Well, I was way off my goal this year—I only managed to read 21 books. I had originally planned on reading the books from the New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2012, but the few books I selected from that list were so mediocre that I stopped. However, apart from some notable exceptions, the quality of the books did not improve. Hopefully 2014 will bring some better reads!
Short Stories: 4
ed. North, Ryan: Machine of Death
The concept was fascinating, but having the same introduction at the beginning of every story was tiresome. I also wished that the stories ventured into more genres, namely horror and thriller (not sure how, but this is a machine of death). In fact, I thought that most of the stories were too comedic sometimes. Death should be a big deal.
Otsuka, Eiji: The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Vol. 13
Not as good as the ones before, but still quite entertaining!
Clowes, Daniel: Ghost World
I really wanted to like this one—I really did—but Rebecca and Enid just pissed me off so much. Like, you don’t even know.
Anshaw, Carol: Carry the One
I’m still making my mind up about this one.
Bradbury, Ray: Fahrenheit 451
It is ironic that after I read this book, I felt like burning it.
Abrams, David: Fobbit
Now I want to watch The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty.
Auslander, Shalom: Hope: A Tragedy
I didn’t find any of the offensive jokes funny (except for Kugel’s retelling of his mother pretending to be a Holocaust survivor).
Baggott, Juliana: Pure
It can’t be denied that Baggott has a good command over the English language, but the amount of tropes she used rendered reading Pure more like visiting http://www.tvtropes.com.
Boyle, T. C.: San Miguel
I wish that the island in this novel was the same as the island in Lost. In all seriousness, though, I thought that the story was weak, and there wasn’t a lot connecting the lives of Marantha and Edith with the lives of Herbie and Elise.
Stephenson, Neal: REAMDE
The story wasn’t bad per se, but by the end, the sheer length of this novel had driven me to Zula’s point of exhaustion during her captivity by the jihadists. Stephenson tended to ramble on and on. (Also, why didn’t Csongor insist that they contact Richard after they landed at Manila? I mean, it wouldn’t have done any good, but you really shouldn’t be getting addicted to a video game when the woman you claim you love has been captured by jihadists and you have no idea where she is)
deWitt, Patrick: The Sisters Brothers
Rowling, J. K.: The Cuckoo’s Calling
It surprises me how much Rowling writes like a stereotypical straight man sometimes.
Barthelme, Donald: Forty Stories
I find Barthelme inscrutable—a mindfuck.
Boo, Katherine: Behind the Beautiful Forevers
This was really well-written.
ed. North, Ryan: This Is How You Die
The second installment of The Machine of Death. Some of the more ambitious stories weren’t as good as they could have been, but overall I must say that I enjoyed this a lot more than its predecessor.
Torres, Justin: We the Animals
Sighs. What is up with this navel-gazing trend in “literary fiction” nowadays?
Atwood, Margaret: The Penelopiad
My favourite part of this novel was how Atwood used different literary forms to tell the story of the Odyssey from the point of view of the maids.
Kafka, Franz: Selected Short Stories of Franz Kafka
People who gave this a five stars rating on https://www.goodreads.com are lying. Due to what I suspect to be poor translation, some of the stories in this collection were dreadfully tedious to get through. But I did enjoy “The Metamorphosis” and “A Report to an Academy”.
Brosh, Allie: Hyperbole and a Half
I hate to say it, but for some reason this book didn’t make me laugh as much as the blog did. But that doesn’t really matter, since I always felt that what made Brosh great wasn’t just her sense of humour, but also her honesty and her grasp on human (and canine) nature.
Greene, Graham: The Quiet American
I have such mixed feelings about this—where do I begin? On one hand, I find the portrayals of Phuong, her sister Miss Hei, and other Vietnamese characters to be just as colonialist as the French rule that Pyle was opposed to, but on the other hand I was amazed by the way the story was told and the moral questions it raised—still very relevant today. Yes, it was all about “white men” crises, but it was one of the better depictions of “white men” crises.
Ishiguro, Kazuo: An Artist of the Floating World
Ishiguro is a good writer—I had loved reading Never Let Me Go—and this novel does not prove otherwise. However, I am weary of the historical accuracy of the novel. He said: “…when I wrote, say, An Artist of the Floating World, I wasn’t terribly interested in researching history books,” Ishiguro is Japanese, but he had came to England at the age of five, and in my opinion, he needed the historical accuracy to do justice to the war that had ravaged so many nations. He couldn’t just be another artist of the floating world.