It’s been a good year for me in books this year. I spent most of the year on a much slower reading schedule pace, and read far fewer books than I have since I began blogging in 2008. I also didn’t let any obligations get in my way. If I started a book that wasn’t working for me, I quit reading it, and if I wanted to read the same book six times in a row, I did. I only read when I wanted and what I wanted. Consequently, my year was far less balanced, but I also enjoyed so much more of what I read. I literally marked only two books as “I hated this one” books (Divergent by Veronica Roth and Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence – definitely my worst books of the year), and only six books as “disliked.” Over 2/3rds of my books this year were good-to-great books, and that’s really fantastic! I really enjoyed what I read this year, and I know that’s because I read with my moods rather than for any expectations or obligations.
I know it will make this post long, but I want to participate in The Perpetual Page-Turner’s 2012 End of Year Book Survey, as well as list out my favorite books of the year and some book stats. So here goes!
1. Best Book You Read In 2012? (You can break it down by genre if you want)
I have several, but I won’t say what they are yet. More on this after the survey! 😀
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
There weren’t really any books that I was excited about going into 2012, so there were none to be disappointed by. Most everything else ended up exceeding my expectations this year.
3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012?
The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling took me by surprise. From the description and reviews, I expected it to be horrible, but I think Rowling’s writing has much improved, her characterization was as usual phenomenal, and I ended up really liking the book!
4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?
Probably either Howl’s Moving Castle or the Mistborn trilogy.
5. Best series you discovered in 2012?
Definitely the Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson! Love it to pieces!
6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?
Brandon Sanderson and Diana Wynne Jones, hands down.
7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
I read a LOT of books out of my comfort zone this year, and much of what I read was really good, so I will go with the book that was MOST out of my comfort zone, and say The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. It wasn’t my favorite of his books this year, but it’s the highest high fantasy I’ve ever read, and he pulled it off in a way I enjoyed even while I struggled a bit with the genre.
8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?
Definitely one of the last books I read this year – Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. I was completely riveted to every word!
9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:
Harry Potter, as I reread the series every year. 😀 But also probably the Mistborn trilogy, Howl’s Moving Castle, and books that have further volumes in a series coming out in 2013 (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, The Way of Kings, Seraphina, Shadow and Bone), as I like to revisit earlier volumes before reading later books.
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?
11. Most memorable character in 2012?
Howl, Sophie, and Calcifer from Howl’s Moving Castle, and the entire cast of Mistborn, but especially Vin, Elend, Breeze, and Ham.
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?
I believe I said The Night Circus last year, and that’s probably the same this year as I reread it. But if I don’t count rereads, then it would be The Dream by Emile Zola.
13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012?
Between my first Sanderson book (Mistborn: The Final Empire) and my first Diana Wynne Jones book (Howl’s Moving Castle), an entire new genre was opened up to me! Over half of my books this year were fantasy!
14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read?
My friend Karen has been trying to get me to read Howl’s Moving Castle for YEARS now. I wish I’d read it ages ago!
15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012?
Can’t think of any offhand… I’m terrible at remembering quotes.
16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?
Longest book was definitely The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, coming in at 1001 pages. Shortest book would be Euripides’ Medea, coming in at 45 pages.
On audio, the longest book I listened to was The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson, clocking in at 29 hours – yikes! Glad I listen to these on double speed! Shortest was Legion by Brandon Sanderson, at just over 2 hours.
17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
The moment of revelation in Gentlemen and Players. Totally blown away. I had to get the book in print to reread afterwards! So glad that one was a book club book and I had people to talk to about it! Also, that scene in the sitting room in Shadow and Bone, followed so closely by Baghra’s declaration – !!!
18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
I hate to sound like a broken record, but my favorites were Howl and Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle, and the friendship in the crew of the Mistborn series.
19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously
Not including authors that I read for the first time this year (and then read multiple books by them), I’d have to go with either Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris, or The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling. I liked Gentleman and Players better than The Casual Vacancy, but I didn’t expect to like the latter at all, so I think both deserve recognition in this category!
20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:
Howl’s Moving Castle, Seraphina, and Shadow and Bone. None of those sounded like books I would normally read, but I’m glad I did as all of them were absolutely fantastic!
Favorite Books of 2012
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Wasn’t that obvious from how often it appeared in the survey? Howl’s Moving Castle was my second book and first audiobook of 2012. I had literally tried to read this book four or five times over the past few years, and never got further than a few pages. The writing just didn’t appeal to me. I couldn’t understand what my friend Karen was raving over. But I kept coming back to it, and trying it again. I got it on audio near the end of 2011. In early January, I tried several audiobooks in a row, each of them more of a dud than the last. In desperation, I put on Howl, and was immediately captivated. What hadn’t worked for me in print was an audio hit! I listened, and just loved the story and characters (and, I admit, fell a little bit in love with Howl). I became obsessed, listening to it multiple times, following Howl and Sophie’s journeys through the two semi-sequels, mourning over the loss of further Howl stories. I read tons of Diana Wynne Jones over the next few months, but none of the books quite lived up to Howl. I recently relistened to the audiobook, and it was great to revisit almost a year later. I loved it just as much! Of all my favorite books this year, I would rate this one as one of the top two.
the Mistborn trilogy (The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, The Hero of Ages) by Brandon Sanderson
This trilogy came as a complete surprise to me. I had read a NaNoWriMo pep talk by Brandon Sanderson in November 2011. It was my favorite pep talk of all the talks I’d read over the previous years, and I was struck by how Sanderson approached the writing process, particularly because many of the things he said reminded me of my own processes. I decided I needed to read something by him, but then saw he wrote epic high fantasy, and was discouraged. I’ve never made it through an epic high fantasy book before! But I still wanted to give him a chance, so I decided to try the first Mistborn book, as it seemed the least high fantasy of the lot. I listened on audio, because I’m more forgiving of unfamiliar genres in audio, and to my surprise, I fell completely in love with the book. I adore the way Sanderson writes, particularly how he develops characters and friendship between those characters. I won’t remember most of the characters from the books I read this year, but I will remember every single one from this trilogy. This is the sort of trilogy I wish I could persuade everyone to read!! Tied with Howl’s Moving Castle, I would rate this series as in my top two of my favorites. (PS. I am so very happy that I received the British-cover versions of these for Christmas this year! I love them so much more than the American versions!)
