The Best of 2012

It’s 2013!  While I didn’t quite make my very audacious blogging goal for 2012 (or even come close to it at all), I did make my reading goal!  I finished up my last audio book at around 5pm on December 31st, bringing my total up to 55 books for the year.  It was definitely challenging this year to balance reading for fun with school work and grad school.  I took two grad school classes this semester, which pretty much rendered pleasure reading obsolete.  I did listen to quite a few audio books as I trained for a marathon in October (woohoo!), but there really is no substitute for losing yourself in a good book while snuggled up on the couch.

As always, I’m hoping to read more this year (60 books, here I come!), and I’m excited to write about them.  I went to a great conference, KidLit Con, in September, and I’ve decided to rejuvenate the blog.  I will make no grand proclamations about how often I’ll update, but I’ll try to write when I read something worth writing about.  Of course I’m in the middle of about half a dozen books right now, none of which I’m ready to process or write about yet.  Instead, I offer you a snapshot of my 2012 year of reading.  Not all of these were published in 2012, but they were all books I discovered in 2012.

Best Young Adult

imgres-2I’m sure I’m not the only person who’ll pick this one for this year, but John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars was definitely my favorite YA of the year.  Heartbreaking, funny, and warm, The Fault in Our Stars was one of the first books I read in 2012 and one of the best. You can check out my review of it here.

Honorable Mention: Insurgent by Veronica Roth, Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Best Audio Book

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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, read by Jim Dale, was one one of the best audio books I’ve ever listened to.  I’ve always loved Jim Dale (hello, Pete’s Dragon!), and his narration was one of the primary reasons I chose The Night Circus.  I primarily listened to this to entertain me during long runs, and I was not disappointed.  The Night Circus tells the story of Les Cirques des Reves, a travelling magical circus.  While the circus enchants all those who enter, it holds a dark, dangerous magical competition, unbenownst to its visitors.  OK, I know that sounds cheesy.  But its magical realism, blended with historical accounts of London, Paris, and other great cities of Europe, made this a captivating listen.  Combine that with Jim Dale as narrator, and it was like listening to a grown up Harry Potter.  I really loved the prose, and would love to read this in print to savor the language even more.  I’d recommend this one as an audio book and as a print read.

Honorable Mention: Leviathan by Scott Westerfield, read by Alan Cumming, The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty, read by Elizabeth McGovern (Side note: I learned this year that, for me, the narrator really makes the audio book.  I listened to a few that I think I might really have liked, but whose narrator just turned me off!)

Best Adult Read

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Gone Girl is topping everyone’s best of 2012 list, and it tops mine, too.  I know it had its issues (that ending!  the weird sex scenes!), but Gillian Flynn’s whodunit was the most compelling book I read this year.  On the morning of their five year anniversary, Amy goes missing and her husband, Nick, becomes the prime suspect in what quickly evolves into a murder investigation.  Gone Girl’s narrators were so vile, flawed, and fascinating that I found myself thinking about them weeks after I finished.  I, for one, really liked the ending (which I won’t spoil here).  It’s worth the hype.

Honorable Mention: The Art of Fielding  by Chad Harbach, Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

Best Non-Fiction

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Most of the non-fiction I read this year was for grad school, and it wasn’t stupendous.  I did, however, pick up Nora Ephron’s collection of essays, I Feel Bad About My Neck, shortly after her death earlier this year.  Man, I love Nora Ephron.  I know that makes me a cheesy 20something, but I don’t care.  Even though many of her essays were about aging, I found so much of what she wrote completely relatable.  Hers was a great voice, and I’m looking forward to reading more of her stuff this year.

Honorable Mention: The Great War in Modern Memory by Paul Fussell (I know, I know)

Best Re-Read

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OK, confession time.  I’ve always had a thing for Ernest Hemingway.  I know this makes me a bad feminist, but I don’t care.  Ernest Hemingway has been my favorite author for fifteen years, and our love is so wrong it’s right.  For one of my graduate classes (WWI and Modernism) I got to reread A Farewell to Arms.  A Farewell to Arms was my first Hemingway novel, and I was amazed at what a great reread it was.  While Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkely often get a bad rep as one dimensional characters, reading it through a modernist lens was completely eye-opening.  The narration is some of the finest war writing around, and the restrained emotion really lingers.  A Farewell to Arms moved its way back to the top of my list this year, supplanting The Sun Also Rises as my favorite Hemingway.

Honorable Mention: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

So that was my year in reading.  A pretty successful one, I’d say!  I’m looking for variety and consistency this year, and hoping to find a balance between school reading, work reading, and pleasure reading!

Here’s to 2013!

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