Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Best Books I Read in 2012

I read some great books in 2012. My original goal was to read 50 this year, but with a new baby and all, I didn't quite reach my goal. I did read 30 books, which is probably a more realistic number for me anyway. These are my 6 favorite books I read this year. This isn't really a "Best of 2012," because only half were published this past year. You can see all 30 books I read on this Pinterest board: Books I Read in 2012.

The Fault in Our Stars, John Green, 2012. 

This was probably my favorite book I read in 2012, which also happened to be published last year. You've probably already heard a lot about it, as it has been on all kinds of "best-of" lists. It is a young adult novel but is a great read for anyone. It tells the story of two teenagers with terminal cancer. Doesn't exactly sound like a light-hearted read, I know, but in John Green's hands it is moving, engaging and entertaining. Like all the other books listed here, I consider it a quick read because I could not put it down.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl Strayed, 2012. 

Wild was my favorite non-fiction book I read last year. You have probably heard about this one, too, since Oprah selected it for her new book club. This is a memoir of  Cheryl Strayed's hike on the Pacific Coast Trail, which is similar to the Appalachian Trail but on the west coast. But really the book is about more than that. It is about Strayed's struggle with the death of her mother, the disintegration of her marriage and her struggle with addiction. Though I'm not a backpacker myself, I am married to one, so I have enjoyed reading accounts like this before (such as A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson), meeting the friends made and places seen along the way. 

State of Wonder, Ann Patchett, 2012. 

State of Wonder weaves a complicated story about a doctor's work with a tribe who lives on a remote section of the Amazon River. I kind of stumbled across this book by accident because it happened to be available as an e-book from the library when I was looking for something to check out. I had read Bel Canto by this author a few years ago and enjoyed it, so I checked this one out and was very glad I did. Patchett has a unique style of writing, almost poetic in a way. But beyond that, State of Wonder also has a fascinating plot that will leave you wondering what will happen next. 
Garden Spells, Sarah Addison Allen, 2007. 

Early in the year, I kind of lost my interest in reading. The baby was coming in March and I was busy getting ready and scouring What to Expect When You're Expecting. But a few weeks before the baby was born, I discovered Sarah Addison Allen. All of her books were available as e-books from my local library, and I read all 4 of her novels in less than a month. They are all great, but it just happens that Garden Spells was my favorite of the 4. These books were made for me. They all take place in imaginary small towns in Western North Carolina, where I was lucky enough to live for 2 years and I hope we settle back down there one day. They also all contain elements of "magical realism," where small bits of magic are weaved into otherwise realistic stories. I am not usually a fan of what is called "high fantasy" because I tend to get confused when reading about entirely new worlds and creatures. But the little touches of whimsy in these novels brought a smile to my face. Ms. Allen's next book is due out this year, and I can't wait! 
Beauty Queens, Libba Bray, 2011

Beauty Queens was definitely the most fun book I read all year. I have read several works by Libba Bray, and have really enjoyed some and really not enjoyed others. But I think Beauty Queens is her at her best. The satire is spot-on and it is laugh-out-loud funny. It was one of those books I wasn't sure I wanted to read in public because it made me laugh so much I thought people might think I was crazy. 

The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag, Alan Bradley, 2010

This is the second in the Flavia de Luce series of mysteries. Flavia is an 11 year old chemist with a knack for solving crimes in her English countryside village. I read this along with the others published so far in the series last year, and this was my favorite. I adore books and tv shows that have kind of quirky main and peripheral characters. My best example of this is always Gilmore Girls, because you kind of know all the townspeople and they all have their own funny backstory. So the village in these books is a little like Stars Hollow, and that always keeps me coming back. I think the next in this series will be published sometime this year as well. 

I'd love to hear which books you read and loved last year. I'm always looking to add to my to-read list!


jody said...

Somehow I never would have imagined that "The Lamb: The World According to Biff" could be one of your all-time favorites! You never cease to surprise me.

You write well... I wonder if perhaps in this time of raising kids you might want to work, in bits here and there, on your own novel. You are an observer, and you reflect on what you observe with honesty, caring, and a sense of humor all your own. I think you would have an eager audience.

You may think you have a small life, but that's just on the outside.


Emily Walsh said...

Hi I'm Emily! Please email me when you get a chance, I have a question about your blog!