2012 Reading Update

2012 Reading List – the goal is one book per week, which I’ve amended to an average of one book per week. Titles below marked with an asterisk were started in 2011 and finished in 2012. Those titles which are bolded are my highest recommendations for the year.

  1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  2. The End of Overeating by David Kessler*
  3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling*
  4. Bossypants by Tina Fey*
  5. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
  6. Then Again by Diane Keaton
  7. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  8. Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan*
  9. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  10. Tomatoland: How Modern Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit by Barry Estabrook
  11. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  12. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  13. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  14. From Dead to Worse: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel by Charlaine Harris
  15. Delicacy by David Foenkinos
  16. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  17. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  18. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  19. Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close
  20. Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes (re-read)
  21. Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
  22. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
  23. A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  24. Dead and Gone: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel by Charlaine Harris
  25. Healthy Tipping Point by Caitlin Boyle
  26. The Color of Bones by Tracy Edward Wymer
  27. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  28. The Misanthrope’s Guide to Life: (Go Away!) by Meghan Rowland and Chris Turner-Neal
  29. Knocking on Heaven’s Door by Lisa Randall*
  30. Dead in the Family: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel by Charlaine Harris
  31. Time and Tide in Acadia: Seasons on Mount Desert Island by Christopher Camuto
  32. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  33. Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James
  34. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (re-read)
  35. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
  36. How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
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Death Comes to Pemberley… and I Resurrect Pride and Prejudice

Just five days ago, I gave up on re-reading Pride and Prejudice. And I was totally okay with that. And if this was your project, and you did that, I would not judge you at all.

But I can’t quit.

Maybe I just needed an Austen break. Maybe reading Death Comes to Pemberley reignited my drive. Whatever it was, I realized this morning that I just could not compromise on my original plan for this project.

So, I’m back on board with Pride and Prejudice. With a little over a month left, I have quite a bit of reading to do. Luckily, my little introverted heart needs a break from all the socializing and coast-hopping and is screaming for me to just have a couple nights in to relax.

But let’s go back and talk about Death Comes to Pemberley. This novel picks up the story of Elizabeth and Darcy, six years later, happily settled at Pemberley with two beautiful children and a happy life punctuated with, of course, family drama here and there. Though she is not particularly welcomed to Pemberley, Lydia shows up in the middle of the night before an annual ball, and plunges our favorite characters into a murder mystery.

I was happily impressed with the continuity of story. It felt seamless, often referencing small plot points from Pride and Prejudice. At times, though, I felt that James challenged how I understood these characters. Elizabeth became less romantic and mused on how financial considerations impacted her past decisions. Charlotte is suddenly less sympathetic and a bit devious. And Darcy is now quite thoughtful and romantic! I don’t know that these characterizations are wrong, and I might also be far too influenced by the BBC adaptation, but it just felt “off” at times to me.

I also have very little interest in reading contemporary mystery novels. While this retained the language and writing style of Jane Austen, there were too many features of modern storytelling that frustrated me. For example, the same details, around the events of the murder in question, were repeated numerous times. Occasionally, this was done to illustrate how one person’s recollection varies from another, or to introduce a small piece of information not previously known. More often, though, I felt like I was suffering through another three-page retelling of “what happened that night” without any payoff.

Yet, this was a quick read and it was fun. The requisite twists were surprising, though not shocking. I didn’t feel any compulsion to keep reading as I do in my best experiences but I did not have to force myself to get through the story. I certainly do not feel any worse off having read it, if that’s a recommendation at all.

Verdict: if you love pride and prejudice, it’s a cute read; good for beach days or rainy weekends

Reading in 2012, June Update

One of my resolutions this year is to read 52 books, one per week. I have not done well with the one book per week aspect, but I’ve kept pace pretty well overall. We’re finishing up our 24th week of the year and I have read 28 books (with three in progress). (Disclosure: four of those books were started in 2011.)

I know I still need to write about Northanger Abbey… the thing about book reviews, even informal reviews on blogs, is that you don’t just write it. You have to sketch it out, think about it, do some research. I don’t expect that even when I get around to it I will do a very good job with Northanger Abbey, but I hope it’s decent and I hope I get better… and I hope I get going.

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