I love to read. Ever since I was a child I would tear through books at lightning speed and be onto the next. My reading slowed down a little in college, and determined to change that I set a goal for myself this year. I am going to read 50 books.
Inspired partly by the recent post at Camels & Chocolate, I decided to share some of my thoughts on what I’ve read this year. I know that many travelers are avid readers, or use reading as a way to pass the time on long bus, train, and plane rides, and I also know that I am always looking for something great to pick up next.
Without further introduction, books 1-10 of 2012:
1. Three and Out: Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines by John U. Bacon
I couldn’t put this down. It is a must read for any Michigan football fan and would definitely interest college football enthusiasts in general. Bacon was given unprecedented access to the team during Rodriguez’s tenure as head coach and the story that plays out is one that seems unthinkable. I really enjoy Bacon’s writing in general, and this book was no exception. This book really hit me hard because of my feelings toward Rodriguez (and Lloyd Carr), which I was forced to reexamine while reading.
2. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
I’ve always meant to read this but just finally got around to it. I like a lot of Sedaris’s essays but I found this book to be trying too hard. The second part, when he moves to France, was much more enjoyable to me, but probably mostly just because I could relate to the cultural and language barriers he wrote about. A decent book but not what I was expecting.
3, 4, and 5. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Whenever I saw someone post about these books I thought they sounded stupid and imagined them to be way outside of my interests. After reading the like 8,000th post about them I decided to bite the bullet. So glad I did. I read all 3 in about 4 days. The first one was by far the best, and though I found the final book to be a little far fetched and contrived, I enjoyed these far more than I thought I would and recommend them to anyone looking for an easy, entertaining read. If there’s anyone left who hasn’t read them.
6. Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann
This book was really hard for me to get into. I struggled for about the first 200 pages. But after that I was hooked. The writing is beautiful, I have a bunch of pages dogeared and passages underlined, and the story was delicately powerful. I felt emotionally drained, but in a good way, when I finished. Don’t get discouraged by the first couple hundred pages should you decide to try this. This coming of age story is well worth sticking out!
7. The Fault in our Stars by John Green
This book has been talked about extensively in the blogosphere. Two kids have cancer and engage in witty dialogue and everyone ABSOLUTELY LOVES IT. Well, everyone except me. I didn’t dislike it. I enjoyed reading it, but I don’t hold the same enthusiasm for it as the rest of the internet seems to. Still, it was well written and the plot line was engaging, and I think it is worthy of a read, even if I’m not shouting it’s name off rooftops.
8. The Aquariums of Pyongyang by Kang Chol-Hwan
Since I read Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick (which everyone should read NOW) last year I’ve become a little bit of a North Korea-phile. This book tells the story of Kang Chol-hwan, a North Korean who was placed in a prison work camp as a child and after his release eventually escaped to South Korea through China. Though the translation can be somewhat awkward at times, the book is incredibly riveting and like most books about North Korean, it is so scary that it almost seems unbelievable.
9. Daughters of the River Huong by Uyen Nicole Duong
I actually started reading this last year but I put it down for a while (probably more telling of my thoughts about it than any words could) and just finally got around to finishing it. The book tells the story of four generations of women in a Vietnamese family and while some parts were incredibly captivating, I was never able to fully get into the book. The historical details of colonial Vietnam were woven nicely into the story and, in the end, were what kept me reading. Not the best, but it might be worth picking it up if you are looking for some fiction to accompany you on a trip to Vietnam, especially if you manage to get the .99 Kindle edition like I did.
10. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
This is another book that came heavily recommended, from both bloggers and the press. Harbach’s character driven story is a book about baseball that’s actually not about baseball. I sped through the first few hundred pages during a five hour wait at the immigration office one day and just kept on going. The ending was one that I didn’t see coming, one that packed a final emotional punch that had me thinking about it long after I’d finished reading. This book is a must-read.
What are you currently reading? What are your recent must-reads?