Reminder: This list refers to books I read in 2012, not necessarily books that were published only in 2012.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
I thought this was one of the best books I’ve ever read, and had difficulty doing it justice with a review. Other reviews go there first, and used the words that echoed my thoughts: exquisite; extraordinary; tough; damn near genius; heart-wrenching; brimming with joy; elegantly plotted; touching valentine to the human spirit; beautiful, shining sentences that you just want to underline in every single colour and cut out and put on the wall and glue onto postcards; freaking amazing….
Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King
This masterful and riveting non-fiction book, subtitled “Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America” is about some of the bravest men in the history of this country. It is a useful corrective to anyone who thought (from reading The Help, for instance) that Jim Crow America wasn’t so bad. Or worse, those who thought that what was described in The Help was as bad as it got!
New-to-Me Author I Fell In Love With:
On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
I loved this intricately plotted, expertly structured book, which won the 2009 Michael L. Prinz Award for literary merit in a book for teens. The author impressed me so much, I immediately ordered her other books, and loved them as well, especially The Piper’s Son and its predecessor, Saving Francesca, both of which I also highly recommend.
Most notable writing:
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
This magical story drew me deep into its world with the enchanting, almost photo-quality sharpness and loveliness of the imagery. The author’s ability to chart the evolution of the marriage of the main protagonists is just extraordinary.
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
I loved this post-apocalyptic story; it has it all: adventure, bravery, love, danger, suspense, tenderness, betrayal, and loyalty. But the love is really the best part. And I don’t just mean the love between the adults, but also the tenderness and devotion between the adults and children. There’s something in this book for everyone, whether you like post-apocalyptic books, medieval tales of tribes and bravery, or just plain old swoony love stories.
Most Heartwarming – Middle Grade:
Flyaway by Lucy Christopher
A touching, uplifting, and all around wonderful story.
Most Stunning Impact:
Stolen by Lucy Christopher
I read this book with my mouth open and eyes wide the whole time! There are basically only two characters: 16-year-old Gemma, and 24-year-old Ty. The book is written in the form of a letter sent from Gemma to Ty. You won’t want to put down this absorbing portrait of two shattered people who navigate through their angst and fear and rage in search of healing and renewal, and you won’t soon forget it.
Most Twisted (Double Entendre):
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
The story offers a mordant commentary on the nature of relationships, putting in stark relief the Janus-faced possibilities of marriage: we want to be our best selves for our spouse, but it is also far too easy to disintegrate into our worst selves as well.
11/22/63 by Stephen King
This is not a stereotypical Stephen King horror book at all, but a time travel tale involving the assassination of President Kennedy and the desire to change history, and a beautiful and bittersweet love story. It is a very long book, so get ready to spend a lot of time with the characters – enough to miss them dearly when you are done reading.
Most Necessary to Read if You Follow the Series:
Phantom by Jo Nesbo
I hesitated to add this one, because it definitely should not be read as a standalone book, for reasons, needless to say, I can’t tell you!
This is the latest police detective thriller in the Harry Hole series, and it brings back a number of characters from earlier books. On the surface it is a dark, gritty tale about competing drug gangs in Oslo, but the story goes much, much deeper. It is a must read for Harry Hole fans, but don’t pick it up until you have read the books that precede it!
This was not the best reading year for me. Although there were a few gems, such as the books shown above, for the most part I could compile a much bigger list of “Most Disappointing” books.
Here’s hoping for a better 2013!!!