Monday, December 31, 2012

Best Books of 2012

Last year, I made a resolution to toast books sooner.  If you are wondering how that worked out for me, I think my "Best of" numbers speak for themselves:

2010      17
2011      15
2012      21

Trust me, I have not gotten more generous in my rating system in my old age.  It is definitely that I am not wasting my time on bad books and therefore, I am reading more good books.  I will definitely be continuing this resolution going forward.

The reads that really stood out for 2012 were:

  • The Dog Stars
  • Sense of An Ending
  • The Snow Child

If you haven't read any of the above, move them to the top of your queue immediately!  Happy reading.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler

I enjoyed this light beach read book.  I enjoyed the way Tyler would ‘skip over time’.  One minute they are getting married, the next they have a toddler and she is expecting their 2nd child.  It gave me the impression of how quickly life floats by.

Friday, December 28, 2012

These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner

My rating: 4.6

This book is told in the form of a diary written by Sarah Prine,  a tough 18 year old young woman who is a sharpshooter and a spitfire.  Her family pulls up stakes and travels towards a new home in Arizona the early 1880s.  I loved the descriptions of the frontier life.  The earlier style of the book almost lost me but, I am so glad that I hung in there as the fragmented style and misspellings soon gave way to a beautiful story.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

My rating: 4.4
Rules of Civility by Amor TowlesKatey Kontent (Katya) is the center of the story, an unapologetic working girl. She's ambitious and determined seeking success in the publishing industry. Her best friend, Eve, with a lot of spirit, refuses daddy's money and embraces her free spirit.

Eve and Katey meet Tinker Grey on New Year's Eve, 1937, at a jazz bar in Greenwich Village. Tinker's a ruggedly handsome man with an enigmatic mystique. The three become fast friends, but as with many triangulating relationships, a hairline rivalry sets in. Then a tragedy shatters their bond, and their solidarity is ruptured.

This novel is also about New York and its social scenes and the glamour of that era. This story is not without it’s flaws but, it was a very enjoyable read. I look forward to Mr. Towles next novel.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Steadman

The Light Between Oceans
My Rating:  4.7

Tom Sherbourne has miraculously survived World War I and finds himself in a small town in western Australia seeking work as a lighthouse keeper. He meets Isabel, who becomes the love of his life. They begin a romance, marry and move to the isolated lighthouse, Janus, where they hope to start a family.

After Isabel's two miscarriages and one stillbirth, a canoe washes ashore at Janus and in it is a dead man and a live baby girl. Tom wants to report the dead man and return the baby but Isabel begs him to keep the child. He gives in to her and this starts a cycle of misery for everyone.

This is not a happy story.  I have ranked it as a 'beach read' as it flows so effortlessly but, be warned that it is not fluffy or light.  The author does an amazing job of bringing the characters with all of their flaws to life and making your heart wrench for everyone.  Stedman's beautiful prose will haunt you and make you ponder choices and their consequences and how complex every decision is.

Monday, December 17, 2012

All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

My Rating: 3.2

All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthyThis was an enjoyable read but, it definitely went on far too long and was very predictable.  This felt like a pretentious Western in a made for tv movie.  While I do enjoy McCarthy’s writing style and love his eloquence, I didn’t care for the love interest.  It probably didn’t help to know that the female role was cast in the movie as fluffy Penelope Cruz.  I did like Lacey Rawlins and John Grady Cole’s characters and they had some very entertaining dialogue but, for me, the story went downhill a short while after they got to Mexico.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Boy In The Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
My rating: 4.2

This book is written from a naive 9 yo boy's perspective. He comes home from school and is upset to find the maid packing his things. They move from Berlin to a new house far away as his father got a promotion. A tall fence separates thin people that live on the other side of the fence from his house. The boy ends up befriending a boy on the other side of the fence.

The author intentionally makes it so the boy is one of the few (including the reader) who doesn't know what is going on. You have to go with the premise that a 9 yo boy wouldn't understand all of the things in this new environment when he is living in WWII and his father is a Commandant in the Gestapo (this apparently was a stumbling block for a lot of people). I enjoyed this book a lot and have gotten it for my young niece to read.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley & Henry S. Lodge

My rating: 3.7 

The reason this book took so long to "finish" is that it is not a "read cover-to-cover" type of book.  Also, I wanted to be sure that the changes I got from it were lasting before I posted my thoughts.  It has now been almost 5 months and I think it is safe to say that this book has changed my life, or at the very least, my awareness and perspective on aging.  I <u><b>NEVER</u></b> used to exercise.  Since I read this book, I have started exercising at least 5 days a week and sometimes more.
Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley

While this book was life changing for me, it is also hard to recommend.  In a nutshell, it drives the same message over and over again.  You will probably live into your 80's and, it is up to you what that quality of life is like.  If you want to be like you are 50 then you need 3 things:  1) a good social support 2) the eat well 3) exercise in the zone for 1 hour x 6 days a week.  Repeating this message in different ways is effective, but also dry.  Still, with so many of us having sedentary lifestyles, I think this message does need repeating.  I am glad that I read it and will stick with my exercise program.