When I was going back over my 2012 Book Spreadsheet (yes, I have an actual spreadsheet because I am a nerd) I was surprised to realize that last year I read 60 books. A few years ago my new years resolution was to average a book a week for a year and just barely made it to 52 books, so apparently I now read faster or have more free time than I did in 2010. Here's a bit of the best.
by Walter Isaacson: A compelling story told very well. You should
know that I totally, completely, 100% drink the Apple kool-aid, but even
if you don’t, or are on the fence about the products or company, this
is an interesting read. I knew next to nothing about Jobs before I read it, and it also takes the reader through a crash course on the history of Silicon Valley, which is good information to have for those pesky Trivial Pursuit questions if nothing else.
Rules of Civility
by Amor Towles: This is one of the best fiction books I’ve read in
several years. It’s kind of hard to explain what it’s about, but it’s
set in New York City in the late 1930’s and follows the main character
Katey Kontent, daughter of Russian immigrants, and her best friend Evie
Ross. Starting the night they meet an elegant, wealthy gentleman named
Tinker Grey, it outlines the events of the coming year. The end was a
surprise--I won’t give it away--and it was exceedingly well written.
Life Itself by
Roger Ebert: I follow Roger Ebert on Twitter, and reading his memoir was like
meeting him in person and learning about his childhood firsthand. I
loved it. He writes with such fondness for Chicago, for film, and for
Gene Siskel that I was almost moved to tears at certain points in this
book. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in any or all of
Tinderbox: How the West Sparked the AIDS Epidemic and How the World Can Finally Overcome It
by Craig Timberg and Daniel Halperin: This is one of those “heavy”
books I read at the beginning of the year. I’d heard it recommended
several places and decided to give it a try, and boy am I glad I did.
AIDS is a really scary topic, and the authors did an excellent job of
explaining why we don’t need to be scared of it. They detail how it
developed (which I found fascinating), the trajectory of the disease
through Africa and the United States, and what we need to do moving
forward. I had no prior knowledge of the subject and found it an
interesting and approachable book.
My Own Two Feet by
Beverly Cleary: I was thrilled to learn that in addition to the
much-beloved children’s books, Beverly Cleary had also written an
autobiography of sorts. This book tells the story of her childhood,
adolescence, going to college and meeting her husband, her brief stint
as a librarian, and about how she started writing children’s books. I
found this charmingly old-fashioned and interesting, especially because
until I picked it up I had no knowledge of the author who created the
books that were such an integral part of my childhood. After a bit of
Wikipedia sleuthing I also found out that Beverly Cleary is still alive
and kicking at 96, and that is my favorite fact of all.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
by Cheryl Strayed: So, the thing about Cheryl Strayed is that people
seem to either love or hate her extremely raw, honest writing.
Seriously, parts of this book will make you squirm uncomfortably. It’s
sad, and gritty, and absolutely fascinating account of her decision to
hike the Pacific Crest Trail all by herself in the summer of 1995. I
could not put this book down. I tend to like books about big,
tough, life-changing endeavors and if you do too, I highly recommend
that you read this book. I then tried to read another of her books, Tiny Beautiful Things, and found her writing in that book a little too precious. So maybe take this recommendation with a grain of salt.
Anne of Green Gables
(and several of the subsequent books in the series) by L. M.
Montgomery: Not so much a recommendation for this exact series but a
plea that you go back and re-read some of your childhood favorites. I’d
read the Anne series when I was pretty young, maybe 9 or 10, and when I
saw that someone else on Instagram was re-reading them I grabbed the
first one from the library and jumped in. And soon discovered that I
hardly remembered anything at all about this book (orphan, red hair,
that’s about it). Yes, it’s YA fiction, and it’s also very
old-fashioned (some of these details were probably lost on me the first
time around), but I find it very charming and fun to read. Also, I can finish one of these books in about 2 hours, which always lends a nice sense of
accomplishment to a Sunday afternoon.
Detroit City is the Place To Be
by Mark Binelli: Although I’ve never been there, Detroit fascinates
me. I love looking at pictures of disrepair and falling-down buildings
and reading about the city. This book fits nicely into that niche
hobby. It’s about a journalist/writer who is originally from the Detroit suburbs
but after living away for years decides to move back and write a
history of the city. He tells the stories of a variety of people he
meets during that year, including a principal from a school for pregnant
girls, a group of firefighters, a neighbor, some bohemian artists, etc. Normal people trying
to live a normal life in a city that is anything but. Binelli is a good writer, and if you’re not familiar with Detroit’s history, or even
if you are, the book is a great nonfiction read about the city.
So what have y'all been reading? What should I put on my library list for 2013?