Happy New Year!
Last year I read 90 books. Some were really good, some were really bad, and most were somewhere in the middle. I read a handful of 5-star books that I’d consider the best books I read of 2012. Here are a few of them. Click the book cover for the long review on Goodreads.
The Merchant And the Alchemist’s Gate
This is a short story by Ted Chiang. If you haven’t realized by now, I’m a big Ted Chiang fan. What was surprising about this short story was how much I liked it despite it being a time-travel story. I’m not that interested in time travel plots because sometimes always seems off like I over-think it, or I just can’t suspend my belief long enough to immerse myself into the story. Not this time. This is a time travel story that works. It also doesn’t help that it makes you scratch your chin at the end and go “Hmmm….”
The Tender Bar
It’s hard to describe this book without it sounding too corny. It’s a bildungsroman set in a small town on the east coast. Nothing really surprising happens, but the cast of characters from the boy’s childhood to his manhood is rich with wonderful descriptions. His anecdotes really made me feel fake nostalgia for growing up during those times.
Code Name Verity
This book took me a while to get into because I couldn’t completely orient myself in the world of this story until much later. Part of it is because the world is so much like ours during World War II that I kept thinking of it as real. It’s pretty hard to explain the book without giving it away. It’s about women who serve their country during the war. The story and characters are mostly revealed through a series of letters and sometimes that conceit is its weakness, but by the end, I was all on board.
Self-published books get a bad rap. This self-published book was wonderful. It’s a collection of novellas set in a post-apocalyptic time. Instead of falling for the usual cliches or straying too far in the direction of differentiating itself from other PA books, it embraces the genre by focussing mainly on normal people trying to go about their everyday lives in an after-doomsday world. After the first novella, which brought my hopes up for one character, I was hooked and had to read on.
The Tender Bar guy cowrote Andre Agassi’s autobiography… I don’t think it would have been nearly as readable otherwise!