I named this post MOST MEMORABLE rather than BEST OF or something like that because I not only feel eager to revisit some of my favorite reads of the year, but my least favorite as well–perhaps Christmas brings out my catty side. I thought I’d stick to two books per list, with some honorable mentions, and chose them by simply thinking back about which books really stuck out to me, leaving off the list books that I read this year but aren’t “of” this year, like, for example, Their Eyes Were Watching God. The lists basically amount to my favorite and least favorite, but keep me from having to decide if I really did like The Marriage Plot more than some of the other excellent books I’ve read this year!

MOST MEMORABLE (RIGHT REASONS)

1. IN ZANESVILLE by JO ANN BEARD. Of course. Have I mentioned a list of favorites, ever, that didn’t include a book by Ms. Beard? If you haven’t read this yet–especially if you’ve ever been a fourteen year old girl–you need to get on it.

2. THE MARRIAGE PLOT by JEFFREY EUGENIDES. Ok. So my friend/coworker asked me the other day, “Did he just use Madeline to write about the two men in the book?”  She leaned toward answering “yes,” and although she was emotionally engaged in the book, and like me, felt as if she were reading something frighteningly close to her college experience, she wasn’t totally thrilled by the idea that Eugenides might have used his female character as an excuse to write about the men. I absolutely see her point, especially given that the last paragraph of the book is given to Mitchell, not Madeline, which definitely tells you something about whose story you’ve been reading. But, my thought is that Eugenides’s process was somewhat exposed in this novel. To me, it seemed like Madeline was his way into this world, and she introduced him to these people; I did not feel as if she were “used.” I do think that she was not the most interesting person in this book, but being less extreme of a personality than Leonard or Mitchell, acting less radically, I was able to slip into the book beside her and experience it with her. I’d love to know what others think about this! And, love to think about this. Hence its place on the list.

Also: By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham, State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, Bright Before Us by Katie Arnold-Ratliff, Revolution by Deb Olin Unferth.

MOST MEMORABLE (WRONG REASONS)

1. GREAT HOUSE by NICOLE KRAUSS. This was possibly one of the worst books I’ve ever read. And I was so unsuspecting going into it. I still can’t believe that she got away with this one. Pretentious, boring, complicated, coincidental. Blech.

2. SKIPPY DIES by PAUL MITCHELL. I really didn’t like this book, but it was what it was–not to my taste. It didn’t OFFEND me in its badness, like GREAT HOUSE.

Here’s to reading in 2012!

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