2012: My Year of Reading- an analysis

Ah well, better late than never.

So, I completed 306 books in 2012, which actually exceeded my intended Goodreads target of 250 books for the year. Though admittedly, about six of this list were novellas or short story collections, it still counts, right?

I think so.

I haven’t set a Goodreads target for this year at present, though that may change in a few weeks or so, depending on how I feel. For reasons explained in my last post, I’m in no particular rush to read anything at the moment, only picking up a book and reading a few pages at the time, when usually I would be unable to put something down. I have also had to turn down a couple of review requests from authors which I have received earlier this week (which I feel terrible about), though I just don’t feel able to commit to anything at the moment, and, because I don’t like letting people down, in those instances it’s best just to say ‘no’ upfront.

You can see the whole list of books I read last year here. A link to the (very few) books I have read this year has now been added to the menu above. This will grow. Soon. I just don’t know when.

Back on track: below, and in no particular order, are my top 10 reads of 2012. Some of these books were published in 2012, but a few pre-date the last year and are books I’ve only just gotten round to picking up, yet wish I’d gotten around to a lot sooner, for reasons that will be understandable if you have already read any of these.

  1. Year of Wonders- Geraldine Brooks; this is a fictionalised account of the true story of the plague arriving in Derbyshire in 1666 and how the small village of Eyam cut itself off from the rest of the county to prevent it spreading any further. Though that inadequate summary possibly sounds a bit dry to those unfamiliar with the events themselves, this book showed me just how good historical fiction can actually be, and most importantly, introduced me to Geraldine Brooks as a writer. I have since read a couple of her other (brilliant) books, though this one still remains my favourite. It is truly fascinating. I live in Derbyshire, so I really had a sense of place about this novel as well.

  1. Me Before You- Jo Jo Moyes; oh geez. I still can’t think about this book without crying. Its cover makes it look like flowery chick-lit, but it is instead a brilliant story of friendship and romance, with such great depth and heart that it left me staggered. Trust me, the cover doesn’t do this novel justice at all. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you do so, pronto. You will fall completely in love with it.

  1. Wedlock- Wendy Moore; a biography and the only one to make this list. I’m not a fan of biographies usually, particularly historical ones, in case they are too dry or overly-loaded with too much unnecessary detail. Being a North-East of England girl originally, this books Gateshead (and the surrounding area) setting fascinated me, as well as its telling of the protagonist of the book, the coal-mining heiress Mary Eleanor Bowes. The biography details her turbulent marriage and the subsequent high-profile divorce in a Georgian Britain where such things definitely weren’t common place.

  1. The Snow Child- Eowyn Ivey; this best-seller has been making a lot of people’s favourite lists this year, which is absolutely no surprise. It’s a gorgeously magical fairytale for adults, best read curled up under a duvet on a cold winters day. I inhaled this book and felt sad when it was over. I will undoubtedly be re-reading it for years to come.

  1. Gone- Michael Grant; ack. I actually never got around to reviewing this one, or the rest of the preceding books in this YA series that have been released so far. There are some pretty good reviews on Goodreads though, that could probably do justice to it far better than me. Set in a small California town, this first book in the set chronicles events following the sudden disappearance of everyone in the town over the age of fifteen one mysterious day, and a strange forcefield that cuts off the place from the rest of the world. Shortly after, the kids left behind begin developing super powers and divide into factions, struggling to survive. It’s a cross between X-Men and Stephen King’s ‘Under the Dome’ and is compulsively addictive reading, which was quite dark in places too. I’m on tenterhooks waiting for the next book in the series to come out this April. These novels would make a brilliant film.

  1. All Quiet on the Western Front- Erich Maria Remarque; I’ve read a lot of books set during WWI and WWII this year, but this one is the best, without question. Originally published in 1920, it is based on the authors own experiences at the front during WWI. Poignant and beautifully written, I think this novel should be a compulsive piece of reading on any school history syllabus.

  1. Gone Girl- Gillian Flynn; this is a pacey psychological thriller, with some brilliant twists and turns. I’ve read a few of Flynn’s earlier novels since picking this up, but this one far surpasses them. With this book, you have to expect the unexpected, and I genuinely found this to be one of the most riveting reads of the year. Great premise, great characters and a great book overall.

  1. The Secret Keeper- Kate Morton; I’ve only started reading Kate Morton’s books this year, after being surprisingly engrossed by The House at Riverton. This is my favourite of hers so far, with some beautifully evocative writing, a great mystery and also a well-told romance. This novel had everything!

  1. Last Chance to See- Douglas Adams; I’m not a great sci-fi fan, but I do love animals. The dearly-missed science fiction writer came up trumps with this fantastic non-fiction account of his journey back in the 1980’s to witness an array of amazing creatures around the world who were then on the verge of extinction.

    After watching a documentary with Stephen Fry and Mark Cawardine early last year (their book is also here if you are interested), who re-traced Adams original journey of over twenty years ago, I knew I had to read this book of Adams’ adventures.  Again, for reasons unknown to me, I never got around to reviewing it. Adams’ book was so wonderful that my boyfriend and I also bought the audio version to listen to in the car, which is narrated by Adams’ himself and was infused with so much of his personality. As a result of the documentary, book and audio book we also booked a trip to go whale-watching in Mexico and California, which we are set to undertake next month. You can see it has made a big impression on us! This book is a wonderful testament to animal conservation and the late Douglas Adams himself, but is also a stark reminder of the ever increasing and all-too-scary list of amazing creatures that are disappearing from our planet.

  1. The Paris Wife- Paula McLain; this was a fantastic fictionalised account of the real relationship between the author Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley. Set in 1920’s Chicago, it was a really atmospheric read and one that I immersed myself in. For a while after finishing this, every book felt bland; there was something about this novel that really captured my imagination.

So, that’s it. My favourite 10 reads of 2012.  I do feel that I should give out some honourable mentions for other books I enjoyed greatly last year, but if I was to do that, then this post would be even longer! I hope that you all had a great reading year in 2012 and that 2013 will be an even better one.

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