam Toews (She needs to write something else soon!)
Touch by Alexi Zentner (I still get a little breathless when I think about this story.)

Seen Reading by Julie Wilson (So inventive and fun – as a TTC rider/reader, this is omnipresent.)
Above All Things by Tanis Rideout (Mountaineering is fascinating, and the writing is so excellent.)
The Blue Book by A.L. Kennedy (More than any other book this year, this one threw my heart around.)
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (It pissed me off and you should probably read it.)
My Life in France by Julia Child (One day, I will live in France again.)
Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner (The writing is so, so beautiful and frustrating and real.)

What were your top reads of 2012?


  1. So interesting reading other people's top lists! I found that I was disappointed by "Irma Voth." In the end, I was brought around to enjoy it more than the beginning, but I had so adored "A Complicated Kindness" and I felt let down by her latest. (I think I missed it being set in Canada!) I can also totally relate to your comment about knitting. I always find it a HUGE struggle to decide what to do in an evening and in the last few months, with Christmas knitting, pulling out my needles and watching "The Walking Dead" has usually prevailed over reading.

  2. I love your list of books particularly the shorter list of the books that you want to reread. I have put them all on my wish list on Amazon and I bet its not too long before I purchase them.

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