Bennett Madison

Somethingest Books of the Year: 2012 Edition

I know you have been anxiously awaiting my year end book round-up! 

My goal this year was to read sixty books. I actually would probably have accomplished this if I hadn’t wasted the last two months slogging through the fourth and fifth Game of Thrones books, which I feel compelled to finish even though I stopped enjoying the series about 2000 pages ago. (Only 700 pages to go!!!)

(Note that unlike most best of the year lists, a lot of these books weren’t actually published this year. I’ve never totally understood how people read enough new releases to do that, but I guess it probably involves working at a bookstore.)

BEST BOOK I WOULDN’T HAVE READ IF I HAD KNOWN IT WAS 700 PAGES LONG

SKIPPY DIES

Paul Murray

The extreme length of this book escaped me until it was too late because I was reading the e-version and you can never tell how long those actually are. The first ~200 pages were actually fairly boring but I persisted and it ended up being my favorite. It sort of reminded me of the book version of a Belle & Sebastian song meets the book version of Skins.

I’m also pretty sure it gave me a genuine panic attack near the end, but that just means I was pretty wrapped up in it.

BEST BOOK BY SOMEONE I COULD HAVE GONE TO HIGH SCHOOL WITH

BEFORE YOU SUFFOCATE YOUR OWN FOOL SELF

Danielle Evans

I knew the author had to be around my age and from around where I grew up as soon as one of the characters accused another one of being “pressed.” Points off for not also using biscuit in the slang way but nonetheless definitely the best short story collection I’ve read in awhile.

BOOK WITH THE NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW I WAS MOST ANNOYED BY

THE SONG OF ACHILLES

Madeline Miller

Seriously, what a pompous and unfair review.

BOOK THAT WAS REALLY SOLD TO ME THE WRONG WAY

THE PATRICK MELROSE NOVELS

Edward St. Aubyn

These were recommended to me as funny and bitchy and light, so imagine my surprise when the five-year-old narrator (or maybe he’s six?) gets raped by his father in the first book! Still pretty great once I adjusted my expectations. Plus very short, which— Skippy Dies aside— is always a thing I like.

BOOK THAT WAS A WHOLE LOT OF NOTHING DISGUISED AS A WHOLE LOT OF SOMETHING

CLOUD ATLAS

David Mitchell

Wow, they all have the same birthmark! (It was fun in parts though.)

BEST SEQUEL

THE MAGICIAN KING

Lev Grossman

The scene where the girl gets raped by the fox god was a little problematic as they say at Sarah Lawrence, but otherwise the sequel to The Magicians was even more fun than the first.

HOTTEST GAY BOARDING SCHOOL SEX

THE STARBOARD SEA

Amber Dermont

I can’t say I totally <3d this book but it was pretty good and the tormented gay love was indeed very sexy.

BEST TRASHY THRILLER

GONE GIRL

Gillian Flynn

Very compelling and mean in the best way.

BOOK THAT I THOUGHT WAS GOING TO BE REALLY FUN BUT WAS ACTUALLY SUPER-DEPRESSING

MARVEL COMICS: THE UNTOLD STORY

Sean Howe

There is clearly a lot of competition in this category (see The Patrick Melrose Novels) but this one wins the prize. Someone gave me the ARC of it while I was on vacation and I thought it was going to just be a lot of fun anecdotes about the X-Men. In fact it turned out to be all about the horrible process of trying to make cool, weird art in a world ruled by complete assholes and then dropping dead at your desk. I spent a lot of time discussing it with my therapist. 

FUNNIEST YA BOOK ABOUT SOMEONE DYING OF CANCER

ME, EARL AND THE DYING GIRL

Jesse Andrews

I haven’t read The Fault in Our Stars yet so maybe it is even more LOL than this book but that seems really hard.

BEST EMILY BOOKS BOOK

I’M TRYING TO REACH YOU

Barbara Browning

I adored everything about this book and I adored it even more when I found out that the author is an extremely prolific ukulele cover artist.

MOST RELEVANT GAY NOVEL WRITTEN MORE THAN THIRTY YEARS AGO

DANCER FROM THE DANCE

Andrew Holleran

Matt Gallaway had been telling me to read this for a zillion years and it took him getting up from his drink at the bar, running across the street to the bookstore and purchasing it for me to force me to heed him.

I’d gotten the general sense that it would be really dated but in fact it felt in a lot of ways like it could have been written yesterday. I’d like someone to make a movie of it with no dialogue, just lots of disco music. 

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