Top 5 Books I Read in 2012

The 2013 Reading Pile. I think I'm gonna need a bigger bookcase.
The 2013 Reading Pile.
I think I’m gonna need a bigger bookcase.

Yeah, yeah, I missed the boat on all those end-of-year lists, and I’m nowhere near deserving of a  year-in-review post when I can’t even be bothered to blog about life adventures AS THEY’RE HAPPENING, but I would be bereft if I didn’t share with you five books you really should pick up. If any of your new year’s resolutions involve book-readin’, then you’ve come to the right place!

Also, since I’m totally self-centered, this list is the five books *I* happened to read in 2012, not that came out in 2012. I’m nowhere near cool enough for stuff like that. Hell, I just finished the Handmaid’s Tale after hearing so much about it, thinking it was written in the last few years. Nope! 1985!

So, without further ado, here are some BOOKS. GET ‘EM. Also, it’s safe to read. You know how I hate spoils!

 

5. Walking Dead, Compendium 2
For the zombie lover in your life. It should be safe to pick this up after the second half of this season wraps up in late March, since it should coincide perfectly, if my calculations are correct. You would be fine to read this without having read Compendium 1 if you know the show, but there are enough departures from the TV version that you may enjoy both without feeling like it’s repetitive or even predictable.

Why is it so great? I like a lot of dystopic fiction, and I like a lot of The Making Of dystopias. “Dawn of the Dead”? Society shocked and confused? Love it. But what next? A lot of the dystopic fiction I read are quite a while AFTER the fall of society. New world is clearly flawed, blah blah, one crazy kid has the bravery to wish life were simpler. But you rarely get into how society pulls itself back together in the post-apocalypse. Is there hope? There’s always danger, but since some of us are resigned to not fling ourselves into a Zombie Pile anytime soon, maybe we should learn to survive long-term?

So I love this book because it has hope. It’s still depressing, what with, you know, dead walking around everywhere. But it’s time for ACTION. Oh, yeah, it’s a graphic novel. Don’t judge. Come on. How are you gonna say no to this guy?

 

4. Maze Runner
I can’t remember how I stumbled upon this one, but I was hooked to the series from July to August, tearing through the whole trilogy like it was my job. I just got myself the prequel for Christmas, and I have high hopes, even though, in my opinion, Maze Runner was the best in the series. The second, The Scorch Trials was also very good, but you start to be able to guess how each character is going to react in certain situations, and The Death Cure felt a bit rushed and slapped together. Still a great story arc, though!

This is young adult, but it’s appropriate for ladies and gents alike, and the mystery will keep you turning the pages late into the night. And my friends always ask if it’s satisfying and resolved and doesn’t suffer from LOST syndrome, and I will tell you that I HATE books (and TV series) that don’t resolve mysteries, and I think you will be satisfied.

 

3. The Night Circus
I first heard of this book because it was touted as one of a few published (and award-winning) books started as National Novel Writing Month novels. I say “started,” of course, because some of my family and friends can’t grasp that the drivel that pours out of you during NaNoWriMo is just the first 50,000 words of sludge that is LATER polished into a diamond.

I will admit that I was hesitant about this book because I’ve been to several NaNo meet-ups, and, well, besides my close friends whose brand of crazy I love, these people be CRAY. But I should have known that it’s the crazy apples that ruin the bucket, and a delicious apple may still be near the bottom, just waiting to be enjoyed.

As much as I love magic, it is more a romance than an adventure, so it possibly sways a bit more towards female readers, if I may rudely make assumptions about cultural gender roles. But if you want a culinary smorgasbord for all your senses, this is the book for you!

 

2. Ready Player One
After hearing Penny Arcade‘s glowing review, I gave it a glance. I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but they should amend that to include “Or quoted reviews on the cover,” because some genius touted it as “A cross between Willy Wonka and The Matrix,” and not many people know this, but I HATE both those movies, so I was immediately disgusted by it. But I kept hearing how great it was, and it was recommended to me robotically due to other books I loved.

When Tyler had to travel overseas, he picked up a copy but didn’t get to read it until I joined him in Switzerland, where he read it over the course of two days and would not stop poking me because he knew I would love it. I finally buckled down, and boy was everyone right.

This book is perfect for anyone who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s with an affinity for pop culture — movies, television, music, and video games. Some chapters in it feel like they were written just for me, and there are references that I swore only a few nerds would get — and even some that I didn’t even get, but the narrative is interesting enough that it doesn’t seem like an inside joke you’re on the outside of. Unless you don’t like ANY pop culture from the ’80s and ’90s, in which case, I have nothing in common with you, and good day, sir.

 

1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone
I haven’t read a fantasy this good in a long while. The poetry of the prose, the minor world-building details that so many authors leave out, the sneakily mentioned details that turn out to be integral later on… This book — and I have a feeling this whole series — successfully fills a Harry Potter-shaped hole in my heart.

I never knew where the plot was headed next, and I was so gripped onto every single word, when I summarized it for a few friends at book club, my friend Meg stopped me about 10 minutes in to say, “Yeah, and all this happens in the first 5 pages. Let’s summarize the summaries here.”

Again with my old-fashioned gender roles, the romance aspect makes me wonder if women would be more enthralled than men would, but it’s packed full of action, and I’m forcing my husband to read it, and perhaps he will concur that it’s appropriate for all.

Laini Taylor is so whimsical, she’s the sort of person you wish you were friends with. I tweeted her once and she replied, so we’re practically at the stage of buying half-heart necklaces for each other. I can’t wait to see what is left to come in the series AND watch the movie when it comes out possibly in a million years.

 

What books did you all enjoy this year? As soon as I get this time-pauser figured out, I’ll be able to add more to my list!

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