Tallying up, I am delighted that I met my goal to read 52 books in 2012, one for each week last year. It was a bit harder this year than last year with a wee toddler taking much of my weekend reading time but oh so worth it. If you’re interested in seeing everything I read in 2012, the ‘Reading Now’ sidebar is still up on the ‘About Us‘ page on the right hand side, second reading list down. The 2013 list is up and already has 7 books on it. These were my favorite gems from 2012:
Fall of Giants by Ken Follett - This book (the beginning of a trilogy) is not for the faint of heart. It’s over 1,000 pages of historical fiction that brings World War I into your living room. The book follows 5 families all over the globe as they deal with various political, economic and social issues of the time (from women’s suffrage to coal mining to unions all across countries). I never felt like there were any slow sections. The term ‘epic’ barely begins to cover this masterpiece of a book. I’m almost done with Book 2 of the trilogy and have the same sweeping praise for that one.
The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling – Ms. Rowling is best known for her Harry Potter series. This book is nothing like that series and is downright depressing. It is ultimately a book about class warfare but takes its time building the tale. By the time I got to the last third of the book, I could barely put it down and then the last 25 pages sealed it in my head for weeks. I would wake up and my first thought would be of some of the overall themes the book illuminated. One of the professional reviewers called the book ‘deeply upsetting’. I agree with that assessment but still, could not look away
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – This crazy mystery had me hooked right at the beginning and just drew me in page by page. Told with multiple narrators, it teases out the answer to a mystery (missing woman, suspicious husband) with a plot twist I never saw coming. The ending is oh-so-baffling yet satisfying. This book is everything I want in a mystery – not too gory and intelligent with finely drawn characters.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple – A hilarious book, set in Seattle, with a precocious teen for the narrator and detective. It’s a bit of satire mixed with current events mixed with a great mystery to keep you guessing, reading and laughing. The book is filled with dark humor, hilarious social commentary and biting wit. If you like fast-paced hilarity, this book is for you.
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High - This is my 4th read of this book and I find things to learn and grow with every single time. If you are in any relationship (married, have a boss, have kids, have employees), this book will enhance any and all conversations you have, making them richer, more fulfilling and less adversarial. I like this book so much that I had my entire core leadership team at Bramble Berry read it and enjoyed a meaningful discussion with the entire team about the lessons from the book. Our warehouse manager said: “I wish I had read this book 20 years ago. It would have saved me many a misunderstanding.”
Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach – There was absolutely no way I was interested in reading a book about baseball. Unnnnntil, my book club decided to read it and I was stuck. And then I learned what many had before me: this is not a book about baseball. This is a book about relationships, aging, finding your zen and dealing with setbacks gracefully. It is a beautifully written, spot-on book with nary a misstep in writing, character development or plot. The entire tome was satisfying until the last page.