I wanted to share some of the books I read during 2012. A lot of these I actually listened to during my many long car rides. It’s funny, typically my genre of choice is fantasy, but this year I only read/listened to one fantasy book. The primary reason for that would be that my favorite fantasy authors haven’t published any more of their series this year! I’d love to hear from you about your favorite books of the year.
The most influential books I’ve read are some nutrition books and so I will start with those.
Super Immunity, Joel Fuhrman (audio)
Do you want to live a healthy life through good nutrition? Then this is your book!
The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan (audio)
This book is an interesting look at how we omnivore’s go through the process of selecting what to eat. It looks at the choices we make, both good and bad. The author doesn’t preach or try to steer the reader into making any one particular choice. He simply presents the options and the facts.
The China Study, T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M Campbell II. MD
A must read for anyone who wants to live a healthy life. A fascinating review of the available research on nutrition and disease, and a report on why this information isn’t more well-known.
The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement, David Brooks (audio)
This book is a study of human nature. But rather than present the material in a dull, text-book type of way, he follows the lives of two fictitious characters as they learn, develop their different personalities, fall in love and achieve success in their careers and lives.
Dances with Dragons, George R.R. Martin
What can I say. I love the Song of Fire and Ice (Game of Thrones) series. As I started reading these books years and years ago, before I started the newest book, Dances with Dragons, I had to reread the preceding books which I did last year. While I love the series, this book seemed to go on and on. The author introduced tons of new characters and a whole new world of people, events, political systems and religions. I really hope he brings it all together SOON!
The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand (audio)
Last year I listened to Atlas Shrugged and I loved it, so I wanted to read (or listen to) some more of Ayn Rand’s writings. I enjoyed The Fountainhead, but not as much as Atlas Shrugged.
I See You Everywhere, Julia Glass (audio)
I thoroughly enjoyed Julia Glass’ novel, Three Junes and so I thought I’d listen to some of her other books. I See You Everywhere was OK, but not great.
The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway (audio)
Uggh, boring! I had read For Whom the Bell Tolls in high school and remembered that I didn’t like it. But after reading The Paris Wife (which chronicles Ernest Hemingway and his first wife’s life during their marriage as he was writing The Sun Also Rises) I thought I’d give it a try. I didn’t like it. I listened to this book and perhaps it was the dry, slow read of the narrator, or simply the dry slow style of Hemingway!
Locked On, Tom Clancy and Mark Greaney (audio)
Tom Clancy never disappoints! Locked On was as exciting and as his earlier books.
Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese
An interesting and enjoyable book. If I had just read the back cover, I never would have picked it up. But the book came highly recommended and so I read it. I really enjoyed the characters, the story and the author’s writing style.
Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter (audio)
I loved this book. The author wove the story in a beautiful way through different times and locations; from a small harbor town in Italy in the early 1960’s to Hollywood of today. A great book.
Shadow of Night, Deborah Harkness
This was book 2 of the All Souls Trilogy. As is typical with the middle book of a trilogy, this was a bridge between the wonderful book 1, A Discovery of Witches, and what I hope will be a fabulous book 3! A Discovery of Witches is one of my all time favorite books. Shadow of Night was good, but not spectacular. However I have high hopes for book 3 as I enjoy the story and Deborah Harkness’ writing.
The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowlings
This was a very different book for the author of the Harry Potter books. There were no wizards, magic or cheery endings. It is set in a small town in England, and the story revolves around the lives of the adults and adolescent children of the town. It depicts how the life and death of one town officer affects the lives of everyone in that small town. I really enjoyed the book.
Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
I picked up this book after seeing the movie. I totally enjoyed the movie, but was left with the feeling that I was missing something, so I turned to the book. After reading Cloud Atlas, I can honestly say that the movie did a terrific job portraying the message of the book. I think this is the only time I can honestly say I enjoyed the movie more than the book! I highly recommend the movie!!
Book Club Books
The House at Riverton, Kate Morton
I wouldn’t have ordinarily picked it up, but I enjoyed this story. I guess that is one of the benefits of a book club. You get to read books that you would ordinarily never have looked at!
August Gale: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Into the Storm, Barbara Walsh
A great book. Barbara Walsh tells the story of the deadly 1935 hurricane that took the lives of many Newfoundland fishermen including her great-grandfather. She weaves the story of the lives of these fishermen with her father’s childhood in this country, and his struggle to come to terms with his own father who abandoned him as a child — an interesting and exciting story. I even had the opportunity to hear the author at a local bookshop.
Back When We Were Grownups, Anne Tyler
There really wasn’t much to this book. The characters were underdeveloped and had odd nicknames so it was hard to relate to them and keep them straight. The book had a lot more potential. Quite a while back I had read Anne Tyler’s book Breathing Lessons, and I vaguely remember feeling like that book could have offered more as well.
The Book of Fate, Brad Meltzer
An interesting story, but somewhat farfetched. It made a half-hearted attempt to drag the Freemasons into a conspiracy plot… Not a memorable book.
The Fifty Shades Trilogy, RL James
I had to read this as it was assigned by my book club! I obviously enjoyed parts of it, but it actually got boring! All right already, move on…. The writing was repetitive and bad, the plot was somewhat interesting as we moved into book 2 and 3, and the ending was ridiculously far-fetched (in my opinion)!
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
I enjoyed this book as I was reading it, but I hated the ending, as did my entire book club! Did anyone like the ending????
What Alice Forgot, Liane Moriarty
This story starts with a high-powered, do it all, hover mom in her 40’s hitting her head and blacking out. When she wakes up, she thinks it is about 15 years earlier. She thinks she is pregnant with her first child and that she is madly in love with her husband. In reality, she has 3 children and is in the midst of a bitter divorce. She struggles with remembering her life and with the realization that her present self has grown and changed (in many cases for the worse) from the old self she remembers. I enjoyed how the author worked through Alice’s struggle to remember how she got to her current jaded, hard and high pressure life and while remembering the current Alice, bring some of the carefree, funny and loving “old Alice” to the present.
Killing Lincoln, Bill O’Reilly (audio)
Interesting, a quick read (or listen).
The Paris Wife, Paula McLain
I totally loved this book. It told the story of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife. It offered a glimpse into their life and the life of the American writers in Paris during the 20’s, including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein. I picked up the book after seeing Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris
The Constant Princess, Philippa Gregory and The Boleyn Inheritance, Philippa Gregory (both audio)
I decided to read through (actually listen to) Philippa Gregory’s series on the Tudor queens–Interesting stories, great for long drives. I had to take a break, but I’ll get back to them!
In the new year, I plan to continue reading and listening to book, but I hope to get back to my favorite genre of fantasy. I have a long list of new fantasy series to delve into and hopefully we will have more from Patrick Rothfuss (The Kingkiller Chronicles, and according to Dragonmount blog, the final book in The Wheel of Time Series is due out next week!