My avatar across the web: a photo of my feet in grey-white socks and brown sandals.

Ben Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

Top 10 best and worst books read in 2012

As I’ve done for the past four years, I now present my top 10 best and worst books that I read last year. This was a good year for reading. Although I’m not quite back up to where I want to be, at around 150 books per year, I beat last year’s total by ten books. And once again, I read only four 1-star books—though I gave up on four books, the most I’ve ever abandoned in a single year. I don’t like giving up on books; I like sticking through to the bitter end and then writing a snazzy invective of them. But some of the books I tried to read last year just weren’t working, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to write cogent reviews of them, so I decided to move on to the next one on the list.

Speaking of the list, here are the lists:

You’ll notice you can’t comment on this blog post. For the past year or so, I’ve been receiving an increasingly impressive amount of spam on my blog, which baffles me because I don’t know where my blog posts are being linked that they attract so much attention. It got to the point where spammers were actually consuming enough bandwidth that they used up my limit for last month! Last summer I started working on a total, ground-up rewrite of my blogging platform, but it isn’t close to finished, and I don’t have the time to work on it or even revamp the comment form with stronger spam protection. I’m not too worried, because I received very few comments each month. Those few of you who read my blog can share your thoughts with me on Twitter, Facebook, or elsewhere (and, of course, I welcome tweets and posts from irregular readers as well).

And now, how about some goals for reading in 2013?

I am making a concerted effort to read the oldest books on my to-read list. I’ve never slavishly followed the order of my list. Newer books that excited me (or found their way into my possession, for whatever reason) could easily jump to the front of the line. Plus, I would tend to add several books from the same author, or with similar settings or themes, at one time to the list, and I wouldn’t want to read them all at once. However, as nice as the library system where I’m living in England is, its selection leaves something to be desired, so I ordered quite a few of the oldest books on my list from various merchants online. I believe I now have all of the books that I added in 2008, so I’m going to get through those first before tackling any other acquisitions.

I also want to make some more time for re-reading. I have quite a few books sitting on my shelf that I’ve read once but need to read again, either because it’s been a long time—and it would be nice to have a review for them—or just because they are so good (e.g., Fall On Your Knees). The problem with having a massive to-read list is that I feel guilty when I take “time off” to read a book I’ve already read. And last summer, thanks to several library trips and some used book shopping, I spent most of August working to read new books before I moved away.

Ideally, I think it would be neat if I could stick to re-reading at least one book a month. However, that might be difficult when most of the books I own are in Canada, so I’m not going to make such a precise goal. I also thought about declaring August, the summer month when I will be home, a month of re-reading, but I don’t want to lock myself into such a rigid prescription. I just want to re-read more books this year than I did last year, and let’s leave it at that for now.

Goodbye, 2012. Here’s to a fantastic year of reading in 2013.