Well, folks, I did it. I challenged myself to read 70 books in 2012. Some said it couldn’t be done. Ok, they probably didn’t say that, but it makes things sound more dramatic.
I finished 112 books last year (34,579 pages), including both hardcopy and audio books, up from 68 in 2011. I can only hope 2013 will be as kind to me, in the literature sense.
So what did I read? Well, that’s a good question.
It was a fantastic book year for me. All my favorite authors (Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Jess Walter, Jennifer Weiner, Jasper Fforde, Mark Haddon, Junot Diaz and Mitch Albom) all had new books come out.
And I, of course, read them all as soon as they were available. Some were fantastic (looking at you, Jess Walter) and some didn’t quite live up to my hopes (sorry, Carlos Ruiz Zafon).
Of course, I didn’t just stick with who I know.
Although an alarmingly large portion of my read books look like I was just sitting in a comedy club. I read books by Ellen DeGeneres, Steve Martin, Mike Birbiglia, Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter, Rachel Dratch, Kevin Pollak, Andy Cohen, Adam Carolla, Craig Ferguson and more. I should really branch out. But I’m not going to do that. Book shame me if you want, comedy and celebrity memoirs are sort of my thing.
I did branch out into the memoir circuit a little. Mostly to other celebrities. I mean I read about food (Anthony Bourdain), flight attendants (Heather Poole) and fashion (Tim Gunn).
I did read fiction to. I went from classics like Phantom of the Opera to brand-new releases that I had to wait for for months at the library when I was too slow on the reserve button.
I also discovered some delightful authors. People whose prose I liked so I ended up checking out all the books they’ve written in the past. My newfound authors of 2012 included Sarah Bird, Dixie Cash, Alan Bradley, Liza Palmer, Catherine McKenzie and Kristina Riggle.
I went back to my youth by reading some Louis Lowry and tried so hard to read Euginedes and Franzen AGAIN because everyone raves about them. I will keep trying but I don’t know if I will ever fully love either of them.
So which books did I love?
Well, here are my top 5 books I finished this year, in the order of my brain right now, subject to change at a moment’s notice.
5. Guts by Kristen Johnston. Not what I was expecting from this actress I only knew as Sally from 3rd Rock From the Sun. It was a gripping tale of addiction and recovery, with all the details left in. It was real and inspiring and I loved it.
4. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. A story about a forgotten and abandoned foster child who finds hope and love in the blooms around her. I loved this one for its characters and plot, as well as the information it provided about the meaning behind different flowers.
3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. This is a dark, dark book about truly manipulative people in truly horrifying situations. It was interesting to see how horrible people can be.
2. Born Standing Up by Steve Martin. I love how Martin writes in general. I read his novel The Pleasure of My Company this year, also, and it was fantastic and hilarious. But I have to give a shout-out to his memoir, which told the story of his rise to fame, from his first job at Disneyland and through his journey as a magician-slash-musician-slash-prop comedian.
1. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. I love Jess Walter. I have since the day I was introduced to his work. But this novel goes above and beyond. It’s a remarkable story of love across age and continents, it’s masterfully written and I can’t wait to read it again in the years to come. Have I mentioned that I really, really liked it?
Honorable mentions include: The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Green.
So many words! Here’s a nice picture of my reading life this past year, from my most recently read book to the one I read way back at the beginning of January 2012.