Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Books of 2012

Recently I attended a writing workshop by Kelly Gallagher. It was a rainy Saturday morning, and at the time, I could think of approximately 38 things I'd rather be doing than sitting through a lecture in a high school auditorium (namely, sleeping away the rain in my bed). But something amazing happened. Mr. Gallagher was able to crack my crotchety attitude, and I left I-N-S-P-I-R-E-D. Inspired to write and inspired to teach.

One of his main points was to start small, using teen-friendly, high-interest material. (Because let's face it, what fifteen-year-old wants to walk into a classroom in which the first assignment is a three page thesis about symbolism in Of Mice and Men?) One of his first-day activities is the "17 Word Movie Review." Seventeen words is not threatening (actually kind of fun), and what kid can't talk about movies?

I thought I'd perform this exercise with the books I read in 2012.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Page-turning, well-written mystery about the disappearance of a woman and suspicion of husband as killer. (Loved it!)

11/22/63 by Stephen King
Time-traveling teacher attempts to revise history by preventing Lee Harvey Oswald's assassination of John F. Kennedy. (Liked it.)

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
Bipolar parenting. Vagrant lifestyle. How did she end up well-adjusted? Second time around just as good. (Loved it!)

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
You'll laugh, you'll cry in this story about teenager stuck between rez and white life. Also, illustrated! (Loved it!)

The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean
Dual narrative: young woman weathers the siege of Leningrad in art museum and the scourge of Alzheimer's. (Liked it.)

Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall, Denver Moore, and Linda Vincent
Art dealer befriends homeless man, and in this sappy, feel-good tale, they cope with wife's illness. (Didn't like.)

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Main character reflects on past relationships, mistakes, and the death of a friend; too deep for me. (Didn't like.)

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Orphan, abandoned in a graveyard but safeguarded by its inhabitants, must avenge the murder of his parents. (Didn't like it.)

Mockingbird by Sean Stewart
Magical realism rules this book about inheriting the good and bad and learning to accept one's ancestry. (Loved it! Although, honestly I can't quite remember the storyline.)

The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho
Inspiring parable about impediments on the path toward one's personal legend and how they shape the future. (Loved it! Life-changing!)

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Book within a book. Multiple story lines. Memorable characters. Merge together in this beautifully written story. Stunning. (Loved it!)

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ Ireland ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ hungry ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ father ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ cold ZZZ ZZZ (Didn't like. In case you couldn't tell.)

Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston
Subsisting on bean burrito, chocolate, and urine while trapped in crevasse, man contemplates life, chops off arm. (Like it.)

A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
Addict reflects on the roads leading to drug hell and sobriety heaven in this semi-true memoir. (Liked it.)


Now I'm reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien and loving it so far. Here's hoping 2013 includes more reading and writing!