The Books Of 2012 – 50 Books In 365 Days


Somehow I did it! After reading 40 books a year, I managed to up my reading list to 50 for 2012. 40 of them were my semester reading for grad school, but I’m happy that I managed to squeeze in an extra 10 books for fun. Or half of one. I kind of cheated with my 50th book since I started it on the 31st and finished it yesterday morning. Whatever. LEAVE ME ALONE.

  1. Natasha and Other Stories – Bezmozgis, David
  2. A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain – Butler, Robert Olen
  3. Emperor of the Air – Canin, Ethan
  4. A Kind of Flying: Selected Stories – Carlson, Ron
  5. Where I’m Calling From: New and Selected Stories – Carver, Raymond
  6. John Cheever: Collected Stories and Other Writings – Cheever, John
  7. Writing Dialogue – Chiarella, Tom
  8. The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1) – Collins, Suzanne
  9. Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2) – Collins, Suzanne
  10. Drown – Díaz, Junot
  11. The World of a Few Minutes Ago – Driscoll, Jack
  12. Selected Stories – Dubus, Andre
  13. The Coast of Chicago: Stories – Dybek, Stuart
  14. Flags in the Dust – Faulkner, William
  15. Babylon Revisited and Other Stories – Fitzgerald, F. Scott
  16. Gone Girl – Flynn, Gillian
  17. Desperate Characters – Fox, Paula
  18. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter – Franklin, Tom
  19. In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad, #1) – French, Tana
  20. The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers – Gardner, John
  21. The Pacific and Other Stories – Helprin, Mark
  22. Stygo – Hendrie, Laura
  23. The Remains of the Day – Ishiguro, Kazuo
  24. Jesus’ Son – Johnson, Denis
  25. The Metamorphosis and Other Stories – Kafka, Franz
  26. The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Kundera, Milan
  27. Strange Pilgrims – Márquez, Gabriel García
  28. A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2) – Martin, George R.R.
  29. A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) – Martin, George R.R.
  30. All the Days and Nights: The Collected Stories – Maxwell, William
  31. So Long, See You Tomorrow – Maxwell, William
  32. The Song of Achilles – Miller, Madeline
  33. Runaway – Munro, Alice
  34. After The Quake – Murakami, Haruki
  35. In the Lake of the Woods – O’Brien, Tim
  36. The Things They Carried / In the Lake of the Woods – O’Brien, Tim
  37. The Violent Bear It Away – O’Connor, Flannery
  38. How to Breathe Underwater – Orringer, Julie
  39. Housekeeping – Robinson, Marilynne
  40. Empire Falls – Russo, Richard
  41. American Wife – Sittenfeld, Curtis
  42. The Girls of Slender Means – Spark, Muriel
  43. Olive Kitteridge – Strout, Elizabeth
  44. Time With Children – Tallent, Elizabeth
  45. The Hobbit – Tolkien, J.R.R.
  46. The Collected Stories – Trevor, William
  47. Trust Me – Updike, John
  48. The Maples Stories – Updike, John
  49. Tunneling to the Center of the Earth: Stories – Wilson, Kevin
  50. The Night in Question – Wolff, Tobias

Again, I bolded the ones that I really, really loved and plan to keep on my bookshelf until the apocalypse comes. Some of the books I really hated, like American Wife because since when did Laura Bush have a compelling enough personality for a fake autobiography? Plus, I can’t stand self-righteous characters–the ones who do everything right in the face of every form of adversity (racism, sexism) without explanation and with such privilege. A few books I found to be slightly overrated, like Gone Girl and Empire Falls but I still enjoyed reading them and don’t regret taking them on.

I do realize that 99% of my reading list is made up of old, white guys. 10 years ago, I would have had a huge issue over this but right now? It’s cool. It’s okay. I got all my Asian American lit out of the way in college. In a way, reading works like John Cheever and William Maxwell seem exotic: they define an age and culture that my family, background and geography was never a part of. Cocktail parties in suburbia. A New York high-rise superintendent. New England snow. Russian immigrants in Canada. An elderly British couple vacationing in Ireland. I love it all.

I start my fourth and final semester of grad school in a few days, which means another 20 books to finish by June. A part of me can’t believe I’ve come this far in the MFA program. I don’t mean that in any sense of accomplishment but there was a point in between semesters when I was ready to give up, quit and resign myself to a life of writing video descriptions. And now to think I can almost visualize the path to the finish line? It’s neve-wracking but also a relief. If I’ve finished three semesters of writing, then I can definitely do one more.

  1. I feel like such a loser. I can’t even use up all of the fingers on a single hand when counting the number of books I read cover-to-cover in 2012.

    Was “never-wracking” really what you meant in that last paragraph? It doesn’t sound right, but I’m having a hard time figuring out what it should say…


    1. Oops, that was a typo! Or maybe a Freudian slip, in that I’ll never finish all of my homework in time to graduate. :-/


    2. So what? I watched the third season of Boardwalk Empire in like 2 days. Do more faster!



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