My Favorite Books of 2012

2012 was a very, very good year for books. I had less time to read than in previous years because I spent two months writing a novel (Wrinkle, in revisions now) and all other months designing a board game and running a Kickstarter campaign for that game (Viticulture), so I was perhaps a little more selective than usual about the books I read. Here are my favorites in descending order:

  1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: This is the most un-put-downable book of the year. It’s probably the most entertaining form of media I’ve consumed in any form. Oddly enough, it’s also a case where telling is somehow more effective than showing. But it works. If you haven’t read it, you can thank me at 3:00 am the night you pick it up and can’t put it down.

Actually, I lied. The rest of these are all fantastic books, and I can’t rank them. Here they are in no particular order:

  • Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: This is the year that I read John Green for the first time. I had heard of him before, but I couldn’t figure out why I’d want to read a book about a bunch of teenagers if there weren’t wizards involved. Now I know. I think the key element of his books is that they’re sad. They’re sad books. Not depressing, but sad. There is an ache in my heart when I think about them, but that’s a good thing. Any book that moves my heart to ache is a book worth reading.
  • Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo: Have you been looking for the next Harry Potter? It’s right here. I was immediately swept up in this book–it’s one of those that I sampled on my Kindle and was pissed when the sample ended, and I bought it immediately and read it straight through. It’s kind of like Harry Potter in Russia, but with a female protagonist, better/different magic, and stakes greater than a single angry bad guy.
  • Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor: Sometimes a trilogy is hurt by the sequel, but this book expands upon the world of Daughter of Smoke and Bone to the nth degree. It takes a brilliant but small story and makes it epic. It’s basically angels vs. demons in a world where both sides are pretty bad (and angels aren’t agents of God). I can’t wait for the conclusion.
  • The Twelve by Justin Cronin: Another sequel, this time to the apocalyptic novel The Passage. It’s going to sound hokey, but here’s the idea: vampire-like creatures have taken over the world. Humans have figured out how to survive, but just barely. This is their story. It’s a literary epic that is woven by the hands of the finest craftsman. Highly, highly recommended (after reading The Passage).
  • The Magician King by Lev Grossman: The last sequel, I promise! This is the sequel to The Magicians, which was great, but maybe a little long and mopey in places. Grossman is in full control here. This is kind of like adult Harry Potter meets Narnia…and I truly do mean “adult.” If you had magical powers, wouldn’t you do some crazy fun sexual stuff with them? Sure you would. The book is funny and epic and leaves you feeling quite deeply for the characters, all of whom are flawed and relatable, despite the vast powers they acquired in the first book.
  • Pure by Julianna Baggott: This book injected some new life into Dystopian YA. Years before the book stars, the world essentially ends when numerous nuclear bombs go off. Many people outside of protective domes for the rich aren’t killed, though–rather, they are welded to whatever they were holding when the bomb went off. For example, the main character has a doll for a hand. The less fortunate are melded with the elements such that even the dirt is alive. The imagery that Baggott evokes is incredible, and it’s a nice bonus that the story is brilliant and gripping as well.

I keep hearing great things about Gone Girl. I may need to read that next. Have you read anything on my list? What are your thoughts?