In 2012 I read 42 books. Some of them trash (I'm looking at you 50 Shades of Grey) and some of them simply wonderful (Steve Jobs, you could have been 1,000 pages longer and I would have kept reading). Below I've shared my reviews from all the books I read in 2012 that I happily awarded 5 out of 5 stars. These books kept me hooked, enticed me, and I never wanted them to end. I'd love to hear if you agree or disagree with my 5 star ratings, and I'd love to hear which books you gave 5 stars in 2012 that I should add to my list for 2013.
Goooooo book nerds!
This is one of the best books I've read in a very long time. It's crazy long, so if a long book frightens you I'd suggest reading it on an eReader.
At the end of the day, this book is full of everything Wild West. Indians, cowboys, gun fights, whores, cattle, death and struggle. The characters are remarkably lovable, and sadly before I knew it the story was over. If the idea of the Wild West has ever fascinated you, you MUST read this book. I sort of want to read it again…
There was a big part of me that didn't want to love this book. The hype of it all. Are these books actually good? I mean, millions of people like the Twilight series, so we know that just because the masses are on board doesn't mean a book is any good.
Turns out I had nothing to fear. This was one of the most interesting books I've read in a while. I devoured it and found myself trying to find moments anywhere that I could keep reading. Suzanne Collins created a world I never could have dreamed of with characters that you can't help but want to fight for. The minute the book ended I had to force myself to stop and take a break since the urge to immediately begin reading book two was so strong. I can't wait to see what happens next in this horrible world Collins has created.
The only lasting question I find myself having is, am I as a reader intended to be just as bad as the creators of the Hunger Games? I was so captivated by every twist and turn in the games, wanting to see what would happen next, just as the creators of this horrible game intend and just as Katniss despised. It just keeps having me wonder if the reader is supposed to feel a little guilty for loving the drama of it all. Wouldn't Katniss actually want us to be disgusted by it all instead of wanting more?
WOW. When "Hunger Games" ended I had no idea what the following two books could hold. Would they simply follow Katniss and her life as a victor? Would Prim end up in the games? I assumed that the only logical step for book two would be watching the struggle Katniss faced as she mentored two children from her district she might never see again.
Clearly that isn't what Collins had in mind! This book was just as engrossing for me as the first book. I found I couldn't stop reading until I knew what was going to happen next. With the ending of book two I won't pause to jump into book three. I feel like I know how Collins will resolve these massive issues that have cropped up, and yet, I fear she wont pick a happy ending for this characters. Don't mind me while I dive in.
This is one of those series that when it ends you find yourself sitting there wondering where you go from here. I have loved books since I was a little kid, and yet it has been longer than I can remember that I read a book that hooked me in so deep I actually spent 9+ hours in a single day just trying to finish the book without getting bored.
I will admit that as the book went on I found myself becoming more and more irritated with Katniss as a character. I wanted to really empathize with Katniss considering how much she'd been through over the course of the books, and yet, I found myself empathizing with Peeta before Katniss. Was that intended by the author? Am I off base?
Either way, I loved the story, it felt more like watching tv than reading, and I am actually sort of sad that I don't have a book four to jump right into.
I fell in love with Josh and Brent with the launch of their reality show The Fabulous Beekman Boys two years ago. The book The Bucolic Plague helped to fill in the two or more years before the show began and help fans of the show come to understand how Josh and Brent went from randomly purchasing the Beekman to deciding to create their company Beekman 1802. It rounds out the story of how Josh and Brent came to dedicate their lives to farming and living at Beekman full time.
But this books isn't only for those who already know of the Fabulous Beekman Boys. This book reminded me of Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle in the way it inspired me to live a different life. Here were two men working in New York City, apart of the grind, successful, but still missing something.
With the purchase of what was planned as a weekend home, suddenly the reality of living on a farm, of learning about heritage vegetables, raising and killing their own meats, living what they called their "full life" suddenly outweighed their desire to be fashionable New York city boys. I understand that desire to checkout from the 9-5 and put your effort into the soil. In my few years of urban gardening I too have felt the pull to just throw all my efforts into a more "simple" life. What they're doing, attempting to make a living on a farm is so idyllic, so amazing, and something I'd love to be attempting myself.
