I read 52 books in 2012. The goal was 70, but college was like “nooooope” and I was like “fine.” Some of them you can tell I read for English seminars, like the Austen books, but most of them I read because reading is fun and we should all do it all the time.
For me, it was a good year for books. I hit on a few that burrowed under my bones. There were exactly ten books/series that went on the list of books, you know, that are your books, they’re your favorite books and you kind of want to eat them or wear them as a necklace so everyone knows they’re yours. And that makes it easy to do a nice neat Top 10 Books I Read in 2012 list.
1: A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R Martin (Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance With Dragons)
Okay, this series. This series is a life investment. George R.R Martin is sixty-four and there are two books left in the series and he takes years to write them, come on George you can do it come on. This series is big. There are fourteen major and ten minor POV characters, and you love every single one of them. Or you hate them more than you’ve ever hated anybody and then you slowly forgive them and then you start loving them. Or you love them from the start and then they’re stripped down and broken and you break with them. You root for the guy holding the sword and you root for the guy with the bared throat. I read all 600+ page books in two weeks and I nearly lost my mind. But it was worth it. Because it’s a goddamn good world. The HBO series is good yes and it’s got lots of boobs yes, but the books are so much better and richer and so, so worth it. (My favorite characters: Lady Catelyn, Brienne of Tarth, Arya. My house: Greyjoy. REPRESENT.)
2: Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness (The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, Monsters of Men)
Patrick Ness, the genre-mixing, YA-dystopia-redeeming MASTER. What do you want? Do you want pacing so good that your butt is pinned to your chair by a mystical force that won’t let you move until you’ve finished every book? An illiterate drawling boy brat of a main character who develops into the kind of hero who’s all the more interesting because he does get tempted by the dark side sometimes, he does fall in with the villains in the way that Harry Potter was always boringly immune to (I love Harry Potter but yeah.) These books take war and rebellion and sexism and racism and make it all real on another planet. You will cry a lot. And I won’t even talk to you about the talking dog character who puts all other talking dog characters to shame.
3: The Magicians and The Magician King by Lev Grossman
These books are for people like me – twentysomethings who grew up on fantasy and have learned that they’ll never get their secret door into Narnia but still want it, still secretly wish for it every day. But of course, now we’re all bratty twentysomethings who think we’re smart and drink too much and would all mess a magical world up if we found our way in. These books are about us finding our way in.
4. Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
Kristin Cashore killed me with Graceling and she killed me with Fire. (geddit though.) I’m starting to kind of hate the term “female characters” because I read so many articles with “female characters” under a microscope and I don’t even know. But Cashore writes girls that are good and strong and weak sometimes too and always moving forward. Bitterblue is the pinnacle of that. Bitterblue herself is one of those girls I will be intensely loyal to forever, like Hermione and Korra (from Legend of Korra, I’m a dork shhh). Because she earns it and if she were real, I would want her to be one of my best friends.
5: Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron
Remember reading Perks of Being A Wallflower as a teenager and feeling like it just got some small part of you that nobody ever got? This book takes that to the nth degree. It gets it.
6: The Diviners by Libba Bray
Libba Bray’s historical fantasies are just amazing. I don’t even wanna think about the kind of research it takes to pin down a world like this. This is just a really good book. It’s thrilling and fun. I have a hard time feeling strong things about romance in books, but I felt strong things about the romance between Evie and *coughcough*, which is really a tiny part of the book.
7: Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
Haruki Murakami! You’re so weird! And your books create this weird magical zone and this book does it extra well!
8: Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
I’m sure we’re all past the point where the word “vampire” just makes us tired, the same way “Gangnam Style” now makes us want to put a pillow over our ears. But this is a good vampire book. There’s lots of snow in it and the atmosphere is almost exactly like snow falling, still and secret.
9: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Wow, character development. Character development in books hardly ever amazes me anymore. But this one does it so well. And the book itself is really original high fantasy, which can be hard to find.
10: This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
Courtney Summers, taking on the zombie thing. I’m almost as tired of the zombie thing as everyone is of the vampires thing, but this is so original. It’s not about the zombies, it’s about the way this group of survivals gets tangled up and what breaks for them. The fact that the main character is already broken translates into a weird kind of strength in a world where everyone else is falling apart for the first time.
So yeah, that’s my list. Here’s my bigger list of all the books I read in 2012, in no particular order:
Happy reading in 2013, guys!