So this is officially my second year of taking the personal reading challenge.  The challenge is to set a goal to read a set number of books over the course of the year.  This year my goal was 60 books, which was 25 more than 2012.

Up until 2012 I was an infrequent reader.  Before then, I might get through one or possibly two books per year.  But by setting personal goals, I’ve really come to enjoy reading much more than I ever thought I would.  I’ve also broadened what I like to read.

I used to steer clear of fiction all together, preferring to use the time to read, to learn something too.  This made me a very picky reader.  During 2012, I had a difficult time finding books that I thought would hold my attention.  But over the past year and a half, I’ve really come to enjoy fiction, especially those that reflect on the human condition, as you’ll see from my favorites of the year…

The Book Thief – Favorite Book of the Year

I really do not know where to begin with this book.  Everything was perfect; the settings, the characters, the story, everything.

Set in Germany during the Hitler’s reign, it tells the story of a young, illiterate Russian girl, Liesel Meminger, who is fostered by a German family.  The story is told, very uniquely, from the perspective of “death”, as if it were a being witnessing the life of the Liesel, from when her mother has to give her and her brother up, to her death.

She experiences and witnesses such wonder, heartache, and love throughout the entire book. While reading it, you root for the impossible and hope for a happy ending, but this is not the case.  Yet, you cannot help but feel happy for Liesel.

This is the book, I couldn’t stop talking about all year, and couldn’t wait for the movie.  While the movie was good, this is a reader!

Runner Ups

The Dog StarsThe Dog Stars – Peter Heller

Had I not read The Book Thief, this would have easily taken the top spot for me.  I loved this book.  It was the one I couldn’t put down.

In a world much like that which was painted by Cormac McCarthy in The Road (my favorite book from last year, BTW), it is set in a dystopian future where most of humanity has died off.  It is the story of a man and his search for companionship, meaning, and love.  The story takes place in the foothills and mountains of Colorado.  The imagery that is described is of lands I know and love.

The Fault in our Stars – John Green

Online reviews of this were just too good, I had to read it.  The waiting list at the libraries were astronomically long,  so this turned out to be the ONLY book that I actually purchased this year. And I’m glad I did.

You’ll learn that the world is not a wish granting factory and what true love is.

Wonder – R. J. Palacio

A review on sums this book up best; “you want to hug everyone in it so tightly that they’ll have no doubt how much you love them”.

This is a middle school level book, but I earnestly recommend it to adults.  It is a truly wonderful story.

Some of What I’ve Learned/Reaffirmed

  • How really good Steak and Shake’s food is (Life Itself – Roger Ebert)
  • I really need to close my social networking accounts (The Circle – Dave Eggers)
  • Harley Motorcycles are overrated (Hell’s Angel – Ralph “Sonny” Barger)
  • “Eminemlettes” is one of my new favorite words (Orange is the New Black – Piper Kerman)
  • I do not have the Encyclopedia on my to-read list any longer (The Know-I-All – A.J. Jacobs)
  • Space travel is way more complicated than you’d think (Packing for Mars – Mary Roach)
  • The reality that addiction is not a choice, it is a disease (Beautiful Boy – David Sheff)
  • Religions are the root of most of the world’s evils (Then They Came for Me – Maziar Bahari, Stolen Innocence – Elissa Wall, and God is not Great – Christopher Hitchens)
  • We need to figure out how to make dogs live as long as us (The Dog Stars – Peter Heller, Merle’s Door – Ted Kerasote, and The Art of Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein)

The Whole List

The Circle Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison The Lovely Bones Calico Joe Blindness (Blindness, #1) Team Rodent: How Disney Devours the World Will Grayson, Will Grayson The Fault in Our Stars Wonder The Dog Stars Gone Girl Killing Floor (Jack Reacher, #1) "Live from Cape Canaveral": Covering the Space Race, from Sputnik to Today Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action The Art of Racing in the Rain Never Let Me Go The Giving Tree  12.21 A Simple Plan Prey The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World Me Talk Pretty One Day Sh*t My Dad Says Sleepwalk With Me and Other Painfully True Stories Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void Black Hawk Down Fight Club Life Itself Breaking Seas: An overweight, middle-aged computer nerd buys his first boat, quits his job, and sails off to adventure Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter Half Broke Horses The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine Inferno (Robert Langdon, #4) Black River  Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist Stuff White People Like: A Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions Then They Came for Me: A Family's Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, #1) Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die (Machine of Death #1) The Lottery (Tale Blazers) My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands Suck It, Wonder Woman!: The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction Nocover-blank-111x148 I Want it Now! A Memoir of Life on the Set of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory Catch Me If You Can: The True Story Of A Real Fake All the Pretty Horses (The Border Trilogy, #1) The Memory Keeper's Daughter Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality The Book Thief Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal Hell's Angel: The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club A Thousand Splendid Suns God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

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