Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Sunday Salon: Reflections and End of Year Book Survey



Like everyone else, I'm in a reflective mood this Sunday. I absolutely LOVE this time of year with its focus on looking back and looking ahead. I'm all about making lists, the "best of's" and the "not so best of's" alike.

I'll probably finish 2012 having read 56 (maybe 57) books. Not too bad. That's an average of one per week, but that's lower than my usual average. It has been a pretty good reading year.

Still, I'm not quite prepared this Sunday to announce my Best Books of 2012. (I did, however, issue my picks for Best Nonfiction Books and Memoirs for 2012.) Part of that is because I just finished a book this morning that will be on my best books list (that would be A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens). Part of that is because we were away last week for Christmas. And part of that is because the reading year isn't over until the clock strikes midnight on December 31.

Plenty of time to get another book in!

Yes, I am one of those people who cannot be in the middle of a book when we turn the calendar to a new year. I never have.

So, for today, here's the End of Year Book Survey (thanks to The Broke and the Bookish).

1. Best Book You Read In 2012?

Adult Fiction:
The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes
Arcadia, by Lauren Groff
The Storm at the Door, by Stefan Merrill Block

Contemporary YA:
The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

Poetry:
Red Bird, by Mary Oliver
Echolalia, by Dan Waber

Nonfiction:
And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic, by Randy Shilts
Because You Have To: A Writing Life, by Joan Frank

Memoir:
Father's Day, by Buzz Bissinger
The Middle Place, by Kelly Corrigan

2. Book You Were Excited About and Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Unearned Pleasures and Other Stories, by Ursula Hegi
I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections, by Nora Ephron
The Life All Around Me By Ellen Foster, by Kaye Gibbons

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012?
The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?
The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes

5. Best series you discovered in 2012?
I don't think I read any series in 2012. (I'm not much of a serial reader.)

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?
Jessica Keener, Gillian Flynn, Joan Frank, Deb Caletti, and ... (don't laugh) Charles Dickens.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
With My Body, by Nikki Gemmell

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?
Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year
I'm not much of a re-reader, but I'd have to say A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. 
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?


11. Most memorable character in 2012?

Morgan MacDonald, from And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts:
The ambulance stopped on 10th Street, double-parked, and quickly bundled a young man onto a gurney. The ambulance driver and a second man carried the stretcher to the second-floor offices of the AIDS Foundation and set the stretcher on the floor. A nurse walking with them hurriedly put down a few plastic bags containing all the young man's possessions. Then, they turned and walked out, leaving the gaunt man lying on the floor. 
Confused staffers at the foundation pieced together his story. Since July, Morgan MacDonald had been treated at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida for severe cryptosporidiosis, stemming from AIDS. When his state Medicaid benefits ran out, Shands, a private hospital, ordered MacDonald to leave by October 7. However, there was no place for the twenty-seven year old to go .... Shands Hospital doctors called San Francisco General Hospital to see whether that facility would accept MacDonald. The hospital said it did not accept acutely ill transfer patients and suggested he stay in Florida. Then the AIDS Foundation started getting calls from Florida, inquiring how a man with AIDS, who wanted to move to San Francisco, could get on the outpatient treatment program. 
Early Tuesday morning, Shands Hospital officials loaded MacDonald in a private Learjet air ambulance with a doctor and nurse. Although the plane cost $14,000 to charter, it was a cheaper alternative to the $100,000 in hospital bills an AIDS patient typically accumulated. The hospital also took $300 from money raised in the gay community to help AIDS patients and put it in the stricken man's pocket for spending money." (pg. 374) 
Also, Augustus from The Fault in Our Stars and Amy from Gone Girl. 
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012

A Slant of Sun: One Child's Courage, by Beth Kephart
Night Swim, by Jessica Keener

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012?

And the Band Played On, by Randy Shilts
Tell the Wolves I'm Home, by Carol Rifka Brunt
Night Swim, by Jessica Keener

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read?
A Christmas Carol, believe it or not.
15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012?

Just ONE??

"We live in time - it holds us and moulds us - but I've never felt I understood it very well. And I'm not referring to theories about how it bends and doubles back, or may exist elsewhere in parallel versions. No, I mean ordinary, everyday time, which clocks and watches assure us passes regularly: tick-tock, click-clock. Is there anything more plausible than a second hand? And yet it takes only the smallest pleasure or pain to teach us time's malleability. Some emotions speed it up, others slow it down; occasionally, it seems to go missing - until the eventual point when it really does go missing, never to return." (The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes, pg 3-4) 

16.Shortest and Longest Book You Read In 2012?

Longest: And the Band Played On, by Randy Shilts (605 pages)

Shortest: Book of Days Poems by Jennifer Hill Kaucher (56 pages)

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It?
Gone Girl. There were more than a few such scenes in that one.

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
Hazel and Gus in A Fault in Our Stars. 

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously
Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter
The Lola Quartet, by Emily St. John Mandel

20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:
Boleto, by Alyson Hagy (a recommendation from Beth Kephart).

I'll have my list of Best Books Read In 2012 for you tomorrow, along with several other bookish stats to wrap up the year.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to find one more book to squeeze in for the year.


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1 comment:

Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow said...

I also found Gone Girl unputdownable....And I am planning to read The Fault in Our Stars some time this year.

Happy New Year!