Even though I promised myself that I would only read happy books in 2012, my subconscious must have been thinking about Mayan prophecies or something, because I somehow managed to bookend the year with two end-of-the-world novels. I can’t quite call them apocalyptic, or post-apocalytpic, because they were neither, which may explain why I was more willing to give them a shot.
The first was “The Leftovers” by Tom Perrota, and it followed a small suburban town after a Rapture-like event occurred. What compelled me to read this one was that it was supposed to be darkly funny, written by the author who scribed “Little Children” and “Election,” but I didn’t find it humorous at all. It was SO BLAND. The plot was creative, and I thought it had so much potential, but every single character sounded the exact same, and there were a lot of characters, so I had a tough time getting into the book.
I ended the year with “The Age of Miracles” by Karen Thompson Walker. This one is a coming-of-age story about an 11-year-old girl during the last few years on earth, when the globe starts slowing down and the days grow longer. As an aspiring writer, I was intrigued because I had read that the author received a $1-million advance based on a sample chapter, plus some $500,000 for Canadian rights. This had to be a good book! And I’ll admit, the plot crept under my skin and left me in a funk for days. It haunted me. I’d walk outside and wonder if the world was still the same. It was. But the fault of this particular book was again with the characters. The prose was haunting and beautiful to read, even if there were some cliched metaphors, but the characters were so thin and boring.
If the two authors worked together, I bet they would create a doozy of a tale.
The rest of the year was a bit lighter, and I feel like it was a good year for reading. For the first time in over three years I actually read multiple novels each month, and picked a lot that I would normally never read. Here’s the year-end list:
- Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling
- The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
- The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone
- Ready Player One by Ernest Kline
- Never Seduce a Scoundrel by Heather Grothaus
- The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
- The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt
- The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
- The Personal History of Rachel Dupree by Ann Weisgarber
- Just Kids by Patti Smith
- Messy by Heather Cocks
- State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
- We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
- Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
- Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
- Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
- Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple
- The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
I think my favorites this year were JUST KIDS by Patti Smith, and WHERE’D YOU GO BERNADETTE by Maria Semple. One was a mesmerizing biography of starving artists, the other a satirical look at the rich, eccentric, and gifted. And of course, WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE. What a genre-busting story! I loved every sentence of it.
I also enjoyed Maisie Dobbs, which is the start of a long series about a London private investigator, and I have a feeling I’ll be adding more from the series to my queue as good “filler” books.
Are you excited about any new books or something you read this year? I’m always looking for more suggestions!
Happy Reading in 2013!