A quick note: While all of these books were read in 2012, I still wanted to be able to do them just by including them in my book list, even if after the fact. My total book read for the year for 2012 was 10 books, which is not particularly hefty, but at the same time I am not ashamed. In 2012, I started working full time, and continued to make progress on my novel, so things even out in the end.
8. A Simple Act of Gratitude by John Kralik
This book was given to my husband and I by his mother, and while I generally read mostly fiction books by choice, I wanted to check out what my mother-in-law had wanted us to read. A Simple Act of Gratitude was a quick read, and has a very simple basis: the author decided to write a thank you note a day for a year of his life. He made this decision at a time when seemingly everything was going wrong–his career, his marriage, his finances, etc. He had no idea what was left for him to be thankful for, but one note at a time, he figured it out. Sure, this book has a bit of a corny premise, but I actually found myself drawn to John’s story, and the unflinching look he gave into his own life. While I haven’t written a thank you note a day after reading this, I certainly sit down with a blank notecard and a stamp much more often than I used to, and I can very much see the importance of even a quick, three-sentence card, not only for the person on the receiving end, but for the one penning the note.
9. Where the God of Love Hangs Out by Amy Bloom
After reading Away, a novel by Amy Bloom that I adored, I picked up this short story collection that T’s cousin had sent me a few years ago. It’s really too bad that this was my first time reading this collection—it sat on my shelf for a few years, and it could have been influencing my writing for all that time.
The thing I loved the most about these stories were how beautifully weird they were. They were love stories between people who shouldn’t be in love, and they were detailed, and gritty, and lovely all at the same time. I found myself oddly rooting for the woman in love with her stepson (weird, I know, but the characters were so sympathetic) and the elderly couple finally finding love in the wrong places. I know that I’ll pick this book up again for a reread in the future.
10. The Passage by Justin Cronin
This book, too, was sent to us by said cousin above (I know, she rocks) and while I think she may have intended it for T to read (like that would ever happen), I picked it up and couldn’t put it down. As some of you may know, I’m a closet science fiction/fantasy nerd, and this book fulfilled my lack of a good genre read for the year. The Passage is like Lord of the Rings meets Walking Dead—it’s the story of an epic journey, told from various perspectives and over hundreds of years, and takes place in a post-apocalyptic United States that has been overrun by a mutant virus that turns people into zombie-ish vampires (I mentioned I’m a nerd, right?). Each time I started a new chapter in the perspective of another character I felt disappointed to be leaving the previous character behind, but soon realized that I really cared about each and every character equally. I really enjoyed every aspect of this book, and after I finished (I read the final 500 pages in about a day and a half) I ran right out to Barnes and Noble to buy the second installation of the trilogy that had just been released.
On to a new year and many more books to conquer (I hope!).