As a follow-up to my Year in Live Music infographic, I created a similar graphic detailing my reading activity over the course of 2012. I’m ultimately pleased by the number of books I read (29), but was also disappointed that my reading activity declined over the second half of the year. The usual excuse always involves a shortage of time – there’s just never enough time to read, but what New Years resolutions have taught me is – there will never be enough time to read. Nor will there be enough time to exercise, reorganize your closet, redecorate your home or keep in touch with friends. You have to make time for it, and in 2013 I plan to do just that. Reading brings me so much joy, and it’s frankly silly to deprive myself of that. In fact, to ensure that I continue reading this year, my friend Adam and I devised a book club for the year, strategically planning our selections based on variety and our personal preferences – feel free to join!
Without further a do, my literary year in review:
Longest Book: Moby Dick at 608 pages
The novel was terribly slow, difficult and took me about a month to finish, but I’m ultimately glad that I conquered one of the most iconic books in the Western canon. It’s totally a book that can be read over the course of a year – the chapters are short and digestible, but they don’t detract from the epic nature of the story.
It took me two years to finally pick up Freedom, which dominated all of the “Best of” lists in 2010 and boy, was I missing out on a terrific piece of fiction. It was such a beautifully and creatively written novel and I fell in love with several of the characters despite their overt flaws and shortcomings. In addition to Freedom, I also read Franzen’s short and charming memoir, The Discomfort Zone, and The Corrections (which turned out to be quite appropriate since a large portion of the novel takes place on a cruise ship and that just happened to be my selected reading for the cruise I went on in August-complete coincidence)
Best Classic: To Kill A Mockingbird
The first and only time I read this classic was in my 9th grade English class when I was more concerned about memorizing vocabulary words than I was with simply reading and enjoying a literary, Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece. In 2010, one of the most intelligent and well-read friends I know told me To Kill A Mockingbird was her all time favorite book; she even named her dog Harper. I gave it a second pass a few months ago, and the charming, humorous and touching novel was totally worth the second shot.
Best Non-Fiction: Friday Night Lights
For a non-fiction book about sports, this one was incredibly human. In Friday Night Lights, H. G. Bissinger combined sharp journalism with elaborate storytelling and I can’t wait to read his follow-up tale, After Friday Night Lights, that details the unexpected friendship that blossomed between him and one of the football players that resulted from his time in Odessa.
Ultimate Favorite: The Art of Fielding
Runner-Up: The Marriage Plot
I know both of these books came out in 2011, but they’re neck and neck for best book I read in 2012. They were both considerably long, they were both told from different points of view, and they both made me cry. The characters and story lines in both novels were incredibly well-developed and as Jonathan Franzen candidly described The Art of Fielding, “It’s left a little hole in my life the way a really good book will,” I have a special place in my heart that only Henry Skrimshander and Mitchell Grammaticus can fill. I highly recommend both.