My favorite books I read in 2012

English: Stack of books in Gould's Book Arcade...

I am not going to lie, 2012 was a craptastic year. But every dark cloud has a silver lining and I had a few of those. I achieved some goals, learned some hard lessons and made new friends. All of those belong in the win/win category of my story.

My Life Coach advised me to make a non-fitness goal this year. That was hard. A non-fitness goal made me feel weak. I looked at the things that were important to me and I decided convincing myself that I am intelligent was pretty high on the list. My non-fitness goal of 2012 was to read 50 books. Today is December 30th and I completed my last book today, just under the wire.  You can see the complete list of books here. That list shows 51 books, that is I am not sure whether to include Life of Pi. I read it 2 years ago and reread for book club. I got new insights out of it as I often do when I reread books, so I added it to the list. I also didn’t include the TON of reading material I read for University, that wasn’t for fun it was for marks which is fun in a different way, so that didn’t count either.

I decided to reflect back on my year of reading, trying out new genres and exploring topics that had been difficult for me in the past. I picked most of  these books because someone else read it and said, you might like it. Mostly it was true. If  i started a book and hated it, i stopped reading it. 50 books was a lot to get through and I wanted to enjoy my reading, after all this was suppose to be fun! This was a huge year for risk taking when it came to books and it paid off in droves! Here you have it, the Edmonton Tourist’s Top 11 books she read in 2012.

My favorite books I read in 2012

  1. Book of Negroes by  Lawrence Hill. Yes it is an older book, yes it won the Canada Reads award, yes it shamed me as a human and Canadian. But the story was captivating and engrossing. I couldn’t put it down. This should be required reading in every high school on the planet. I missed her when I finished the book. She was remarkable.
  2. Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Maybe I loved this because of where I was at the moment in my life but it struck a chord with me. It was my Eat, Love Pray of 2012. I want to read it every year to see if I learn new insights from it.
  3. 11/22/63 by Stephen King. This was and is the only book I have read by him. I will admit to being scared of him. I have seen some of his movies and I don’t like feeling scared, but something about this book called to me. First of all it wasn’t scary! Secondly it had an element that lots of people think about, myself included, the chance to go back in time and fix a wrong that you did. Sadly there would be consequences  I loved this book, but it was loooooooooooong. Not a quick read.
  4. Room by Emma Donoghue. This is not for the faint of heart. It was told through the eyes of a 5 year old boy and that made it seem less horrific because he didn’t really understand what he was seeing. A college girl is kidnapped and made to be a sex-slave for a creepy old guy and she is kept in ROOM. It made me think about how young children see their world and how they deal with pain and abuse.
  5. A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron. A book club pal recommended this to me. It is from the perspective of a dog who reincarnates into several lives looking for his purpose. He takes the lessons learned into the next life. Brilliant book, I loved it. It was heart warming and not sad.
  6. The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings. Better than the movie, although I thought the movie was great. I loved this man’s journey to discover what was truly important to him. The fact that I could vividly picture my future ex-husband George as the main character only broke my heart. I love how his relationship with his girls builds throughout the book. There is nothing sexier than a great dad.
  7. The Unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. It was long listed for the Booker Prize and I heard about this from Laurie Greenwood on CBC Radio. I liked this book as it played like a movie in my head, but it wasn’t until the end when you find out what it meant, then looking back over the book made it brilliant.
  8. Me before You by Jojo Moyes. I have figured this for some Chicklit fluff. Was I wrong! It had me torn in pieces thinking about the moral dilemma  Loved the two main characters. Great read!
  9. Gone girl by Gillian Flynn. I had never ventured into mystery before, or a mystery like this one. I often found my jaw hanging open in shock and awe. I may have found a new genre I like!
  10. Shop Girl by Steve Martin. I like his writing style. His other books were not as good as this one. I like how he captured the female character. I think it is hard for a man to write about females, I find them often unbelievable but I liked her.
  11. A Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan. This was almost poetry and made me feel pretty. Lots of memorable lines and something I could really relate to. Heartbreak transcends gender.

It was hard to narrow it down to 11 but I found some authors who I will read again, I quite like Diane Chamberlain and Jennifer Weiner both new to me. And I had the pleasure of reading Maeve Binchy’s last book. She is my favorite author and of late her books had left me flat, I was not like the Father Flynn series at all. But a Week in Winter brought in new characters and was as lovely as Even Class. I shall miss her.

As for next year? I am setting a goal of 20 books. This time I am going to explore fantasy. This is something that doesn’t interest me much but people yap on and on about it. Can’t say I hate something if I don’t give it an honest chance. I find it hard to wrap my head around weird names and bizarre settings. I like Sci-Fi so maybe I need to re-examine Fantasy, and by Fantasy I don’t mean that crappy 50 shades series. There is 2 days I will never get back.

So tell me, what is on your list for 2013? What is the first book you will be reading?

