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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

My List of 27 Books Read in 2012

In 2011 I was able to read 49 books (mostly novels) and don’t know exactly why that count fell to 27 in 2012. I called 2012 The Year of the Big Book because the average page count was 436. By today’s publishing standards, that’s nearly double the book — and double the pleasure.

For commentary on each of the 27 books, look at the Books Read string. Otherwise, the stats for and my chronological list of books read for 2012 follows:

2012: 27 books – 11,776 pages – apprx words: 5.1 million ….

Biggest surprise enjoyment: “The Magus” (it took me back to carefree years of college) … Biggest Disappointment: “Polite Sex” (missed opportunities; perhaps poorly edited) … Weirdest Story: “One Big Damn Puzzler” (life on a Pacific island) … Best Drama: “The Kindly Ones” (life of a Nazi SS commander) … Best Writing: Philip Roth’s books simply kill me, how good a stylist, storyteller, and ear for dialogue he has … Biggest Surprise: “East of Eden” (Steinbeck can write some character!) … Most Memorable Character: Lucy Nelson in “When She Was Good” (Roth) … Funniest: “Solar” … Best Sex Scene: “Rabbit at Rest” (actually, one of only a few in all these books) … Best Narrative Story: “Suttree” (McCarthy can lay down scene & place like few others) … Widest Use of Characters: “Middlesex” (everyone simply worked and was needed) … Oddest Use of Characters: “The Philosopher’s Pupil” (Murdoch’s characters sometimes do the oddest things!) … Most-Traveled Character: Augie March … A Little Disappointed: “Amsterdam” (I expected more, of everything) … My Favorite Book – Maybe: “Rabbit at Rest”

1/10 In the Beauty of the Lilies by John Updike (488)

2/6 The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow (611)

2/28 The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann (250 – fired)

2/29 Reading Myself and Others by Philip Roth (300)

3/15 Suttree by Cormac McCarthy (465)

3/31 The Book of Daniel by E.L. Doctorow (295)

4/4 Polite Sex by James Wilcox (270)

4/8 Solar by Ian McEwan (386)

4/21 Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (320)

4/29 The Plot Against America by Philip Roth (390)

5/20 The Philosopher’s Pupil by Iris Murdoch (550)

6/5 Rabbit at Rest by John Updike (425)

6/30 The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell (975)

7/4 The Secret Life of Words by Henry Hitchings (343)

7/12 Amsterdam by Ian McEwan (278)

7/22 One Big Damn Puzzler by John Harding (450)

8/16 The Magus by John Fowles (642)

8/24 I Married a Communist by Philip Roth (323)

9/2 Basic Bech by John Updike (303)

10/10 Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (510)

10/19 All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren (438)

11/7 East of Eden by John Steinbeck (590)

11/15 A Frolic of His Own by William Gaddis (609)

11/24 Shosha by Isaac Bashevis Singer (274)

11/30 When She Was Good by Philip Roth (291)

12/4 The Ecstasy of Influence by Jonathan Lethem (440)

12/30 The Good Apprentice by Iris Murdoch (560)

In 2013 I want to read some of my contemporaries, including several Indie authors who have put out books that sound good and read very well. Otherwise, I have lots on my plate, as I’m working on a first draft of my next novel, “Max, the blind guy”.


What Beauty is my newest novel, a story of art, obsession and ego. Read an excerpt here. It’s available as an ebook, too.

The Village Wit (2010) is a humorous and sometimes dark odyssey through village life, love’s fall, sexual politics, and that place where memory and modern love intersect. Read an excerpt here. This book is also available as an ebook.


  Steve Farrell wrote @ January 1st, 2013 at 9:59 pm

Great list! My wife & I plan to read more Roth in the new year.

  Leela Devi Panikar wrote @ January 3rd, 2013 at 5:59 am

Thanks for the inspiration.Your list includes some of my favourite authors.I am a slow reader. Cannot meet such heights but I have given myself permission to read more in 2013.

  MarkBeyer wrote @ January 3rd, 2013 at 9:56 pm

Thanks Leela and Steve. I really do like lists, and ones that have a bit more of the list-writer. Happy reading!

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