Friday, December 30, 2011

read my mind

those who know me in person know that i am a reader. i am the kind of person who will purchase a book and have it completely read within a day or two. i am that weirdo who will stay up long into the night because she's at a really good part in her book and can't put it down. i have no ability to comprehend people who "don't read"; in my mind, reading for pleasure is one of the most vital things a person can do. (also, being a writer, i absolutely believe that the only way you get better - other than writing all the time - is by reading as much as you can, to study and absorb other peoples' writing styles)

and so it saddened me to see some quick news bit the other week about some study reporting that people these days are reading for leisure less than ever; i personally can't imagine my life without books. sure, i digest most of my news and long-form essays online, but if i have some time to myself in the evening, i will eschew internet, video games and television so i can work away on my current read instead.

gentlemen, i'm here to tell you that the essay date a girl who reads completely rings true. we are a special breed, we are. /humblebrag

as for me, i fear that a quick scan of my bookshelf won't reveal any deep thinking or philosophical studies (my university english professors would be so disappointed in me, but god i fucking hated the critical theory courses), but - like my terrible taste in music - i'm not ashamed of it at all. my taste in books isn't highbrow, but it's not harlequin romances or pulp trash either, so i guess it's more...pop-culture taste, you could say. it's my taste, and i would rather read something i enjoy versus forcing myself to slog through ayn rand or derrida or whoever.

however, this was also the year that my bookshelf turned partly virtual -- i got a tablet with a built-in e-reader app, so i was introduced to the wide, cheap world of e-books. and although i'll never be able to forsake the feeling of bound pages between my hands, i like the idea of saving both trees and room on my already-crowded bookshelf. so.

(my current reads: lev grossman's the magicians, and stieg larsson's the girl with the dragon tattoo -- the larsson is a reread, though. i also have caitlin moran's how to be a woman on order.)

what follows here is a brief unordered list of my top reads of the last 12 months; i read an ass-ton more than what's listed below, but it wasn't all good, therefore i'm not recommending everything. i understand that you all are busy people with busy lives, but if you're looking for something to pick up and fill your few hours of downtime, i heartily recommend books -- these books specifically.

best books i read in 2011 (not necessarily books that were released in 2011 - just ones that i read for the first time):

deadline, by mira grant

i like zombie apocalypse books. i figure i've read almost all the zombie apocalypse books worth their merit right now (this does not include the passage, which was awful), and this one - the second in a trilogy - was one i was eagerly anticipating. although it took a few reads to get into part 1 (feed), part 2 expands even further upon grant's huge undead-filled world, and makes for even more complex plot twists. also, there's weirdly incestuous overtones (shades of dexter?), so you might want to try and overlook those.

the sisters brothers, by patrick dewitt

look, with the exception of red dead redemption (the zombie expansion pack especially), there are few genres i hate more than the western. it's right up there with war movies as films that make me fall asleep almost instantly. and so i'd heard the sisters brothers was good from a number of friends, but i wasn't quite sure i'd be into it because ugh, westerns. then my mom openly sung its praises, and i decided i'd give it a shot. result: i read it in one day. it's fun and breezy, and absolutely clever in all the right places. plus, the characters are so well sketched out that the sweet ending is even more satisfying.


the long walk and 11/22/63, by stephen king

the former is old and the latter is new, but i got equally sucked into both -- and it's funny, i didn't even think i'd care for 11/22/63 that much, because i'm not a fan of historical nonfiction and i know nothing about the kennedy assassination. surprise, surprise -- my father loaned me his copy and i finished it in less than a week. as for the long walk, it's one of his older and shorter stories (penned under the richard bachman pseudonym), but it's supremely messed-up, and is even more relevant now in the days of reality tv. also: i love stephen king books and i think stephen king is an unbelievable writer and you cannot tell me otherwise.

secret diary of a call girl, by belle de jour

backstory: i'd actually read the sequel to this one, the further adventures of a london call girl, many years ago -- it was my airplane read when i was flying from toronto to vancouver for the first time. however, i didn't manage to track down the first book until this year when i grabbed a copy off ebay, and i found i enjoyed the first one far more than the second. (i bought further adventures at the same time and read them one after the other) where the second book has belle spending most of her time fawning over her utter asshole boyfriend, the first book is a much more naughty real-life look at the world of call girls, and makes for a fascinating read.

a song of fire and ice books 1-5, by george r.r. martin

i bombed through these five books in about a month. maybe two months, tops. reason being that i didn't want to watch the tv show without having read the books first...and then i got sucked in, and couldn't stop until i finished all five in the series so far. although i felt like the narrative got bogged down a bit at times - and you really have to work your brain to keep up with all the individual character storylines going on - there were a number of great total-shock moments, which i love in a novel more than anything.

the night circus, by erin morgenstern

i was debating whether or not to include this one on the list, because i felt that what was supposed to be the main driving force behind the plot - the celia-marco love story - ultimately fell flat, but...i can't not give credit for the descriptive prose in this novel. it's completely beautiful. and while the subplot with the kid and his circus friends is just enough to hold up the weight of the book, i'd really read this one mostly for the descriptions of the night circus itself.

bossypants, by tina fey

yes yes yes! i actually read this one with a very thin knowledge of tina fey's work (i only started watching 30 rock this year -- i know, i know), but i've since read it twice more and given copies away as gifts. i have a weird sense of humour - which i commonly refer to as "asshole humour" - in that there's nothing i find funnier than sarcastic mockery, and tina fey brings it in spades. also, there's such a level of cleverness in her writing that makes this one actually laugh-out-loud funny (which is something i basically never do with books). and then i started watching 30 rock, and then it was all downhill from there.

...and that's about it. agree? disagree? have recommendations for my first 2012 reads? drop me a line and let me know, my friends.

[ music | the futureheads, "decent days and nights" ]