Five books I read in 2012 (that I want you to read!)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


2012 has been one of my slowest reading years, but interestingly, it has also been one of my best in terms of the quality of books (by my yardstick). I guess when you have reduced time to read, you are probably "wiser" or choosier in deciding what to read. Also, you tend to be more willing to give up on a book, if it isn't working for you. I stopped counting the number of DNFs last year, because unlike in previous years, I was quick to put down a book, even 5 or 10 pages in.

As a result, it was very hard to come up with a list of favorites. I eventually managed to whittle down my list to five books I really want you to read - four favorites and one special mention!


The Favorites
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer: I haven't reviewed this one yet, but I promise to do it soon! This real-life narrative about a tragedy that unfolded on the peak of Mt. Everest intrigued, shocked, frightened and educated me so much that I still think about its "characters" and their families two weeks later.

What the Zhang Boys Know by Clifford Garstang: I'm not usually one to enjoy short story collections, but this one had me spellbounded and unbored (which I totally invented) all the way to the end.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce: I have already seen this book on a few favorites list and I can't help but concur. Harold's journey was enchanting, exhilarating and occasionally symbolic of his own life - Rachel's voice went well with the pacing of the story.

The Singer's Gun by Emily St. John Mandel: I didn't review this one and possibly may never. The actual details of the brilliance of this book have slowly escaped my mind and there is no way I can clearly articulate the cleverness of the plot, the beauty of Mandel's writing and the gradual way the book grew on me.

And a Special Mention
Make it Stay by Joan Frank: This is a book I rated five stars soon after reading it but forgot all about it until I read my own review. Usually when that happens, I tend to lower the rating of the book. But in this case, along with my recollection of the plot, I remembered everything that I loved about this book (well-etched characters, nice buildup to the peak of the story, lovely writing). I still feel the same way about Make it Stay as I did when I read it, but the details of the book probably won't stay with me.

26 comments:

JoV said...

You will never go wrong with Jon Krakauer. I love Into the Wild and trust this is just as good! Happy 2013!

bermudaonion(Kathy) said...

Yikes, I haven't read any of those books. I do own Harold Fry and hopefully will get it read this year.

Athira / Aths said...

I only recently heard of Krakauer's Into the Wild and after being wowed by Into Thin Air (similar titles!), I am going to check his other works.

Athira / Aths said...

I hope you get to try Harold Fry! I know it's been hyped a lot already but it really was splendid!

Wendy said...

Great list. I agree about Make it Stay - a wonderful book that I also rated highly. And I really loved The Singer's Gun (read it in 2011) as well as Harold Fry (which made my list of best books in 2012). I still remember Into Thin Air although I read it when it was first released which was a long time ago now! Jon Krakauer is one of those writers who never seems to disappoint me.

Helen Murdoch said...

What a great set of books. I really like reflecting at the end of the year because I get reminded of the books I loved!

zibilee said...

I actually haven't read any of these, but your list has many books on it that are on my shelves, or that I want to own. After seeing your list, I just ordered Harold Fry and Into the Wild on audio from my library. Nice job with this list. You've made me book hungry which hasn't happened in a long time!!

Tina Reed said...

I read Into Thin Air years ago but remember loving it. I really want to read Make it Stay after reading Frank's book on writing.

Ryan Stonge said...

I had the same reaction to Into Thin Air. It haunted me for weeks when I read it. I will definitely read the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

softdrink said...

I'll second (third? fourth?) Into Thin Air. There were just so many great (in a very tragic way) things about that book. One of the things that really surprised me and that has stayed with me is all the spent oxygen canisters that litter the mountain. :-(

Athira / Aths said...

I have to read more of Krakauer's works. I had vaguely heard about his Into the Wild, but it sounds like it will be my next choice to try.

Athira / Aths said...

I love reflecting on the year that went by. I was surprised by some of the books I read - felt as if I read them a long ago.

Athira / Aths said...

I cannot wait to read Into the Wild as well. It sounds to be just as fabulous as Into Thin Air was.

Athira / Aths said...

I remember coming across her book on writing, but I haven't read it yet. I'm sure it is wonderful - I will have to read it.

Athira / Aths said...

"Haunted" is the right word! I just cannot get some of the images out of my head. The book was as vivid as watching a well-made movie would have been.

Athira / Aths said...

The litter on the mountain really bugged me. So high up - far away from any trash services - and just so much junk on a natural "monument" - that's so sad!

Vasilly said...

After reading your posts and everyone's comments, I really think I should put Into Thin Air on my reading list. Happy New Year!

Athira / Aths said...

Yay! I can't wait to see what you think of Into Thin Air! I hope you like it.

Zohar said...

I have Into Thin Air on my nightstand. I bought it at a book sale for a $1 :)

It just jumped up on the "read next" list.

http://www.ManOfLaBook.com

Delia (Postcards from Asia) said...

First of all, happy belated blog anniversary! It's been nice visiting and I will continue to drop by.
I had the chance to borrow Into Thin Air but somehow it just did not appeal to me. Perhaps I should rectify that.
Happy New Year, I hope 2013 is a blast

Athira / Aths said...

I hope you really enjoy it! I didn't expect it to be as good as i found it to be.

Athira / Aths said...

Happy new year! I hope you will give Into Thin Air a try - it is really worth it. :)

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I really must try Harold Fry.

Athira / Aths said...

Yay! I hope you like it! :)

christa @ mental foodie said...

So sad that I haven't heard of any of them! So thank you for recommending them :)

Athira / Aths said...

You're welcome! :)