Reading · Writing

2012 in Reading

According to Goodreads, I have completed 33 books in 2012. While that is not a great number, I’m pleased that I was able to make the time in this extremely hectic year to sit and enjoy a good book, even if for just a few pages at a time. I read some great books, and some not-so-great ones, and ones (well, one in particular) that left a bad taste in my mouth. However, it’s been a good reading year overall, and I will use this opportunity to summarize nearly 12,000 pages into a few words.

These are the "physical" books I read. The rest were ebooks.
These are the “physical” books I read. The rest were eBooks.

1) “Picking five favorite books is like picking the five body parts you’d most like not to lose.” – Neil Gaiman

It’s always difficult to pick a favourite, whether it’s a book, a movie or a song. I read several good books this year, and it was difficult to decide which I loved the most. Ultimately I decided on The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This book was beautiful and mesmerizing, and I fell in love with it. I really can’t recommend it enough.

2) “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” – Tom Robbins

Although I can no longer be considered a child, I still like to relive my childhood through books. I read two children novels this year – Midnight for Charlie Bone and The Mysterious Benedict Society. I loved their simplicity and innocence and enjoyed them a lot more than many other “adult” books I read this year. I also finally found the first book I read as a kid! Fun times.

Pages from my copy of Thumbelina. I always thought the art was just lovely.
Pages from my copy of Thumbelina. I always thought the art was just lovely.

3) The best things in life are silly.” – Scott Adams (Dilbert)

Occasionally I like to take a break from serious books and indulge in a light read. Sophie Kinsella and Terry Pratchett usually do the trick. In 2012, I read I’ve Got Your Number and I Shall Wear Midnight and loved them both. I don’t often laugh when it comes to reading, but those two books did manage to earn a few chuckles out of me. Chasing the Moon by A. Lee Martinez, while not as great as the aforementioned books, was also quite amusing. I also read Sunshine Hunter by fellow blogger, Maddie Cochere, which was quite a fun read. =D

4) “Look. I have a strategy. Why expect anything? If you don’t expect anything, you don’t get disappointed.” – Patricia McCormick

I need to drill the above quote into my mind and save myself some misery. I always build expectations based upon other people’s reviews and take the plunge. I was disappointed by several books this year. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell didn’t quite live up to the hype, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and The Floating Islands by Rachel Neumeier started out great but gradually dwindled in quality and storytelling, Showtime by indie author Chloe Kayne looked promising, but I didn’t like it. Three favourite authors of mine (Joy Fielding, Alan Bradley and Jostein Gaarder) disappointed with their respective books, Now You See Her, A Red Herring Without Mustard and The Ringmaster’s Daughter. I had a fair share of disappointments this year. =[

Also forgot to include this book. It wasn't bad, but I was expecting more from this collaboration.
Also forgot to include this book. It wasn’t bad, but I was expecting more from this collaboration.

5) “Even in the familiar there can be surprise and wonder.” – Tierney Gearon

I stepped into new territory this year – science fiction – based upon a recommendation by my fiance. I admit I wasn’t expecting much from it, but I dove in and never regretted it once. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card was incredible. It had me hooked from start to finish and I carried it with me everywhere. I was really surprised by how much I came to like it. I was also pleasantly surprised by The Well and the Mine by Gin Phillips, a book I picked up on a whim but ended up really liking.

6) “No, I am not bitter, I am not hateful, and I am not unforgiving. I just don’t like you.” – C. JoyBell C.

I almost made it out of this year without a single 1-star book, but I had to award it to American Gods by Neil Gaiman. This was the biggest of disappointments. In fact, I was so disappointed I actually hated it, but I already ranted about it so I’ll spare you this time.

7) Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. – Charles Dickens

Readers of this blog probably know by now that I’m a sap. I cry quite easily when I come across touching scenes or whatnot. Usually it’s more difficult for books to make me cry, but this year I read two tearjerkers – Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Green and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. Both extremely touching tales.

8) “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” – Haruki Murakami

There were some titles that have somehow escaped me, titles that were apparently read by everyone. I finally got around to reading The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Looking for Alaska by John Green and The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. I liked them all, but some definitely more than others. 🙂

I’m planning to read even more books in 2013. I have a large number of new books on my shelves and an even larger number of eBooks on my tablet, so I have enough to occupy me!

Have you read any of the books I mentioned? What were your best and worst reads of 2012? =D

31 thoughts on “2012 in Reading

  1. You know what?

    I’ve been tossing that around for a while, and it’s pretty tough for me to decide which books I’ve liked the most over the past year. Of course, at my age, it’s pretty tough to even remember. 😉

  2. I read very few books this year and the ones I did read were re-reads. I found myself mostly reading short story fiction out of various literary journals over the summer and then I slowed down my reading considerably the past 4-5 months. I started re-reading another book to make myself get back into reading again.

    I applaud you for reading 33 books this year! That is quite a feat.

    1. I am rarely able to read books a second time, is that odd? There are some (like Harry Potter) that I can read two or three times at the most, but others? Not so much. Hey that’s a possible blog post, haha.
      Thank you, Nicole! And I hope you’re able to get back into the reading spirit. Do you have a Goodreads account? It helps you keep tab on the books you read/want to read.

