When I was about 15, I met someone who kept a reading journal, listing every book she’s ever read and a sentence or two summing up her feelings about each one. She wasn’t smug about it, but she had every right to be.
Reader, I was jealous. If there is one regret in my life, it’s that I have literally no idea how many books I’ve read. I don’t know how many books I read each year, I can’t remember when I read certain things and how they connected to my life at the time, and, perhaps scariest of all, I even have trouble remembering whether I’ve read something and what I thought of it.
Because of all of this, I am actually making a 2013 resolution. I will be documenting every book I read next year. (Don’t worry, not publicly or anything. It’s just an exercise for me.)
But first, I just need to spend a moment talking about the books I’ve read this year. Because, holy mother of goddess, I read some amazing books this year. I would venture to say this has been my favorite reading year in a long while.
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters: My twin sister and I often swap Kindles, and she’s very organized about the whole thing, handing it over with instructions on which books to read in which order. Beautiful Ruins was at the top of her list last time we swapped, and I dove right in, not even knowing the title of the book. (What a wonderful way to read, by the way — zero expectations.) It blew me away.
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker: The danger of similar book titles! I recommended this book to several people, only I got the title wrong. I thought I was recommending The Age of Desire, the fictional retelling of Edith Wharton’s life. (I read that, too, and it was lovely.) After reading The Age of Miracles, a friend said, “This isn’t about Edith, but I think you’ll love it anyway.” So I did. And reader, I loved it. I’m chalking this one up to a wondrous act of the reading gods.
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles: I just finished this yesterday, and it was another one of K’s surprise picks. I read it on the heels of finishing The Diviners and now I am obsessed with the 1920s and 30s in a way I wasn’t before. This was so captivating, with such a fun, almost kooky voice, and completely wonderful characterizations.
The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling: You know, if she hadn’t written it, I wouldn’t have read it. But I’m glad I did. It took a while to kick in — there are LOTS of characters — but by the near-end I was utterly hooked, and then left heartbroken and almost disgusted. In a good way, I think. The kind where you can’t stop thinking about it.
The Diviners by Libba Bray: I read this in hardcover, and it’s hefty, so it sat on my nightstand for months as I made my way through it slowly and deliberately, a few pages here and there. I feel like this is a book that needs to be read that way. It seeped into me and I hope it never leaves.
There were others. The Year of the Gadfly, The Vanishers, Imaginary Girls. (Edited to add: And The Crane’s Dance, which was so phenomenal and definitely one of the best of the year. Thanks for the reminder, K!) The wonderful works-in-progress from my writing group friends and my fiance; many, many Baby-sitters Clubs. Too many to count.
What were your favorite books of the year?