2012: A Year in Reading

As 2013 draws ever more near, I thought I’d take a few minutes to review the past year. 2012 was a good year for me overall, but I have to admit it was quite challenging at times. Grad school always has its ups and downs, but I felt like I really started to come into my own this year. I published my first paper, and am an author on two more that are out for review. I also passed my qualifying examination, and am now a Ph.D. candidate! It was a rocky year in my personal life (to say the least), but I’m very fortunate to have good friends and family to support me through the tough times. And whatever good or bad comes throughout the year…one thing I always have is my love of reading.

I’m still in my first year as a blogger, but I’ve kept tabs on my reading habits for basically my whole (reading) life. I’m currently in the longest, contiguous set of reading stats I’ve ever kept: 6.5 years and counting! Prior to 2012, my best reading year was 2007, during which I read 36 books. My “worst” reading year was 2011, during which I read only 18 books (although I read both Vanity Fair and War and Peace that year…so I think those should count for 3-4 books a piece 😉 ). So without further ado, here are my reading stats for 2012!

Reading Stats for 2012:

Number of books read: 45

Number of paperback/hardcover: 29

Number of audiobooks: 16

Number of fiction: 34

Number of non-fiction: 11

Average Rating (out of 5 points): 3.61

Most books read in one month: 7 books in September

Longest book read: 11/22/63 by Stephen King at 894 pages

Longest Audio Book listened to: The Passage by Justin Cronin at 29 parts

Number of books from BBC Challenge list: 8

Overall I’m really pleased with my 2012 stats. I felt I had good variety in my reading this year–some fun books mixed with the more serious fiction and non-fiction. I also had some “surprisingly great” reads this year. I call them surprisingly great because I either 1) had low expectations going in (i.e. it was a book I was trying to complete for some kind of challenge) or 2) I happened to come across it, picked it up on a whim, and loved it. These are my favorite kinds of reading experiences–when you can pick up something unexpected and get carried away.

Finally, with some trepidation, I thought I’d list my favorite books of the year. I tried to just pick one from each category, but I just couldn’t. So instead I’ve picked a favorite, and some very close runners up.

Best Fiction Book: Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

Cold Mountain

I devoured this National Book Award Winner (1997) in a couple of days. With its cast of memorable characters and similarities to Homer’s The Odyssey, this was one of my surprise favorites of the year. I’m going to rent the movie soon!

Runners up: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Best Non-Fiction Book: This Life is in Your Hands by Melissa Coleman


Another surprise favorite! I loved this beautiful and haunting memoir.

Runner up: Rez Life by David Treuer

Best Audio Book: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One

If I hadn’t read so many rave reviews for this, I have to admit I wouldn’t have picked it up. I’m not an avid fan of video games, so I didn’t think I’d really be into a book where the protagonist lived most of his life in a game. Boy was I wrong–it was great! And it has lots of great 80’s nostalgia to boot. I think I listened to the whole book in about 24 hours!

Runner up: Bossypants by Tina Fey


What were your favorite reads from 2012?


9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. diggingher
    Dec 30, 2012 @ 14:18:38

    Congrats on everything but most especially your academic achievements. I am presently listening to Stephen King’s 11/22/63 and am enjoying both the content and the narrator. What was your favorite audible of the year? I think I would have to put the Kitchen House at the top. All the best with your goals in the New Year.


    • exlibrisheather
      Dec 30, 2012 @ 15:43:27

      Thank you very much! I think my favorite AudioBook was Ready Player One. It was really hard for me to decide…there were so many good choices! I haven’t heard of the Kitchen House, I’ll put that on my TBR list!


  2. Jodi
    Jan 01, 2013 @ 13:09:54

    Wow that is a lot of books especially since you are in grad school!


  3. experiencelit
    Jan 08, 2013 @ 23:08:56

    I’m actually a bit shocked to see continually see such great reviews for “Ready Player One.” The style seemed to me real bland and, quite often, felt like it was written at a seventh grade level. Now, in fiction we forgive one glaring discrepancy or far-fetched coincidence, but there were at least two that I, unfortunately, couldn’t look past. I hope that when you find a moment, we could discuss the positives of this work.

    Huge congratulations on the doctoral candicacy. May I inquire as to your area of expertise?


    • exlibrisheather
      Jan 09, 2013 @ 09:49:04

      You aren’t the first person I’ve heard that had a negative reaction to Ready Player One. I listened to the audiobook instead of reading a hardcover/e-book version, so it is possible that I might have glossed over some of the things that bothered you. I also recognized that this is a young adult novel–so you are absolutely right when you say that it is sort of written at a 7th grade level. I knew that going in, and I think that helped me deal with it somewhat. I do think there is a lot of legitimate criticism about this book out there–Cline doesn’t really add anything new to this genre nor does he even really “invent” anything (i.e. the technology in book is more present-day, than future). I thought this book was entertaining, but not a great work of literature. Wil Wheaton also does a great job of narrating, so that might have contributed to my enjoyment. If it makes you feel any better, I sort of had a similar reaction to The Hunger Games series…I liked it but didn’t think it was the great thing I ever read. Oh BTW–my Ph.D. will be in materials science and engineering


  4. experiencelit
    Jan 10, 2013 @ 14:35:46

    Oh, wow. I had no idea it was a young-adult novel; that changes things a bit. I work at a bookstore and we had it placed in Science Fiction, not the Young Adult section. I suppose that explains the “seventh grade level” aspect of the writing. :/

    I wish Cline would have added something to the genre, but at the same time, it’s not necessary about advancing a genre, sort of speak, but how well it’s done within the genre. I really enjoyed the concept of 80s pop culture, but again, I could not get over the glaring coincidences involved in the storyline. I think the idea of the trailer houses stacked one on top of another (twenty-two high, if I remember correctly?) is highly implausible, regardless of the genre. There are many others, but just know I had high hopes, was disappointed, but did enjoy it a bit.

    Perhaps listening to Wheaton narrate it to me may make a difference.

    Materials science and engineering? Wow… congratulations and best of luck.


    • exlibrisheather
      Jan 10, 2013 @ 16:58:48

      Actually in doing more research there is some discrepancy on whether or not it is actually a YA book. It is frequently marketed as a YA book, but I think was originally intended for adults. Regardless, all of the things you say are valid in my opinion.


  5. Trackback: 2013: A Year in Reading | Ex Libris

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