The fact that they're also hilarious, smart, quick witted gay men doesn't hurt the appeal of their story either. 🙂
This is a great book to read if you've ever been interested in the whole farm to table lifestyle, or if like me you dream of one day leaving your 9-5 and spending your days farming. Also, a lovely extension of the wonderful Josh and Brent if you're a Beekman fan like myself.
I was bit with the gardening bug when I bought my house in 2009. Sure the house was impressive, but the backyard is what spoke to me. Yard for days — receiving a perfect amount of 8+ hours of daylight in the summer. My first summer garden was a disaster as they usually are, but by summer #2 I was ready to do more. Grow more. My second summer was an amazing experience as I watched everything from lettuce to cauliflower to the biggest sunflowers I'd ever seen reach maturity. But even though I'd grown vegetables and enjoyed them, I still felt like I was doing everything blind.
I received my copy of Food Grown Right, In Your Backyard yesterday and spent the next hour devouring it. I've sense left my huge backyard in Olympia and am gearing up for my second summer gardening in Alaska (again my first blind gardening summer being a COMPLETE disaster). This book is created mostly for gardening in the Pacific Northwest so I'm unable to follow the extremely helpful month-by-month garden guide in the back of the book, but I still feel like my mind was blown open as I read through the book.
Soil maintenance and fertilizer has always baffled me as I stood looking at nursery shelves. Which one was best? Which one did I actually need, and which was simply a marketing ploy? Finally I read something that laid out my choices and options in easy to understand language! Container gardening is my only option at my house and I was THRILLED to see how many tips, tricks and ideas Food Grown Right offered me. I know with this book as my trusty guide I can do this!
Even with three years of gardening under my belt I'm still learning with this book. From helping me to conceptualize exactly how to organize a garden with short term, mid term and long term plants (why did I never think of this!?!?), to the oh-so-helpful section towards the back of the book walking me through each family of plants. Sure I love tomatoes, but these will not grow in Alaska without a greenhouse. Food Grown Right is helping me move on from this disappointment and realize all the amazing veggies I CAN grow successfully here in Alaska.
Every year you learn something new from gardening and most of the time it's through trial and error. But this is the first summer I'l heading towards where I don't feel like I'm heading in blind. I have the tools I need with Food Grown Right to make this the most successful garden ever, and I can't wait to get started.
I LOVED this book. It was truly adorable.
A story of the fictitious island of Nollop found 21 miles SE off the coast of South Carolina, and home to Nevin Nollop, the supposed creator of the well-known pangram "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." There is a statue in town celebrating their famous Nollop, and as the tiles from the sentence "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog," one by one the citizens of Nollop are banned from writing or even looking at each newly fallen letter.
The story is a little strange at first, fictional country, people unable to use letters of the alphabet all because they fell off a statue, and after reading the back cover you think, "Why don't they just say, 'F-you I'll keep using the letter 'p' thankyouverymuch.'" But what's so brilliant about the book is how the author Mark Dunn is creating a dialog about censorship, about government control and how small groups of people can make sweeping change for a nation. All using hyperbole.
By the end of the book I found myself needing to read almost out loud to myself to understand what in the world these characters were trying to say to one another! It must have been really difficult for the author to write at times! And even though it was humorous at times, I like the way Mark Dunn was addressing some very weighty topics.
A very fast but very enjoyable read.
I usually find it hard to agree 100% with the reviews publishers place on the cover of books. But this time after reading Lucky by Alice Sebold I agree 150% with what I found on the backcover,
"A rueful, razor-sharp memoir… Sebold tells what it's like to go through a particular kind of nightmare in order to tell what it's like–slowly, bumpily, triumphantly–to heal." — Sarah Kerr, Vogue
I am not usually drawn to books about hikers. Although I am a hiker myself, those who write books about hiking, who wax poetically about the wilderness and solitude usually turn me off. Even though those are the very things I too love about hiking. Something about it always feels a little pompous.
Wild is not your typical hiking book, and it's NOT anything like Eat, Pray, Love — just another story of a girl lost looking to be found. Cheryl Strayed writes with such humility. She went off to walk the PCT with no training, no experience, and without knowing a thing about backpacking. She is doomed to fail, and throughout the book she's open and realistic about all her mistakes. Her growth shines through, but softly. Her lesson of, "I LEARNED SOMETHING ABOUT MYSELF AND DEALT WITH THE DEATH OF MY MOTHER ON THE PCT" is a soft lesson, even though it's a very profound one.
