Books I read: 2012

Last year, some of my friends posted lists of all of the books they read in 2011. This inspired me to make a list of all of the books I read in 2012. I listed all adult, young adult (YA) and middle grades books that I read, including novels, works of nonfiction, books of short stories, one graphic novel, and a work-in-progress manuscript that I read for a friend.

Not included in this list are books for younger children (anything I could read in under an hour), my own novel-length works in progress that I read through, individual short stories (though I made a separate list of those), or any books I may have read but forgot to record.

The books are listed in the order in which I finished reading them.
Books with an * next to them were begun in 2011.
Books with two **s next to them were books I’d read before and decided to reread. The time span between first read and reread ranged from a few weeks to a few decades.

For many, but not all of the books, I’ve added in my thoughts about them.

At the end of the list, I’ve also included a breakdown of the kinds of books I read this year, and where I obtained them, because I like examining those kinds of details.

And now, the list:

1. Un Lun Dun by China Mieville
I really enjoyed this one. It’s middle grades/YA and the world he created has many creative elements to it. Plus, the story was good too.

2. The Hunger Games by Susan Collins
YA. I picked this up because I kept hearing good things about it. It didn’t disappoint. You’ll see the other two books in the series are on this list as well. After finishing the first one, I bought the other two. It turns out that, while I enjoyed the other two, the first one is the one I liked best. It’s also worth noting that the movie that came out later in the year is, in my opinion, faithful to the book in all the right ways and is worth watching.

3. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
One of the few books on this list that would be considered mainstream fiction, if I recall correctly.

4. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Another one of the few mainstream fiction books. I enjoyed it. Something about the circus really draws me in, and I think it was also a good story.

5. Catching fire by Suzanne Collins
YA. Sequel to The Hunger Games. I felt like the ending didn’t live up to my expectations, especially compared to the first book, but I liked most of it.

6. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
YA. Third book in The Hunger Games trilogy. A very different story from the other two.

7. Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire
The first book in a new series by an author I love to read. (Her name will show up again later in this list. Repeatedly.) This one wasn’t as much my style as her others are, but I still plan to buy the sequel when it comes out.

8. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont
Nonfiction. About writing.

9. Deathless by Catherine Valente
With Cat Valente, I either like a book or I don’t. But the ones I like, I tend to really like. I really liked this one. It’s a kind of Russian fairytale, and it reads like one in the ways that mattered to me.

10. The City and the City by China Mieville
I can’t remember what this one was about, but I think I enjoyed it. I should read more of his stuff.

11. Flesh and Fire by Laura Anne Gilman
An interesting world, where magic comes from wine, but it seems to be one of those trilogies (I think it’s a trilogy) where it takes three books to tell one story, and I don’t feel like going through two more books to find out what happens.

12. Billy Creekmore by Tracey Porter

13. Just My Type by Simon Garfield
A nonfiction book about fonts. I had fun reading it.

14. Blackout by Mira Grant
Seanan McGuire by another name. A good end to a great trilogy. Sort of a zombie book, but really not about the zombies.

15. Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie
Middle Grades/YA. About a boy who has to make his way through a video game world to save his father’s life, but that description doesn’t do it justice. I want to read more of this author’s books now.

16. American Canopy by Eric Rutkow
A nonfiction book that approaches American History through our relationships with trees. More interesting than it sounds, though I admit I forced my way through the last few chapters just to say I had finished it. If it hadn’t been a library book, I might have put it down for a while and come back later. But there were a lot of interesting stories woven in.

17. Through the Door of Life: a Jewish Journey Between Genders by Joy Ladin
I read this memoir for two reasons. First, because I’m currently writing a story that has a transgender protagonist (pre-transition), and second, because I’ve met Joy, and she’s a wonderful person. She’s also a wonderful writer, so the book is engaging and well-written.

18. Ever by Gail Carson Levine

19. A Queer and Pleasant Danger by Kate Bornstein
Another memoir to help me with my research. This one was stranger.

20. Bellwether by Connie Willis

21. Leon and the Champion Chip by Allen Kurzweil
MIddle Grades, and rather entertaining. The author clearly did a lot of potato chip-related research to write this, and the protagonist gets to use classification methods from science class in a fun way.

22. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

23. The Hemingway Hoax by Joe Haldeman
I remember this being intriguing, but I didn’t understand the ending, which was disappointing.

24. Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire
And here she is again. The latest book in her October Daye series, and they just keep getting better and better. (This is part of the reason I’ll be buying the sequel to the Discount Armageddon when it comes out.) I enjoyed reading this one so much that I went back and reread all of the books that came before it – and then reread this one. (And yes, I did list it twice, as you’ll see below.)

25. Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire**

25. A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire**

26. An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire**

27. Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire**

28. One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire**

29. Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire**

30. Guards Guards by Terry Pratchett
It seems I prefer the later Discworld books. I wasn’t into this one as much as the later ones.

31. The Sharing Knife: Beguilement by Lois McMaster Bujold
I like a lot of her writing. I wasn’t as into this one, partly because I’m not sure I like the relationship between the two main characters. It feels like there’s something unequal about it. I don’t plan on reading the book or books that follow

32. Mechanique by Genevieve Valentine
Yet again, a book about a circus, but a really strange one with a bit of a sense of steampunk and also a dreamlike quality. It was the sort of book I enjoyed because I felt like it left these vivid images in my mind. I got the sense it’s the sort of writing where you either get captivated by it or you can’t stand it, but I was captivated.

