Friday, December 28, 2012

my favorite books of 2012

Can you believe it? It's nearly the end of 2012. Just a few days left!

And thanks to a couple of weeks of frantic reading (no complaints!), I finally accomplished my Goodreads goal of reading 50 books this year. It's a new record for me, and especially exciting since my original goal was only 30. When I accomplished that goal in August, I upped it to 45 and somewhere along the way, it got upped again to 50. 

Of those 50 books, there were: 
  • 23 general fiction
  • 14 nonfiction
  • 6 young adult
  • 4 classics
  • 3 children's books

And thankfully, the year ended on a really high note. Three of my Top 10 books of the year are from these past two weeks. 

Just when I was afraid I'd grown too critical of novels and my standards were unattainably high, I found and read three fantastic books that reminded me why I love reading so much. :-)


The Phantom Tollbooth
By Norton Juster
Date Finished: January 11, 2012
Somehow, I never came upon this book as a kid. After hearing friends rave about how much they loved it when they were little, I gave it a shot this year. And I'm so glad I did. Although I still wish I'd read it as a child first, its cleverness and humor make it a great book for all ages. It does just what a children's book should: it encourages both thoughtfulness and laughter.

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox
By Maggie O'Farrell
Date Finished: May 10, 2012
Maggie O'Farrell was a great new discovery for me this year. I read three of her novels and enjoyed them all, but Esme was my favorite. In all of O'Farrell's novel, the plot is nonlinear and includes multiple POVs. Although the stories themselves are not very complicated, the way information is revealed creates twists that make the stories compelling and beautiful.

Steve Jobs
By Walter Isaacson
Date Finished: June 27, 2012
I love my Macbook and my iPod, but I'm neither a tech geek nor a huge Steve Jobs fan. But I knew Jobs was an interesting guy and I'd heard this biography presented both sides of his fascinating personality. He was an uncompromising, brash, rude, emotional, "insanely great" visionary. Even though this book was 500 pages long and I'm not all that interested in computers, I really loved it and you can't deny that Jobs really changed the way we interact with computers. 

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
By Douglas Adams
Date Finished: August 13, 2012
This book fulfilled my every expectation. It was very funny, very smart, and very weird. It's great for a laugh, and you'll finally understand what people mean when they say the answer to life, the universe, and everything is . . . 42. Plus, it moves quickly and it's not very long. If you haven't read it and you're looking for something light and fun, Douglas Adams has you covered.

Gone Girl
By Gillian Flynn
Date Finished: August 18, 2012
It was the blockbuster book of the summer and for good reason. It's the tale of a very twisted marriage, beginning with wife Amy's disappearance on the couple's anniversary. I've heard the movie rights have been bought and in all likeliness, most of your reader friends have already devoured it. So do yourself a favor and read it before you hear the twists without reading the book first. It's a crazy ride.

 The Little Prince
By Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Date Finished: August 20, 2012
Just like The Phantom Tollbooth, I wish that I had read this first as a child. But in any case, it's a great book that stands the test of time. This French classic is about a little prince who lives on a little planet caring for a flower. But it's so much more than that. It's about life and purpose and how, too often, adults get carried away with things that aren't really so important.

The Fault in Our Stars
By John Green
Date Finished: September 20, 2012
I'm not a Young Adult fan usually, but this book was great. I'm also not a fan of books about cancer patients, but John Green proved me wrong. Augustus and Hazel's love story is believable and sweet, even if we know it won't all be jokes and video games and traveling. This book is the perfect mixture of tragedy, romance, and humor.

The Age of Miracles
By Karen Thompson Walker
Date Finished: December 19, 2012
If I had to pick a favorite, I think I would pick The Age of Miracles. It's the story of how humans react when the Earth's rotation begins to slow. But at the same time, it's a coming-of-age story about 11-year-old Julia and her friendships, family, and crushes. Beautifully written, the perfect length, the perfect ending, realistic, sad, lovely, memorable. A fantastic book.

 A Visit from the Goon Squad
By Jennifer Egan
Date Finished: December 23, 2012
I wasn't sure about this book going in (I knew there was a chapter written entirely in PowerPoint, clearly a cause for concern), but it really grew on me. The plot is loosely carried along by 13 different characters who are all connected to the music industry and each other. The two main characters (I think?) are Bennie, a successful music producer, and Sasha, his assistant. The writing is fantastic and despite the numerous changes in POV and plot, it was always intriguing and easy to follow. Every character had an interesting story and yet all the stories also meshed together into a wonderful whole.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette
By Maria Semple
Date Finished: December 26, 2012
Another very fun read. Light and quirky and written largely in letters, e-mails, and notes. Just before a family trip to Antarctica, Bernadette Fox disappears and her daughter, 15-year-old Bee, must find out what happened to her. When I heard that the author, Maria Semple, used to be a writer for the TV show Arrested Development, it made perfect sense with the crazy/funny plot and characters. If you're looking for something fun but also very different, pick up Bernadette.

* * *

If you haven't heard of them, look them up. If they're on your to-read list, move them to the very top of your list for 2013. They truly are that great.

What were your favorite books of the year? What do you hope to read next year?

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