I read a lot of Brandon Sanderson this year after loving the Mistborn trilogy. I liked some more than others, and Elantris ended up in my top books for the year. This book, a standalone, had all the things in it that I loved from other Sanderson books: intricate plot that revealed itself slowly; multiple narrators; well developed characters; teams to root for; relationships that felt real; large groups of people who came together in friendship; a fantastic magic system; realistic conflicts. These are the things I love so much about Sanderson’s books, and Elantris had every single one of them. It’s a book I know I definitely want to revisit in the future. Also, I’ve heard that Sanderson may write future books set in this world, though not necessarily with the same characters, and this makes me very happy! This was also one of my favorites of his worlds, as well as his books.
I didn’t write down any review or reaction to this book when I read it, and yet, it’s one of my favorites of the year. I never expected to love a book about dragons. That’s just not my thing. But when I learned about the whole logic vs emotion portion of Seraphina, I decided to take a look. I got it from the library right before I went on vacation this summer. I read a little of it, not expecting to continue, but I liked it so much I had to bring it on vacation with me, and then I couldn’t stop reading it! I loved Hartman’s characterization and world-building. I like the realistic way she developed Seraphina’s friendships and relationship interest. I loved the interactions with the dragons. I loved the conflict, and how things were revealed slowly, but without ever feeling slow. In the end, I loved it, but had no idea what I could coherently say in a reaction or review. Even this little wrap-up feels forced. But I did love it, and can’t wait to read the next book, and had a blast reading the online prequel and revisiting all those characters again.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
What a fabulous book! This was one of the last books I read this year and yet it still makes the favorites list. The setting was superb, the characters were brilliant, and I loved the concepts and magic systems. I have a lot to think about the Darkling!! Stuff I couldn’t reveal for fear of spoilers. Stuff that I hope gets answered, revealed, or in some way touched on in the sequel. This is the sort of book that makes you want to discuss it with others. I am so glad that I took Trish’s advice and decided to nab this one from the library. I liked it so much that I had to get my own copy of it afterwards!! I can’t wait to read the sequel.
Honorable mention: Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris, the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor, and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.
Gentlemen and Players is probably the best mystery I’ve ever read. I listened to it on audio, and I never saw the twist coming. I had to go back and read it in print, and it was just as good the second time through, knowing what was going to happen. I really like Joanne Harris’ writing. The Daughter of Smoke and Bone books were a complete surprise to me. I didn’t expect to like them at all – not at all my sort of book – but I got a free audio download of the first book, and gave it a chance. It had everything: great world-building and plotting, realistic characters, literary depth. Couldn’t wait to read the sequel, which was even better than the first book, and now I’m stuck waiting for the third!! Then there’s The Night Circus, which I listened to on audio this year. It was one of my favorites last year, and the second visit was just as wonderful as the first! I was worried I wouldn’t like it as much the second time, but I needn’t have worried. It was definitely one of my favorites of the year, and it’s only on the honorable mentions because it was a reread and already listed as a favorite last year!
Now – book stats:
Total books: 84
New reads: 71
I am very happy about my total number of books this year! The goal was to get under 100, and I did it! Yay! As for new reads versus rereads, this is about average for me, and doesn’t include books reread during the same year (ie, I read Howl’s Moving Castle seven or eight times, but it’s only counted once in my book count, and not at all in my reread count).
Again, about average for me, though the nonfiction counts are a lot lower this year because I didn’t push myself into reading anything that wasn’t speaking to me at that moment, and I’ve never been a big nonfiction person.
I’m happy with my audio percentage this year! My text/e-text numbers went way down, but I listened to about the same number of audios as in previous years, so it’s a much higher percentage. I did a lot of walking/running this year. 😀
This is a huge change for me. I just wasn’t in a classics mood this year, I guess. Fantasy novels really just took over my mood right at the beginning of the year, and lasted all the way until the end.
About average for me, with the majority of the children’s books being either Harry Potter or Chrestomanci books…
By men: 25
By women: 56
By both: 3
Very unbalanced this year, but as I said at the beginning of this post, I’m okay with that!
Chunksters (450+ pages): 20
In translation: 5
Languages: French (2), Japanese (2), Ancient Greek (1)
My books in translation are WAY down this year, but my chunkster percentage is up – yay for epic fantasy!
Most read authors: Diana Wynne Jones (13), Brandon Sanderson (8), JK Rowling (8) – This is the first time since 2006 that I’ve read any author more than JK Rowling in a year…
Best Book-related Discovery: If it wasn’t already obvious from everything else I’ve said above, my best discovery this year came in the authors of Brandon Sanderson and Diana Wynne Jones, and also in their jointly introducing me to the world of fantasy. I am still a newbie, but I am no longer scared to try new things in that genre, and I have found books I love, characters I love, and authors I love this year. That is a wonderful thing!
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