Just when you thought you were finished with 2012 lists, and looking bright-eyedly towards 2013, here's one more. You can handle one more, right? I'll be brief.
My Five Favorite Books of the Year
5. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett / 11/22/63 by Stephen King -- I couldn't decide between these two 2011 novels I read early in 2012, so they both get a shout out. Both are excellent!
4. Office Girl, by Joe Meno -- A short, simple novel about hipsters in Chicago, this story took me by surprise in terms of how much I liked it and how it's stayed with me.
3. The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, by Jonathan Evison -- A warmhearted, but hilarious, novel about getting your life back together when you've hit bottom, this was a hugely underrated 2012 novel.
2. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn -- Not exactly an upset here, but this story of marital betrayal made Gillian Flynn a household name - and well-deservedly.
1. Arcadia, by Lauren Groff -- Just a beautiful, brilliant book.
The 2012 Stat Sheet
Goodreads tells me I read 52 books, and a total of 21,303 pages.
Three Least Favorite Books of the Year
3. The Sugar Frosted Nutsack, by Mark Leyner -- The title of my review for this head-scratcher of a piece of fiction is "WTF?!" ...and I stand by that.
2. A Hologram For The King, by Dave Eggers -- Even though this found its way onto the National Book Award finalist list, I thought this parable of mid-life crisis and America's place in the world didn't quite "meet its fourth quarter projections."
1. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James -- Yeah, I read it, only to have the right to make fun of it. It is preposterously awful. But Book Rioter Rebecca and I sure had a lot of fun skewering it.
Favorite Bookish "Call Me Maybe" Parody
The nice folks at Chicago's Open Books made this thing. It is awesome.
Classics Read in 2012
4. Winter's Tale, by Mark Helprin -- I'm still smack-dab in the middle of this one. More later...
3. Underworld, by Don DeLillo -- Everyone's right - the first 60 pages of this novel are the height of American writing about baseball. And there are other passages in this novel that are just breath-takingly profound.
2. East of Eden, by John Steinbeck -- This, somehow, was the first time I'd read Steinbeck, and this fantastic story gives me two of my new favorite characters in literature (Lee and Samuel).
1. Sophie's Choice, by William Styron -- This novel will haunt me forever. I had no idea what I was getting in to when I picked this up. It is the saddest thing I've ever read. And I loved it.
Favorite Under-the-Radar Books
2. A Partial History of Lost Causes, by Jennifer DuBois -- About chess, and Russian, and family, and (no joking) finding the meaning of life.
1. A Naked Singularity, by Sergio De La Pava -- Never mind that Fifty Shades dreck, this novel is actually the 2012 self-publishing success story. It's long, with tons of digressions, and it's not always the simplest read, but it's just a fascinating novel that's hard to put down, once you can talk yourself in to picking it up.
2. The Tender Bar, by J.R. Moehringer -- I'd put this great memoir off for so long, simply because the title was so off-putting. But I'm glad I finally conquered my nit-pick and read it. It's great!
1. Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story, by D.T. Max -- Of course, I read (and totally dug) the first full-length biography of my favorite writer. Of course I did.
And now, for no particular reason, here's Gangnam Style.
Happy Reading in 2013!