On the off chance that anyone is interested, I hereby throw my accomplished reading list to the internet for little purpose other than to demonstrate my own widespread bibliophilism. Here’s to another year of devouring fiction in all its forms!
This list, of course, only includes books I finished, and left off are those who tragically never saw me reach the back page in 2012 (unless it was to skip there… come on, I know you all do that too)
1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (2011)
Many characters, magical realism, a fictional place I long to visit and explore and descriptive prose that makes me cry cupcakes.
2. Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman (1999)
A collection of short stories ranging from hilarious to horrifying, all with Neil Gaiman’s unique twist of concepts fantastical and real. And a small seaside town full of worshippers of the Lovecraftian gods.
3. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan (2010)
I have seldom laughed out loud while reading, but this book did it. Shared between two authors and two narrators, the insightful little novel rolls along without wanting to be put down.
4. Paper Towns by John Green (2008)
Ah yes, my John Green era. Due for a re-read by this late stage in the year, methinks—the story of a boy and the girl he loves and idolises but doesn’t understand, and the world and its façades.
5. Looking For Alaska by John Green (2005)
Manic Pixie Dream Girls who are fawned over, taken to pieces and then killed symbolically. I didn’t enjoy it that much, but if that isn’t a recipe for awards tell me what is.
6. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (2012)
If you want to smile and weep and hug a book to your chest then pick up this one. Like, actually: in the hubbub of your YA shelf this one should magnetise everyone who walks past and wants to think about life, love and death, ponderings delivered to them in John Green’s beautiful introspective prose from shockingly real and lovable characters.
7. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (2006)
And then there’s this asshole. Bit of a shock after the above mentioned in terms of it being a wacky comedy after a story starring cancer patients, but what have you.
8. How They Met and Other Stories by David Levithan (2008)
Not a book of love stories, necessarily, but a book of stories about love, in all its shapes and forms. Singular stories stood out and others were shrugged at or forgotten, as oft happens with anthologies. Contains some real gems, especially Skipping Prom, Princes, and A Romantic Inclination.
9. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1891)
The home of one of my favourite fictional douchebags (which, funnily enough, is where you will find the only douchebags I tolerate and enjoy), fallen from his grace in a story of pride and corruption. Also, is it possible to be attracted to a writer’s prose? Because I will passionately wed Oscar Wilde’s. And bear its beautiful children.
10. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
I was picking through classics at this point, it seems—lucky for me, as I discovered one of my favourite books. The Beautiful and Damned, however, is still sitting on my shelf, waiting to be waded through and returned to the friend I borrowed it from a year ago. Oops.
11. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865)
A sparkling little fairy tale, much more fondly believed to be satirical than written by a man who was high, though the latter inclination does rear its head at some points… still, no weirder than anything else that’s ever been written as fantasy for children.
12. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (1910)
Explored to contrast, of course, the musical, and an interesting thing to delve into. The language was stuffy and the storytelling style sometimes jarring, but reveals a fascinating anti-hero at the centre of it all.
13. Lysistrata by Aristophanes (411 BC…?)
I took a class on satire, and one of the first things they handed me was an ancient Greek playscript full of dick jokes. I knew I was in for a good semester.
14. The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh (1948)
Also satirical, set in the Hollywood of the 1940s and narrated by a snarky Englishman who may or may not be the author hiding behind his typewriter and shouting insults (albeit wittily) through his characters. Quite funny, in a macabre, toffy kind of way.
15. The Broken Shore by Peter Temple (2005)
Read for a course on crime fiction as one of the modern greats, though I could barely stomach it. But! I chewed through the wad of a book and had to compliment its ability to create the unpleasant, bleak and harsh atmosphere of the southern coast of Australia.
16. The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson* (1999)
Ah, Jacqueline Wilson my old friend. One of her more heart-rending and thought-provoking novels, about what happens when children have to look after their deeply flawed parents.
17. The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare (1623…?)
Misogynistic humour or sassy feminism? We shall never truly know.
18. Planet Janet by Dyan Sheldon* (2004)
Deep and meaningful diary of a London teenager who decides to try a “Dark Phase”, wherein she listens to jazz, does yoga, dresses in black and purple and is highly sophisticated. Eye-rolling humour, but riotous nonetheless.
19. Lola Rose by Jacqueline Wilson (2003)
Similar to The Illustrated Mum in many respects, deals with the fears we face as children forced to grow up far too quickly. Relatable and melancholy, but quality. Most likely won awards. You can tell, because the characters suffered.
20. Planet Janet in Orbit by Dyan Sheldon* (2005)
The diaries of the world’s most hilariously irritating seventeen-year-old sophisticate continue!
21. On The Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (2006)
This book was confusing as hell when I first started it, and I found myself unsympathetic for the surly protagonist, but as time passed I was hooked into the bizarre and compelling mystery within.
22. Looking For Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta (1999)
How many adolescent issues can we fit into one book, narrated by a weirdly unsympathetic and unsolid teenage hero? Ms Marchetta has come a long way since the story of Josie Alibrandi.
23. It’s Not All About YOU, Calma! by Barry Jonsberg (2004)
Sequel to The Whole Business With Kiffo and the Pitbull and just as funny and heartbreaking. Perhaps I prefer my YA with sassy assholes for protagonists?
24. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)
A fascinating and frightening science fiction world, engrossing at every turn and occasionally just leaving the reader reeling and going “WOW, OKAY THEN”.
25. Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre (2007)
A vulgar and spitefully tongue-in-cheek tale of the perils of commercialist, religious, contradictory small-town Texas. God Bless America.
26. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon (2003)
The story was a bit odd and weak, but that isn’t what you read this book for. You read it to see, meticulously and believably crafted, the inner thoughts of a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome unfurl across the pages, and you come to understand him as a human being, as he completely deserves.
27. The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger (2003)
Sassy bitches in the fashionable and decadent world of High Society New York. My favourite.
28. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming (1953)
I spent half this book laughing at James Bond and his gleeful and strong-jawed sexism. I’m not even kidding. I am not compelled to become a fan since I can’t take the damn thing seriously. Well enjoyed as escapism in the ‘50s and ‘60s I’m sure, but not entirely my cup of tea.
29. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (1996)
The first in a series of character-driven political dramas set in a wondrously crafted fantasy world. See last week’s post for full spill of heart and soul on the matter.
30. Struck By Lightning by Chris Colfer (2012)
Refer to above statement about adoring sassy assholes as YA narrators. Turns out the adorable dude can write, not only screenplays but novels; carried along the coming of age story of a deliciously snarky, fierce and apathetic hero who blackmails half his high school into writing submissions for a literary magazine he’s going to send to Northwestern University for a better chance at acceptance and his dream. Laugh out loud along the lines of Will Grayson, except for the ending, which is like a punch in the chest. Thanks, Chris!!