I did not set out to read over 100 books in 2012. At the end of 2011 my dad mentioned he had read 42 books in 2011, which blew me away. I went back and added up how many I had read in 2011 and came up with 24, a number I thought was perfectly respectable. When I started counting for 2012 I kind of had a goal of beating my dad’s number, but it was nothing formal. And then I kept going and never looked back. I’ve liked nearly all of the books (or I wouldn’t have kept reading, I’m not someone who has to finish a book), but there are definitely favorites among them. So, without further ado, I give you Maggie’s 2012 must read list:
Best YA Romances: Easy, Pushing the Limits, My Life Next Door, Where She Went I was never a big YA reader before this year, but a few YA comparisons caught me eye from a book we’re publishing at work, I read those, and then I kind of kept going. These three in particular are my favorites because they depict real life situations (I’m not a fan of fantasy) and because they feature strong female characters. The girls have their issues, sure, and they’re not perfect, they’re teenage girls, but they take control of their destinies (eventually) and own up to the things (especially sex) that they want. My roommate Abby pointed this out to me after borrowing My Life Next Door from me; the main character in this book wants sex just as much as her teenage boyfriend, and that doesn’t make her a whore, it’s realistic. Where She Went is a little different, it’s a romance, but it’s from the boy’s point of view. It’s also the sequel to If I Stay, which I enjoyed, but not as much as Where She Went. It’s easily one of my favorite books of the year and I’ve already re-read certain parts of it several times.
Best Story of Friendship: Code Name Verity I really enjoyed this book about two female friends who are a pilot and spy for Britain during World War II. I love spies, I love Britain, I love history, so it’s a natural fit. But what really brought the book home was the friendship between the two girls. If I say too much I’ll ruin it, so I’ll just say you should check it out.
Best Non-Fifty Shades of Grey Erotic Books: I’ll confess, I had never read an “erotica” book before I read Fifty Shades of Grey. I read all three books and thought they were pretty awful. It was like reading a terribly written comedy with really not hot sex scenes (I don’t find sex between a very inexperienced naive girl and an older, more experienced stalker to be hot, but call me crazy). But that didn’t stop me from reading more erotica (judge me, go ahead). My original pick for this was going to be the Crossfire Series. I really liked the first one, but I was disappointed with the second one. In the first one the protagonist is a strong, although damaged, young woman and in the second one I thought she was just too needy and dependent on her boyfriend. Which brings me to my next pick, the Original Sinners series, which I have really enjoyed, but they might be kind of extreme for some people (judge away people, I’m putting it all out there). More recently I got a read an advance reading copy of Release Me, which is part of a new trilogy coming out in January. After Original Sinners I would put this as my favorite, it’s also a lot more mainstream than the Original Sinners series so if you want to give erotica a try I would start with that one.
Best Retelling of a Classic: Flight of Gemma Hardy This is a modern day (well, 1950s) retelling of Jane Eyre. I thought this book was completely lovely. I love the original Jane Eyre and I thought the way the author modernized Jane Eyre and adopted the story as her own was very smart.
Best Chick Lit: Spin I used to exclusively read chick lit, but then thankfully I got over that. However, I’m still always on the look out for good chick lit. I can’t remember how I came across Catherine McKenzie, but I’ve read two of her books now, Spin and Arranged, and I’ve loved them both. They feature the wacky characters, slightly implausible situations, and romances that are found in normal chick lit, but they’re also smart and well written, which is always a plus.
Best Mystery: Gone Girl I don’t read a lot of mysteries, but I can’t imagine too many being crazier than Gone Girl. I seriously loved this book, I was riveted the entire time and couldn’t believe the twists and turns the author came up with. Incredibly creative and incredibly creepy.
Best biography: Elizabeth the Queen I knew a lot of Queen Elizabeth II, but what I knew came from news and gossip sources. This biography was fascinating and I feel like I really got to know her as a person, and subsequently have a ton of respect for her.
Best Literary Book: Rules of Civility I don’t know what to call his category, but Rules of Civility was truly a good book, like could win serious literary awards good. It was just a charming, well written, lovely story.
Best Book That was Adapted Into a Movie: Even though I didn’t love the movie I’m saying Silver Linings Playbook. The book is fantastic. I started reading it while waiting to go in for my hand surgery and then read the rest of it while re-cooperating at home. It’s a wacky story, but it’s incredibly sweet. That’s really the only word I can think of to describe it. Sweet. It just makes me happy to think about.
I love hearing what other people are reading. Any books you want to recommend for 2013?