For the last twelve months, I have been tracking and rating every book I read through the Goodreads Reading Challenge.
Starting out I set my goal to 100 books (ha, ha, HA!) but quickly changed it to a more manageable 52 books, or one book a week for the year. Which sounds perfectly doable, right? Especially if you tend to read books quickly, usually in no more than two sittings.
But it isn’t really, because as quickly as you read books, you don’t always have the time to read them at all. So I’ll just about make my 52 books, more from reading binges than constant or regular reading and only if I finish all five of the books I’m currently in the middle of. However tracking my books means that when it comes to deciding which ones I liked best, it’s easy to decide (and remember the ones I read in the first place!)…
(NB: These are my favorite books that I read in 2012. Although most of them were published this year too, not all were.)
The nominees for the Novel That Depressed Me The Most Because I Know I’ll Never Write Like That (i.e. “Best Novel”) Award are…
- Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
- Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
- Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
- The Dinner by Herman Koch
- Ascent by Jed Mercurio
- The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker.
And the winner is…
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter!
Just a fabulous book that, as another review of this title put it, reminds you why you love to love books. I would never desecrate a book by writing on it but if I did such things to, say, highlight my favorite phrases, descriptions that struck me or just sentences I wanted to remember, my entire copy of Beautiful Ruins would’ve been destroyed. Funny, touching and a page-turner to boot.
It also wins the prize for my favorite book cover of the year (the one pictured above, which is the US hardback that I ordered especially so as to avoid having to look at the horrendous cover of the UK paperback version. Yuck!).
The nominees for the Crime Novel I Loved The Most/I Read So Much Of It, It Needs Its Own Category On Here Award are…
- Criminal by Karin Slaughter
- Broken Harbor by Tana French
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
- Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes
- The Black Box by Michael Connelly
- The Treatment by Mo Hayder.
And the winner is…
Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes!
(I know, I didn’t choose Gone Girl, even though I’m a huge Gillian Flynn fan and have been reading her since long before the rest of the world discovered her this year. That’s not to say that Gone Girl isn’t brilliant. It is. But this is even better…)
There’s something about this book that just curls every last nerve ending you have into a fist of tension while you read it. It is easily the most tense and suspenseful book I’ve ever read. All the more impressive because it’s a relatively simplistic plot. “Psychological thriller” is applied to so many books, but this one actually delivers that. So, SO good.
The nominees for the Non-Fiction Book That Made Me Turn To The Nearest Person And Bore Them With New Stuff I’d Learned About The World (i.e. “Most Interesting”) Award are:
- The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of Tour de France: Doping, Cover-Ups and Winning at All Costs by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle
- How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown
- Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History by Antonio Mendez
- People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished From the Streets of Tokyo and the Darkness That Swallowed Her Up by Richard Lloyd Parry
- Wild: From Lost To Found on the Pacific Coast Trail by Cheryl Strayed
- Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin and the Race of a Lifetime by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
- Totally Wired: On the Trail of the Great Dotcom Swindle by Andrew Smith
- Exposure: Inside the Olympus Scandal by Mike Woodford
And the winner is:
A four-way tie: The Secret Race, How I Killed Pluto, People Who Eat Darkness and Wild!
Sorry, but I just can’t pick. Although if we spilt them into categories (Best Sports, Best Science, Best True Crime, Best Memoir), they can all be winners. Hooray!
If I had to pick just one novel and one non-fiction book to recommend to you, I think it’d probably be Beautiful Ruins and The Secret Race. You cannot go wrong with those two.
So what’s the one novel or non-fiction book you’ve read this year that you’d recommend everyone reads?