Thursday, January 24, 2013

More Year-End Checklists

As you know, the end of the year brings those highly anticipated year-end lists. I've already done mine, on December 26th, and I thought I was late in posting it. My reference was Largehearted Boy's aggregated year-end list, which was actually put up sometime around the beginning of November. In the last week, however, I've realized that normal people - i.e. bloggers, not publications or retailers - do their year-end lists at year's end. Go figure. It took me a second to think about that - every retailer, publisher, magazine, newspaper and, of course, author, wants those coveted lists to be released to the public well in advance of the lucrative holiday shopping season, and they're not wrong for doing so. The awesome benefit for this reader is that I not only get to start reading "best of" lists in November, I get to continue reading them all the way into the new year. Awesome!

This brings me to my subject. Over the course of a week at the beginning of January, several bloggers posted their year-end thoughts. I am going to highlight a couple of them. 

1. I'm going to start with New Dork Review of Books, since it is the most organized and list-heavy of the articles. The lists include "Favourites", "Least Favourites", "Classics", and "Under-the-Radar". I like this organization because, as I mentioned before, I am interested in the current year's selection of books, not every book ever written. I like that there's a distinction between "Classics" and other "of the year" categories. As well, his no. 1 favourite? Arcadia by Lauren Groff. 

2. Another stat-heavy year-end article comes from Too Many Books in the Kitchen. Mr. Hingston outlines his reading list month-by-month and finishes off with overall stats, breaking down his reading list into demographic distinction. It's another interesting list to check out, and he makes a few 2013 reading resolutions as well. 

3. Minnesota Reads is worth a look simply because its tagline is "We like big books & we cannot lie." One of the reviewers, Christa, separated her year-end post into 13 "Chapters", one for each month of the year and a 13th for the new year. My favourite is Chapter 3:
In 2012 I took one for the team. I read Fifty Shades of Grey because I knew none of the other reviewers at Minnesota Reads would do it and the reading public deserved to know. I have been called, by myself, a person who loves to do things she hates. As expected, it was horrible. But some unexpected goodness came from this fail: The best book review I’ve ever written in my life. Also: I earned the right to make a judge-y eyebrow raise when I see a well-worn copy get passed through a group. I mean, who borrows a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey? Imagine taking a blacklight to that thing.
4. KevinfromCanada is by an expat living in England, and his year-end post is a very full list of his favourite books of 2012. I like it simply because he talks about his favourite books written in 2012, rather than read in 2012. See above. Plus, his recommendations are pretty spot on.

5. Baby Got Books is, as they call it, "a loose confederation of book nerds literary bloggers." They have contributors from across the States, and they're usually pretty amusing. The head honcho, Tim, gives his top picks of 2012. He lists them under several categories, which serves to avoid a hierarchy as well as justify some of his choices. My fave is Gone Girl:
My favorite “holy crap” novel of the year was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. From my review: “Several times in the story you will say “holy crap”, out loud, when Flynn throws yet another unexpected bomb at the reader. I read this book in a day and a half. It only took that long because I had to sleep (at some point) and go to work”
6. Pickle Me This is a blog that I've been reading for a long while now, and it is interesting to me how Kerry juggles a professional life in writing, reviewing and teaching (and reading), a family that is about to grow by one in the coming year, and blogging - on two different sites: she is also a contributor at 49th Shelf. Her Year in Books post is less a favourite books post - she does that here - and more a personal reflection on the past year. She managed to finish 120 books in 2012 - an enviable mark next to my paltry 55 books read.

7. Rose Coloured is Rebecca Rosenblum's personal blog. She is an accomplished writer living in Toronto, and she talks about her life as a writer with honesty and humility. Her reviews are more about how the books make her feel - and it is her skill as a writer that conveys those feelings so well. I definitely enjoy reading her reviews, and I have more than once picked up an author based on her recommendation alone. Her second book of short stories, The Big Dream, is slated to be Do Not Talk About Book Club's April selection in 2013.

8. Finally, I'll leave you with a post from The Millions. The Millions is another collective of contributors writing on wide-ranging topics. Its posts are also wide-ranging, everything from simple link posts to long format reviews, recollections, and interviews. Michael Bourne's wrap-up post is about a goal that most readers avoid: "read fewer books." He is an obsessive list-keeper, having recorded all of the books he has read since 2000. This year, however, he'll read less; be less obsessive about keeping the lists, and enjoy the books: "and if I see a nice, fat doorstop of a novel I want to read, I won’t stop to check whether I’m far enough ahead for the year to give up the two or three weeks it’ll take to read it. I’ll just read the damn thing."

I listed these blogs because I read everything that they post. They are extremely interesting, and every time I read a new post, I am reminded how much I love reading what other people have to say about books. I guess that's my 2012 Year in Reading: I read a lot, I blogged a lot, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.  

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