2012 Book Survey

I just can’t believe it’s been a whole year since I did this survey. Looking back at last year’s survey, those books seem so long ago!

Now though, we’re back with a whole different set of books to choose from! Like last year, I’ll be looking at only books that I’ve read for the first time in 2012.

1) The Best Book of 2012

This is usually ridiculously difficult. This year? Not so much.

11.22.63 by Stephen King is one of the best books I’ve read ever, never mind in 2012. It’s not just a time-travel book – it has romance, mystery, creepiness and a healthy dose of mind-fuck to keep you entertained. It’s beyond amazing.

It seems strange to have one clear winner for this category, but there just wasn’t a book that could match it this year.

I’m not going to bother with honourable mentions because no doubt I’ll be doing a ‘Ten Best Books List’ soon, and honestly, just go read 11.22.63.

2. Most Disappointing Book/Book You Wish You Loved More Than You Did?

I’ll probably be alone on this one, but that’s fine. 

Last year How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran featured prominently on this list. I loved it and immediately wanted to read it again – possibly out loud and to everybody in the vicinity.

Moranthology though… I was expecting more than a collection of the unrelated essays already published in The Times. She talked a lot about TV shows that I hadn’t seen, name-dropped in almost every article and occasionally bordered on outright offensive.

It did have a few redeeming qualities like her moving article of euthanasia, but otherwise I was more than a little disappointed.

Oh, and another book I’ll definitely be alone on, The Fault in Our Stars. We really didn’t get along.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012?

Now this one has a few contenders!

I only finished The Hobbit a few days ago and fell completely and utterly in love with it. I liked Lord of the Rings but remembered it as being quite difficult to get through at times. Not so with The Hobbit! The time flew by and I now feel bereft that I never again get the pleasure of reading it for the first time.

Lord of the Flies needs a quick mention here too. I’d been warned off it by a good few people and only picked it up out of some strange sense of duty. I don’t really know what I was expecting, but I found a tense, atmospheric story that still haunts me now.

From a lighter genre, Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer was a huge surprise. It arrived as an unsolicited review copy that I wasn’t particularly excited about, but it turned out to be so amazing that I trekked to Manchester to get it signed.   

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?

This has to be a tie between 11.22.63 and The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists by Gideon Defoe. 

I know of a few bloggers who finally relented and read the latter due to my incessant prompting and I’ve been encouraging people to read 11.22.63 ever since I turned the last page.

I’ve been recommending both to pretty much everybody I know – I even pulled out a copy of Pirates! to show a barrister at a Middle Temple function!

5. Best series you discovered in 2011?

Hmm. Well, The Masque of the Red Death and What’s Left Of Me aren’t series yet (in that the second books haven’t been released), but I’ll be first in line when they are.

Then there’s The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists series and the Curseworkers books, starting with White Cat.

Oh oh, how could I forget? The best series I discovered this year has to be the Riyria Revelations by Michael Sullivan series – high fantasy, beginning with Theft of Swords.

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012? 

Scarlett Thomas! Bex from An Armchair by the Sea has been telling me to read her work for a long time, but I finally relented when I was alone at Lewis’ with only Our Tragic Universe to entertain me. I immediately went on to read The End of Mr Y and fell completely in love with it, so Scarlett Thomas is now a firm favourite. 

Stephen King also needs a quick mention, if only because I’m getting withdrawal symptoms for not dropping his name for two questions.

The Gunslinger was the first book of his that I read… and I wasn’t impressed. Now that I’ve read 11.22.63 (I did mention that, right?) though, he seems like a completely different author in my eyes, and I’ll definitely be reading more.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

I suppose Anna Karenina was out of my comfort zone – I’m used to reading classics, but not 800 page Russian ones. I was more than a little intimidated when I picked it up, but I ended up really liking it. 

Otherwise, I read most genres so I don’t really have a comfort zone as such. 

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?  

*waves at 11.22.63*

9. Book you read in 2012 that you are most likely to re-read next year?

Oh, good one. Hmm. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson made me laugh so hard I cried on more than one occasion, so it’s a safe bet I’ll be re-reading that one at some point. It has its faults, but it’s well worth a reread just for the funny parts.

I might reread Between the Lines if I’m in the mood for something lovely and light. It’s one of those instant happy books and I’ll keep it in mind for the next time I’m feeling a bit glum. Even thinking about it makes me smile!

