Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Coffee: 2012 Wrap-Up

What I Read and What I Loved in 2012

One of my reading resolutions for 2013 really needs to be to keep track of what I read. It's only January, and already I'm slipping....

In 2012 I read approximately 54 books. I know there are books I forgot to record, but 54 is the number of titles I know I read. Of those, here are my ten favorite books for 2012.

1. The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope. Trollope is one of my best-loved writers. I thought this was one of his best. I still love the Palliser novels, and will probably go back and reread them one day.
2. The Headmaster's Wager by Vincent Lam. This was a surprising and engrossing novel, with plenty of complexity and intriguing characters.
3. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens. As I wrote in an earlier post, I completely fell under the spell of Our Mutual Friend, and this is one of my favorite books of all time.
4. A Seahorse Year by Stacey D'Erasmo. I never reviewed this novel. I read it at a very busy time in my life, and I was afraid of not doing it justice. Set in San Francisco, this novel tells the story of characters who are entwined in unusual and touching ways. Verisimilitude and compassion made this beautifully written book stand out for me.
5. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. I raved about this book in my review. I had read and liked The House at Riverton, but wasn't crazy about it. The Secret Keeper, however, was truly gripping.
6. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. McCarthy is scarily good. I was stopping people and urgently reading passages of Blood Meridian aloud to them, driven to share McCarthy's miraculous prose. Yes, this is a dark and incredibly violent book. It is also one of the best I have ever read. Again, fear and perfectionism kept me from ever writing a review. Blood Meridian is on my list of books to read in 2013...maybe I will manage a review this time.
7. Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell. I gushed about Once Upon a River, and I still think Bonnie Joe Campbell is one of the best writers currently publishing. Character and a sense of place made this one shine.
8. The Bee-Loud Glade by Steve Himmer. A quirky novel about a laid-off cubicle worker who applies for a job as a hermit, this novel offers a compassionately acerbic view of our culture. I loved this novel, and again...no review!
9. The Last Warner Woman by Kei Miller. Unlike anything else I have ever read. My review was overly emotional, but heartfelt.
10. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. I've become a huge Sarah Waters fan, and I think her writing is wonderful. This is a novel I couldn't stop thinking about. I also wrote a paen (that's a hymn of praise) to Sarah Waters.

My goals for next year:

1. Read at least 20 of the classics on my list for The Classics Club.
2. Keep better track of what I have read (I've got a special notebook for that now).
3. Don't let perfectionism keep me from writing a review of a book I love.
4. Keep working away at the TBR pile.
5. Don't try to do a bunch of challenges, but do try one readathon.

That's my year in books! How was 2012 for you? Was it a good reading year? Do you have any reading goals for 2013?


stujallen said...

some great goals lisa I ve just more in translation as ever as a goal plus some from my sheelves rather than so many review copies ,all the best stu

Cat said...

Good luck with your goals for 2013.I can relate to No 3 - I have a real problem writing about my favourite books.
I read Our Mutual Friend last year too and loved it and hope to start Bleak House next month.

Grad said...

I had The Headmasters Wager checked out of the library. I was never able to get past the very beginning because of the holidays and I finally ran out of renewals and had to send it back. I really do want to check it out again now that the hurley-burley is done. I started off just fine. I also love anything by Dickens. I think Our Mutual Friend is one of the few I haven't read.

Judith said...

I'm listening to The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton now, during my ultra-long commutes to and from the college two days a week.

And I'm taking note of the other titles you loved last year.

I think I would enjoy a readathon in the coming months. But whenever I find out about one, it's already past. How do you find out about them?

Happy reading to you!
Judith (Reader in the Wilderness)

bibliophiliac said...

@stu-you already do so well with reading books in translation! I always have that conflict between loving getting review copies, and then feeling as though that is all I'm reading. i'm going to try to read at least 50/50 new books/books I already own.

bibliophiliac said...

@Cat-i don't know what it is. It seems as though the more I love a book, the harder it is for me to write about it!

bibliophiliac said...

@Grad--I really thought The Headmaster's Wager was just wonderful. And I really want to keep going with Dickens. I think Hard Times will be my next Dickens.

bibliophiliac said...

@Judith--how is your teaching year going so far? I thought The Secret Keeper was excellent. I never seem to find out about readathons until it's too late, but the Classic Club readathon I either saw on facebook or on twitter....