As of late Thursday night, when I completed F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned, I officially reached my goal of reading 40 books in the year 2012! This was very exciting because it was the first New Year’s Resolution I’ve ever made and been able to successfully complete. It’s also the first full calendar year in which I have not been a student, so perhaps it was little more feasible in this manner.
It’s been a wonderful journey with all those different reads, a lot of which were used volumes I collected in interesting places, from the famed Elliott Bay Book Co. on our honeymoon in Seattle to Book Thug Nation in Brooklyn.
Even though I am more of a word-person, I do enjoy a few fun figures here and there. So using my handy-dandy Goodreads account, where I fastidiously document my reading progress each day, I compiled a few statistics on my reading thus far this year:
Total number of books read: 40
Total number of pages read: 12,951
Number of nonfiction books: 8
Number of library books: 16
Number of Kindle ebooks: 9 (3 of which were also library books)
I’m hoping to get close to 50 by the time 2013 rolls around, which shouldn’t be too hard, since I intentionally take the bus to and from work most days to get in about 30-minutes of reading time each way, and I also read during my lunch hour. And in the evenings. And sometimes in the mornings before the bus, too.
I should really find some other hobbies.
In case you are wondering, Read No. 41 is Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser, and Read No. 42 is The Jefferson Bible: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth by Thomas Jefferson (duh). My reading interests are highly eclectic.
Here are some different top reading picks from this year! (**Links to Amazon pages are at the end of descriptions because WordPress won’t let me italicize the book titles and link them as urls. Boo, technology.)
Fave carefree summer read/chick lit:
Don’t be fooled by the somewhat raunchy name: this book is adorable. After my friend Caitlin suggested I read it several times, I finally caved into picking up a YA title NOT written by John Green, and I’m so glad I did. This is a must-read for fellow francophiles. Basically, the main character Anna is sent to boarding school in Paris, which she is not happy about (I know, right?!?!), and then she meets this guy Etienne St. Clair, and France doesn’t seem so bad after all. Yes, it was as predictable as any rom-com, but this book managed to have a lot of personality. Our female protagonist was down-to-earth and hilarious (a lot of chick lit “heroines” are airheaded, boy-crazy bimbos), and I dare any young lady under the age of 25 to not fall in love with Etienne. Prepare for your heart to bubble over with gushy happiness. Seriously, I haven’t been so happy to read fluff since I finished Meg Cabot’s The Princess Diaries in middle school. (buy it)
Fave contemporary novel:
Kate Morton arrived in my life at just the right time — as I began my obsession with Downton Abbey and my infatuation with the whole early 20th century, in general. I also greatly enjoyed her book The House at Riverton and have The Distant Hours on my bookshelf waiting for me, but The Forgotten Garden would be my instant recommendation among her titles. There is so much to love in this book: history, mystery, scandal, intrigues, romance, and fairy tales. To summarize this book very briefly: a young Australian woman travels to Cornwall, England to visit an old country manor and uncover her grandmother’s mysterious past. It is a fantastic, twisting multigenerational tale. It’s a book that will keep you up late into the night, turning its pages with fervor, eager to discover its secrets. But pssst…pretty much all of the characters are women, so this might not be a first-pick for dudes. (buy it)
Fave classic novel:
I wanted to dive into Fitzgerald again because The Great Gatsby film is coming out this next spring (and I am SO SO SO excited … watch the trailer, and get excited, too!), and although Gatsby is great, it’s a little too junior year of high school, you know? The Beautiful and Damned is incredibly depressing and tragic, don’t get me wrong, but it is also exquisitely written. There is a reason the author is considered one of America’s greatest writers, and he’s certainly no one-hit wonder. As somewhat of a moral tale for the Jazz Age, Beautiful and Damned tells of Anthony Patch and Gloria Gilbert, a young Manhattan couple who watch their love and happiness squander as their wealth dries up. It tells of speakeasies and drunken revelries in a time of Prohibition, and that should be metaphorical enough for you to understand what kind of people our protagonists are. If I had to summarize this book in one quote from the novel, it would be: “Wine gave a sort of gallantry to their own failure.” A must-read for my fellow English major types. (buy it)
Fave YA novel:
I don’t care how old you are, if you only read one book in the next year, let this be the one. I might be a little biased, since I have loved all of Green’s books and discovered him while still a “young adult” in high school, thanks to the YouTube videos he makes for/with his younger brother, Hank. But really, guys. I cannot tell you enough how ridiculously good this book is! It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me do that weird thing where you laugh while crying. In short, it made me feel ALL OF THE THINGS. Based on John Green’s own experiences as a youth pastor at a children’s hospital and his friendship with a teen fan dealing with terminal cancer, TFiOS tells of 16-year-old Hazel, a three-year stage-IV cancer survivor who meets Augustus Waters, a fellow teen cancer survivor, at — where else? — a support group for teens with cancer. As Amazon.com writes, “The two are kindred spirits, sharing an irreverent sense of humor and immense charm, and watching them fall in love even as they face universal questions of the human condition–How will I be remembered? Does my life, and will my death, have meaning?–has a raw honesty that is deeply moving.” OK, think I need to read this one another time, so I can experience that simultaneous laughing-crying sensation again. (buy it)
Fave nonfiction pick:
Umm, if you know me, were you expecting anything else? Smitten by Bourdain’s commentary on his TV show, No Reservations, I decided to check out the book that catapulted him into fame. I was not disappointed. Bourdain writes about his experiences as a chef, exploring the mysterious world of how food is made and the eclectic characters who prepare it, with raw honesty and great wit. Highly recommended to any foodie or frequent viewer of the Food Network (OK, so those are kind of the same person). If you learn nothing else, it’s probably that you don’t have what it takes to make it in a professional kitchen. I’ll stick to being a diner. (buy it)
Happy reading! Please leave book suggestions for the remainder of 2012/2013 in the comments section!