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?

11. Most memorable character in 2012?

It just has to be Bilbo Baggins. I know I said in my review that he annoyed me, but he was somewhat loveable regardless. He always tries to do the right thing and genuinely tries to carry his own weight on adventures, however much he might wish he was safe at home.   

Without getting started on a Hobbit Film Rant (I’m good at those), I concede that Martin Freeman is the absolute perfect choice for Bilbo. I just can’t imagine anybody better suited.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012? 

I struggled with this one and I tried so, so hard not to choose 11.22.63. But yeah, I’m going to anyway.

Did I mention there is nothing wrong with this book? Even the prose is stunning. It’s formal yet accessible and makes the settings and characters come to life in a way I’ve never seen before. I still feel like I know those characters.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2011?     
Look, I’m trying I really am.

But there’s no getting away from the fact that 11.22.63 broke me. It took my heart, ripped it into tiny little pieces and stamped all over them, while gently stroking my hair as it did so. You know when your long-time boyfriend leaves you and you’re devastated, but at the same time you kind of understand that it’s for the best?

Yeah, that.  

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read?  

The Hobbit. *sighs* Why I thought this list would end up as something other than bleating about the same three books again, I don’t know.

But, as I said in my review, I loved Lord of the Rings, the books and the movies. They can be fairly heavy at times though, and I just haven’t been in the mood for studgy epic fantasy – hence, I avoided The Hobbit.

I just can’t believe how much I loved it and how long it took me to get round to reading it!

16. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012? 

Pfft. I don’t really keep track of quotes – I scribble down page numbers in my notes, and occasionally they make it into a review. I don’t keep a Master List of Quotes, although I’m beginning to wish I did.

As such, I shall leave you with the following, from Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson: 

It was at this exact
moment that the ‘dead’ rattlesnake suddenly started angrilily striking
at Victor’s leg. Uncoincidently, it was also the exact same moment that I
ducked back into the truck, taking the spotlight with me and leaving
Victor in the pitch-black darkness on an abandoned road, as the angry
rattlesnake he was holding tried to murder him.
   “BRING BACK THE LIGHT,” he screamed.
OUT THERE!” I yelled angrily, as I quickly locked the doors (for some
reason) and rolled up all the windows. I was worried about him and wanted to help him, but I couldn’t help but think that he had brought this on himself.
which was surprising, both because he sounded very vital for someone
dying of snakebite, and also because he’d wrongly assumed that I hadn’t automatically locked all the doors. He knows so little about me,  I thought to myself.

   After a minute to slow his breathing, Victor’s voice was only vaguely controlled. “You left me alone. In the dark. With a live rattlesnake.”
   “No. You left me alone. In the car. For a
live rattlesnake,” I countered. “So I guess that makes us even.” There
was a long pause as he stared at me. “But I forgive you?” I said.

17. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?
Even this requires repeating myself, can you believe it?
The longest was Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and the shortest was Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists by Gideon Defoe. I sped through the latter in not much more than an hour, but it doesn’t diminish it’s value in the slightest.
 17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And
Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a
steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

Part of the reason I forced 11.22.63 on so many people was so I finally, finally had somebody to talk about the ending with. Since I finished it, all I’ve wanted to do is babble frantically about it to anybody who’d listen.

That is the main book that I’ve most wanted to talk about, but I’d also like to bitch about the ending of Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I didn’t like this book that much, but the book has such a wishy-washy, cop-out ending that I’d really like to discuss it with someone and get another opinion, especially with the film coming out so soon.

18. Favourite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
I haven’t actually got round to reviewing Heroes of Olympus: The Son of Neptune yet, but you’ll survive.
So I don’t like romance in books, pretty much… ever. 97% of the books I’ve read could quite easily have done without it, especially when it’s shovelled in to appease teenage girls. Percy and Annabeth though… I don’t know, I love their relationship. It helps that the series is primarily aimed at boys and so the romance is a tiny, tiny subplot as opposed to the over-arching theme, but I like how subtle it is. It’s been building ever so slowly for seven books and it just works perfectly.
19. Favourite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously
Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters books are like coming home for me. The second I see those tiny rows of text and recognise those familiar characters, I feel instantly at peace and ready to read.
Unnatural Issue came out last year, but I’ve only just got round to reading it. It’s not quite as good as the earlier ones but it’s a close thing.
Everybody with even the mildest inclination for fantasy should read these books.
20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else
Hi Charlotte.
Remember when you told me about this book, the one about somebody finding Anne Frank living in their attic? Yeeaaaah, I read that book.
You know what it also has? Exploded chipmunks and people sticking their hands inside half-dead deer.   
I accept that you never represented to me that it was a good book especially since you’ve never actually read it, but I hold you responsible regardless.
Oh well, I love you anyway 🙂 
Join in the fun with the 3rd Annual End of Year Book Survey! 


