Another year is over, and once again I didn’t reach my goal of reading 24 books. It’s just a goal, however, and you have to aim high, so I’m certainly not disappointed with how much I ended up reading. I count it as 12 books, even though technically there’s one book that’s a collection of three books/stories in one. Let’s start with that one, as it’s the first book I read in 2012:
- Young Miles by Lois McMaster BujoldI read this book because it was recommended to me. I’m very picky when it comes to science fiction, but Miles Vorkosigan is a likeable character and the story is well-written. He’s essentially a royal cripple – a crippled young man lucky enough to have been born into royalty who tried to prove himself by going into the military. The first book was long but it was nice to learn more about this world and I’m curious to see what other adventures await the hero. The second story is quite short but essentially also has Miles try to prove himself.
- Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi
An autobiographical account of Portia de Rossi’s battle with anorexia. It’s pretty much only about the eating disorder she fought with for such a long time, so for anyone hoping to find out more about, say, her relationships, this book won’t deliver. At least not much. I’d still recommend it simply because it is such an honest account of anorexia that explains the sheer impact it has on a person’s life. For someone who never really knew much about this, I found it quite eye-opening. That poor woman! Luckily she finally got her life back on track and now seems to live a very happy and healthy life.
- Fang Girl by Helen Keeble
I don’t usually read young adult fiction, but let’s just say this author came highly recommended. I was very pleasantly surprised! This book tells the story of a 15-year-old who wakes up in a coffin one day after having been bitten by a vampire. She then has to evade a vampire hunter and also deal with her parents, who are understandably worried. The book is very witty and pokes fun at a lot of vampire clichés and I therefore recommend it as a quick but very entertaining read.
- Dear Fatty by Dawn French
I didn’t know very much about Dawn French before I read this and was mostly interested because a lot of reviews said this book was very fun, plus I decided to read more autobiographies. It was an okay read and certainly had some parts that stood out, about her time at school, her father’s suicide, also about how she met her future husband, which I thought was a very sweet story. Then I found out that shortly after the book came out, they got divorced, and it bothered me somewhat in finishing the book because in it she professes his eternal love for him and also talks about how they always get over their differences, etc. etc. I guess this book must be much more interesting if you’re a fan of Dawn French’s. She breaks the book up with silly letters she writes as different characters, which were a bit too silly for my taste, so all in all I wouldn’t really recommend the book.
- Just Kids by Patti Smith
An excellent book, possibly the best one I read in 2012. When comparing this with the books by Dawn French or Portia de Rossi, this one really stands out as exceptional. It’s written beautifully and the world you get a glimpse into – an artist’s New York back before everything was so commercial – is fascinating. Getting a glimpse into the lives of artists by itself is already fascinating, and Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe apparently were/are artists through and through. All I knew about Patti Smith was that she sang “Because The Night”, but I had no idea about the person behind all of this. Wow. Recommend this book wholeheartedly.
- The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
This is undoubtedly the worst book I read all year, or to be more precise, the worst book I did NOT read. After about 50 or 60 pages I decided to stop wasting my life. I already wrote about this in my German blog , shortly before I did stop reading it. At any rate, the two main characters are very unlikeable, her style of writing is boring, all the characters talk exactly alike and in general you get the impression as though she self-inserted herself into this story as the female main character and wrote the other guy as her dream boyfriend. IT’S BORING! Bah.
- The Burglar in the Rye by Lawrence Block
You can’t go wrong with Bernie Rhodenbarr mysteries. It’s good and entertaining and I quite like the idea of having a hero who’s a burglar. Nice characters, funny conversations, what’s not to like?
- Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale
I read this in my vacation on a hammock in the shade. A very good read! The interesting story of a con artist who pretends to be an airline pilot and forges cheques. I do recommend this book (I haven’t seen the movie), but the one thing that is slightly disappointing is reading later that not all of it is true and Frank Abagnale said the ghost writer was basically just writing a book loosely based on his life.
- Notes from a Big Country by Bill Bryson
This book by Bill Bryson consists of short essays he wrote about life in the US in a British newspaper and I can very much recommend this book. I’ve been to the US a few times and I often found myself thinking: “This is SO TRUE!” He’s a funny writer and a keen observer and it’s a pleasure reading about the idiosyncrasies of life in the US.
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
This used to be one of my favorite books and I used to go around recommending it to people. I probably first read it about 10 years ago and whoever I recommended it to last has decided to keep my copy, apparently. So I re-bought it last year to give to someone to read and then figured I should read it again myself in time for the movie to come out. And I did. And I still like it, although probably a little less than I did the first time around. Maybe it’s age. To this day haven’t seen the movie because I worry that it might be awful – or rather, because I couldn’t find it in English in a cinema near me. I do still recommend the book, though.
- The Passage by Justin Cronin
I found this book very cheaply at the cool English bookshop in Frankfurt near Hauptwache that, sadly, had to close down and is now a rental car place. Because Frankfurt really needed another one of those… At any rate, I had heard of it before so decided to pick it up and was very much drawn in once I started reading it. With over 800 pages, it’s a huge book, but the story is quite varied and tells a few different stories along the timeline of a very massive catastrophe. There were two things I didn’t like: Number one, that there were a few things that seemed to be unscientific when everything else seemed to be very logically explained. Number two, that there were so many characters that I lost track at some point and after some big revelation, I just thought, “Wait, who was that again?” Still, a good book.
- Surviving the Angel of Death: The True Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz by Eva Mozes Kor
I read this in German (Ich habe den Todesengel überlebt: Ein Mengele-Opfer erzählt) because my father asked me to read it. Wow, what a horrible story. As these books go, it is excellent, but it’s still horrible to read. I think everyone who goes around denying the holocaust should be forced to read this. It’s completely shocking to read about how cruel people can be, from those that decided to make a perfectly friendly family into a family of outcasts, to those that participated in mass killings, to Mengele, who – under the pretense of science – sadistically tortured and murdered random people. Everyone should read this, really.
That’s what I’ve been reading in 2012, comments and suggestions are always more than welcome!