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.
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?
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?
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.
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?
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.
“I TOLD YOU NOT TO GO
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.
“BRING BACK THE
LIGHT OR I WILL THROW THIS DAMN SNAKE IN THE CAR WITH YOU,” he screamed,
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.
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.