books and reading

End of Year Survey

Jamie hosts an end of the year book survey at The Perpetual Page Turner every year.  Go check out the survey for Jamie’s answers, links to all the other people who’ve participated, and to link your own!

Best In Books 2012

  • Best Book You Read in 2012
What’s interesting about trying to determine the best book I read in 2012 is that I often feel really strongly about something right when I finish it, and when I return to it later, I can’t access those feelings.  There were several standouts this year, but there are two that continue to be books I find myself thinking about again and again: My Book of Life by Angel by Martine Leavitt (review) and The Children and the Wolves by Adam Rapp (review).  Both are dark, thought-provoking YA novels with sparse prose, and both stay with you long after you’ve finished.
  • Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going to Love More But Didn’t?
 There were a lot of these this year.  I suppose there always are, when you get as excited about books as I do.  A few standouts: Small Damages by Beth Kephart (review), which was good but slower than I’d have liked (and I had issues with the chosen ending, to be honest). Fever by Lauren DeStefano (review) was a letdown after loving Wither so much.  Oh! Also, The Story of Us by Deb Caletti, (review) which felt overly long and was weirdly homophobic.
  • Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012?
It has to go to My Book of Life by Angel by Martine Leavitt, because not only did the cover and the title do nothing for me at first, but it’s a verse-novel, which I’m usually not a fan of.  This one blew me away.
  • Book you recommended to people most in 2012? 
I’ve been pushing Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews on everyone, regardless of whether or not they read YA.  I try to tailor recommendations to people based on their actual reading preferences, though, so there isn’t really one book I recommend to all readers.  It’s not a one-size-fits-all sort of deal, yo.
But seriously, have you read this book yet?  Why not?  It’s funny and profound and moving and is everything I wanted John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars to be (but wasn’t).  It’s definitely a standout read, and it’s definitely one you should be reading.
  • Best series you discovered in 2012? 
Ouch.  Guys, I didn’t reach much in the way of series this year, and the ones I did read I didn’t exactly discovery this year.  I’m so over series right now that I’m strangely proud (and a little smug) that I don’t really have an answer for this one.
  • Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?
I’m super impressed with C.K. Kelly Martin, Martine Leavitt, and Sharon G. Flake.  They’re all authors who I’ll be following from now on (not to mention picking up and devouring their backlists).
  • Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you? 
That would probably be nonfiction.  I read John Kraukauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven this year, and I really enjoyed it.  It was fascinating and alarming and deeply unsettling.
  • Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012? 
Courtney Summers’s This Is Not a Test  (review) comes to mind immediately.  I loved it and couldn’t put it down.  I really couldn’t–I extended my time on the treadmill to keep reading.  Absolutely worth it.
  • Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson (review), especially if I can convince my mom to read it, too.  I loved this one and thought it was so beautiful and haunting.  I’d totally read it again.

  • Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?
Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol (review).  This was published in 2011, but it’s new to me, so there you have it.  I think the cover is absolutely perfect for the story–and the illustrations inside are just as amazing.  If you haven’t read this one yet, get on it.
  • Most memorable character in 2012?
 This is a tough one, but I’m going to give it to the kids in Adam Rapp’s The Children and the Wolves.  Those characters were vivid, disturbing, and are still with me months later.  I can’t get them out of my head!
  • Most beautifully written book read in 2012?

I don’t know, man.  I think Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson was really, really well written.  Let’s go with that one.  Here’s a sample:

“Sometimes I think that maybe we are just stories. Like we may as well just be words on a page, because we’re only what we’ve done and what we are going to do.”

  • Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012?
Every book has some sort of impact on me, whether I like it or not.  For the purposes of this prompt, though, let’s go with the lovely and surprising The Girl with Borrowed Wings by Rinsai Rossetti (review).  It’s a stunning debut well worth your time, but it also reminded me that fantasy novels can be done really, really well and still surprise you.
  • Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read?
Maybe Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates?  I didn’t love it as much as I expected to, but I’m embarrassed it took me this long to get to it.
  • Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012?

I don’t keep track of quotes (and maybe I should, and maybe I will in 2013?  Who knows?), but I do remember highlighting a lot of quotes when I read Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.  Stuff like this:

Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.  Men actually think this girl exists. …Oh, and if you’re not a Cool Girl, I beg you not to believe that your man doesn’t want the Cool Girl. It may be a slightly different version – maybe he’s a vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he’s a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics. There are variations to the window dressing, but believe me, he wants Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn’t ever complain. (How do you know you’re not Cool Girl? Because he says things like: “I like strong women.” If he says that to you, he will at some point fuck someone else. Because “I like strong women” is code for “I hate strong women.”)

  • Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?

Longest book was Ellen Hopkins’s Tilt clocking in at 602 pages.  Shortest was No Name Baby by Nancy Bo Flood at 106 pages.

  • 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!

The weird, jarring plot twist in Huntley Fitzpatrick’s otherwise perfect My Life Next Door. (review)

  • Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

Travis and Harper in Trish Doller’s Something Like Normal. (review)  They were the swooniest relationship for me, and I don’t usually get swoony about fictional characters.

  • Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously?

Holier Than Thou by Laura Buzo (review).  I read and loved Good Oil (being published this month in the US as Love and Other Perishable Items) last year, so I actually ordered this one from Australia.  And it was WORTH IT.

  • Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else?
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork.  I read it for a children’s/YA lit class and it was definitely a standout for me.  I don’t think I would have picked it up were it not for the class.

Looking Ahead…

  • One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013?

There are so many books that I’m chomping at the bit to read once the Cybils are over.  I can tell you that Reached by Allie Condie is high on the list.  So is Night Beach by Kirsty Eagar (not available in the U.S. but I got my hands on a copy).

  • Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013?
Again, how do I choose?  There are literally a ton of books I can’t wait to read in 2013.  Selecting titles from authors I love helps narrow it down a little.  I’m looking forward to The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler and Sarah Dessen’s The Moon and More.
  • One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging in 2013?
I’d like to continue to grow as a critical reader and reviewer.  I’d like to branch out and read more genres.  We’ll see what happens.
That completes the survey.  I’ll still do my roundup of the year, and I hope to have some hard and fast data for you then, but this will have to suffice for the time being.  In the meantime, stay warm and keep reading!