Last year I set the goal of reading more than 35 books... and then in 2012 these two things happened:
And then my read-more-than-35-books goal went out the window. I barely managed 30 books in 2012, and that's counting jFiction and reading Inside Out & Back Again twice. But I wouldn't trade my CFD experience for anything, and I finished Cloud Atlas, one of the more challenging books I've ever read. I think in future editions there ought to be a ribbon tucked inside the last page of that one that says "WAY TO GO! YOU DID IT!" or similar. I didn't dislike it, exactly, but... I won't be revisiting it, either. EVER. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I'm not sure that even Tom Hanks could make me suddenly fall in love with it. And that's saying something.
So here's the five star books of the year, up one from last year's total of ten:
+ As I mentioned, I read Inside Out & Back Again twice in 2012 (as did Maddie): once at the beginning of the year when we like to read the potential Newbery Award winners, and once again in November for her book club. We love this book tremendously; I went to school with some kids whose families escaped Vietnam, so it held even more interest for me. It is written in verse, and can be read in one sitting.
+ There are two other rereads, both for my own book club: Chocolat and To Kill a Mockingbird, though I didn't remember much of anything about that since I last read it in high school. I love Chocolat the book and Chocolat the movie equally, though I believe they are two very different stories—it's amazing what one tiny plot change can do to change the entire tone and meaning of a story. I can't remember which of my friends abhors books that adopt the movie cover in re-release and while that is normally something I avoid as well, I make a very notable exception for this one. Because, Johnny Depp. The end.
+ Katherine's book obviously makes the list. You should read it! And when you're done, you should visit Katherine's blog carnival linkup, because there is some heartfelt writing about beautiful changes from around the internet. You can visit it here.
+ That Brian Selznick is a genius. I found Wonderstruck to be a little on the confusing side until suddenly, it wasn't. And then it was brilliant. And then I read the author's note at the end, and it became brilliant x 2 for me.
+ The Midnight Zoo was another book that Maddie and I read early in 2012 during Newbery buzz season (in addition to Breaking Stalin's Nose and The Friendship Doll). This was high on the list of five star books for me... wow. Again: lucky juveniles and their fiction—I love jFiction even more with each passing year, I think. I just looked up what I said about it on Goodreads right after I read it:
Wow. This was an amazing book—don't be put off by the jFiction label. The writing was superb, and the story compelling and tremendously sad. Don't be put off by the "tremendously sad" bit, either. Highly recommended, though probably not for kids younger than 4th or 5th grade, because while it has some suspension of disbelief elements, it also realistically portrays treatment of Romany by the Nazis in a difficult, graphic way.
You should read that one, too.
A few notes about books that don't appear in the collage...
+ I read (and liked a lot) the (in)famous Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua; that book bought me a whole lot of appreciation from Maddie, who was completely intrigued by this type of mothering she does not experience. I am still getting mileage out of it as a threat. Heh.
+ I finally got around to reading my first David Sedaris book (for book club): Me Talk Pretty One Day. I tried to listen to it once on a drive from northern to southern California, but I had to abandon ship within the first 10 minutes. I finished the book in time for our discussion this time around, but I just don't think David Sedaris is the funny man for me. Sorry, most of the rest of the world.
+ Notable four star books of 2012: The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai, Blink by Malcolm Gladwell (not my favorite of his, but still very good), and Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It: False Apology Poems by Gail Carson Levine. All the poems are based on William Carlos Williams' ate-the-last-plum poem, which I don't think was intended to be snarky, exactly, but a lot of the poems in this book are and they are hilarious.
+ Least favorite book of the year: California Blue, by David Klass, read for Maddie's book club. Bleh.
I am not a girl with a reading plan (aside from my now perennial goal of reading more than 35 books in a calendar year) but I do like to add books that I'll get to eventually on my to-read list... so... go! What did you read and love this year?