Best Reads of 2012
2012 was really an awesome reading year for me. I have managed to finish 61 books (including graphic novels) which means I exceeded the number of books required for my Goodreads’ 2012 Reading Challenge. All in all, it was a very great reading year. But, of course, some books are better than others and this list will enumerate the books that have affected me and have stayed with me long after I read them. Here are my 12 best reads of the year 2012, in order of the date that I read them from the first to the last (not all of the books in the list have perfect ratings):
1. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy – A very intense and violent read that explores the darkest corners of humanity’s heart and man’s moral decay. The conflict is almost Biblical in proportion with a battle between good and evil for the life of a morally ambiguous man.
2. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut – The story of a man that travels back and forth through time and thus he experiences his life in a non-linear fashion. Sci-fi at first glance but it is really a book that denounces the horrors of war and the unstoppable nature of human destruction.
3. Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro – This book blindsided me. I though it was about the relationship of a butler with his master who is a Nazi-sympathizer. Turns out that the main story is about the butler’s relationship with the housekeeper and the narrative is told through diary entries. It explores the perniciousness of memory and the moral and societal implications of the setting (the years between the world wars).
4. History of Love by Nicole Krauss – A very special book that introduced memorable characters and moments that are equal parts heart wrenching and life affirming. It has the most memorable narrator in the guise of Leo Gursky and it also has one of the most profound endings that I have ever read in a book.
5. Man in the Dark by Paul Auster – My best read of the year, bar none. I really didn’t expect to like this book so much since I just read this out of the blue. It has one of the most beautiful passages I’ve ever read that describes the execution of a man.
6. Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco – Another surprise read of the year. The only book above 300 pages that I’ve read in the span of two days. A novel about the Philippines, its tragedies, and how it affects all of us from a macro POV to a micro POV.
7. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon – A novel that is equal parts detective, alternative history, and literary. Paints a picture of the Jewish experience through the eyes of a Jewish detective who lost his faith and who is investigating the death of the supposed Messiah of the Jewish people.
8. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides – A chimera of a novel being a coming-of-age novel and a family saga that explores myriad of issues including gender identity, social pressures, and pursuit of happiness. It has one of the most compelling protagonists that I have ever read in my life.
9. A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood – Short but very memorable. It tugs the heart in all the right ways while being funny and endearing without taking away the tragic beauty of Isherwood’s prose. There’s also the fact that I keep hearing Colin Firth’s voice in my head while reading.
10. Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids by Kenzaburo Oe – A harsh tale about loss of innocence in children and the cruelty that they suffered from the unfair treatment they receive from the adults who are supposed to take care of them and, subsequently, from the force of abandonment that they experienced when the adults left them.
11. Death in the Andes by Mario Vargas Llosa – The story of the search for three missing men in a village in the heart of the mountains interposed with a story of love and a story about the revolution of the Peruvian people. I liked it because of how it explored the moral ambiguity of revolutions, the dangers of superstition, and the sometimes one-sided nature of love.
12. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell – I don’t even know how to concisely describe how much I love this book. Six interconnected stories that can stand on their own as novellas but, through the very capable hands of Mitchell, is transformed into one novel about the persistence of the human soul and the tragedies and the love that we impart upon each other.
Honorable Mentions: Chess by Stefan Zweig; Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon; Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell; A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan; Reportage on Lovers by Nick Joaquin; Wit by Margaret Edson; Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck; In Cold Blood by Truman Capote; Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk Leaf Storm and Other Stories, Autumn of the Patriarch, Clandestine in Chile all by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
There you have it, dear reader. Those are the 12 best reads of 2012 and I am looking forward for the books that the coming year has in store for me. Bring it on!