best of 2012: year’s end

My year-in-review post is coming, but first, let’s take a look at the very BEST books I read in 2012. Not published in 2012, you understand – although several were that, as well. I was able to narrow it down to a list of 14 books and 1 short story; and I’m hoping you’ll forgive me for such a long list because 1) I read 126 books in 2012, and 2) I’ve broken them out into categories for you. 🙂

Best print nonfiction of 2012:

Best print fiction of 2012:

Best audio nonfiction of 2012:

Best audio fiction of 2012:

Many thanks to my editor at Shelf Awareness who sent me 4 of the 5 books in that first category to review! You’re doing a great job, Marilyn! And, bonus: Shelf Awareness just the other day published an issue entirely devoted to the best books of 2012. Their list includes two of my best of the year; one I really wanted to read but didn’t get around to (Robert MacFarlane’s The Old Ways); one I reviewed; and one that I would totally rate a runner-up for audio nonfiction (Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened). Not to mention, a whole bunch I never heard of, so there you are! Always more to read!

What did YOU read this year that’s blown you away?

The Absolute #1 Best Book of 2011

Ahem. Did I not make a point of choosing an overall favorite when I did that year-end post the other day? Shame on me. Sorry. I shall keep this brief. I just want to say that the best book I read in 2011 was…

Fire Season by Philip Connors.

If you’re interested, you can read my review; read my father’s review; or read about how Fire Season inspired my father and eventually me into some further reading.

It doesn’t hurt, of course, that this talented author whose book touched my life so much back in May, ended up contacting me and has been a pleasant correspondent ever since! But no, it’s not a popularity contest; Fire Season wins for what’s in between its pages, alone. Thanks Phil for writing, though. 🙂

Honorable mention goes to Dorothy Canfield’s The Home-Maker.

2011: A Year in Review

Well! I have tended to appreciate other bloggers’ wrap-up posts, so I thought I’d join in. This was my first full calendar year of blogging (I began in October 2010) and I definitely read more books this year than I have in a number of years, maybe ever. Although I’ve always been a big reader, this year was exceptional for several reasons: working in a library filled with tempting books; blogging about them; discovering audiobooks for my commute; and taking on a book review gig with Shelf Awareness, to name a few. (See some of my SA book reviews here.) I read 139 books this year.

Here are a few statistics…

  • 17% were nonfiction
  • 46% were by female authors
  • a whopping 63 of the 115 novels I read were mysteries; 10 were historical fiction and 11 were classics, the rest a smattering of short stories, drama, poetry, romance, fantasy, and “other.”
  • 38 were 100-300 pages; 80 were 300-500; 15 were over 500 pages, and 6 were under 100. Husband asked how many pages I read this year, so for his sake we’ll estimate, using the midpoint of the ranges (which may throw us way off but what the heck), and say I “read” some 50,580 pages this year! (keeping in mind that some were listened to and not read…)
  • 31 books, or 22%, were audiobooks – look what good use I made of my commute/driving/gym time!
  • 60% of the books I read came from the library! the vast majority came from the library where I work, with just a few coming from the Houston Public Library. another 24% came from publishers for review, leaving only a combined 22 books that came from my personal collection, books I was loaned, books I purchased, or (those treasured few) books I was given as gifts.

What fun.

Of these, I did of course have favorites… you can refer back to my premature Best of 2011 post of December 1, to which I’ve since added 11/22/63 and The Home-Maker, for an unwieldy list of 22 (!) books I loved this year. What can I say, I’m full of gushings. In honor of this Year in Review post, I have culled it down (painfully) to my Favorite 11 Books of 2011 (thanks Thomas for the idea, and for sending me two (!) of the books on the list*):

Whew! That’s a year! I see other bloggers discussing reading goals for 2012, and I don’t really have any to contribute… I think I’m going to pass on reading challenges this year. (You may recall that of the three I signed up for in 2011, I completed two and quit the third. I also participated in several readalongs: the Maisie Dobbs series, Gone With the Wind, and Their Eyes Were Watching God.) If anything, I’m most tempted by the TBR Double Dare (to read only books already on my TBR shelves from now til April 1…!), because my house is so full of books I want to read that I feel like I’ll never get to them all! But even if I didn’t encounter new books through my job that I want to read and probably should so I can talk with patrons about them, there’s my book review gig, which I love. So. No challenges. If anything, I’d like to make a dent in my TBR shelves at home; and part of that dent-making may come in the form of giving books away unread. Sigh.

My real reading goal in 2012 is to continue to read a diverse selection of new and old books; to continue blogging; and most importantly of all, to continue enjoying it. The day that reading feels like work will be a sad day, and the day I need to take a break; here’s to not finding that day in 2012!

Do you have reading goals this year? What challenges have you signed up for? (Don’t twist my arm…!) Did you do a year-end post that I may have missed? Please do share!

best of 2011: year’s end

Yes, I know there’s some time left. Perhaps I will add to this if the final weeks change anything, but I wanted to get this up with some time to spare, and maybe inspire you to share YOUR best books of the year! In no particular order, I give you the best books I read in 2011.

Those published in 2011:

Those published previous to 2011:

I’m so glad to know such great recommenders!! Thomas sent me a copy of Some Tame Gazelle as a prize for having cute dogs, and Simon recommended Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead. My editor at Shelf Awareness, Marilyn, assigned me Hemingway’s Boat and The Barbarian Nurseries. Raych doesn’t know it but she inspired me to read Rebecca, and a series of blogs influenced me to finally get around to In Cold Blood and We Have Always Lived in the Castle (I’m sorry I can’t remember who you all are… but you made a difference!). And finally, Amy has recommended several great books to me this year, most notably Kushiel’s Dart. Thank you all so much; you make it all worthwhile!

So how about it? Please tell me you have a best-of post to come, hmmm? Post a link here so we can all share around. And thanks for the recommendations! 🙂

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