Like I said, I read a lot.
Then I thought it would be fun to create little categories and "award" the books I read this year for being a certain kind of awesome or not-so-awesome. So here goes.
Books read: 51
Total number of pages read: 18,178
- 5 stars: 12
- 4 stars: 10
- 3 stars: 22
- 2 stars: 5
- 1 star: 2
Longest book: Towers of Midnight (WoT #13), by Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson. 864 pages.
Shortest book: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson. 54 pages. Yes, this book really is that short.
Book that belongs on the pedastal of awesomesauce: The Giver, by Lois Lowry. This book left quite an impression on me when Mr. Applegate, my 5th grade teacher, read it to us. So much of an impression that it continues to leave the rest of the books I've read (minus a select few) behind in the dregs of its awesomesauce.
Book that belongs in my torture chamber: The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling. I don't think I need to explain this one.
Best escape book: Thy Gold to Refine (W&G #4), by Gerald N. Lund. My love for reading stemmed from the ability to escape into other worlds, not for the lessons the books taught (that came later). This re-read of the Work and Glory series has made me realize that Elder Lund isn't a spectacular writer. However, it is so easy to get lost in this world where the Steeds are real people. I've always loved these characters, which is why this series is one I often turn to when I just want to escape from reality. That fact that I read this book when I particularly needed something to escape to is a big reason why this book wins the escape award.
Best nonfiction: The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, by Gary Chapman. I don't read a lot of nonfiction, and this year I only had two options to choose from. People are always telling me that marriage is hard but they rarely say why. This book explains some of that mystery.
Yawn award: Crossroads of Twilight (WoT #10), by Robert Jordan. The 9th Wheel of Time book had the most epic ending ever and then Jordan killed the momentum by writing his most boring book of the series. He spends the first 500 pages telling us how every rock, stick, and item of clothing reacted to the event at the end of book 9. My brain was too desensitized to notice anything interesting after that. The next time I re-read this series, I'm skipping this book.
Chick award: Star of the Morning, by Lynn Kurland. This book is pegged as fantasy, but it's all about the romance. This is an extremely clean romance, which makes it a safe, enjoyable escape read.
Funniest book: Bored of the Rings, by the Harvard Lampoon. This book has more than its fair share of sexual and potty-mouth humor, but there are also plenty of bouts of real humor. Even though I felt like a vile betrayer reading something that mocks something as sacred as Lord of the Rings, I sniggered through most of the book. Simply reading the names was enough to give me some much-needed comic relief during my study breaks. Sorhead and ballhog were among my favorite names.
Saddest book: Messenger, by Lois Lowry. This book is sad, obviously, but I've read other sad books that don't affect me like this one does. I cried buckets of tears both times I read this book, though luckily I was alone when I read it this year.
Book I was most pleasantly surprised by: Winter Garden, by Kristin Hannah. I checked this book out from the library, but ended up turning it in before I had a chance to read it. A few days later I saw this book again when I was buying a new journal at Barnes and Noble. So I bought it. Usually when I pick up a book I've never heard of before or have some vague interest in, it ends up being a "meh" read. That was not the case with this book. I loved it. It's beautiful, tragic, inspiring, and educational, all wrapped in one lovely package.
Book I was most disappointed in: The Three Musketeers, by Alexadre Dumas. The '90s version of this movie holds a special place in my heart, partly because of childhood memories and the Bryan Adams song at the end. I expected this book to be about lovable rogues who have great adventures, just like in the movie, but instead it was 600 pages of a violently hormonal d'Artagnan, lazy men who gamble and sleep with other men's wives, and slight after slight on the female race.
Book that fueled my hope for humanity: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith. Life can be good even if you're poor and your dad's a drunk. Like The Casual Vacancy, this book starkingly reflects real life--every messy bit of it--but unlike the Casual Vacancy, I closed the book filled with hope.
Book that would make a great movie: I debated between a Wheel of Time book and The Goose Girl, and eventually my girlie side won out and picked The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale. It's a great story that I think boys and girls, men and women, would enjoy. And I certainly wouldn't mind seeing the relationship between Ani and Geric on screen.
Book that should not be made into a movie: Again, I debated between two books: The Giver and The Casual Vacancy. As much as I don't want to see The Casual Vacancy on screen, I think it's still more doable than The Giver. I don't know how filmmakers could do it justice, especially since Jonas lives in a world without basic things like color. Half the greatness of the book is the little discoveries throughout as you realize this world doesn't have things we all take for granted; we don't need a movie to spell all that out for us.
Book I wouldn't mind living in: The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson. Watterson captures childhood perfectly through Cavlin and Hobbes. I would love to be one of Calvin's playmates and join him on one of his many adventures. That is, after I filched the Transfimogrifier (sp?) and turned myself into a boy. Otherwise Calvin would only throw snowballs at me, even if it was in the middle of July.
Most thought provoking: The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. Every night after I put my bedtime reading aside, I would lie in bed and think about the themes in this novel: redemption, hope, abuse, relationships. This book deals with a lot of difficult issues, but it sure gave me a lot to think about (and to be grateful for).
Most unique: Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad. Most of the books I read fall under the YA and fantasy categories, so I've been trying to expand my world view a bit. I never would have picked up Heart of Darkness just for fun, but it was a surprisingly enjoyable read.
Favorite character: Razo, from River Secrets by Shannon Hale (he also appears in the other Books of Bayern, but this book is about him). I love his easy-going nature. I love his obsession with food. I love his crazy hair. I love his ability to crack jokes in any situation. And I love that he loves his little sister, Rinn, so much. He may not be the best warrior, but he has unique skills that don't force him into the limelight all the time. This is the type of guy I could easily fall for.
Least favorite character: That would be Simon from The Casual Vacancy. He had to battle a lot of other venomous characters from The Casual Vacancy to get this award.
Character I could relate to most: Rinn from Forest Born by Shannon Hale. Rinn is basically me when I was a teenager, except I didn't have like 12 older siblings. There are so many things about her that I understood on a deeply emotional level.
Best crop of the year: You know a book is good if you'd recommend it to your friends without hesitation. Here's the most satisfying crop of books I came across this year (in no particular order).
- The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson
- The Gathering Storm (WoT #12), by Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson
- The Books of Bayern series, by Shannon Hale
- Sons of Oak (Runelords #5), by David Farland
- The Giver, by Lois Lowry
- Messenger, by Lois Lowry
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith
- Bored of the Rings, by Henry Beard
- Christmas Jars, by Jason F. Wright
- Winter Garden, by Kristin Hannah
- The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
Complete list of books read during 2012 (to see my reviews, click here):
Cinder and Ella, by Melissa Lemon
Crossroads of Twilight (WoT #10), by Robert Jordan
Knife of Dreams (WoT #11), by Robert Jordan
The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson
The Gathering Storm (WoT #12), by Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson
The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman
Towers of Midnight (WoT #13), by Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson
Star of the Morning, by Lynn Kurland
The Scent of Cherry Blossoms: A Romance from the Heart of Amish Country, by Cindy Woodsmall
Switched, by Amanda Hocking
Torn, by Amanda Hocking
The Mage's Daughter, by Lynn Kurland
Sons of Oak (Runelords #5), by David Farland
Princess of the Sword, by Lynn Kurland
Ascend, by Amanda Hocking
Worldbinder (Runelords #6), by David Farland
The Wyrmling Horde (Runelords #7), by David Farland
Defenders of the Covenant, by Angie Lofthouse
The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale
Enna Burning, by Shannon Hale
River Secrets, by Shannon Hale
Forest Born, by Shannon Hale
Alcatraz vs. the Scrivener's Bones (Alcatraz #2), by Brandon Sanderson
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer, by Fred Kaplan
The Three Musketeers, by Alexander Dumas
Of Grace and Chocolate, by Krista Lynne Jensen
The Giver, by Lois Lowry
Gathering Blue, by Lois Lowry
Messenger, by Lois Lowry
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith
Cinderellis and the Glass Hill, by Gail Carson Levine
The Princess Test, by Gail Carson Levine
A World Without Heroes, by Brandon Mull
A Pillar of Light (W&G #1), by Gerald N. Lund
The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James
Like a Fire Is Burning (W&G #2), by Gerald N. Lund
Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling
Truth Will Prevail (W&G #3), by Gerald N. Lund
Bored of the Rings, by the Harvard Lampoon
Thy Gold to Refine (W&G #4), by Gerald N. Lund
A Season of Joy (W&G #5), by Gerald N. Lund
Christmas Jars, by Jason F. Wright
Some Kind of Fairy Tale, by Graham Joyce
Winter Garden, by Kristin Hannah
Praise to the Man (W&G #6), by Gerald N. Lund
Stardust of Yesterday, by Lynn Kurland
Princess of the Silver Woods, by Jessica Day George
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson