My goal for 2012 was to read an average of one book per week, and I surpassed that.
My other goal was to read or reread books that have been sitting on my bookcases for decades. I did a good job with that, although many still remain. And since I have money these days, I indulged myself by buying books that sounded good in their New York Times reviews.
I think my favorite non-fiction books this year were Catherine The Great: Portrait Of A Woman by Robert Massie and The Catcher Was A Spy by Nicholas Davidoff and my favorite novels were The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. My favorite story of how I came to read a book goes like this:
I was at the library and saw Clarence Darrow by John A. Farrell. I took it out and read it.
Darrow was of course a brilliant lawyer. It turns out he quoted poetry during his jury summations.
One of the poems he quoted was by A. E. Housman, and it ended with the line: "There's nothing but the night."
Wow, says I. Nothing But The Night. What a title for a noir.
So I zipped on over to Amazon and looked up Nothing But The Night. I found a Bill Pronzini novel by that title. I then went online to my library's catalog and found they had it. So the day after I returned the Clarence Darrow biography, I went back to the library, found the Pronzini novel, took it home, read it that afternoon (and enjoyed it), and returned it to the library the next day.
If I hadn't read the Darrow biography, I wold never have known about the Pronzini novel. When the weather warms up, I'll go back to the library and take out some more by him. He's got a new fan thanks to Clarence Darrow.
I'm going to divvy this year's list by fiction and non-fiction, alphabetical by title. Expect to see a lot of The(s).
Before The Poison- Peter Robinson
Bread Upon The Waters- Irwin Shaw
Defending Jacob- William Landay
Gone Girl- Gillian Flynn
House Rules- Jodi Picault
Nothing But The Night- Bill Pronzini
Passing Strange- Richard Sale
Rebecca- Daphne du Maurier
Skating Shoes- Noel Streatfield
The Big Clock- Kenneth Fearing
The Blue Zone- Andrew Gross
The Child Who-Simon Lelic
The Chill- Ross MacDonald
The Cocktail Waitress- James M. Cain
The Connoisseur- Evan S. Connell, Jr.
The Forgotten Garden- Kate Morton
The Good Father- Noah Hawley
The G-String Murders- Gypsy Rose Lee
The Green-Eyed Monster- Patrick Quentin
The Intruder- Helen Fowler
The Magician's Wife- Brian Moore
The Pact- Jodi Picault
The Poisoned Chocolates Case-Anthony Berkeley
The Prophet- Michael Koryta
The Unsuspected- Charlotte Armstrong
The Wheel Of Fortune- Susan Howatch
The Winter Sky- Susanna Kearsley
What The Dead Know- Laura Lippman
Now here's the non-fiction:
Alexandra- Caroly Erickson
A Magnificent Obsession- Helen Rappoport
A Smattering Of Ignrance- Oscar Levant
Belles On Their Toes- Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
Catherine The Great- Robert Massie
Clarence Darrow- John A. Farrell
Complicated Women- Mick LaSalle
Dark City- Eddie Muller
Every Picture Tells A Story- John Hedfield
Five Sisters- James Fox
Galileo's Daughter- Dava Sobel
Jack London And His Daughters- Joan London
Lonelyhearts- Marion Meade
Lost Prince- Jeffey Moussaieff Masson
Mary Boleyn- Alison Weir
Murder Plus- Marc Gerald ed.
Nutcracker- Shana Alexander
On The Verge Of Revolt- Brandon French
Party Line/ Out On A Limb- Louise Baker
Queen Of The Conquerer- Tracy Borman
Sins Of The Son- Carlton Stowers
The Astaires- Kathleen Riley
The Beauty And The Sorrow- Peter Englund
The Bronte Myth- Lucasta Miller
The Catcher Was A Spy- Nicholas Davidoff
The Gershwins And Me- Michael Feinstein
The Life Of David- Robert Pinsky
The Lost Empire Of Atlantis- Gavin Menzies
The Loyalists- Christopher Moore
The Medical Detectives- Berton Roueche
The Moose That Roared- Keith Scott
The Making Of The Wizard Of Oz- Aljean Harmetz
The Mormon Murders- Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith
The Quiz Kids- Eliza Merrill Hickok
The Secret Life Of Houdini- William Kalush and Larry Sloman
The Wages Of Sin- Lea Jacobs
The Witch Must Die- Sheldon Cashdan
The Women Of The Cousins' War- Phillipa Gregory, David Baldwin, and Michael Jones
The Youthful Queen Victoria- Dormer Creston
Things I Did And Things I Think I Did- Jean Negulesco
To Hell And Back- Meat Loaf and David Dalton
Under The Banner Of Heaven- Jon Krakauer
Vertigo The Making Of A Hitchcock Classic- Dan Auiler
What Happened To Their Kids- Malcolm Forbes and Jeff Bloch
Without Lying Down- Cari Beauchamp