Saturday, December 15, 2012

My Year of Reading

I'm not quite done reading for the year, but I wanted to get this done before the holidays. This end-of-the-year survey is hosted over at The Perpetual Page-Turner. On the off chance that I read something in the next couple weeks that deserves to be on this list, I'll edit accordingly. Now let's get to it!

Best in Books 2012

1. Best book you read this year?
The Bells, by Richard Harvell. It's about love and music and it's just wonderful. I had a few 5-star books this year, but this one in particular had me completely enchanted. (The others I'll be sure to mention when they come up in other questions.)

2. Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn't?
Mozart's Last Aria, by Matt Rees. A lot of music-centered books fall into this category, unfortunately, although they can just as easily go the other way . . . my answer to the first question, for example.

3. Most surprising book?
Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell. It was one of those books that I read more because I felt like I should than because I actually wanted to, and I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did.

4. Book you recommended to people most?
This is a very tough question -- impossible actually -- because I really don't recommend books (I've talked about this before). If someone asks about a specific book I've read, I'll give my opinion, but I honestly don't know that I've made a single personal recommendation all year. So, I'm going to skip this one. Let's just say, I'd recommend most of the books on this list, depending on your personal tastes, and leave it at that.

5. Best series you discovered?
The Dave Gurney series, by John Verdon. This is a great mystery/thriller series, and while it's nice to get into a series early on (only two books had been published at the time I discovered it; it's now up to three) and take that journey along with the author, a part of me was disappointed there wasn't a huge backlist I could devour immediately. Very much looking forward to future installments, and hoping the series continues for a long time.

6. Favorite new authors you discovered?
Philippa Gregory. This is a tough one, since about half of my books are authors I'd never read before, and there are SO many good books in there. But I feel like I have to read more than one before I can say "I like this author" and not just "I liked this book."

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
Garden Spells, by Sarah Addison Allen. It was my first magical realism, and I really enjoyed both the story and the genre.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book?
Before I Go to Sleep, by S.J. Watson. It was one of those books that made me forget that I was reading a book. This was one of my 5-star reads this year.

9. Book you read this year that you are most likely to re-read next year?
I've Got Your Number, by Sophie Kinsella. I was so pleasantly surprised by this one, it really caught me off guard. I just enjoyed it so much more than I usually enjoy chick lit. I plan on buying this when it comes out in paperback, so this will definitely get a re-read next year.

10. Favorite cover of a book?
The Leftovers, by Tom Perrotta. The book itself was a bit of a let down (more because it was a completely different story from the one I was expecting than any other reason) but the cover is pretty cool.

11. Most memorable character?
Anthony, from Love Anthony, by Lisa Genova. He is such a joy, despite the hardships his mother has in raising him, and seeing the world through his eyes is an incredible experience.

12. Most beautifully written book?
The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. I don't really read books for their prose style, so I don't remember specifically, but I do remember that the style was exactly right for drawing you into the world of the circus. Beautifully written or not, that's the feeling I'm left with looking back on it.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you?
Good Things I Wish You, by A. Manette Ansay. This may be a strange way to interpret this question, but reading and finishing this TERRIBLE book had a really great effect: it got me to start putting books down more easily if I'm not enjoying them. In a string of bad to mediocre novels, this one was the last straw.

14. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL this year to finally read?
The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman, along with the rest of the trilogy. It's been on my list for ages. Ultimately I ended up pretty disappointed; it would have been nice to get that out of the way earlier.

15. Favorite quote from a book?
From The Twelve, by Justin Cronin: "Sorry, we made vampires; it seemed like a good idea at the time." No, it's not incredible writing, but it made me laugh. And if you're someone who needs deeper meaning from your literature, it may be a ridiculous example of how the best intentions can go awry . . . but, as science marches on, is something like this really so far beyond the realm of possibility?

