Well guys, 2012 is drawing swiftly to a close and I have nothing to show for myself except a sweet new job and the collective knowledge of ~53 finished books (52.3 if I’m being honest about Les Mis, 58.3 if I count the Gone series and all three FSOG books). A productive year indeed.
Last week I posted the mathematically irrefutable Best Books of 2012, a labor on which I spent an undisclosed number of hours (like five) but after a little rest, relaxation, and weirdly mortifying perusal of my own ramblings from the last 12 months, I’d now like to share a more important list: the books I read this year that made the biggest impact on my little reality-TV-filled brain. Few of these titles were released in 2012, a byproduct of my resigned refusal to spend $27 on hardcovers, but sometimes it’s nice to read a book a few years after its release, when you can absorb it in the vacuum of irrelevance.
So here are the books that touched my shriveled-up heart this year, in dramatic countdown order. Happy reading!
As novels go, John Green’s are “for teenagers” by virtue of two main factors: 1) They’re compulsively easy to read, and beg to be consumed in a single sitting, and 2) They tend to be about people in high school. Otherwise, the (often dark) themes Green explores in his books are wholly adult, in a way that reminds you how one’s teens are truly the last barrier between the innocence of youth and the encroaching cynicism of old age.
The Fault in Ours Stars was, as a whole, wonderfully written (read my glowing review) but a handful of passages were even more awesome than the rest. Unfortunately some didn’t make the cut here—I am not one to disclose important plot points by way of citation—but here are a few good ones.
“Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer. But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying. (Cancer is also a side effect of dying. Almost everything is, really.)”
“I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”
“‘How many people do you think have ever died?’
‘I happen to know the answer to that question,’ he said. ‘There are seven billion living people, and about ninety-eight billion dead people.’
‘Oh,’ I said. I’d thought that maybe since the population growth had been so fast, there were more people alive than all the dead combined.
‘There are about fourteen dead people for every living person,’ he said. ‘I did some research on this several years ago. I was wondering if everybody could be remembered. Like, if we got organized and assigned a certain number of corpses to each living person, would there be enough living people to remember all the dead people?’
‘And there are?’
‘Sure, anyone can name fourteen dead people. But we’re disorganized mourners, so a lot of people end up remembering Shakespeare, and no one ends up remembering the person he wrote Sonnet Fifty-five about.'”
Advance apologies if my syntax and otherwise generally awesome writing skills are off today: I’m in Day 3 of Operation Don’t Be a Fatty, which is the code name I’ve given my 345th attempt to lose weight this year. Whilst daydreaming about bagels and buckets of cream cheese, I’m finding it harder than usual to sound insightful.
What does ODBAF entail, you ask? (Or didn’t ask, but it’s my blog and I do what I want.) Give or take a few other minor changes (like alternating sides of the couch so as to more evenly distribute my butt indent) it primarily involves a) going to the gym more than once a year b) eating less candy and c) not always choosing the gnocchi at Italian restaurants. Just sometimes.
Though this is, as I mentioned, the umpteenth time I’ve gone down this path, it is not without reason that I bring up my renewed interest in health here, on a blog ostensibly about books. After finishing The Fault in Our Stars over the weekend, which focuses primarily on the lives of two teenagers with cancer, I came into Monday feeling particularly shitty about my inability to take care of my perfectly functional 26-year-old body.