Friday, 14 December 2012
Non-Fiction Sidebar: Twelve+ Favourite Readings of 2012
As someone who teaches lit and writes reviews of it, my reading habits tend to result less from browsing book aisles than in receiving review assignments and preparing for new courses. The benefit is that I read material that falls well outside of what I already know I enjoy (while the disadvantage can be having to force myself to finish books I feel are actively wasting my time and which—were I not writing a review—I would likely have stopped reading after the first chapter).
The titles that really stayed with me in a positive way are listed below, in no particular order. A sub-category resulting from class readings and published as far back as 1974, deserve mention because they're so damned terrific.
Throughout the year I reviewed a few titles that stayed with me like a taste that triggers a mild gag response. Mentioning them in a Least Favourite Readings of 2012 section was a temptation with bad karma, I figured. Then again, Margaret Atwood once asked, "If you see a person heading toward a huge hole in the ground, is it not a friendly act to warn him?" But her hole in the ground metaphor was referring to the political activism of dystopian novels, and not a book she didn't like. Is it best to let sleeping dogs lie?
New Readings, Published in 2012—
Alain de Botton — Religion for Atheists
Patricia Cohen — In Our Prime: The Invention of Middle Age
Cheryl Strayed — Wild
Tamas Dobozy — Siege 13
Alix Ohlin — Inside
Douglas Glover — "Attack of the Copula Spiders"
Anne Fleming — Gay Dwarves of America
Candace Savage — A Geography of Blood
Anakana Schofield — Malarky
Augusten Burroughs — This is How
Cheryl Strayed — Tiny Beautiful Things
Re-Readings, Dating From Before 2012—
Alice Munro — Lives of Girls and Women
J.J. Lee — The Measure of a Man
J.M. Coetzee — Elizabeth Costello
Don Hannah — The Wise and Foolish Virgins
Jonathan Safran Foer — Eating Animals
Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon — The 100-Mile Diet