Seven doesn’t feel like a great number to end the year on, but Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell was 1006 pages. And I feel that every December I get busier and busier. I care less and less about Christmas itself, but there is more to do. Such is adult life.
The Bad: Reign of Blood and Believe were both cheap or free Kindle books that I bought just because of that. They both had interesting ideas and poor writing - Reign of Blood is worth it if you’re very interested in Y/A dystopia (bonus: vampires with a twist), but Believe is not (Y/A with a cut off society and memory loss).
The Middling: Venom, which I think I would have liked if I hadn’t been under the mistaken impression that it was about vampires. It’s not. But I kept imagining plot twists. “The plague… VAMPIRES!!” etc. All These Things I’ve Done - it’s been two weeks and I had to struggle to remember what this was about. But when I remembered, I remembered I liked it. A smart daughter of a murdered mob boss trying to make her way - and seemingly not avoiding being sucked back in. The great part - the contraband they deal in is Chocolate. And it’s set in future NYC.
The Above Middling: One Last Thing Before I Go. I think this is my least favorite Tropper, but that’s not saying much. I’m recognizing characters from other books. It took me about a week to read the first half - and an afternoon to read the second half. I think he might need a break to recenter - he’s been so prolific, so popular, I’m sure the pressure is on to just churn out more, but he’s too good to just devolve into formulaic shit.
The Great: Song of Achilles. The Achilles story told by his best friend Patroclus. Twist (but not really): they’re gay. I feel that this book tries very hard to describe the life of a prince in Ancient Greece, if gods and centaurs etcetera were real. Very moving. Reminded me of my love of mythology. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. I don’t know why I didn’t read this earlier. A “history” of magic’s return to the Victorian UK after a 400 year absence, with a fully created world of books, myths, stories, and history referenced in the notes. So well done. Do it.
2012 Stats: 115 books. 43,690 pages. Of those 115 books, I rated six 5 stars:
The Children’s Hospital by Chris Adrian
How to Talk to a Widower by Jonathan Tropper
Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Pale King by David Foster Wallace
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi
All of these were different and beautiful in their own way, but I heartily recommend all of them. The Children’s Hospital is twisted and magical, How to Talk to a Widower is beautiful and sad, Night Circus is fantastical and inventive, The Pale King is a sad shadow of what it could have been if DFW had lived to finish it yet it is still one of the most interesting and moving things I read this year, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is a young, inventive, magical book in the vein of Roald Dahl that completely lives up to that comparison, Mr Fox was different and perfect in its own way.
I love talking to people about books. My askbox is always open. I know several of you asked for reading lists towards the end of the year and I didn’t get back to you - I apologize. Also I’m most likely to recommend the six books above and anything I’ve read in the last two months. Instead, I’d send you to my sister, who is by trade a Children’s Librarian, but she also reads tons of y/a and fantasy for fun, and she’s always abreast of new and exciting things I haven’t seen before. Ask her for books. Also her kids are the cutest ever in the whole world, so that’s a thing.
Next year I’m going to concentrate on BETTER books. This year I read as much dystopian y/a as I could, this year maybe I’ll write one. We’ll see what happens.
I’ve set my reading goal for 2013 on GoodReads at 75, instead of 100 (be my friend there!). And I don’t plan on exceeding it.