        1. It’s basically a social networking place for bibliophiles! You can write reviews, enter reading groups… my favourite thing to do is book hopping – checking one book and then checking other similar titles. I’ve found some great reads that way. =D

  3. I really like how you broke this down, Zen. I’m impressed with how many books you read. I won’t be writing as much this coming year, so I would like to read more, too. Thanks for some good recommendations – especially Ender’s Game. And thank you for including me in your list. 😉

    1. Thanks, Maddie! You should challenge yourself on Goodreads. Plus it’s nice to see how all the books accumulate. You’re welcome! Ender’s Game is great and I hope you enjoy it. =D

  4. I know how you feel about disappointments. Aside from Cloud Atlas, I was also very disappointed with Good Omens when I read it. It wasn’t bad, but I really did expect more from it. And don’t even get me started with American Gods. That’s also another frustrating novel. The thing with Neil Gaiman is, he has such a great imagination – he just doesn’t write that well (in my opinion) – which is why his novels always fall short of being great. I really wish he could become a better writer, because I love his ideas!

    1. I love Terry Pratchett, and the plot of Good Omens sounded really good! Execution… not so much. Must be the influence of Gaiman, haha. I agree with you that he has good ideas, but he tends to get too wordy and just throws in lots of fillers. For example, I would’ve completely omitted his stay in Lakeside. That was just one HUGE filler.

        1. I’ve read Smoke and Mirrors by him, which I also didn’t like much… people have been telling me to check out Neverwhere and Stardust, so here’s hoping!

        2. Is Smoke and Mirrors the collection of short stories? Well, Stardust was ok. It’s written very simply and fairytale-like, so, don’t expect it to be complex and deep. Neverwhere is probably his best novel so far (in my opinion). Have you tried his Sandman series?

        3. That’s the one! I enjoy fairy tales, so seems like Stardust would be a good match. I’ll definitely look for Neverwhere too. I took a look at the Sandman… didn’t look appealing to me in the slightest.

  5. I agree about miss peregrine. I loved the idea for the book, and the photos were quite stunningly different and beautiful. But the actual storyline let it down somewhat. Agree too about The Night Circus 🙂

    1. The photos in Miss Peregrine were part of the reason I was drawn to it! Ultimately the book ended up being just that – stunning photos and lame story. And I’m glad to meet a fellow Night Circus fan! Did you hear they’re going to turn it into a movie? I’m both excited and worried, haha.

  6. I love the way you presented the books you read this year, so fun! The idea of trying out a new genre or reading those books that everyone has read but have somehow passed you by – just wonderful!

  7. Oooh I love the Neil Gaiman quote! I’ve never heard that one before, but it’s so true.
    I’ve wanted to read The Night Circus for ages, but it’s still sitting unread on my bookshelf. Loved the Golden Compass/Northern Lights and The Hobbit, those were really great books so I’m glad you got a chance to read them this year. 😀

    Shame to hear about American Gods though…I actually bought it really cheap recently in a charity shop because I’d heard a lot of praise about his work. :S I’ve only read Stardust by him and I wasn’t really swayed either way.

    I think my best read of this year has to be The Hunger Games trilogy, they were just fantastic! My worst reads……The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Great Gatsby, I was hugely disappointed by both those, especially since everyone seems to absolutely love Perks! :/

    Great post! 🙂

    1. It’s a nice quote, isn’t it? =D And so true!
      The Night Circus is pretty amazing and I recommend that you start on it soon! As for The Hobbit, I have to admit that I liked the movie more than the book, haha.
      American Gods was a huge disappointment. It actually took me quite a loooong time to read it because I couldn’t bring myself to pick it up and continue. =[
      I have yet to read The Hunger Games, but I’m planning to! I didn’t get the hype about The Great Gatsby either, and I do have Perks on my shelf. I hope it’s not too much of a disappointment!
      Thank you so much for your comment. =D

  8. We read the same amount of books! Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is one of my favorites, although it’s been such a long time since I read it I feel I need to reread it. And I love that part about funny (or light) books, I need to read more books that make me laugh! Really, I tend to choose the more tragic or mysterious ones. I think there was really only one book that made me laugh out loud in 2012 and that was ‘The Hundred-year-old man who climbed out the window and disappeared’.

    1. I thought Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was extremely touching! I’m still hesitant to watch the movie because some reviews say it wasn’t too good. I like serious and tragic books too, but occasionally a break is nice. 🙂 Also, I keep seeing that book in my local bookshop but for some reason I’ve always been hesitant to get it. Here’s hoping it’s still there next time I go!

      1. I was one of those people, I didn’t like the movie. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t nearly as good as the book in comparison. Yeah, it’s been on the Swedish bestseller list for years now so I was both happy and surprised to see it popping up everywhere internationally. It’s hilarious.

  9. Terry Pratchett gives me a good laugh, too. He’s a comfort when you need a bit fluff to get you out of the doledrums. I must admit, though that I have not read Haruki Murakami and can’t comment on his work;, but I disagree with that statement: “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” Once the writer sends his / her work out into the world, it’s up to every reader to interpret the meaning for him or herself’..

    1. Agreed. I recently ordered Snuff and I can’t wait to read it! Also, you’re right that everyone interprets a book differently, but maybe he simply meant that we’d all be thinking about the same book?

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