December 2012 — Pasadena, CA
The year is coming to a close and it is time for me to think of all my favorites reads this year. Because my reading list is so damned long there are quite a few books that I gave a fighting chance to but gave up on after about 50 pages or so, so this list is in no way reflective of the amount of reading I actually did this year; the list is just reflective of the books I’d give a better than average grade to. So here they are in no particular order.
Freeman by Louis Pitts, Jr.
Set in post-Civil War America the book actually picks up just a few days after the war has ended where we find Union, Confederate, freed slave, and pacifist attempting to rebuild their lives in a new and strange America. What will America look like? What are the roles race, class, and geography will play? How/where do I find my family? Who can I trust to help me in this new environment? All of these are just some of the complex questions that are brought up in this fantastic work of historical fiction and as Pitts shows us often times the answers are much more dynamic than we could have imagined. Even though I said this list is in no particular order this is probably one of my favorite books of all time and if I was designing a sociology course I would include it in my syllabus.
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
I cannot say enough about this series. It is based on the classic, Alice in Wonderland but saying it’s AIW with a twist isn’t doing it justice. This is a whole new Wonderland and a whole new Alyss and don’t even think of being so inconsiderate so to spell it Alice! The trilogy is packed with action, romance, whimsy, and comedy from the word go. This strong female lead is not only the heroine but she is a Queen. Literally. She is Queen Alyss and she makes shit happen – with her mind! Like River Tam but with a dashing love interest, a crazy homicidal aunt, and a kingdom to protect.
The Magicians: A Novel by Lev Grossman
This book makes nods to Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of The Rings, and just about every other fantasy and sci-fi book you can think of but cranks it to 11. Not exactly a beach read but definitely a fun and interesting read. You don’t have to be fantasy or YA book lover to enjoy this book but it definitely adds layers of fun if you are.
The Dovekeepers: A Novel by Alice Hoffman
When much of womens’ history is ignored and/or lost this book is a wonderful look into the lives of the Jewish women living in Masada in the final days before the siege by the Romans. I may be biased in my love for this book because I have actually been to Masada and know the story but I was fascinated by the feminine take on the happenings in this fortress city. This is not a story of the battle that took place between the martyred Jews that believed themselves to be the last 900 Jews on the planet and the Romans that took the city. This is a look into the daily lives of the women that ran the dovecote that gave life to the city.
History of a Pleasure Seeker (Vintage) by Richard Mason
I love me some historical smut. It could be that my Superego was on vacation while reading this but holy flying spaghetti monster this book had some sexual tension that would not quit. I know that 50 Shades has many a housewife all a twitter but History is on a whole new level. A fun read about sex, power, and the art of seduction but in a completely cerebral way.
The House at Tyneford: A Novel by Natasha Solomons
Another historical fiction ala Downton Abbey. The big draw with this book is the “I’ll cut a bitch with my words” type action. The banter, the word play, the under cutting, the class issues, the queen bee antics! Who could ask for more?! The icing on the cake is the backdrop of WWII and the race and class issues that get brought up when the main character, a Jewish aristocrat, must flee Austria and the Nazis by becoming a servant for a wealthy British family.
There is still about a half a month left in the year so the list may expand with my winter break reading but these are the books that captured my interest in 2012. Happy reading!