2012 Book List

It’s an annual tradition, folks! Here’s a list of every book I read in 2012, and stay tuned for my top 10, listed next week on this blog.

I didn’t make it to my hoped-for 52 books this year, but where I fell short I was instead critiquing manuscripts (3 for hire and 2 for trade this year) or working on my novel. That’s 5 book-length pieces of writing that I read and reviewed, but that aren’t on this book list. Oh yes, and I keep a subscription to the Sunday New York Times, which–added up week after week–is surely a book in and of itself.

Still, I turned a fair number of pages this year:

1. Journeys Through the Inside Passage by Joe Upton (The first 6 books on this list were to prepare for my residency at The Island Institute in Sitka, AK)

2. Sitka: Portraits of Wilderness by Dave Hardy with photographs by Dan Evans

3. Carved History: The Totem & House Posts of Sitka National Historical Park by Marilynn R. Knapp and Mary P. Meyer

4. Sitka: A Home in the Wild by Carolyn Servid with photographs by Dan Evans

5. The Sea Runners by Ivan Doig

6. The Tlingit: An Introduction to their Culture & History by Wallace M. Olson

7. The Outlaw Album by Daniel Woodrell (because it was recommended by a writer whose work I loved…unfortunately, this one was too dark even for my war-themed tastes)

8. Of Landscape & Longing by Caroline Servid (because Caroline is a beautiful person, and her book was likewise beautiful)

9. Everything Arises, Everything Falls Away by Ajahn Chah (for spiritual development)

10. This House of Sky by Ivan Doig (because he is an amazing author even if he is “old fashioned”)

11. New Sudden Fiction: Short-Short Stories from America and Beyond edited by Robert Shapard and James Thomas (because I love flash fiction)

12. Beruit 39: New Writing from the Arab World edited by Samuel Shimon (because two friends I met at VCCA that are from Morrocco are in this anthology, and because I wanted to read what Iraqi and Afghan authors are writing today)

13. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender (because who can resist a title like that, and I love Bender for her insatiable female characters)

14. The Road to Somewhere: An American Memoir by James A. Reeves (because it’s my job to keep up with what American lit crit folks call “memoir” and this one pushed the boundaries)

15. Burning Bridges by Ron Rash (a North Carolina favorite author)

16. Loving What Is by Byron Katie (self HELP ME tend my wounded heart!)

17. The Wild Places by Robert MacFarlane (because I love maps, in both words and images)

18. The Best American Travel Writing 2010 edited by Bill Buford (because before I realized I needed to write a novel, I thought I would write a book about my travels)

19. {top secret}

20. Never In A Hurry: Essays on People and Places by Naomi Shihab Nye (because she sees the world in smart layers, and I like the poet-infused nature of her prose)

21. Bogeywoman by Jaimy Gordon (because I had to introduce this nationally-renowned author at a public event–whew!)

22. Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon (same reason)
23. Quantum Lyrics by A. Van Jordan (same reason)

24. Atlas of the Great Plains by Lavin, Shelley, and Archer (because I love maps and thinking about the cultural and physical layers of peopled places)

25. The Legend of Colton H. Bryant by Alexandra Fuller (because she is one of the most brilliant contemporary nonfiction in the history of humanness)

26. Bright’s Passage by Josh Ritter (because Josh Ritter is one of my fave folk musicians, whose lyrics have always inspired me…unfortunately his novel was a total bomb)

27. By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham (because who can resist his sentences? Holy shit.)

28. The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje (because I thought I needed someone to teach me how to write a novel)

29. Running with the Mind of Meditation by Sakyong Mipham (spiritual development)

30. A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore (because I needed to read a novel and it was mysteriously left in my Interlochen office one day, so I took it as a sign…)

31. Dust to Dust by Benjamin Busch (because I always, always read books published by writers I meet in the literary world and I try to buy them hardback new, and because Ben is a bright, creative man with an eye for a peaceful essay…even when writing about war)

32. Children & Fire by Ursula Hegi (because I have always loved this writer for her patience and her methods of conjuring place, and because half the novel takes place all in the same day–much like the one I’m trying to write now)

33. Smile at Fear by Chogyam Trungpa (for spiritual development)

34. This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz (because I’ve been waiting 10 years for him to publish his next book…and so has he)

35. Sudden Flash Youth edited by Tom Hazuka and Mark Budman (because I will always and forever read any anthology edited by these guys…and all the flash fictions are about teenagers, which I love)

Love this idea? Here’s my Top Ten for 2011 and for 2010. Enjoy, and by all means list your faves here as well! Buy books, support writers, help people love words!

Showing 3 comments
  • Steven Veatch

    Wow, that was a lot of reading. I am trying so hard to read more. I finished 22.
    75 Readings: An Anthology;
    Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey;
    The Last Lost World: Ice Ages, Human Origins, and the Invention of the Pleistocene by Lydia Pyne;
    Theft: A Novel by BK Loren;
    The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch;
    The Dante Club by Pearl
    Letters to a Young Poet by Rilke
    Beautiful and Pointless: A guide to Modern Poetry by Orr
    Before the Poison by Peter Robinson
    In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson;
    Everett Ruess: His Short Life, Mysterious Death, and Astonishing Afterlife;
    My Temporary Life by Martin Crosbie;
    Mystery of Everett Ruess, by Rusho;
    Now you See Me by S. J. Bolton; Literature and the Writing Process by Elizabeth McMahan;
    Writing Poetry from the Inside Out: Finding Your Voice Through the Craft of Poetry by S. Lyne;
    The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry by Kim Addonizio;
    The Art and Craft of Poetry, by M.J. Bugeja;
    A Fist in the Hornet's Nest: On the Ground in Baghdad Before, During and After the War by R. Engel; The Bedford Handbook by Diana Hacker; On Desert Trails with Everett Ruess by Everett Ruess;
    The Time of Our Lives:by Tom Brokaw.

  • northco

    Oh,dear..um, I mean Oh Joy, some I've read but many more to add to the "must read" list.

  • croquecamille

    I want to know more about #19!

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