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!
It’s difficult to pick out favorite quotes from We Need to Talk About Kevin, both because every sentence is truly beautiful and because repetition seems to somehow imply endorsement, a hard pill to swallow when the topic is mass murder (or even just rampant cynicism). But here are some tidbits I enjoyed.
“I always prefer socializing at night—it is implicitly more wanton.”
“Only a country that feels invulernable can afford political turmoil as entertainment.”
“Hitherto, I had always regarded the United States as a place to leave. After you brazenly asked me out—an executive with whom you had a business relationship—you goaded me to admit that had I been born elsewhere, the U.S. of A. was perhaps the first country I would make a beeline to visit: whatever else I might think of it, the place that called the shots and pulled the strings, that made the movies and sold the Coca-Cola and shipped Star Trek all the way to Java; the center of the action, a country that you needed a relationship with even if that relationship was hostile; a country that demanded if not acceptance at least rejection—anything but neglect. The country in every other country’s face, that would visit you whether you liked it or not almost anywhere on the planet.”
I have never been much of a kid person. What was at one point a general disgust has tempered over the years into more of a dull annoyance, but for the most part, I wouldn’t consider myself a huge fan. Being around other people’s children is like watching an episode of Planet Earth: I can enjoy a lion for 45 minutes without wanting one as a pet.
I have, like all 20-something women who openly espouse the anti-kid viewpoint, been tutted at by my slightly older peers (and mother), who assure me that I will at some point in life—a point most likely decided upon by my uterus—execute an about-face and forget the part of myself that shudders when a boisterous youngster boards my subway car. And in the interest of realism, I suppose that may very well be true. Despite having never been the type to coo over newborns or feel any particular affinity toward onesies, I can still understand that—objectively speaking—my indifference when it comes to the young is nothing to be self-righteous about, and could very well be impermanent.
But even if I allow that my now 26-year-old emotional geography will change over the next decade, I still wonder why it is that I’m averse to the idea of creating another person. Some of the reasons are obvious: By measures of current-me happiness—financial comfort, peace and quiet, lack of obligation to touch human feces—having a child is clearly bullshit. But these are things that people get past, by which I don’t simply mean that new parents are willing to make such sacrifices for their progeny, but rather that the very state of being a parent somehow dulls those needs. Touching poop isn’t something you can resent when the poop comes out of the wholly helpless human being that you madeexist.