Friday, January 11, 2013

Five Fave Books of 2012 & a Guest Post


Last year, I asked my friend Linda to join me in a guest post listing our 5 favorite books. You can read that here. I enjoyed the post so much that I decided to make a tradition of it & asked Linda to participate again, because of our shared love of reading, her book reviews & her choices, which are very different than mine. Please share your favorite reads in the comments!

I’m Linda and I blog over at Curious Notions and vlog in collaboration at Totes Awesome Channel. Last year I wrote a guest post for Danielle listing out my five favorite books read in 2011. I’m honored that Danielle invited me back to write a post for 2012. I love sharing my thoughts on books! So here’s my list for 2012.

My Favorite Books of 2012
Just Kids – I think the post I did on Just Kids on my blog was the only book review I posted in 2012, which is an indication of how special this book was to me. I read this book because it came highly recommended by Ashley. It is Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe’s love story. I’m not one who buys into the concept of soul mates but couldn’t classify Smith and Mapplethrope’s beautiful relationship any other way.
The Elegance of the Hedgehog – I set out to read this book when my favorite book blogger blogged about it. I loved the title so much and when Vishy mentioned that it may be one of the top novels he’s ever read, I ceased reading his review to nurture surprise. I did enjoy his very thorough post after finishing the novel and wanting to prolong the magic. Three of the characters you follow closely in Elegance of the Hedgehog are a suicidal eleven year old, a misanthropic hotel concierge, and a wealthy Japanese tenant. For how flawed these two are, I found myself falling for them. I enjoyed the novel for its charming plot and dialogue and loved the vast and often philosophical questions considered by the unlikely duo(s). I must warn you that when I finished reading this book, I felt a sense of loss, so deep that it was hard to concentrate at work.
Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement – I have a weakness for pop psychology and what I call “brain books”. Social Animal sets out to explain and demonstrate what motivates humans and how they achieve and define success. What I loved about this book was the unique approach. It is nonfiction told through a fictional couple, Harold and Erica. David Brooks, the New York Times columnist and author narrates the story of Harold and Erica from birth to death and traces social and biosocial phenomenons through their fictional lives. It was a pretty entertaining and informative read.
Stumbling on Happiness – I never thought I’d say this book would be one of my favorite nonfictions, but it certainly is one of my favorite nonfictions in 2012. I tried reading this book 3 years ago and gave it up. I tried reading this book again in 2011 and gave it up. I tried for the third time in 2012 and loved it. I kept gravitating to this book because Daniel Gilbert has become a thought leader on the science of happiness. I continuously found references of Stumbling on Happiness in my other readings and online on blogs and articles. I don’t know why his writing did not captivate me the first two times but his style made me chuckle during the third attempt. More importantly, his book was so dense with studies and facts that I had to take notes while I read to retain the fascinating conclusions. Our brains play a lot of tricks on us that lead to us misjudging what would make us happy.
Almost Like Being in Love – The first four books I listed aren’t actually light reads so I thought I’d pick my favorite light read. I was at the library one day and they didn’t have on hand any of the books I wanted to read. I started trolling Good Reads and my friend Alex and I had a strong overlapping tastes. He gave Almost Like Love five stars on Good Reads and the library happened to have a copy in its stacks. I could not put it down! It is “chick lit” but the story revolves around two gay men. (Insert obvious joke about genre here.) Travis and Craig fall in love senior year of high school. They move away from each other for college and lose touch eventually. Twenty years later, Travis decides to seek out Craig. The story is told through emails, post-its, menus, school assignments, and the like. It was a charming and funny read. I sighed and giggled out loud while reading this book.
Thanks Linda for the great recommendations! And now for my list:

What You See in the Dark- This novel sets two interweaving stories together about the making of Hitchcock's Psycho and a small town murder. So beautifully written and the author focuses on the characters sense of quiet desperation- a young Latina singer looking for romance and fame; an actress wanting more; a lonely and bitter mother... The book read like a Hitchcock film where every word is precise and every scene is detailed and full of symbolism and suspense. Be prepared this is a tragic story.

It - I know that people either love or hate Stephen King. I am a huge fan. His stories are about the characters first and foremost and I think he has a lyrical gift. It tells the story of seven kids who discover the source of evil killing children and adults in a small town in Maine. The story moves back and forth between the character's childhood and the present as adults. This is a hefty book and I know that criticism was pointed at the numerous flashbacks & detail that could have (or should have depending on your taste) been decreased. However, I feel like all the detail really added to the story and it never felt overbearing to me.

The Twelve (Book Two of The Passage Trilogy): A Novel - The first book in this trilogy was one of my favorite books of 2010 & I couldn't wait to read this one. It did not disappoint. This is not just a story about virals (in the simplest definition, vampires) but rather about humanity, love, friendships and what humans will do to survive and make sense of the world.

The Age of Miracles: A Novel -  This is a story of the slow ending of the world as told through the viewpoint of an 11 year old girl. The science fiction aspect is just a backdrop to the coming of age story and I was grateful for that. The novel focuses on the struggles of the young girl as she watches her parents marriage fall apart, her best friend pull away & of course there is a love story.

Thunderstruck - This is the second book I've read by Larson and just as the first, this was fantastic. 
This is the interwoven stories of two men at the turn of the 20th Century- one who is working tirelessly on wireless communication & the other who commits murder. And it's just brilliant how they connect in the end. My only criticism would be that sometimes the detailed scientific explanations were a bit too heavy for my taste, although it was all fascinating.   

*Disclosure - I am an Amazon affiliate member & I will receive financial compensation if you purchase any of the books above. So please purchase & help a lady out. Lol. 

I must have been in a dark mood, seeing that all my fiction picks had rather dreary and haunting subject matter. I read 34 books, 17 of which were non-fiction. 

I hope you discover a new author, genre or book from our lists. Or perhaps you've read one or some of these & disagree with our opinions. I'd love to hear what books you'd recommend or thoughts on any of the books we chose above. And thanks again Linda - can't wait to see what your picks are for this year. 

4 comments:

Linda said...

The neat thing about King is that he writes so much that there's bound to be at least one book that you might enjoy. So far, I've only read one of his fictions as a teen and still his memoir, On Writing, is one of my favorite books.

Thanks for having me, friend!

Vishy said...

Loved the post!

@Linda - Loved your favourite books! I have 'Just Kids' on my desk next to me. Hoping to read it soon. So glad to know that you loved 'The Elegance of the Hedgehog'. Thanks for the link :)

@Danielle - Thanks for inviting Linda to do this guest post! I found your choices quite interesting too! Loved what you said about Stephen King's 'It'. I remember him adding probably a few hundred pages to his book 'The Strand' and coming up with a new uncut edition.

Lauren Michelle said...

@Danielle: Oh my gosh, the word It by itself makes me cringe. One of my cousins made me watch that when I was, like, five or six, and I was afraid afterward. I just can't look at the word alone the same way anymore.

@Linda: I've seen The Elegance of the Hedgehog around in bookstores and thought it looked interesting. I'll have to put it on my TBR list now! You make me want to read it. :)

Linda said...

@lauren - there are nods to Anna Karenina in Elegance!

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