16. Shortest and longest books this year?
The longest, by a few hundred pages, is Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell. The shortest is City of Screams, by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell. And if I eliminate the ebook companion stories (and try to compare like to like in terms of book size, style, binding), I think my shortest actual novel is Childhood's End, by Arthur C. Clarke.

17. Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to somebody about it?
Like question #4 above, this one I can't really answer. For as much as I read, I really don't talk about my books (at least not in specifics) all that often, so I'm never really filled with that feeling . . . or if I was, I've forgotten all about it. So, I'm skipping this one too.

18. Favorite relationship from a book?
Tucker and Kane, from Bloodline, by James Rollins. (Kane also gets an honorable mention for the most memorable character question above.) Kane is a military dog and Tucker is his handler, and it added a great element to this already great book, reading about the bond these two share. It was so much more fulfilling than any romantic relationship I read (though, to be fair, I don't read much romance). This was another of my 5-star reads this year.

19. Favorite book you read this year from an author you'd read previously?
The Dark Half, by Stephen King. King is an author that I've been slow to appreciate, but I seem to like him more with every book of his I read, and this one is my favorite so far.

20. Best book you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else?
The Bestseller, by Olivia Goldsmith. This was a recommendation from one of the ladies in my Goodreads challenge group, and I just loved it. The last of my 5-star books on this list.

I would just like to say what a challenge it was to put this list together with no repeats. That was my own self-imposed rule, but still . . . so many books could easily qualify for more than one category, I would just be listing the same titles and authors again and again, and I wanted to share as many as possible. (And okay, there was one repeat, but since Gone with the Wind having the longest page count doesn't really say anything about the book itself -- other than that it's long -- I feel like I'm okay there.)

Book Blogging/Reading Life

A lot of these questions don't really apply to me and/or I just don't feel like answering them. So, I'm doing the first and last questions only. This section's optional anyway. (Well, I guess the whole thing is optional, but this section was specifically marked as optional.)

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2012?
Insatiable Booksluts. I still think it's crazy how much I love them, because their focus -- independent literary fiction -- is not at all the kind of stuff I read. They're just that cool.

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
My one and only goal was to read 75 new books this year, which I did, and then some. I've thought about doing other themed book challenges, but I really like the freedom to just read whatever I want.

Looking Ahead . . .

1. One book you didn't get to in 2012 but will be your #1 priority in 2013?
I don't know about number one priority, but I've been wanting to re-read The Bourne Identity, by Robert Ludlum, and then read the next two in the series: The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. I just discovered that my library now has all three (for a long time they didn't) so I definitely want to get to that next year.

2. Book you are most anticipating for 2013?
I talked about this last week: The Blood Gospel, by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell. However, looking at the other 357 days . . . aside from my usual authors who put out one (or two) a year, I am really hoping the third All Souls book, by Deborah Harkness, comes out next year. The second one was kind of a let down, which makes me anxious to get the final book in the hopes that it can grab me the way the first one did.

3. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging in 2013?
I'd like to make more of an effort to read through ITW's list of must-read thrillers. I've currently read six of them. I'd like to add at least another ten by the end of next year.

Phew, that's a lot of questions! (See, aren't you glad I skipped a bunch in the middle section?) Challenging, but fun. Thanks to Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner for putting this together.


  1. I am adding some of these books to my 2013 list!

  2. I love Phillipa Gregory! Her books are awesome. I love the cover for The Leftovers too. Very appealing. Great answers for these tough questions.

  3. I so meant to read Sophie Kinsella's I've Got Your Number this year... but I completely forgot about it! Glad to hear it was enjoyable though!

    1. I really can't get over how much I enjoyed it. I wasn't expecting that at all. (Well, I wasn't expecting to HATE it, obviously.)

  4. I loved Garden Spells! And everything else by this author! :-)

    The Bells sounds interesting - I don't think i've ever read anything with music as part of the story.

    I can't wait to read the Kinsella, I've loved everything else by her.

    1. I was a music major in college so I am drawn to stories centering around music. Even though I'm often disappointed, occasionally there are some gems like this one.