Last year I read 49 books. Now before you accuse me of having no life outside of reading and calling in sick to work just to read, please understand that I have an hour commute on the bus to and from work each day AND I read before I go to sleep. So that is approximately 2.5 hours of reading a day that is not detracting from other activities. However, calling in sick to read IS totally something I would consider doing if I was reading a really good book!
Back to the topic at hand: of this long list of diverse books I loved some, liked some, and was disappointed by some. The books ranged from new releases to classics and everything in between. It was a difficult task, but I have narrowed the list and these are my five favorite books that I read in 2012:
Above All Things by Tanis Rideout (2012) – I won a free advanced reader copy of this through a Goodreads giveaway, and was not sure whether I would enjoy it or not. It turned out to be by far my favorite book of the year. I absolutely LOVED it! This was a fictional account of the ill-fated Mallory Everest Expedition of 1924. It alternated between a day in the life of his wife and the expedition itself. I found it gripping from the first page and had a hard time putting the book down, despite knowing how it ends. The characters were developed perfectly and the relationships were realistic. The detailed descriptions and emotions of the Everest expedition were offset by the longing and grief of Mallory’s wife back home. This book was part adventure, part heart wrenching tragedy. My full review on Goodreads can be found here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/346307814
The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival By John Vaillant (2011) – I love tigers. So when I saw a book about a true story of a vengeful man-eating tiger on Canada Reads 2012, I obviously had to read it. This book combined the story of a hunt for a man-eating tiger with extensive background information on the sociology, history, geography, and political climate of the Russian Far East. It also provided extensive information on the Amur tiger and the environment and wilderness of the area. It was well written, fascinating and chilling: the tiger literally stalks the men who it thinks have done it wrong, then sits and waits for them at their cabins until they return…. at which point you can guess their fate. I still keep a sideways eye on my house cats when they are sitting near me… just in case…
ROOM by Emma Donoghue (2011) – ROOM is the story of a woman who was abducted as a teen and kept in a locked room by her assailant. While there she raises a son who was begotten by her abductor. It took me awhile to get into the book, but once I did I was hooked and had to keep reading. The writing is from the child’s point of view, which I thought was brilliant, as he knows nothing of the outside world – he doesn’t see his circumstances as abnormal. I don’t believe this book is for everyone, as the topic is a disturbing one. However, the author presented the topic in a mature and realistic manner, without making it salacious or “tabloid-esque”. I thought this book was amazing and it delved into a number of interesting factors, including the adaptability and resilience of children and the media’s involvement in cases such as these. My full review on Goodreads can be found here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/286068821
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver (2006) – Popular when it was initially released, I only got around to reading this conversation-starting book last year. Written as a series of letters from a wife to husband, it reveals how the mother always perceived that there was something wrong with her son – who ultimately goes on to commit a heinous mass murder. This is one of those books that you can’t help but continue to think about after you finish reading – constantly looking around you for signs of violence in coworkers and school mates. I found there to be five themes throughout the book that make the reader think long and hard about their thoughts, relationships and experiences: the idea of not loving your own child; good versus bad parenting; the nature versus nurture debate; why people commit horrific acts of violence; and, media and rubbernecking. All in all, I found We Need to Talk about Kevin a thought provoking read that started many a conversation and debate. My full review on Goodreads can be found here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/283879904
Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (2006) – This was one of those books that for weeks after I finished I could just not stop thinking about it. It is a true account of the author’s childhood with parents who were stubborn, non-conformist, and sometimes criminal. I read it very quickly, in about three days. It is short, has short chapters and is definitely a page turner, despite the fact that the next page holds many horrors. I think what i liked the most about this book was how it made me think about relationships – between siblings, between parent and child, and childhood friendships. It made me think about family bonds and it gave me a better insight into why people often don’t walk away from, or put up with, horrible situation for those they love. My full review on Goodreads can be found here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/283873871