Best of 2012 in Books

It’s the time of year for end of year book lists. For me, this is a great time of year. I love reading other people’s lists and adding to my own TBR list. And I love looking back over my own reading and seeing trends and patterns I wasn’t necessarily aware of before now.

Last year I read more non-fiction than fiction which was unusual for
me. In the fiction category I read a lot more mysteries than anything else. This year I seem to have swung the other way. I read way more fiction (72 books) than non-fiction (17 books). I also read less mysteries than other kinds of fiction. This was the year that I rediscovered young adult fiction and middle-grade fiction. I read almost as many YA/Middle Grade books as I did adult books. Some of this was revisiting old favorites with the Shelf Discovery project. Some were new authors to me. It was really the year that I was reminded of something I already knew: good books are good books. Forget the “juvenile” or YA labels. Code Name Verity was one of the best books I read all year. Gary D. Schmidt and Laurie Anderson are the authors I am the most excited to have discovered.

This was also the year that I rediscovered audiobooks. I’m very much a visual person so I don’t usually like listening to books (or being read to, somewhat ironically). However, I also have to drive a fair amount every morning when I’m going to the hospitals on rounds. Listening to audiobooks has made that time in the car much more enjoyable. My favorite of the year was listening to Harry Potter 1-7 with the incomparable Jim Dale, however, I also greatly enjoyed Special Topics in Calamity Physics. The latter was a book that I don’t think I would have enjoyed as much in print, it was long and meandering but the actress who read it really became the main character.

The best fiction book I read this year was City of Tranquil LightI absolutely loved
this book about a marriage and about a life of faith that managed to be real and also full of hope. Other stand-outs this year were Bring Up the Bodies and The Housekeeper and the Professor. Bring Up the Bodies and the previous book by Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall seem to be love it or hate it kind of books. Put me in the “love it” category for both. The Housekeeper and the Professor would have been memorable just for making math seem beautiful to this former math hater but it also is just a beautiful book it its own right.

The award for creepiest book I read this year goes to Before I Go to Sleep. This smart and scary thriller kept me guessing up until the end. In the mystery/thriller category I also really enjoyed the stories in A Study in Scarlet and several of the books in the Bess Crawford series by Charles Todd.

I didn’t read a lot of non-ficiton this year but two of my favorites were by Alan Jacobs: The Narnian and The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction. I also greatly enjoyed Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.

And for 2013? I liked not having much of a plan this year, of reading according to “whim” (as described by Alan Jacobs). I would like to try and read more non-fiction in the coming year and I’d like to return to reading more classics. In general, my biggest goal is to read more. I do read a lot but lately I’ve been aware of how much more is out there that I want to read. In general, I want to be more intentional about my use of time and part of that is spending more time reading.

If you like booklists, stop by Semicolon. Sherry is compiling booklists form all over the blogosphere and is repeating her amazing feat last year of giving advice to other bloggers about what they should read next.

And if you’re interested, my full list of books from 2012 is here.

5 thoughts on “Best of 2012 in Books

  1. I like the way you’ve organized your reading. (Though I can’t seem to pick favorites from my own list this year.)

    I tried to read City of Tranquil Light but found it a little slow. But I have heard and continue to hear so much good about it that I assume the trouble was me, or the reading season — I’ll definitely try it again another time.

    I’d like to read The Pleasures of Reading in an AoD. Your review is a main reason why.

  2. Pingback: Saturday Review of Books: December 29, 2012 | Semicolon

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