Thursday, January 10, 2013

From year to year, the battles, sieges, fortunes,

As we get into the new year, I've been thinking back about the year that was, 2012. The first thing that really jumps out in my mind is the failures of the year; I only completed 13 books from the list.  This hardly keeps up with my desired pace of 24 books per year, and means I have a lot of reading to do in 2013 if I want to catch up. But I do attribute this to two books in particular (read: excuses).

First was The Recognitions by William Gaddis. Coming in at 956 pages, this was a beast that took me 66 days to read. It was my most difficult read from the list so far, and really put me behind pace, so early in the year. I didn't enjoy it, I read it while I was having a difficult time in my life, and of course, it's really long. I'll always wonder if the book was better than I gave it credit, and wonder if I had been reading it under different circumstances, might I appreciated it a little more.

The second trouble book was the on-going The Lord of the Rings. It isn't even remotely as tedious as The Recognitions, but it is twice as long. Add to this my general disinterest in the genre, and I have one difficult, long read on my hands.  I'm currently 60% through the second book, and should be able to finish it sometime in 2013 (although I can't honestly guarantee this as it's already been over 100 days since I began the first one).

But that doesn't mean the year was a total loss, I was introduced to some fantastic books, which I probably wouldn't have read if not for this little project. In no particular order, here are my favorite list reads from 2012:

The Assistant. This was just an enjoyable and interesting read, that's really in my wheel house. It was probably aided by the fact that I read it between books one and two of The Lord of the Rings, a welcome diversion.

Under the Net. One of the best hidden gems I've read from the list so far. I'd never heard of it or the author, and really had no idea what the book was about. It was enjoyable and entertaining in the style of Lucky Jim.

Revolutionary Road. Much like The Assistant,this book is my kind of book; a post-war character novel.

All the King's Men. An engrossing story and dynamic characters make this one of the best I've read so far. A real page turner.

The Sot-Weed Factor. The more I think about this book, the more I begin to think it may be my favorite book through the first 61, and one of my favorite books ever. It's interesting, entertaining and laugh-out-loud funny. And I have still only met one person to date who has ever heard of the book or John Barth, the author.

Tomorrow I'll look at my favorite non-fiction reads from 2012.

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