The Broke and the Bookish, a blog I have come to love exploring recently, has proposed another interesting top ten list for the first week of the new year—The Top Ten Books I’m Excited About Reading in 2012.
I have set two goals for reading this year:
1. To read at least fifty books
2. To read at least three “classics” I’ve never read but should have
Moby Dick by Herman Melville—The first book I’m excited about reading fulfills the requirement for number two. I’m not excited about this book for the same reason I am others on the list. I think, more than anything, I relish the challenge. I was the student in school who typically picked the most difficult book she could get her hands on for a reading project. (I even took on the challenge of reading Ulysses in two weeks just because I could. If you want to hear what that experience was like, read a previous blog about it.) Moby Dick is one of those works everyone expects me to have read as a total word nerd and former English teacher, but it’s never darkened my door…until now.
Insurgent by Veronica Roth—This one is due out May 2012. I read the first book in this trilogy, Divergent, late in 2011 and loved it. It’s YA fiction, so it falls short in some areas like character development and vocabulary. However, the plot was intriguing enough that I finished it in record time. If she can continue to play nicely with the intricate story she began weaving, this should be a great read. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes The Hunger Games for pure action, a strong female protagonist, and an interesting love story. Personally, I tend to like works that are dystopian in nature, so this one was right up my alley. If you’re like me and enjoy books like 1984, Brave New World, Blade Runner, and The Road, this is for you.
The Wind Through the Keyhole: A Dark Tower Novel by Stephen King—I think I’ve read most of, if not all of, Stephen King’s work (even the stuff he wrote as Richard Bachman). I think he’s a short story writer by trade, and his talent truly shines best in that medium. However, of all his works, the Dark Tower Series is by far my favorite. I fell in love with Roland Deschain when I was in elementary school and wanted nothing more than to be a part of his Ka Tet. This series spanned most of my adolescence and adulthood, and it’s nice to see another book in the series is due out in April of 2012, just days after my birthday! Of the seven, I think Wizard and Glass was my favorite. This one is also set in Roland’s past before he became the last gunslinger.
Bitterblue by Kristen Cashore—Another YA read that’s due out in May of 2012. Books like these are my weakness; I simply can’t turn them down. This one, also slightly dystopian, is fantasy based rather than sci-fi, which is nice for someone like me who would rather read Tolkien than Verne. Unlike Fire, the second book in the series, which was actually a prequel to the first book, Graceling, this one is set eight years after the first and is a continuation of its events. Therefore, all the characters like Po, Katsa, and (of course) Bitterblue will be back in action with all sorts of evil plans to thwart and goodness to defend in all seven realms. This one is a little edgier than most YA fiction, and the plots hang together very well. There’s quite a bit of “girly love stuff,” but it never overwhelms the book as a whole.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho—This one has been out for awhile, since 2006 in fact, but I’ve never read it. It sounds a bit like Gabriel Garcia Marquez to me–a sort of coming-of-age plot with a dash of magical realism thrown in. However, unlike Marquez, I think this one stands a chance of being mystical with a chance of promise, a smidgen of hope. Quite literally, a young shepherd boy, goes on a quest across continents to find his dreams–a bildungsroman of the highest order. I’ve heard many good things about this one, so it should be a good read.
The Painted Veil by M. Somerset Maugham—I saw the film version of this book starring my boyfriend, Edward Norton, a year or two ago and fell in love with it. I’m eager to see what the original text is like because I know, without a doubt, as great as that film is, the book is bound to be ten times better. Set in England and Hong Kong in the 1920s, it follows Kitty Fane, a love-starved Englishwoman married to a doctor. When he finds out about her adultery, he forces her to go with him into the heart of a cholera epidemic. It is there that she gains a true perspective of purpose, love, and devotion. I can’t wait to finally read this as Maugham intended!
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett—I’m a huge fan of Bogart, and I love film noir and gumshoe detective stuff. For some reason, however, I’ve not read much of it. Sam Spade is that archetypal character women have always wanted and men have always wanted to be just like. As the summary on Goodreads says (and I love this!), “Spade is bigger (and blonder) in the book than in the movie, and his Mephistophelean countenance is by turns seductive and volcanic. Sam knows how to fight, whom to call, how to rifle drawers and secrets without leaving a trace, and just the right way to call a woman ‘Angel’ and convince her that she is. He is the quintessence of intelligent cool, with a wise guy’s perfect pitch.” Sounds just right for a Friday night at home with a glass of wine, yes?
The Enders Hotel by Brandon R. Schrand—This is a non-fiction work that won the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize in 2008. It is his memoir about growing up in the boom town of Soda Springs, Idaho and watching as different people came and went in the hotel/bar/cafe his parents owned there called, of course, The Enders. He essentially tells his story as well as those of the people who stayed in his family’s hotel, and the work is therefore dark and hopeful by turns. I think it is a fascinating idea for a memoir. After all, a hotel is a temporary place, a moving on place, and how can one ever establish a sense of home and of self in such a transitory space? It’s also interesting to me because of my people watching tendencies; a hotel is a fascinating place to spend time observing people, the most interesting walking and talking stories of all.
Cello Playing for Music Lovers: A Self-Teaching Method by Vera Matlin Jiji—I’ve decided that 2012 is the year I learn to play a second musical instrument. One of the two I’ve always wanted to learn is the cello, and there are several at my church that my orchestra director is willing to loan me. It’s not that I’ve mastered the French horn by any stretch of the imagination. I doubt anyone ever has. I’m just longing for something new, and this seems like it is in the realm of possibility. I might never be good enough to play cello in our orchestra, but I’d like to give it a try. This book came with the highest overall recommendations, so we’ll see how it goes. *fingers crossed*
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood—I truly enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale and some of the short fiction I’ve read by Ms. Atwood. I met her a little over a year ago when she came to lecture at Emory University, and this was one of the works she mentioned only briefly. (She focused more on books like Oryx and Crake instead due to the fact the lecture series was sci-fi in nature.) However, this one looks too good to pass up. As always, Atwood weaves together at least two novels in one described as “a melancholic account of why writers write–and readers read–and one that frames the different lives told through this book.”