I mentioned in the vacation post that I devoured 4 books (really 3 because I've stopped reading completely upon my return and may never finish Orange is the New Black at this pace...but I read a lot of it.)
The first book I finished was Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. It's about a person who gets to come back and do life all over again each time she dies, changing her ultimate fate. At first I found it well written but tedious and I put it down a few months ago in favor of something else. I decided to finish it on vacation because I kept hearing so much buzz about it and I'm really glad I did. This was the kind of book that I was truly sad to see end, I felt like it could (and maybe should) continue forever. It's also the kind of book that makes me marvel that the writer managed to keep the storyline organized and cohesive. Sometimes I become so obsessed with trying to create a mental timeline or figure how different elements of the story work together (Time Traveler's Wife comes to mind) that I feel like I'm too distracted doing that to enjoy it. Once I just read without expectations, trusting that it will all come together, these books end up being my favorite. This was an amazing book and I still find myself thinking of it sometimes. (Very rare because I have book amnesia and forget everything beyond "loved it" or "hated it" 10 minutes after I finish a story.)
Then I read And the Mountains Echoed by the guy who wrote the Kite Runner. I don't know if he has a real name, but I do know that this man is a genius. Not just a literary genius, he truly understands people and the struggles of the human condition. I saw that the synopsis of this book was something very short, something like, "A story about trying to find the missing piece of yourself in someone else." (But probably not that exactly--wouldn't it be awesome if I actually looked this stuff up for you?) and I thought that someone had really gotten right to the point with giving very little information with that summary...but by the end of the book, I was amazed at how perfectly it explained the tale told. I read it in one day and was very moved by it. When I finished, I closed my eyes for a minute to soak it all in and got goosebumps. This is the kind of book that makes me think, "Holy shit, I could never write a book like this. THANKS FOR KILLING MY DREAMS WITH YOUR UNGODLY AMOUNT OF TALENT." Those are the ones I love.
Where'd You Go, Bernadette is the type of book that kind of annoys me just by the cover. I can't really explain this aversion. I don't like light, funny, silly books in general (that sounds fun of me, doesn't it?) and I don't like books that I feel are girly or gimmicky. This was all of the above. I liked it, though and, sadly, related all too easily to the neurotic, introverted main character with terrible judgment. The way the story was presented was easy and engaging, it was witty and entertaining, it was over-the-top silly in a mostly acceptable way and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Will it be on my Top 10 list? Never. Top 20? Probably not. But I'm ridiculously picky and I have read a lot. I didn't find out until the end that the author wrote for Arrested Development, my favorite show ever, so it makes sense that I enjoyed the humor.
And as mentioned, I started Orange Is the New Black but I no longer comment on books I haven't finished because sometimes they either slowly get awesome or reveal that they suck towards the end (I'm looking at you, Hidden Cities). I was hoping to finish it before starting the television series, so that means I probably won't watch the show until everyone else is already over it and done discussing it.
I never did do a book wrap-up for 2012 (she says in August 2013) and I feel irrationally guilty about that, like it weighs on me at night sometimes. I feel like last year wasn't a great reading year for me. I can't go into much detail due to the aforementioned book amnesia but I loved Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. It's the fictional account of Christ's first 33 years, as told by his childhood best friend. I thought it was incredibly funny and clever. I also loved The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson, which reads more like fiction than non-fiction. My favorite for the year though was probably The Book Thief. It was unique, dark and beautiful. This is one that I look forward to sharing with Big Kid some day because the writing was incredible.
Phew! We're all caught up now. Probably for a while since my nook is uncharged and I'm not on vacation.