Faves of 2012: The Year in Reading

Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone!!!

It’s time for the third annual “Year in Reading” recap, where I tell you which books are my favorites for 2012. (If you’re curious about what I liked in past years, you can check out the post for 2011 and the one for 2010.)

The first category is…

Favorite Newly Discovered Authors of 2012

The requirements for this distinction are exactly the same as they were last year:

  1. I have to discover them this year.
  2. Then, I must become so obsessed with them that I read ALL their books.
  3. They must have more than one book out, because with each book, my love for that author exponentially increases.

And this year’s winners are:

7824314Stephanie Burgis, author of KAT, INCORRIGIBLE and RENEGADE MAGIC (a.k.a. the Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson #1 & #2)

I know. I already talked about her this month, in this post, but I have to say it again: plucky middle grade heroine, annoying older sisters, witches in the family, and Jane Austen-era plots. Basically, ALL THE THINGS I LIKE. 🙂

Mrs. Burgis herself is a delightfully upbeat person, born in Michigan and currently residing in Yorkshire. Since her books are published in the UK as well as here in the US, all of her books have British names alongside American ones, which confused me like whoa until I visited her website and read up on the situation.

 

 

An Abundance of KatherinesJohn Green, author of LOOKING FOR ALASKA; AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES; PAPER TOWNS; WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON; and THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

Okay, I know I’m late to the party on this one. John Green has been around for a while, ad I’ve resisted reading any of his novels. Basically, he came highly recommended by someone I didn’t like, which started my avoidance, and when I found out that he usually wrote YA where SAD THINGS HAPPEN, his books dropped to the bottom of my TBR list. That was in 2008.

This year, I finally got around to reading them, and I can’t believe that I deprived myself of such AWESOMENESS. What was wrong with me???

Yes, many of the John Green books are sad, but they’re also funny and genuine and they ask all the big questions about being human. More than reminding me of other YA, they reminded me of Shakespeare. And you know how much I love the Bard. I gobbled up each novel in the order they were published. I started LOOKING FOR ALASKA in late March, and I finished THE FAULT OF OUR STARS in early June. There was much laughing, and weeping, and marveling about the amazing craftsmanship of each story.

Then, in October, I experienced such withdrawal that I went back and reread THE FAULT IN OUR STARS again. That makes it one of two books I read twice this year. (I’ll get the second in a minute.)

Favorite Historical Books

This is a new category, because weirdly enough, I read a TON of historical novels this year.

Middle Grade Winner:

KatIncorrigible

Kat, Incorrigible
by Stephanie Burgis

Honorable Mention: One Crazy Summer, by Rita Garcia-Williams and The Seven Tales of Trinket, by Shelley Moore Thomas

Upper Middle Grade Winner:

Icefall-frnt-jkt-fnl

Icefall,
by Matthew Kirby

(I haven’t written about this one yet, but I’ve got one planned for next February, when the paperback comes out.)

Young Adult Winner:

Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy,
by Robin Lafevers

Adult Winner:

the_help

The Help,
by Kathryn Stockett

Honorable Mention: The Dovekeepers, by Alice Hoffman

Favorite YA Scifi

This is a growing genre, isn’t it? For some reason, I read a ton of this – almost as much as historical fiction.

Dystopian Winner:

Under the Never Sky

Under the Never Sky,
by Veronica Rossi

Just when I thought I was getting sick of post-apocalyptic novels, this one came along and got me excited about a new series. Smoldering romance, y’all, and two very distinctive main characters.

Humor Winner:

mothership-martin-leicht-isla-neal_book

Mothership,
by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal

Lots of wacky, slapdash fun. Plus aliens. And pregnancy.

Paranormal Thriller Winner:

Unbecoming

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer,
by Michelle Hodkin

I was totally blown away – I loved how the author shifts from funny to creepy in like three sentences, and then she shifts to romantic a couple sentences. So SO good.

Favorite Laugh Attacks

Middle Grade Winner:

Small Medium at Large

Small Medium at Large,
by Joanne Levy

Favorite Tearjerkers

Middle Grade Winner:

wonder

Wonder,
by R. J. Palacio

Yes, this one lives up to the hype. You think you don’t want to hear about August, this poor kid who was born with a deformed face and who has to start at a new school. And then you start reading, and you’re hooked by his growth and the growth of all his classmates.

Upper Middle Grade Winner:

monster calls

A Monster Calls,
by Patrick Ness

It’s basically a contemporary fairy tale about impending loss. And the one that made me weep the most.

Young Adult Winner:

the fault in our stars

The Fault in Our Stars,
by John Green

(Honorable Mentions: LOOKING FOR ALASKA, also by John Green, and WHY WE BROKE UP, by Daniel Handler.)

Favorite Follow-Ups

I’m not going to go into detail on these, but I did want to mention them (in the order I read them):

  1. Bitterblue, by Kristen Cashore – Companion to Graceling and Fire
  2. Insurgent, by Veronica Roth – sequel to Divergent
  3. Days of Blood and Starlight, by Laini Taylor – sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone
  4. The Fire Chronicle, by John Stephens – sequel to The Emerald Atlas
  5. In the Glass Grimmly, by Adam Gidwitz – Companion to A Tale Dark and Grimm

Favorite Adult Nonfiction

Writerly Advice-specific Winner:

the-war-of-art

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Creative Battles,
by Steven Pressfield

This was the other book I read twice this year (the first being THE FAULT IN OUR STARS). It’s main message is, Stop Resisting Your Work/Destiny, and Just Do It. I read it right before I dove into The Ever Afters promotion work and again before I started actually writing a new project.

If there is such a thing as linguistically transmitted artistic courage, this is it.

Everything else Winner:

Wild

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail,
by Cheryl Strayed

Basically, it’s about a girl who is about my age, who has lost her mother. Her life spirals out of control, and to get herself back together, she decides to hike this West Coast trail. She doesn’t have any training, and she doesn’t really have the right gear. She loses her hiking shoes in the middle of nowhere, so she puts on her thick socks and duck tapes over them so that she can get back.

But she perseveres, and through that, she heals.

(Also, she’s a Portland writer, and well-promoted by Powell’s, which is how I discovered her.)

—-

So that brings our grand total to 2 favorite authors and roughly 18 favorite books (including the follow-up section). That’s a lot, but I promise I’m really tried to pick my favorites – it’s only 14% of everything I’ve read this year!