Sunday, December 9, 2012

If it's December it must be time...

...for reading lists! Yes, those ubiquitous lists that we readers simply love to assemble, to peruse, to use to judge ourselves against others with our astute abilities to pinpoint the next big hit, the hot debut author who's going places,  that are appearing in all the literary, and not so much, newspapers and magazines.

As soon as Don has finished the not so simple bookcase that I chose for him to make, he owes me a dinner out and some champagne chaser, for passing my goal of 112 books for 2012. Somehow, this year I was able to accomplish it rather effortlessly, not like last year when I wrote about my New Year's weekend scrambling to finish my 100th. How about you list makers? Where are you? Maryellen, I know you always beat me but how about some other readers out there?

I recently sent a list of my top ten choices for best of the year to the National Book Critics Circle for their esteemed gathering of opinions from members. Let me tell you, this is a difficult job. A certain novel or memoir might knock your socks off one month, depending upon your frame of mind as you read it, and not even elevate your temperature if read at a different place in your life. These lists of favorites are so subjective. Nevertheless, I'll give it the old college try.

 At various times during the past year each of these books spoke to me on a deep level, either for the beauty of the writing, subjects with heart, an important political message, or a combination of passions that I shared with the author.

1. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
2. Heft by Liz Moore
3. The Submission by Amy Waldman
4. Three Weeks in December by Audrey Schulman
5. In One Person by John Irving
6. The Round House by Louise Erdrich
7. Alys, Always by Harriet Lane
8. The Odds by Stewart O'Nan
9. Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
10. Canada by Richard Ford

I also read and enjoy memoirs and some non-fiction and found that I related to each of the following five writers in a visceral way.

1. Life Itself by Roger Ebert
2. The End of Your Life Bookclub by Will Schwalbe
3. Paris in Love by Eloisa James
4. Mortality by Christopher Hitchins
5. Quiet by Susan Cain

Apologies for not reviewing anything here yet this month. I've just read and reviewed one outstanding novel for Library Journal by a Canadian poet named Tanis Rideout. The book will be out next year so keep your eyes open for this fictional biography of Mt. Everest climber George Mallory called Above All Things. I'll share the link to the review the moment it's printed.

I'm almost finished with another LJ title, White Dog Fell from the Sky, which I fear will end badly for Isaac, the South African student who illegally entered Botswana seeking political asylum. The author's descriptions of Africa are so right on that I sense I'm back there on a riverbank in the bush.

Listening to Nelson deMille's The Panther in my car because I never tire of the marriage of narrator Scott Brick and the main protagonist John Cory. On the ipod I'm struggling with The Sandcastle Girls about the Armenian genocide. I admit that Chris Bohjalian has lost me in his last several efforts.

How about you readers? What's left you cold lately? What's brought you to your knees? Inquiring minds want to know.


Lisa May said...

I love these end of the year lists from fellow bloggers, which are generally so much more interesting & varied than the published ones. I always get some titles to add to my reading list. Though I should be focused on the books I bought this year that I haven't read yet.

Kelly Robinson said...

I'm working on reading all the Booker Prize winners. Might take me a while, but I like crossing things off!

Sallyb said...

I do too Kelly. Isn't there something that's so appealing about getting a list and checking off the items you've accomplished? I happened to read on a blog today -wish I could remember which one - the top 10 books you should read but haven't even heard of. Now those, I REALLY want to read.

Sallyb said...

What did you buy this year that you didn't get to, Lisa? Inquiring minds want to know.

TooManyBooks said...

Our lists are very similar, although I didn't read your 4,5,and 6. My others are Age of Miracles (Walker), The Good Father (Hawley), and The Snow Child (Ivey). So hard to choose just 10!