List #179: A Year in Books

At the start of 2012 I set a personal goal to read 52 books. Though I knew that there was no way that I would read a book a week, I was aware of my reading habits enough to know that some weeks (and weekends) I read more than one.

Unfortunately, I didn't reach my goal this year. So far I've finished 43 books but I'm pretty sure I'll finish one more by tomorrow night, making my grand total 44. There are plenty of reasons why I didn't finish 52 this year: I was sick this spring and on medication that made my whole brain fuzzy and my whole body tired, I moved one week after spending a week in the hospital, I read a whole lot of thick books, we started subscribing to Bust at the library, I was busy with friends, and I probably watched too much TV. 

I'm a little disappointed that I didn't reach 52 titles this year, so I plan on setting the same goal for 2013. Though I read less than anticipated I still found a whole lot of gems. So I give you my top 5 favorite books of the year. Qualifications for consideration are simply I loved them, they kept me thinking beyond the last page, and that I read them in 2012. Publication date is no matter for consideration, but it just so happens that all but one were released in the last 12 months.

Here they are, in no particular order of preference. 

Gone Girl ~ Gillian Flynn
Finished in July
Why I Read It:  I was going on a beach vacation, wanted a book that would hook me, and was hearing rave reviews about this best seller. I hardly ever buy books for my Nook and am happy to wait for a book through the library's hold list. But this one I couldn't wait for. Sometimes, as a librarian, when I know a book is going to be a big deal, I need to read it before everyone else gets their hands on it.
Why I Loved It:  Flynn's storytelling is unique, her character's voices clear, and the plot line is all sorts of crazy run wild. Each chapter has its twists and turns, you aren't sure which character to believe, and no one comes off completely believable nor relatable. But it's an addicting roller coaster. If you haven't read it yet, don't talk to anyone who has, anything said could be a spoiler.

One Last Thing Before I Go ~ Jonathan Tropper
Finished in August
Why I Read It:  Last year Tropper blew me away when I read This Is Where I Leave You. I love novels about family drama and the hard relationships we juggle in life.
Why I Loved It: Tropper is now at the top of my fiction writer list. His characters manage to be a multitude of things all at the same time: strong and weak, smart and idiotic, hilarious and sad. His writing is witty, he never talks down to his readers and he makes his stories about the journey, and not just the end.. One Last Thing Before I Go manages to be breathtaking sad and completely relatable even though you may not be able to identify yourself in the core of the characters. 

Where'd You Go, Bernadette ~ Maria Semple
Finished in November
Why I Read It: I was intrigued by press and reviews the book was getting that I noticed when placing orders for the library. My coworker read it and loved it. The cover is fantastic. Seriously, the cover wins my favorite for best art work of the year.
Why I Loved It: It's satire at its finest. The story is told through different points-of-view and each character's voice is distinct and hilarious. Bernadette is a genius of fantastical, determined, and crazy design. And in-between the mystery and outrageous lies a story about love and family. Plus, I love Seattle and the city itself is a character in this book. 

The Age of Miracles ~ Karen Thompson Walker
Finished in August
Why I Read It: Intriguing reviews caught my eye before it was published. I love coming-of-age stories. I enjoy reading a variety of dystopian fiction.
Why I Loved It: Because even though the world is ending in Walker's not-so-distant-future world it isn't the catastrophic global issues that tear the reader apart. It's a story about love, friendship, and family. About what happens when the world is unraveling in front of you, and all the mess that comes along with being a middle school girl just trying to discover where to belong in the world. Even as that world is slowly coming to a stop.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America ~ Erik Larson
Finished in May
Why I Read It: It's been on my to-read list for a very long time. The book club I host at the library chose it to read.
Why I Loved It: An incredible piece of creative non-fiction, Devil in White City, doesn't feel like it could be real, even when it is. Larson does all of the research for his books himself, and his writing is a cut above anyone else who is writing in this style. Both the fair and the murders are filled with mystery, suspense, tragedy, and intrigue. It made me want to travel back in time and attend the Chicago's Worlds Fair and inspired me to learn more beyond the pages of this particular book. 

Overall, I have to declare 2012 a win for contemporary literature. So many great books came out and peronsally I discovered so many enjoyable titles. If you'd like to see all of the books I read in 2012, check out my Goodreads Challenge page.  But be sure to share, dear readers, what your favorite books of the year were in the comments!

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Shannon has read 43 books toward her goal of 52 books.

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