Monday, December 31, 2012

End of the Year Roundup

I don't think I've ever really done an end-of-the-year post before.  But we have the day off of work today, and I'm feeling contemplative, so here we are.

2012 has been an interesting year.  I've spent most of the year reading from three different series of books:  Laurie King's Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series (my favorite books by far this year...all of them!); Jean M. Auel's classic Earth's Children series, which I never read when I was younger for some reason (maybe because of all the sex?) - anyway, I doubt that these would have held my attention when I was younger anyway, as they are very info-dump-y with all the prehistoric stuff in them; and Heather Webber's Lucy Valentine series - a paranormal romance-type series in which the heroine uses her psychic abilities to solve crimes.  I also joined a reading challenge for the first time this year.  Literary Feline's Merely Mystery Reading Challenge was right up my alley, especially since I knew I'd be reading quite a few mysteries this year.  I read six of Laurie King's books this year, and if you count the Lucy Valentine series, too, that brings my total up to ten, I think.  I didn't link all of these (in fact, I think I only linked like two of them), but I more than met my goal of reading two or more mysteries for the year!

All told, I read 22 books this year (and am about halfway through another one, but I definitely won't finish it before tonight is over).  That's two more than I read last year!  That may not seem like a lot, but I'm glad I increased from the year before.  I credit that to the quick reads that were Heather Webber's books.  I read almost all of those in a day or less.  The Earth's Children series are a bunch of chunksters, as were the couple of last books in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series that I read this year (although those were pretty fast reads for me, too).  I'd like to read more than that next year.  Maybe I should up my YA and middle-grade reading, or start reading some graphic novels?  We'll see.  After I finish my current read (The Land of Painted Caves, the last in the Earth's Children series, published just this year), I have a review book and some more Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes novels awaiting me.  I'm glad - that's a series I'm not ready to see end.

What have you accomplished this year?  What are your reading plans for 2013?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Review: The Best American Non-Required Reading 2010 ed. by Dave Eggers

This volume is almost always my favorite of the Best American books. It's a great mix of humor, serious essays, fiction, and illustrations. This book was a Christmas gift in 2010, and I finally got around to reading it. I actually finished it on Sunday, but Blogger's been such a punk this week (and I've had so much going on in my own life with the end of the semester, a busy court week, and the holidays) that I couldn't post a review until now.

The Non-Required Reading book is split into two parts - a humorous intro by Dave Eggers and the kids of 826 National, a project intended to foster young writers and improve their writing skills - and the section including the selections from various magazines and literary journals. These included a memoir-ish essay by Sherman Alexis, excerpted from his book War Dances; an excerpt from Tea Obreht's The Tiger's Wife, which just makes me want to read it even more; and a short story by Kurt Vonnegut, called "The Nice Little People." There were also essays, most notably one called "Seven Months, Ten Days in Captivity" by David Rohde, about his time as a prisoner of the Taliban.

I'd give this one four out of five Whatevers. It was good, engrossing reading when I picked it up, but I wasn't running back to it as quickly as I might go back to a novel. Of course, that might have something to do with the season, too. It's been busy around here. Definitely a must for fans of the series or the Non-Required readers, and also for those who want something to digest in little pieces during this busy time of year.


I'm not sure if I'll get another book in this year (in fact, I'm pretty sure I won't, since my next planned read is a doorstop), but I think I did better this year than last...I'll have to go check the numbers.