I set a goal at Goodreads.com to read 25 books in 2012. I hit that goal pretty early on, so I bumped it up to 35 and finished the year with 37 books read. Or, as I prefer to think of it, 10,451 pages. That’s 3,325 more pages than I read with 17 books in 2011. Some of this year’s books earned 5-star reviews. I didn’t read anything I hated so much I only gave it 1 star, though there were a few 2-star ratings. Here are some of the highlights of what I read.
This year will be remembered as the year I returned hardcore to fantasy reading, thanks to Lois McMaster Bujold and George R.R. Martin. I read Bujold’s The Curse of Chalion last spring and it immediately shot to the upper echelons of books I’ve read. It was amazing. I immediately snatched up the next two books in the series, Paladin of Souls and The Hallowed Hunt. I enjoyed Paladin, but really didn’t care for the final book. Fortunately the books are only loosely connected and each can stand on its own without the other two, so my love of the first one was not diminished by my disappointment in the third. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series was the subject of a review post just the other day, so I won’t belabor the point there.
I also read The Hunger Games and its two sequels. I thoroughly enjoyed all three at the time, but in looking back the first book was much superior to the sequels, particularly the third book, Mockingjay. Too much about the government didn’t make sense when I thought back on it. However, I certainly don’t regret the time spent in Collins’s world.
The Grapes of Wrath led a string of rereads this year that included The Great Gatsby, The Hobbit, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and The Fellowship of the Ring. Despite several readings, The Grapes of Wrath remains one of my all-time favorites and the book I most look forward to teaching my high schoolers.
I read less nonfiction this year. Louis L’Amour’s The Education of a Wandering Man was interesting, but his style reminded me why I don’t read his novels. Tuesdays with Morrie was okay, but I closed it feeling like Mitch Albom left too much out of his conversations with Morrie. The Autobiography of Blackhawk was interesting and sad, as was the rereading of The Way to Rainy Mountain. The Rite was the most interesting of the nonfiction I read, although it was nothing at all like the movie supposedly based on the book.
The most disappointing books of 2012 were Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage, a book I’d looked forward to for years. My gosh, how many times did he have to describe everything? And all the action was revealed second-hand! It was maddening. Close on Grey’s heels was Richard Jefferies with After London, or Wild England, a standard Victorian novel in tone and style, though one of the first post-apocalyptic tales. It started slow, got pretty engaging, then offered up one of the worst endings ever.
The most surprising read of the year had to be Judith Lindbergh’s The Thrall’s Tale. This story about a Viking slave woman taken to help settle Greenland grabbed me from the beginning and held on. The ending seemed a little rushed, but this was a really good book.
That isn’t everything, but it’s the highlights. Maybe this link will work for you, if you care to see everything I read and how I rated it.