Fifty Fifty Me: Playing Catch Up

I am 26 books in and I better get crack-a-lacking on my goal of 52. It seemed so doable when I made the goal now it seems exhausting. In an effort not to panic, I am just going to play it cool. Read them as they come. I have been reading since I finished Wild. I needed to digest wild and think about it. I just couldn’t plunk myself into the next book very easily. Once I did, there was no stopping me. I enjoyed the last book. When I really enjoy a book and then finish it. I need to mull it over. It is hard for me to jump right into the next book with the same eagerness to read. It took a while, but I was able to move on after Wild.

I have been laid up with Bronchitis this week and when you are on vacation, nothing sucks more than being sick for part of it. What that has done is free up some time to read. I read 3 books this week and started another. I caught up on movies as well, 6 to be exact.

The Books:

The first one was The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlaine. It took me a fair bit of time to commit to liking this book. The early beginnings had me wondering what all the hoopla was about amongst my Goodread friends. The main character in the early stages was 16. With that comes bad choices and impossible situations.I remember being 16 and like the character I made choices that effected my entire life – and not for the good. On some level I could relate to the character, but most of me wanted to forget being 16, being naive, being stupid and mostly being seduced by older men. I understood the bad choices but I am pretty sure I knew the difference between morally right and wrong. i had the benefit of family teaching me the difference. This character did not.

As the story progressed I became more enchanted with the choices she was making. Eventually she set her life back to the moment of 16 – because 16 haunts you forever if you made stupid choices. The character rectified it all, making a huge impact on everyone in her life. That was when this story became the type of book I love, not being able to pt it down. The climax was marvelous.

The second book I read was Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. Of all the books I read this week, this one I loved from start to finish. This was billed as a romance, but I never saw it as a romance. It was more about euthanasia and choices of others. I found this book to be a real metaphor for my life. No matter how badly you want something, other people’s choices affect you in a profound way. Wanting something bad enough and working towards that goal isn’t always enough when human choices are involved.  This is one of the hardest lessons I have learned on my Tourist journey. The characters in this book handled it remarkably well. It surprised me. Typically books turn out they would would hope them too. Maeve Binchy is a master of this never happening. The ugly duckling doesn’t become the beautiful swan, she just plods along, enjoying or dealing with what life throws at her. This is real life. You are dealt a hand and the purpose is to see what you make out of it, not throw them all away and get lucky by drawing a Royalflush. That never happens. I wish it did. So in an effort to find happiness, you look within – not externally. Buddha was right.

The final book was The Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. I really enjoyed the first book, but I was young and still hadn’t figured out stuff yet I thought I knew everything. I think I have moved beyond this type of book. I want more meat or substance from a book. The bottom line is I am busy, so I want a book that is worth my time, a book that makes me think. This book had New York going for it but that is no longer enough. 50/50 me challenge had opened my eyes up to new authors and genres. I can no longer go back to the books I loved in my youth.

Now that is not to say Young Adult books have left my peripheral vision. Fantastic Mr. Fox was recommended to me. I enjoy reading children’s books because I love to talk about them WITH children. Learning from children is an undervalued resource.

The Movies:

Since my love affair with the Avengers, more notably Tony Stark, I have watched 6 movies.

  1. People Like Us
  2. Bottle Shock
  3. Single man
  4. The Best Marigold Hotel
  5. Blade Runner
  6. Things you can tell by Looking at Her

Not only have my taste in books changed since the start of this project, but my taste in movies has as well. Lets just say, I appreciate art movies more than I did before. There isn’t one movie in that list that I enjoyed more than the others. I am crazy for superhero movies – not one of those is an action pack superhero movie with the exception of blade Runner. It comes close, but Harrison Ford got his ass kicked to often and there wasn’t enough swagger going on for my taste. When I watch sci-fi or action flicks, I expect the impossible. It’s fun to revel in the impossible for a while.

English: Chris Pine poses for a photograph at ...
Isn’t he just delicious?

People Like Us and Bottle Shock had the nicest eye candy. I still have a thing for the new young Captain Kirk aka Chris Pine. He has swagger and is sexy in all his roles. A man with swagger is delicious. Single man surprised me. The Best Marigold Hotel made me laugh because those old birds are delightful! I loved this movie as much as Calendar Girls. But the movie that made me think the hardest was Things You can tell by Looking at Her.

What struck me was the mire these women were all stuck in. It made me think that although people’s lives look better from the outside, we are all the same.

 

My Friend The Reader just put me onto a great site that helps determine your next read. It’s called Whichbook.

You choose from a list of options what you feel like reading, Happy/Sad, Predictable/Unpredictable, Optimists/Bleak an d a myriad of other choices. Then it shows you which book best suits your mood. Sounds perfect for me! I will be giving it a try for my next book.

As for movies? I HAVE to get to the theatre to see BRave, Batman and Spiderman. Although, what was wrong with Toby McGuire’s Spiderman? Those were great movies! Ah well….happy reading!