2013 Reading Challenge Update

Cross-posted from my tumblr

At the beginning of the year, I got overly ambitious and challenged myself to read 60 books this year. Very quickly, GoodReads told me I was epically behind… so I updated it to a goal of 52, which had been my (successful) standard the last two years.

I am on track (actually one book ahead, thanks to my recent vacation) at 36 out of 52. (Now if I had read all the Book Club books I was supposed to, I would be at least 4 ahead of this… fail.)

I posted that on facebook, and was asked what my favorites from the year were. When I think generally about the year, I don’t have any that immediately jump out at me, but when I look through the list I enjoyed the following. In no particular order:

  • After the Quake – Haruki Murakami – Short Stories
    I am always searching for books that totally envelop me. After the Quake did so. Lovely magical realism, interesting portraits of Japan and great, quirky characters. Murakami never explains too much… instead he just let’s things end where they end.
  •  The Fault in Our Stars – John Green – Young Adult Novel
    Oh the feels!!, as they say. I read it in less than a day, stayed up late to finish it, and cried through most of the last 1/4.
  • Equivocation – Bill Cain – Play
    I saw this performed at MTC in 2010, loved it, and was happy to return to it. A deliciously complicated examination/thought experiment about Shakespeare’s writing of Macbeth, the Gunpowder Plot and a father’s relationship with his daughter.
  • Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel – Novel
    I really liked Mantel’s epic novel about Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII’s court. (Super excited about the BBC/Mark Rylance adaptation). I spent a lot of time reading it, as I had to, and felt very immersed in her universe. I would like to do some follow-up and see what sources it came from. Combining this with another historical fiction piece I read this year (The Daughter of Time), I have a totally different perspective on Sir Thomas More.
  • The Story of a Marriage – Andrew Sean Greer – Novel
  • The Magician’s Book: a Skeptics Adventures in Narnia – Laura Miller – Nonfiction
  • Hawkeye, vol 1: My Life as a Weapon – Matt Fraction & David Aja – Graphic Novel
    When I was a kid and first got braces, there was a comic shop down the street from the orthodontist. My dad would take me to get comics after appointments, and at that time they had just re-booted the Avengers. Since then, I have always liked Hawkeye, and think this book was just wonderful – interesting, different, and beautifully created. Vol 2 was also great (Pizza Dog!)
  • Saga vol 1 – Brian K. Vaughn – Graphic Novel
    Another brilliant graphic novel that had been recommended all through 2012. So glad to have read this unique/weird love story. Still somewhat creeped out by the TV-head people.
  • Deathtrap – Ira Levin – Play
    I have been slowly working my way through all of Levin’s work, since moving back to California. I love his novels (especially A Kiss Before Dying) but his plays are just delightful in a very mischievous and somewhat disturbing way. Deathtrap is all about writing a play, within a play, with murder plots intertwined with love and fame.
  • A Visit From the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan – Novel
    I was the only one in my book club that liked Egan’s novel. It was certainly off-putting at times, but I liked her universe and the weird connections and interesting storytelling.
  • **The Big Disconnect by Giles Slade & Drift by Rachel Maddow – Nonfiction
    I didn’t really like either of these books – covering the history of technology and the US military, respectively – but I learned a lot and I’m glad I read them.

I did not like:

  • The Magicians – Lev Grossman – Novel
  • City of Bones – Cassandra Claire – Young Adult Novel
  • Ex Machina – Brian K. Vaughan – Graphic Novel
  • Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie – Novel – (couldn’t finish)

I’m always looking for recommendations, so if you have thoughts on how I should finish out the next 20 or so, let me know!

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