Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My Best Books of 2012 List


Since its the middle of January now I'm tastefully late in a little recap of my fav books (and maybe my least fav-because criticism is fun!) of last year. I'm a bit of a bi-polar reader, so I try and cover the gamut of genres. For most of these titles I've written a full post so if you're interested in further random observations just give em a click!

Fiction

The Secret Cardinal by Tom Grace: I can't believe I'm recommending a Catholic spy novel written by a Catholic because that seems so highly unusual that it couldn't possibly be a good read-but theres a first time for everything! Definitely recommended if you're in the mood for a well-written thriller that's well done and not offensive.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantle: This book is some hardcore historical fiction but the writing is unbelievable and the story does draw you in. Somehow making Thomas Cromwell a sympathetic figure is a remarkable feat and if you're any kind of literature nerd you should give this a read if only to witness incredible talent. The sequel is on my to-read list this year!

Love in the Ruins by Walker Percy: A book so good its hard to describe. So worth reading or rereading. Beautifully weaves a strange tale with deep spiritual truths, love love!

Kingfishers Catch Fire by Rumer Godden: A unique but interesting look at a woman and her struggles with material poverty, cultural differences, and her own view of poverty, humility, and motherhood. Gooden has a great way of bringing subtle spiritual themes to life. Its a quirky read but worth it.

What Alice Forgot by Alice Moriarty: A contemporary novel that was actually a fun, pleasurable read and left me thinking about it much more than I had anticipated. I've read reviews of people loving and hating it, but I think it was well written and a good story, which are both things that seem hard to come by in good contemporary fiction these days. A woman losing her memory of the last ten years only to wake up to children she doesn't know and a failed marriage is an intriguing idea to me. The story makes one ponder how one lives their life and how small changes make big impact down the road.

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons: A classic that I can't believe I hadn't read before. Absolutely hilarious, and perfectly written. Gibbons has created one of the most memorable female characters since Anne of Green Gable in Flora, and how Flora transforms a farm family with her common sense and wit is a joy to read.

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins: I know this is on every list, and I went in skeptically but figured I should read them if only to be hip and current, however, I was pleasantly surprised with the writing quality and the moral themes behind the story. The first novel stands by itself, and although I can understand the choices made in how she wrote the following two, they contain more flaws in characterization and development, and probably veer a little too much into teenage angst, but these flaws are hardly noticeable in how riveting the action is and how pulled into the story the reader becomes.

Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers: A re-read for me, but possibly one of the best written mysteries to come out of the Golden Age of Mystery. Sayers is such a great writer that she elevates the genre completely. Harriet Vane is the main character of this novel and I love her so much I want to be friends with her in real life. It really is a must read if you like a great mystery!



Non-Fiction

Sex, Style, and Substance: 10 Catholic Women Consider the Things That Really Matter edited by Hallie Lord: It really is a must read. A book addressing the major issues affecting Catholic women today written by smart, rational, normal, funny, and faithful writers is something desperately needed in today's Catholic culture. I still have to buy a copy for every woman I know...

Wish You Were Here: Travels Through Loss and Hope by Amy Welborn: I really think this is a great contemporary book on spirituality. I'm not sure if it appealed to me more because I read it in a time where I was struggling a lot spiritually, but I think this book is excellent in accurately describing spiritual struggle in times of great emotional difficulty on a more universal scale that the loss of a spouse. 

Catholicism:A Journey to the Heart of Faith by Fr. Robert Barron: Of course I'm putting this on my must read list. It must have felt a monumental task to compress 2000+ years of Catholic history in one easy to read book but he did it. Because he's awesome. And so is this book.

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert Massie: Yep, I'm fully on the nerd wagon with this one. I'm admitting I have a strange, weird little devotion to historical biographies especially of woman monarchs. I blame being homeschooled. But this book is truly fascinating, a completely strange and messed up life of such a historic figure. I admit I loved it. 

Epic Fails

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D James: It still both pains me and makes me angry to even think of this book. One of my favourite writers ever, obviously one of the greatest stories to base a new pastiche novel upon, and yet such a strung out, simply poor mystery. I go on and on about it in my other post...so, so, sad.

Rules of Civility by Amor Tawles: This is supposed to be a very popular, cool, chic novel to read and I wanted to be enthralled with the jazz-era story of friends in New York City. The strange ending left me feeling unsatisfied but I wasn't sure if it was just because I didn't care at all about the characters or because the story was written from such an empty, modern perspective.

Wow, this list makes me look like a real nerd, but I love reading. I'm also on Goodreads if you care to follow along with my more guilty pleasures that I'm too embarrassed to admit on a blog! And if you've read any of the above I'd love to hear what you think-and I'm always on the prowl for new and great book recommendations!

2 comments:

  1. We seem to have the same taste in reading - and I agree on your epic fails. They were truly awful and disappointing.

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  2. Just reserved all of the titles my library had:) So pleased to find someone who has similar taste in reading. Have just requested to friend you on goodreads. Some book recs here http://www.amongstlovelythings.com/2013/01/2012-in-books
    not sure what to recommend to you personally as I tend to be a theme binge reader. Love mysteries, mm could recommend authors there, have been reading crime thrillers (hey I;m addicted to print), like some chick flick and then I like historical fiction and sometimes biographies. mmm gee I'm always writing children's book reviews but rarely adults, guess I need to as I really enjoy reading others

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