A Review of Reading/Literary Highlights of 2012

Happy New Year!  It’s 2013!

As a follow up of the Reading/Literary Highlights of 2011, here are some analyses of my personal reading of 2012.

I have Agatha Christie’s Seven Dials Mystery, a Christmas/birthday gift, actually, to be finished this week, but as I didn’t get to finish it in 2012, it shall have to be the first book of 2013.

As usual, thank you, Brooklyn Public Library and New York Public Library for allowing me to borrow ebooks and regular books from you! (I made my year-end donations in time; hope you all did the same for your public library systems).

So, as of 12/31/12, I read a total of 66 books.  This is less than the numbers since I’ve started keeping track of the books I’ve read since 2009 (excepting 2009 itself, since I started the list late in that year and couldn’t reconstruct what I was reading earlier).  I was hoping to read up to 75 books in 2012, but it just didn’t happen.

In no particular order, regarding my personal reading/literary highlights:

1. Breakdown: approximately 1/3 of the books read were in ebook format (18 or so); I have not given up the dead tree.  I’ll post the list shortly, but the further breakdowns might very well impact my 2013 reading (assuming that I do go forward with being more discerning about the 2013 reading with real intention, rather than continue with my haphazard selections): overwhelmingly fiction; 4 politics/law; 11 comics/graphic novels; 1 play; 21 mystery/thrillers, 2 writing/craft of writing; 2 poetry; 2 travel; 3 memoirs; 3 literary criticism; 13 romance novels; 2 philosophy; 2 literary fiction (i.e., not genre fiction).

2. My change in jobs cut down my commute and that changed my reading habits.  I’ve been reading a lot more dead tree issues of magazines, including Sports Illustrated (I have it in the house; what else am I going to do?), which had some really well-written and illuminating articles, I shall say, to keep me informed even though I am a very casual sports fan.

3. Odd pattern – it’s looking like November is when I write so much (because of NaNoWriMo), but not really read.  Or when I read, I don’t really write.  Odd!

4. A graveyard of incomplete reading (skimmed or unfinished) such as a collection of Anton Chekov short stories, a bunch of romance novels, and a collection of Wallace Stevens poetry.

5. Still reading a bunch of Batman compilations.

6. No Star Trek reading at all, probably the first time in years, and certainly the first since I starting keeping my lists of books read.  This might need to be remedied in 2013.

7. Rediscovered Colin Dexter and again enjoying reading Inspector Morse.

8. Tackling political reads in a political year (Anne Kornblut, Gwen Ifill, and Jim Lehrer – putting aside whether he did great or not at the debate this past fall).

9. That binge on romance novels this summer made me realize more than ever that the romance publishing industry (or Harlequin the company at least) ought to consider better editing, or at least made me appreciate little distractions from boring otherwise commutes (see the link below for my summer romance reading post).

10. Spending more money and time at independent bookstores – like Strand, Mysterious Bookshop, or even Greenlight.  I especially had a kick out of the Strand events of seeing Billy Collins and Robert Pinsky, or seeing Ed Lin at Mysterious Bookshop (I have Ed Lin’s One Red Bastard; he signed it!; and I was going to read it in 2012, but obviously that didn’t happen; it shall be a 2013 read, I promise!).

11. Goodbye to the independent bookstore Partners & Crime.  Ugh!  So sad.  (see here and here for past posts on the subject).

12. I am getting more curious about reading more shorter fiction, but was not really actively pursuing that.  Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader: A Novella made more curious about the novella – and not to mention the value of reading.  Meanwhile, Junot Diaz (for Drown) and Elmore Leonard (for Fire in the Hole and Other Stories) had me appreciating the strength of voice in short stories and Agatha Christie’s short story collection made me appreciate plot.

13. Brooklyn Book Festival!  (see link on my post about it below).

14. Zadie Smith’s crackingly strong mind.

15. Reading Kenji Yoshino reminded me of the ties between law and Shakespeare.  Did I read more Shakespeare in 2012?  No, but maybe I’ll do it in 2013.

16. Reading some fun philosophy books (certain when it’s done with some humor or with some Batman perspective) reminded me on how I didn’t hate reading philosophy back in college.

17. Finally tackled authors I’ve long thought to read and never quite did it before: Elmore Leonard and Sara Paretsky.

18. Reading Pico Iyer and Eloisa James with their memoirs of life abroad and back again – to seize life in action and in words.

19. More Lawrence Block and Rex Stout – clearly, mystery/thriller remains a genre that I enjoy.

20. Justice Stephen Breyer’s Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution probably was the most serious thing on my list (putting aside the politics books and that lyrical depths of Pico Iyer’s book), so maybe I ought to read more weightier stuff in 2013?

See here for the previous compilation of retrospective reading/literary posts. (or you could click for the reading or lit tags on my tumblr).  Other links to other 2012 posts on my reading/literary ventures since that compilation in spring 2012:

Thoughts on reading Zadie Smith and Kenji Yoshino.

Recent spring reading.

A review of my summer 2012 reading.

A specific post on my summer 2012 romance reading.

My thoughts on the Brooklyn Book Festival 2012.

Reading Eloisa James’ Paris in Love.

Reading Lawrence Block’s A Drop of the Hard Stuff, ending it on Christmas 2012.

The 2012 list will be up next.  Thank you for joining the ride and let’s see how 2013 will be!

(cross-posted at sswslitinmotion.tumblr.com)

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