Worst books I read this year

I have a month to go in the year, yes, but I am pretty sure this list is solid. Here are the worst books I read in 2012, ranked in order of how much I hated them.


  1. Swamplandia!, Karen Russell
  2. Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward
  3. NW, Zadie Smith
  4. The Savage Detectives, Roberto Bolaño
  5. At Home, Bill Bryson
  6. The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga
  7. I Sailed with Magellan, Stuart Dybek
  8. Under the Net, Iris Murdoch
  9. Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri
  10. Doting, Henry Green
  11. Arcadia, Tom Stoppard
  12. Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry
  13. Kitchen, Banana Yoshimoto
  14. Snow, Orhan Pamuk
  15. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein
  16. Amongst Women, John McGahern
  17. Madeleine Is Sleeping, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum

Madeleine is Sleeping

There are some much-beloved names on this list, I know, but I just have to be honest with you, faceless Internet readers. Wanna fight with me about some of these? I am up for it.

Otherwise, what were some of the worst books you read this past year?

The best reason for writing novels

Click for source.

“I think sometimes that the best reason for writing novels is to experience those four and a half hours after you write the final word. The last time it happened to me, I uncorked a good Sancerre I’d been keeping and drank it standing up with the bottle in my hand, and then I lay down in my backyard on the paving stones and stayed there a long time, crying. It was sunny, late autumn, and there were apples everywhere, overripe and stinky.”

— Zadie Smith, from her essay collection Changing My Mind

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Things I’ve been thinking about lately:

  • One’s heightened powers of observation of the natural and social worlds, which come when you know that you might have to write something and then share it with someone.
  • Relearning Japanese and how it is killing my brain. I feel only slightly justified to learn that the Foreign Service Institute ranked Japanese as the hardest language for an English-speaker to learn. Should that make me feel proud, or super-super depressed? I’m really leaning toward the latter.
  • Getting a (canine) sibling for Pyrrha. But only kind of thinking about this, because two dogs is a lot of dogs. And I think Pyrrha is pretty perfect, and what if we ended up with a four-legged terror?
  • Fall! Beautiful, glorious fall!

Happy weekend, everyone.

Monday Snax

So, yeah, not a lot of time for blogging this past week. But a lot of time for browsing blogs, apparently!

We had a nice, peaceful weekend, got to see some old UNC friends who came up for the UNC-UVA football game. And I got to read for hours and hours on Sunday, and that was lovely. I have missed being the triumphant reader. I’m plowing through three large books (The Corrections, The Feminine Mystique, and Love in the Ruins) at a breakneck pace, since they’re all due back to the library fairly soon and I don’t think I can renew them. The first two are great; the third I’m reading for book club and I’m really not liking it. Percy’s racism and sexism is kind of unforgivable. At first, I chalked it up to the protagonist’s bigotry, but now I’m not so sure.

I also finished another calligraphy job for my dear Katherine’s wedding! You can check it out here.

Easily digestible snax for your Monday afternoon. Flurgh. Smaller than usual, because my post got deleted again. Oh, well. Guess you’ll never know what interesting things are on the Internet this week.

Writing on the Wall. Grace painted this verse from Galatians on the wall of Brandi’s baby’s nursery. Amazing! She free-handed it, too. I think my calligraphy business is in danger… (Como Say What?)

Visual List Maker. Again. This child amazes me. Why didn’t I inherit this talent? So cool. (Only by Grace)

From Japan: Colors and Prints. One of my favorite days in Tokyo was wandering around the art museum, looking at historic prints. These are lovely; they remind me of how totally enamored I am with Japanese art. (Oh Joy!)

Last Night I Had This Dream. Angela is dreaming that Guion and I have doppelgangers–who are unfaithful to one another! What could this mean? (Wxtchou)

I Would Make This Face Too If Someone Handed Me a Wolf Puppy. This is not an intelligent link; I just think it’s funny. Who is handing Hayden Panettiere a wolf puppy? Where does one obtain a wolf puppy that one may subsequently pass off to a young starlet?? These are the enduring questions of my life. (Best Week Ever)

Anatolian Shepherd Puppies for Sale. Will you just look at some of these faces? Man. This woman is a friend of my boss’s. I need one of her puppies. (Bay Haven Farm)

Between Two Ferns with Bruce Willis. “Did you know that some actors turn down roles?” (Best Week Ever)

The Zach Galifianakis Swimsuit Calendar. On a related note: I’m so glad this happened. (Vanity Fair)

The Definitive Gossip Girl Hookup Chart. Again, I would like to reiterate that I do not actually watch this show, but I know enough about it to find it hilarious. This flowchart in particular demonstrates the extreme absurdity of this production. Courtney, you had better study this like it’s a midterm before you go to Manhattan. (New York Mag)

A Micnic! Our utterly fabulous wedding photographer, Meredith, just got a Mini Cooper and took this adorable outing (Mini + picnic = micnic) with her boyfriend and sweet Lab, Orvis. Wish I could have been there! Looks divine.  (And Unlimited)

Rubber Stamp Business Cards. Dang. If I only had $64 to throw away… (Oh, So Beautiful Paper)

A Zadie Friday. I’ve always liked Zadie Smith, even though I never really love her novels when I finish. I think she’s a great writer, though. I read the piece “Sweet Charity” in The New Yorker this morning over my muesli. (The Book Bench)

Berlin #4. I’ve never been much interested in traveling to Germany until I saw this post. So charming and autumnal. (Ida Nielsen)