  1. Them's a lot of questions… can she resist a survey? Time will tell.

  2. I'm so excited that it's time for end of year surveys! I mean, I'm more excited about Christmas and stuff but, you know, end of year surveys!

    All of which is me dodging the obvious: SORRY ABOUT HOPE: A TRAGEDY and all of the exploding chipmunky badness…Q_Q Much though I'm obviously sad for your trauma, though, I actually read this on my phone earlier today at my desk and burst out laughing at that bit. So then I had to explain, which gave me the complete giggles for a pretty long time…I'm still DEFINITELY sorry though!

    What else? Oh, I'm obviously one of the many who you've persuaded to read 11.22.63 and I'm nearly at the end and I'm scared, Hanna! It's already 21 November and I am FREAKING OUT!!

    The rest of the post is basically books that I haven't read yet but really want to. Roll on 2013, right? 🙂

    1. Hanna says:

      I AM glad you find my pain amusing, Charlotte! Honestly, SOME people have no remorse! Actually, I'll forgive you simply because 'chipmunky badness' amused me. And also because your colleagues now clearly think you're crazy 🙂

      I know, I love end of year surveys. Although Song of Achilles is on so many I might actually have to relent and buy a copy…

      Also, you're not at the end unless you've felt your heart break into a million tiny pieces. THEN you're at the end.

    2. Ellie says:

      *whispers* Buy it… buy it… buy it… I nearly stole it from a hotel, then someone bought it me for RAK, then I bought it for someone ELSE for Christmas, so we should probably just all cave in and read it already. 😛

    3. Hanna says:

      You nearly… Further information required.

  3. Charleen says:

    You've got a lot of great titles in there. I haven't gotten to 11.22.63 yet but it's on my TBR. I've heard that The Gunslinger does sort of drag and you have to read a couple books in the series before you really get into it. Personally I haven't had the drive to give it a shot. Also, I rarely read memoirs but Let's Pretend This Never Happened was so funny.

    Glad to have found your blog!

    1. Hanna says:

      Hi Charleen! You should DEFINITELY read 11.22.63 – I know I've babbled about it a lot up there, but I always struggle picking just one 'Best Book of the Year.' Except this year and that says everything you need to know!

      I do KIND OF want to read the rest of the Dark Tower series, but there are so many other books that I KNOW I'll like, so why take the risk?

  4. Laura says:

    So wait, I'm confused… Did you LIKE 11.22.63 or something?

    Seriously, I'm so excited about reading it that I kind of CAN'T WAIT, only I need to wait because of stupid self-imposed limits ARGH. But yaaaaay your newfound Stephen King loveage 🙂

  5. Ellie says:

    To sum up… READ 11.22.63 AND THE HOBBIT ALREADY, YOU FOOLS! I am so very looking forward to reading one and rereading the other after all of this enthusiasm, you've got me all fired up for some epic winter nose-in-book time here! Also, that quote from Let's Pretend This Never Happened has reminded me that I did buy it in order to read it INSTANTLY and still haven't actually done it. I really should be kept away from the Internet AND bookshops in 2013. Possibly even indefinitely. 🙂

    SUCH a fun post chuck, I've completely overhauled my planned New Year round-up because this survey is so much better! *runs off to comb through her 'Read in 2012' list for answers*

    1. Hanna says:

      *sighs* This post would have been a lot easier if I could have just put that, wouldn't it? Because that IS pretty much what I mean!

      I didn't do too badly with Let's Pretend This Never Happened actually… It was three weeks or so after, I think, and that's pretty damn good! I bought mine on a whim though, having never even heard of her blog.

      Oh please, you say that every year, but we BOTH know you wouldn't be kept away even if anyone DID try! 😉

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