The 2012 Review

This is the time of year when everyone looks back on the past 12 months and looks at the best and worst of etc.

I’d like to pretend like I’m different, but I’m not.

This was a big reading year for me.

I’m working through my Top 5 or other arbitrary number list in my head, but in the meantime I thought I’d look back at my reading trends and feelings this year.

Up for it? It’s happening, you don’t actually have a choice.

Like I said – big reading year for me. I make a goal for myself each year. In the past it’s been a bit lofty and I’ve handicapped myself by having to choose books that I think will get me to my goal. At the same time if I choose a goal that’s too low, it’s not going to be any kind of a challenge. This year I settled on 50. Left me room to play around with bigger books but also, 50 books is a lot.

I surpassed my goal. By a lot. As of today I’m working on finishing my 81st book. Which is the most I’ve ever read since I started keeping track of the books I read each year. And let’s face it, probably ever.

This year I discovered the delights of Agatha Christie. I never thought I was a murder mystery kind of reader but I am. I really really am. Aside from Agatha Christie, I devoured works by Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) and Camilla Lackberg (The Ice Princess, The Preacher, The Stonecutter, The Stranger). I even read a real life crime book about a serial killer in Paris during World War II. That book was a lot more difficult to read. Like terrifying.

My failure to read Les Miserables in time for the movie’s release notwithstanding, I did seem to be drawn to books about the French Revolution. Charles Dickens and I came to an understanding when I fell in love with A Tale of Two Cities and I gave Michelle Moran a chance to wow me (she did) when I picked up Madame Tussaud despite the awful cover. While I was fascinated by the French, I became enamoured of Russian Royals, learning all about Catherine the Great thanks to the incredible biography by Robert K. Massie. That turned into a bit of an obsession with Nicholas and Alexandra and I just picked up a book about Royal Russian women by Julia P. Gelardi (which I’m really excited about because she wrote one of my very favourite royal biographies about the five granddaughters of Queen Victoria who each became a Queen in her own right).

My book club had a big impact on my reading choices this year. Our selections ranged from so-so to downright scandalous once we started on the Fifty Shades phenomenon. I was also on the hunt for anything that might have something to do with Downton Abbey and I finished off all of the available Song of Ice and Fire books. I caved and read The Hunger Games books (which I loved), and tried my best to read War and Peace, but was ultimately foiled when my copy was missing a sizeable chunk of pages. I still haven’t managed to sort that out – when I took a copy out of the library to read the missing pages, it was a completely different version.

It was a pretty low key year for non-fiction, something I plan to work on in the New Year. I did manage to continue my love affair with Malcolm Gladwell (he kind of changed my life with Outliers this year) and was completely fascinated by the lives of the Kennedy Women (Lawrence Leamer) and members of The President’s Club.

This was also a year when I made a lot of book mistakes, which was kind of a first for me. There were a number of books that I read that I just didn’t care for. A couple that I abandoned altogether (Catch-22, Little Shadows, The Vampire Lestat) and others that I struggled through that I wanted to abandon (The Stranger’s Child, The Prague Cemetery, Bride of New France, The Firefly Cloak).

But in the end, I read almost 81 books. And that’s pretty badass.


Fifty Shades of Grey

Just a heads up – this post is not suitable for your mom. Or my mom.

Especially not my mom.

So. Fifty Shades of Grey. Yup, I went there. Not of my own freewill or anything. I was coerced into reading this, forced by a group of girls who don’t hear ‘no’ very often.

I don’t actually know this about them, but I’m assuming. They were very persuasive.

Anyway, you know how it is. You get together to discuss a book, you have a couple of glasses of wine, some excellent hor d’ouevres and next thing you know you’re in the bookstore picking up a copy of erotica, avoiding the knowing looks that the guy ringing you up is giving you. He knows. You should know better.

Fifty Shades of Grey apparently started as Twilight fan fiction. So there’s a clumsy girl and a hot guy that is way out of her league and it takes place in Seattle and that’s about where the similarities end. Because while Twilight is all “wait until you get married to have sex” , Fifty Shades of Grey is all “let’s get kinky.”

Christian Grey is a complicated (and super wealthy) man – after a super secretive, not-so-ideal childhood he has developed certain, ahem, sexual tastes.

He’s not so much into a relationship as he is looking for his next Submissive to bow down to his Dominant. In exchange for being his sex toy he will gratify you in ways you never knew possible. He’s into bondage and using sex toys and all manner of things that a) you probably didn’t know existed and b) you never thought you’d be reading about on the afternoon bus with a bunch of unsuspecting commuters. Anastasia Steele is conflicted between her desire to satisfy Christian and her love for him that wants to see this turn into a long term relationship.

I felt like I was doing something so wrong on the bus to and from work every day. I think most people that have read it do so on an e-reader, but not owning a piece of 21st Century witchcraft, I had to read it in the open. I tried to angle my book away so that no one could read over my shoulder (Like you don’t do this; I practically give myself neck injuries craning to see what others are reading on transit) but then I was putting the cover right out there, and then it’s just a matter of a quick google search for those of you that are so inclined.

They are talking about turning this into a movie (not sure what kind of movie) and Chris Hemsworth has been thrown out there as Christian. I think we can all agree that this would not be the worst thing ever.

In the end, I enjoyed it (in more ways than one). It ends abruptly (kind of like this post) and I hate that I’m going to have to read more of these but I need to know what happens right?