I feel like 2012 was the year in which I re-discovered my love of reading. Thanks to my Kindle and my newfound reading partner, Jessica, I became quite the obsessive bibliophile, perhaps even to a fault as sometimes I can hardly motivate myself to do much else! It also became the year in which I started to take nonfiction seriously. When I surveyed all the books I read this year, I was surprised at how many of my most favorite and memorable were nonfiction. Anyway, I thought I owed it to this year and re-discovered love to compile a list of the top five books which influenced me the most this year.
5.) Among Others by Jo Walton
I’m kind of surprised at myself for naming this one of my top books because I was not totally sure about it when I read it, but the more I think about it, this is such a gem! I absolutely adored how much this book was an homage to the love of reading and libraries. It made me realize how truly special reading can be and the power which it can have. The nerd in me simply can’t stop smiling when I think back on this delightful read. Mori’s voice is spectacular, and the little romance in this book made me so insanely happy.
4.) The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
When I picked up this book for my graduate course this past semester, I never imagined that I would enjoy it so much, let alone name it one of my top books of 2012. It’s not an enjoyable read – in fact many times it was quite painful and heart-wrenching to say the least – but it’s a necessary read. If I could require everyone in America to read it, I would, because it’s that important for cultural competence and awareness.
3.) The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
I know I’m a little behind because everybody and their mother read this book when it first came out and raved over it. I thought, “What’s the big deal?” and opted to read it someday in the very distant future. Then I had to read it with my AP kids and realized oh holy crap what the big deal is. If you don’t already know, this true story is amazing and profound and staggering and spellbinding and dozens of other adjectives. I cannot say strongly enough how much you simply must read it!
2.) Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
Well, obviously it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the Mormons and also Jon Krakauer, so I was kind of destined to love this book before even reading it. But that aside, it’s such a thought-provoking read which I keep coming back to. On the one hand, I enjoyed the practical history lesson on Mormons and Mormon Fundamentalists in general. On the other hand, I was enthralled by the questions the book raises regarding the things we can do in the name of God, which often can’t be questioned as long as the Almighty’s name is attached. Great stuff to ponder, particularly in the culture in which I live and work.
1.) Ghosting by Kirby Gann
Man, I loved this book. I finished it over a month ago, and have literally thought about it every day since. I will fully admit that something about it taking place in Kentucky really captivated me, but it’s more than that. It’s really such a simple story of a boy looking for his brother, but it’s so much more than that too. It’s about hopelessness, losing yourself, finding yourself, and dealing with the crappy hand life has dealt you. It’s about acceptance. Kirby Gann is a master of characterization who created such life-like characters in this novel that I mourn their fictional status on a daily basis. I have extended fantasies about meeting Mr. Gann and picking his brain for hours on end, and I’m seriously considering doing my graduate thesis work on something which will allow me to include this novel. If that doesn’t tell you how much it influenced me, then I don’t know what will.