2012 End of the Year Round-up

We’re coming up on the end of the year, and I think it’s a good time to look back at my reading in 2012! I don’t expect my favorite (and least favorite) books to change too much in the next few days.  My total reads this year comes in at 182, with possibly two more if I finish the books I’m midway through right now.  I’m calling that a good year in reading…

From that list, here are the ups and downs of my last twelve months of books.  Links go to my reviews.

1) Best Book  –  This is in some ways an easy question this year.  My favorite book all year was The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente.  Its only serious competition is its own sequel, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There.  These are both beautifully written books with wonderful characters, vivid worlds, and fun nods back to classic children’s fantasy, which I also love.

This was an easy question because I try to select from new reads.  But I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention that I reread some of my absolute favorite ever (ever) books this year: The Little White Bird by J. M. Barrie, Susan Kay’s Phantom, and The Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce.

2) Worst Book  –  I must have had a good year, because I don’t have a clear frontrunner (backrunner?) for this one.  I’m going to have to say Wicked by Gregory Maguire, even though it was a reread.  It was my book club’s selection, and I was hoping to like it better on a second read-through.  I didn’t.  I did have a wonderful time discussing it, though.

3) Most Disappointing Book  –  This one could have been the worst book, but it’s a better fit for this slot instead: Star Trek: The Price of the Phoenix by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath.  They edited two excellent collections of Star Trek short stories, and the plotline looked good.  I have a weakness for storylines about characters apparently dead then returning, and this centered on Kirk doing exactly that.  But…it wound up feeling like the reader was thrown in mid-story and, a much bigger problem, there was something just off about the portrayal of both Kirk and Spock.  Spock gets upset with the villain and snarls.  I kid you not.  There was one very good McCoy moment when Kirk turns up alive, but otherwise this flopped.

4) Most Surprising (in a Good Way)  –  I’m going to say the Bloody Jack audiobook, by L. A. Meyer and read by Katherine Kellgren.  It wasn’t the book that was surprising, or even how good it was (I expected that) but how much I ended up really liking audiobooks in general, when I’d resisted for a long time!

5) Most Unlikely Read – Now and then I read something quite different than my usual fare.  One possibility is The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz, since I so rarely read nonfiction.  But I think even odder was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith, though that was the fault of my book club.

6) Most Satisfying ReadLegacy by Susan Kay.  Not the best book of the year, not even a contender…but it gives me an immense feeling of satisfaction to know that I’ve finally read the only other book by the author of my favorite book.  And it’s a 600 page, heavily historical novel.  There’s some satisfaction just in finishing!

7) Best Series Discovered – I’ve been fighting very hard not to start series this year…  Fairyland is the obvious answer, but since it was the answer to #1, let’s say The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett.  Jane Eyre meets Pride and Prejudice meets fantasy!

8) Most Hilarious Read  –  As usual, this goes to Terry Pratchett (for the third year!)  Of the several I read, I’ll give it to Wyrd Sisters, mostly for the scenes involving Death.

9) Can’t Believe I Waited Until 2012 to Read It  –  Since I spent the year trying to finish series, there are a number of candidates here.  I’m giving it to books 2 and 3 of the Lando Calrissian trilogy, considering until I picked them up, I vaguely thought I had already read them!

10) Most Looking Forward To in 2013  –  Easy.  Fairyland 3, which I certainly hope will be out some time in 2013.  🙂

What were your best or worst of 2012?  Or feel free to answer any of the other questions!

9 thoughts on “2012 End of the Year Round-up

  1. I choose Little Women as my favourite read of 2012, but like you I choose a Terry Pratchett novel as my funniest of the year. Happy New Year to you and your family. Here’s hoping for another great reading year.

  2. Wow, you make me feel inadequate — I only read 39 books this year! But I am putting The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland… on my to-read list.

    1) Best Book – A hard choice, but I’m going with The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle. The first contact story is possibly my favorite subgenre of SF, and this is considered a classic of the genre for a reason.

    2) Worst Book – Also a hard choice – I’ll say Mad Skills by Walter Greatshell, a book I picked up because I thought it might be silly in a fun way. Instead it was just silly in a dumb way.

    3) Most Disappointing Book – Maybe The Gripping Hand, the (twenty-years-later) sequel to The Mote in God’s Eye, which was not nearly as good as the original.

    4) Most Surprising (in a Good Way) – How I Killed Pluto And Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown, the guy who discovered the slightly-bigger-than-Pluto planetoid responsible for demoting Pluto from planetary status. I didn’t read much nonfiction this year and most of what I did read was uninspiring, but this book was very entertaining and taught me a lot about astronomy.

    5) Most Unlikely Read – Collected Short Stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne. The story of why I ended up reading this is too long and dull to recount; but it’s definitely not something I would have picked by myself.

    6) Most Satisfying Read – Skipping this because I don’t know if I can differentiate it from “best book”.

    7) Best Series Discovered – If a “series” is anything more than one book long, then the companion novels Last and First Men and Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon (I know there is at least one other yet-to-read novel or novella set in the same continuity, so sure, let’s call it a series!). These books were both close contenders for “top book of the year” — totally unlike anything I’ve ever read before, in a good way.

    8) Most Hilarious Read – That’s easy: Going Postal : )

    9) Can’t Believe I Waited Until 2012 to Read It – The seventh Artemis Fowl book, which came out in 2010. This was probably at least partly due to the very low quality of Book Six. Fortunately the seventh and eighth books, though not as good as the earliest in the series, were definitely better than the sixth.

    10) Most Looking Forward To in 2013 – Way too many to list. Just to name one, though: The House of Silk, a Sherlock Holmes pastiche I got for Christmas from my dad (who clearly knows me well).

    1. Aww, don’t feel inadequate! I always felt a bit weird for reading so much, until I started following bloggers who read even more than I do…

      2) I have definitely had that happen–it’s such a fine line between good-silly and dumb-silly!

      4) I just love that title… 🙂

      5) Ugh! I’ve had to read The Scarlet Letter twice in different classes. Not a fan.

      7) I count trilogies and up as series. I don’t know if there’s an official definition on the subject…

      10) Sounds fun! I always enjoy Sherlock Holmes, and a well-done pastiche sounds good!

  3. Both of those Valente books are ones I am interested in reading. I have her novella, Silently and Very Fast, sitting on my shelves waiting to be read and I’ve heard good things about it.

    Sorry the Trek book was disappointing. There are always those duds among the good ones when there are as many books in the series as there are.

    I’m glad I read my first Discworld book this year. I was hooked right away and will be reading more. And I enjoyed both BBC Discworld movies I watched, Going Postal being by far my favorite.

    I’m glad you had a good year reading and hope your 2013 is even better!

    1. I hope you read the Valente ones–they’re wonderful!

      I have such mixed experiences with Trek books…some I love, some I hate, and it usually comes down to whether I like the portrayal of the characters. I think it’s a hazard of taking TV into book form, with tons of different authors!

      1. That is pretty much what it is for me too. My favorite Trek books are Prime Directive and Federation by Judith Garfield Reeves-Stevens and I’ve enjoyed the David Mack books I’ve read.

          1. I liked First Frontier as well. I remember enjoying Sanctuary, Renegade, The Better Man, Ice Trap, and The Fearful Summons, to name a few, but it has been SOOOO many years that I wonder how they would hold up in my opinion with a re-read.

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