As December draws to a close, so does my 2012 Reading Challenge over at GoodReads. I’m just two books away from completing my goal of 70 books read for the year, and believe me, I’m tired and ready to be done! My brain is usually all over the place during the holidays so I find it harder to focus on reading.
Looking back at the books I’ve read over the past 11 months, I thought it would be nice to shine the spotlight on the ones that have been my favorites and why. This is not a list ranked by who is better or anything but rather a random list of my favorite reads I enjoyed this year and why.
This was a book I admit reading at the time just because of the movie that was released this year, but the book totally captivated me. It’s the only post 9/11 fictional book I’ve ever read and its lead character, a nine year old boy named Oskar Schell, just resonated with me as he frantically tries to solve a puzzle he believes his father left for him after his father was killed in the 9/11 attacks. When I finished the book, I felt quite emotionally satisfied and yep, I shed a few tears at the end of the movie too. It is a book I will never forget, and when I can say that about something I’ve read, I know it’s a good read.
It’s very hard for me to read a mystery and just be so overwhelmed by its brilliance that I want to read everything that author has ever written. Thomas Harris (Silence of the Lambs) is probably the only author who holds that title for me. And then came Gillian Flynn. Wow! Wow! Wow! I’ve read every book of hers (there have only been 3 so far), and will continue to read anything she publishes. Gone Girl wasn’t my favorite, but it still held my attention nonstop. I have constantly recommended her books to others and gotten my friends addicted to her novels as well.
Gabriella West introduced me to lesbian fiction, and damn good fiction at that. Her book, Time of Grace, is an immaculate historical piece that I enjoyed tremendously. She’s another new author that I have now read every word of and will continue to read for a long time. Her sentence structure and character dynamic is unlike anyone else I’ve ever read, and I fully admit I’ve learned from her as a writer myself.
Here’s another one I read only because of the movie, but I’m glad I did. I read the complete series this year. Book 1 and 2 were my favs, but Book 3 really lost its appeal for me. I have to say the first book was the best, and I’m interested in seeing what Suzanne will write next. I’ll still watch the next Hunger Games movie (due out next year) too!
This was the first John Irving book I’ve ever read, and it definitely will not be the last. I read it back in June over summer vacation, and while I fully admit it was a difficult read I found I could not put it down. When I finished it, I was so upset and actually found myself depressed for days afterwards and missing the characters. You know you’ve read a fulfilling book when you feel like that!
Melinda Clayton is an author I discovered just a year ago at the suggestion of another author friend, and I’d say she’s easily the Carson McCullers or Flannery O’Connor of my generation. She’s hit me in the heart each and every time with all of her books, which I’ve now proudly all read, and yet I just can’t get enough. Her writing is just brutally honest and upsetting at times, but it rings emotionally true. I also discovered she’s from the same “neck of the woods” as me. Maybe that’s why I connect with her words so much.
Austin Kleon has so much fun being creative that I’m almost jealous of him! His little book on being creative sparked me so much that I bought copies for all of my friends. This is a quick read and superb food for anyone who is an artist or writer, or who just enjoys being creative. I’ve already read it twice this year!
This was a spur of the moment oh-my-gosh-I-better-hurry-up-and-read-that-book-because-I-always-wanted-to-but-never-did-and-now-they’ve-gone-and-made-it-into-a-movie book! A great read that reminded me of everything I miss and everything I hated about high school. Haven’t seen the movie yet, but you know I will!
Robin is a local writer, and a good friend I’ve come to know this year. Yeah, I probably wouldn’t have read her book if it weren’t for that, but that would be a shame. Reduced, her first book, is a good what-if book that explores dystopian-like themes right here in our own back yard in St. Louis. Part two is due out very soon, and I can’t wait to read it!
Jennifer Miller actually emailed me out of the blue one day and asked if I might like to read her book because she’d read my glowing review of The Secret History by Donna Tartt and her book explored similar themes. Are you kidding me?? Yes, I’d love to read it! And I did love it and hope they make it into a movie some day. Brilliant college-esqe themed book with a hint of mystery and intrigue. If you read Secret History or even Density of Souls by Christopher Rice, you’ll love Miller.
So there you have it! My top ten list of the year. Had these even been the only ten books I’d read this year, I’d stepped away quite mentally satisfied. So, what did you read this year? What are you going to read next year? I’m already making my list!