Helen Keller said it best: “Literature is my Utopia.”
I read 61 books in 2012. That’s not a record. I went for quality, not quantity this year. That’s not to say I didn’t read some less-than-literary offerings, some that I could barely slog through, and some that embarrassed me to write in my book journal.
I read “11/22/63” by Stephen King and realized why he remains popular. The man can flat-out write. “The Twelve” by Justin Cronin (read his “Mary and O’Neill to know why I love him) was the middle of his vampire trilogy. Cronin’s character development is second-to-none and his vampires make the Edward/Bella gang scuttle back into their coffins.
I read three exemplary non-fiction books this year that will stick with me for a long while: “Endurance,” Alfred Lansing’s story of Ernest Shackleton’s quest to cross the South Pole is the best book on leadership that I’ve read; Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild,” a young woman’s introspection; and “When Women Were Birds” by the reliably poetic Utah author Terry Tempest Williams.
I re-read three classics that did not disappoint Р “The Call of the Wild” by Jack London (in preparation for an Alaskan cruise), Margaret Atwood’s dystopian “The Handmaid’s Tale”, and “A Separate Peace” by John Knowles, which was published in 1959 and still holds up well.
Two of my favorite authors released books this year and both of them delighted me; Anne Tyler’s “A Beginner’s Goodbye” (if anyone else can capture honest dialogue like Tyler, I haven’t read them) and “The Queen of America” by Luis Urrea.
However, if I had to pick three books that I would recommend to anyone, without hesitation I would list “The Submission” by Amy Waldman, “Salvage the Bones” by Jesmyn Ward, and “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” by Katherine Boo. The latter two are winners of the National Book Award.
If you see me around town, just ask me what I’m reading and be prepared to hear about some other gems from 2012 that I would love to recommend!