33. The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card
I think this is meant to be YA, but I found it in the regular SF/F section of the library. I enjoyed this one. It had an interesting magic system. It felt like it had more story to tell, and if it’s the first book in a series, I’d read the next one.

34. Signal to Noise by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean
A graphic novel. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Apparently, it’s been too long since I’ve read a graphic novel, which means my brain had trouble processing it.

35. The Magicians by Lev Grossman
This started off great, dragged in the middle, then got better again near the end. I’m debating whether or not to read the sequel. It gets bonus points for starting out in Brooklyn, and describing it in a way that makes clear that the author knows Brooklyn — which makes sense because, as far as I know, the author lives there.

36. Circle of magic: Tris’s book by Tamara Pierce
Middle grades/YA. The sort of series I go back to when I want a quick read and don’t want to think too hard. Also, I got to meet the author in the spring, and hearing some of the process that went into writing these made me like them a little more.

37. The Poison Eaters by Holly Black
Short stories. I think I enjoyed reading them, but none of them stuck with me, and I don’t remember what any of them were about.

38. Pegasus by Robin McKinley
This was a great story, but I felt like it ended too abruptly, like there was too little resolution. Unless there’s supposed to be a sequel, the ending really didn’t work for me. (Which is to say that it felt more like a cliffhanger than a real ending, in some ways.)

39. Hard magic by Laura Anne Gilman

40. Son by Lois Lowry
Middle Grades/YA. The fourth and final book in the series that began with The Giver, which I remember really enjoying. I wasn’t so into this one, though.

41. The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
I didn’t like this one. There was just too much that didn’t make sense or flow correctly, I think. The book began as one thing, then turned into another in a way that disappointed me, because I liked the first thing better. I think it’s partly that the premise sounded too good to be true: characters who thought they were going to their death ended up in this marvelous place instead.

42. Selection by Kiera Cass
This one clearly has at least one sequel on the way, based on where in the story it ended. A dystopian story about a girl caught up in the royal version of The Bachelor. Surprisingly good for a book that, on its surface, seems like it would very much not be my kind of book. Assuming there’s a next one, I plan to read it.

43. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clark*
I suppose I can see why other people might enjoy this book, but it’s not for me. It’s not written in a style that I enjoy reading. Still, there was enough story in it that I cared about that, even though I kept putting it down and taking long breaks from it, I did feel that it deserved to be finished. I think I began reading it some time around April, 2011 (hence the asterisk), but I didn’t finish it until early December of this year.

44. Borderland edited by Terri Windling
A book of four stories set in a shared universe. I read it because I’d heard good things about it, but I think this particular universe isn’t my cup of tea. It’s out of print, but is available at the Brooklyn Public Library if you’re looking for it.

45. Partials by Dan Wells
YA. Not bad. Much better than The Unwanteds (see above.)

46. Circle of Magic: Daja’s Book by Tamora Pierce

47. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien**
A reread because I went to see the movie. I first read The Hobbit a little over ten years ago, and it was impressive just how much of the story I’d forgotten. It was almost as if I’d never read it at all. For the record, I like the book better than the movie, which changed the story in ways I didn’t like and was also, in my opinion, too long.

48. Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede**
I read this book when I was a kid. I didn’t really remember it at all. Reading it as an adult, I felt like it was definitely aimed at child me rather than adult me, but I can see why I enjoyed it when I was a child.

49-ish. This summer/fall, I also read a novel manuscript for a friend so that I could critique it for her. I can’t list the title or author here, since it’s a novel that doesn’t exist yet, but I hope it will someday, because I enjoyed the overall story.

Book I began but didn’t finish:
Broke USA by Gary Rivlin
Nonfiction. About things like subprime loans. I got to page 179, and gave up. It just wasn’t holding me. I’m listing it here, though, because I got all the way up to page 179.

I also read short stories from the following books, but have not yet finished the books:
Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link
Pump Six and Other Stories by Paolo Bacigalupi
The Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories by Connie Willis

I’m enjoying the stories from all three, but the nice thing about short story collections is that I don’t have to read them all at once.

And now, for some numbers:

Genres I read this year:
(numbers are approximate because some books fit in more than one place)

Science fiction/fantasy (not YA): 22 (including one short story collection)
YA/middle grades (SF/F): 17 (including one short story collection)
Nonfiction, not memoir: 3
Fiction (Not SF/F): 2
YA, not SF/F: 2
Nonfiction, memoir: 2
Graphic novels: 1
(The short story books I’m in the middle of would all fall under SF/F not YA as well)

Authors from whom I read more than one work:
Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant (9 if you count the reread)
Suzanne Collins (3)
China Mieville (2)
Tamora Pierce (2)
Laura Anne Gilman (2)

How I got my books:

Library: 13
Purchased at a discounted price (charity discount booksale): 12
Purchased full price: 11*
Free for the taking (a school I work at was clearing out some books): 3
Purchased at a Scholastic Book Fair: 2**
Borrowed from a friend: 2
Read at someone else’s home while I was staying overnight there: 2
Purchased at a discounted price (used book store/sale): 1
E-book (purchased at a steep discount as part of a bundle to raise money for charity): 1
Received as a gift: 1
(Two of the short story books I’m currently in the middle of were from the above-mentioned e-book purchase, and one was from the school clearing out books)

*Six of these were among the rereads on the list above.

**I purchased the Hunger Games trilogy at a book fair (though I already owned the first one) because it meant that I got the second and third books in paperback when they were only available in hardcover otherwise. I wouldn’t have paid for the hardcovers, so it was wonderful to be able to do this.

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