Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Who in the what, now?

The new year usually inspires me to start new things, or at least get a fresh start to things I may already be doing. I’m a little late to the party, but here we are. New year, new blog! The one thing that has remained constant in my life, through all of the new things and fresh starts, is my love of books and reading in general.  So what better subject for a new blog than books?

There are several new things that are happening in my life this year (see the header at the top of this page) and I’m sure those things will inform some of my reading choices. I hope to share some of those events here as we go. In the meantime, let's get to know each other a little bit.

I read mostly literary fiction but am not above chick lit if it’s good. I have a weakness for historical fiction and coming-of-age stories.  Last year, I also read a lot of books that were part of a series (Hunger Games, A Song of Ice and Fire, Outlander, The Lincoln Lawyer, The Southern Vampire Mysteries, and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants).  

Here are my favourite books of 2012, in no particular order.

Riding Rockets, Mike Mullane
Mike Mullane is a member of NASA's astronaut class of '78. In Riding Rockets, he chronicles his time with the space shuttle program including training, the three shuttle missions he flew, and NASA office politics. He also discusses Challenger and Columbia, giving insights that were new to me. Mullane's sense of humor made the book incredibly entertaining. His descriptions felt real and the Challenger portion was heartbreaking.


The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
The characters and the story make this series unique. I had a hard time putting it down until it was finished, then I couldn't wait to get my hands on the next two books. I didn't love the other two books as much as this first one but it's still great series.

In One Person, John Irving
Irving is one of my favourite authors and this is his latest novel. It captures everything I love about John Irving's books: memorable characters, stories that are quirky but still somehow believable, humour, and just good writing in general. This one is about Billy Dean and his coming of age in the '50s, when he begins to realize that he is bisexual. The novel follows him throughout his life as he tries to figure out, and come to terms with, his sexual idenity.


When the Nines Roll Over: And Other Stories, David Benioff
When it comes to short stories, I'm sort of picky. It's hard to beat Alice Munro but I have discovered a few other writers over the years that I like. David Benioff is one of them. The characters and stories in this collection drew me in, and the stories were thought-provoking. Some were intense. This is a very well written group of stories.

Infidel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali 
Ali was born in Somalia and grew up in Kenya, in primarily Islamic communities. Infidel is her story about being a woman in an Islamic society and her struggle to reconcile her faith with the brutality that she witnesses as a direct result of that faith. Ultimately, Ali breaks with Islam and with her family, escaping to the Netherlands where she eventually becomes a member of parliament. Her story is interesting, thought-provoking, and inspiring. 

The Lincoln Lawyer, Michael Connolly
I read this book because the movie was coming out and the trailer looked really interesting. I'd never read anything by Connolly before and I was pleasantly surprised by how entertained I was. Mickey Haller is the title character. He's a criminal defense attorney with a quick wit and questionable ethics. I enjoyed the mystery and the courtroom theatrics. I plan on reading more from this series, and hope that they make another movie because Matthew McConaughey is perfectly cast.

Wild, Cheryl Strayed 
Yet another memoir! I should have mentioned that I have a fondness for those, too. This one I actually listened to as an audiobook during my commute to work. Back in the '90s, Strayed's mother died, her marriage fell apart, and she discovered heroin. With her life going down the tubes, she decides to leave it all behind and spend 100 days alone, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Her journey was really interesting to read about and she writes very well. There were some moments that were just gutwrenching.

What were some of your favourites from last year?


  1. I haven't heard of many of those - I'll have to check them out! I loved the Hunger Games too. My favorite book I read last year though was Sarah's Key.

    1. Sarah's Key was good! I didn't love it the way I expected to but it was good. Have you read any of that author's other books? I think she had one out last year, I remember seeing it at Costco.