I loved this book and found quite a few quotes from it I couldn't help but highlight. A wonderful read. Strangely enough, even through her struggles and talk of utter misery she faced, it made me want to go backpacking.
I am not a climber, nor a mountaineer, and I have absolutely no desire to take up either sport, yet I couldn't put this book down. Art Davidson does a phenomenal job of taking a reader to Denali in the middle of the winter while a group of young climbers attempt to summit. I thought Art did a fantastic job of bringing the reader to the mountain and giving us a glimpse into what it means to find yourself trapped 17,000 ft high, with no means of rescue. You can't help but fall in love with these young climbers and although you know at least Art will make it out alive (I mean, he lived to write the book, right?) I still felt myself holding my breath as I read. How would they get off the mountain? When will they find food? Will they all make it?
This book is clearly an amazing read for climbers and mountaineers, but it's also a fascinating read for anyone who enjoys adventure, drama, the outdoors, or anyone who wonders what it's like to be the sort of person who puts everything aside to stand on the top of a tall mountain. Great read.
"Steve Jobs thus became the greatest business executive of our era, the one most certain to be remembered a century from now. History will place him in the pantheon right next to Edison and Ford. More than anyone else of this time, he made products that were completely innovative, combining the power of poetry and processors. With a ferocity that could make working with him as unsettling as it was inspiring, he also built the world's most creative company. And he was able to infuse into its DNA the design sensibilities, perfectionism, and imagination that make it likely to be, even decades from now, the company that thrives best at the interestion of artistry and technology."
As an Apple fan since the early days, reading this book was like taking a trip back in time. I couldn't get enough. As each chapter unfolded and I was able to see how my favorite pieces of technology came to life, how decisions that changed the technological landscape were decided on, I actually felt closer to my products as suddenly I saw even more closely how much thought and insight, and even love went into each and every decision.
Walter Isaacson had a difficult task ahead of him to make this book. To tell the story of Steve Jobs, and Apple, and to have it be interesting, thoughtful, realistic, raw, and mostly real, and to ultimately shed light on a difficult genius that most hardly understand. This book is massive, and yet I didn't want it to end. I am so glad this book was written, and one can't help but wonder what this amazing mind could have created next if he was still here.
A must read.
I can't write a review as eloquently as Publisher's Weekly about this lovely book, so I'll just quote them.
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
What perfect timing for this optimistic, uplifting debut novel (and maiden publication of Amy Einhorn's new imprint) set during the nascent civil rights movement in Jackson, Miss., where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver. Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan is just home from college in 1962, and, anxious to become a writer, is advised to hone her chops by writing "about what disturbs you." The budding social activist begins to collect the stories of the black women on whom the country club sets relies–and mistrusts–enlisting the help of Aibileen, a maid who's raised 17 children, and Aibileen's best friend Minny, who's found herself unemployed more than a few times after mouthing off to her white employers. The book Skeeter puts together based on their stories is scathing and shocking, bringing pride and hope to the black community, while giving Skeeter the courage to break down her personal boundaries and pursue her dreams. Assured and layered, full of heart and history, this one has bestseller written all over it. (Feb.)
The entire time I was reading Rowing Into The Son I just kept shaking my head. Why would they choose to do this? To make this journey? To sacrifice and suffer for so long? And yet, even as my mind was baffled by their adventure, it began to understand their reason for wishing to row across the Atlantic. To be the first Americans to row from North America to Europe. To beat a record, to win a race. The struggles of the crew, physically, emotionally, and from their simple lack of food kept me wanting to read more, and more, and more. It's amazing to think what the crew went through, and how hard they fought to keep going even when it would have been much easier to simply abandon the dream and accept the assistance they so desperately needed.
This is a great book for anyone interested in an adventure. No previous rowing experience, required.
I have to admit I have a weird fascination with polygamy, and the Mormon religion. This book was a perfect blend of my interests. The combination of a murder mystery in a polygamist community, set against the "historical" look at Brigham Young's infamous 19th wife helped to fill out the book, and each side of the story complimented the other perfectly. This is the kind of book that captures you for hours at a time, both because of the topic, but because of the vulnerability of the characters. A well written, well "fake-researched" (most of the historical documents presented in the book are based on real documents and communication, but adapted for this story), title that I couldn't put down. Must read.