What I Read Last Year

Happy 2013, friends! You know, I’m not really a resolution kind of girl, but at the beginning of the year I do like to make professional goals and get organized. Ange and I have been hammering out a business plan for the non-fiction side of things, and I came up with some (hopefully) doable personal writing goals for the year. Also, I cleaned out my desk, which is good, cuz not only does it make me feel all neat and orderly, but it gives me a thrill when I find lost Snickers bars and random dark chocolate-covered almonds rolling around.

They weren’t that old. Don’t judge.

So anyway, I was doing some planning, and for half a second I considered making some reading goals, too, since reading is another passion of mine. But I decided…no. With writing as a career, you do need to be constantly assessing progress, and making adjustments, and setting goals in order to get where you want to go. Reading, on the other hand (despite being necessary to becoming a successful writer), is what I do for fun. I don’t want to start quantifying it and turning something pleasurable into work. So instead, I decided to look back over what I read in 2012 and see what stood out. Here’s what I found:

Books read: 56
Most-Read Genres: dystopian/post-apocalyptic (16) and fantasy (13)
Books I started but didn’t finish for one reason or another: 12. What can I say? I’m a book snob.

And to give you a sampling of what I read, here’s a breakdown of my most memorable books of 2012:

Most Unique Voice: Above (Bobet)
This voice was Un.Be.Lievable. It was so intricate that I actually kind of struggled through the first page, which could easily have been a turn-off, but it clicked in pretty fast—almost like a second language. The uniqueness and consistency were totally impressive.

Best 2nd Book in a Series: Insurgent (Roth)
Second books tend to sag and go nowhere. This one is easily the best second book of any series that I’ve read.

The Book I was Most Eager to Recommend: Wonder (Palacio)
I don’t want to give too much away, but this book was just filled with hope. Normally, I like dark. I like realistic endings where everything isn’t tied up neatly and not everyone gets their way. But the message of this book is something that every child and teenager needs to hear. And to be honest, it was refreshing to read a book that was clean and optimistic enough for all my friends and family to enjoy.

Most Controversial: Drowning Instinct (Bick)
The story was amazing, the writing pristine, the characters empathetic. I finished this book, then couldn’t stop thinking about it for days. But the message was one that I just couldn’t embrace. With all the dark and gritty YA out there, most people will probably be like, This? She has trouble with THIS? But I’m kind of a prude. And as a former educator, I struggled with the message.

Best Craft Book: Writing Screenplays that Sell (Hauge)
I’m pretty good at the technical part of writing but my storytelling needs work, so I’m focusing on that right now. You’ll probably hear me quoting this book, alongside Save The Cat, quite a bit in the new year. Lots of great applications here.

Most Unlikable Hero who Didn’t Drive Me Nuts: The Wicked and the Just (Coats)
Maybe the most self-involved, petulant, vindictive, and overall flawed hero I’ve ever read. But the story was so compelling that I never once considered putting it down. And by the end, I found myself empathizing with the main character. This book is a great example of how to write an unsympathetic hero in a way that doesn’t turn readers off.

Most Unexpected Twist: Tighter (Adele)
I thought I had this one figured out but I was way off. One of my pet peeves is predictability in books, so this was a nice change.

Most Anticipated Sequel:
1) The third book of The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy
I finished the second book in December, and never have I been more pissed off that I had to wait for the next book to come out. Seriously. Cannot wait.

2) The third book in the Divergent trilogy
I love this series. I’ll cry when it’s done. And I refuse to believe the propaganda I’ve read about the author possibly killing off Four. If this happens, I may have to go all Dauntless on Veronica Roth.

Biggest Tearjerker: The Fault in our Stars (Green)

John Green. Enough said.

So what about you? What were your most memorable reads of 2012?


Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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25 Responses to What I Read Last Year

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  2. madds14 says:

    Thanks for sharing! I just put all of the titles on a book list I’m putting together for a school. Thank you for the different options.

  3. ED Martin says:

    I’m trying to expand my YA reading list, and it’s great to have specific titles rather than trying to pick non-paranormal romance books off the library shelves. Thanks for the suggestions!

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  6. