I did it!
I reached my goal of reading 55 books this year, a whole 20 books more than last year. Definitely a challenge for this slow reader who sometimes gets distracted by things like the copyright page (not even kidding, I am going to nerd out over that so hardcore when I see it in my book) and the page that describes the history of the book’s typeface. [Is there a name for this page? Please advise.]
Like last year, I have a disclaimer that these aren’t necessarily books published in 2012, but my favorite of the novels I picked up for the first time this year. I’ll also add that I was lucky enough to read several really, really great books being published in 2013, but I won’t be including them on this list. Which is as follows:
THIS IS NOT A TEST by Courtney Summers
I’m not into zombies. That’s what I first thought when I read the premise of Courtney Summers’ newest book. I mean, I knew I’d read it. I’m clearly a huge and vocal fangirl of her books. But would I love it as much as her last three novels? In a word? YES. It’s not a zombie novel. I mean, it is. There are zombies and blood and some deliciously gory scenes. But it’s mostly a really wonderful character study that skeeved me out in all the best ways and made me stop saying I’m not into zombies. It’s nearly impossible for me to choose my favorite Courtney Summers novel, but this one is definitely in the running.
LEVERAGE by Joshua C. Cohen
I like books about really tough situations. The more depressing the topic, typically the more interested I am in the book. LEVERAGE is the most honest book I’ve ever read about bullying. It goes where you think it might go and then further than that. Rock bottom. It’s also a sports book and I’m not into sports, but there are some beautifully crafted descriptions of football plays and gymnastics moves that even I appreciated. I really admire books that remind me to be an honest writer, no matter how difficult the subject, and LEVERAGE is at the top of that list for me.
LOVE & LEFTOVERS by Sarah Tregay
I’m a sucker for a good verse novel, and this is one of my favorites. I love Tregay’s writing and though the book was shorter due to its format, I felt as if I’d read a prose novel when I’d finished. So much depth conveyed in so few words, and the story felt very authentic. It’s one of those books I can’t really explain in detail why I like so much and generally tell people, “Just read it!” I found it really inspiring and it will likely go in my very small pile of books that I reread once a year or so.
HOW TO SAVE A LIFE by Sara Zarr
I mean, it’s Sara Zarr. That should say enough. But really, I didn’t expect the connection that I had to this book. It was the same feeling I had with her book SWEETHEARTS. Her characters are always incredibly real but these are achingly so. I really felt for them. So many emotions for my stone-cold heart. [Also: I know I said I wouldn’t put 2013 books on this list, but I got an early read of THE LUCY VARIATIONS, Sara Zarr’s next book, due out in May 2013, and it is fantastic.]
BLANKETS by Craig Thompson
Okay, this book was published almost a decade ago, but let’s just pretend you all recently discovered it like I did. I read quite a few graphic novels this year and this was the most surprising. I was heartbroken by the sixth page (and this is a memoir, which made some of the scenes even more upsetting), but the story was also funny at times and beautifully told through all 592 pages.
What are your favorite books of the year? Or feel free to link to a post you’ve made in the comments section!