Here are the books I read in 2012.
- 11 Nov 2012: The Passage, by Justin Cronin.
- 31 Oct 2012: Too Good To Be True, Benjamin Anastas.
- 22 Oct 2012: vN, Madeline Ashby.
- 13 Oct 2012: Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, David Lipsky.
- 6 Oct 2012: 11/22/63, Stephen King.
- 15 Sep 2012: The Signal and the Noise, Nate Silver.
- 26 Aug 2012: Mr. Smartypants, Michael Showalter.
- 24 Aug 2012: Immobility, Brian Evenson.
- 11 Aug 2012: Permanent Emergency, Kip Hawley.
- 10 Aug 2012: Against Security, Harvey Molotch.
- 6 Aug 2012: Liars and Outliers, Bruce Schneier.
- 25 Jul 2012: The Man in the Maze, Robert Silverberg.
- 14 Jul 2012: The Pale King, David Foster Wallace.
- 5 Jun 2012: The Red Book, Deborah Copaken Kogan.
- 20 May 2012: The Outsourced Self, Arlie Russell Hochschild.
- 13 May 2012: Laughing Man, T.M. Wright.
- 11 May 2012: Strange Seed, T. M. Wright.
- 6 May 2012: The Scarlet Plague, Jack London.
- 2 May 2012: The Nephew, James Purdy.
- 24 Apr 2012: Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House, Meghan Daum.
- 1 Apr 2012: The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins.
- 26 Mar 2012: 1001, Jason Grote.
- 13 Mar 2012: The Chicagoan 1.
- 3 Feb 2012: Simon: The Genius in my Basement, Alexander Masters.
- 28 Jan 2012: Malcolm, James Purdy.
- 22 Jan 2012: In Pursuit of the Traveling Salesman, William J. Cook.
- 18 Jan 2012: Freedom, Jonathan Franzen.
Links go to blogposts about the linked book.
So: 27 books. Of these, 6 were books I was reviewing. 21 pleasure books is a pretty slim total for a year’s work! There’s a list, too, of books that I read substantial chunks of in 2012 and which I still expect to finish: Peter Carey’s Illywhacker, Heidi Julavits’s The Vanishers, Seth Mnookin’s The Panic Virus, Nicholas Lemann’s The Big Test, Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier (a re-read),… probably others I’ve forgotten.
This was the year I started occasionally reading books on a device; 5 of these were read on some combination of iPhone and iPad. Included among these were four of the last five books I finished (along with two I haven’t finished, the Ford Madox Ford and the Julavits.) This might mean that it’s easier to finish books on the device, or it might mean that I differentially tend to buy SF on the phone, and SF is (in general! in general!) easy to read very quickly.
Actually, this was a very heavy SF year for me: 9 out of the 27 books, if you count expansively. My relationship with science fiction is very strange. I grew up reading it and think of myself as liking it. But I have not yet found the place in contemporary SF I really like to sit. Of the 9 SF books I read this year, the two that I really liked were the ones from the 20th century : The Scarlet Plague and The Man in the Maze. The former is a forgotten book that Joshua Glenn wisely released in his Radium Age series, the latter a forgotten book that Johan de Jong wisely made me borrow.
Best book I read: The Pale King, no surprise. And it wasn’t close. Malcolm is the runner-up.
Worst book I read: The Passage, I think, even though on average this book was not bad. The first 300 pages were kind of great, centered on the question: how would it feel to watch the world be destroyed if the world were already kind of destroyed to start with? But then after that there are 700 pages of “old West in the future” and people riding around shooting at monsters. I felt betrayed. This is my quarrel with contemporary SF. So many ideas, so much promise, and then the last 500 pages are always people riding around and shooting at monsters! Sometimes they’re running or flying instead of riding, but always the shooting, always the monsters.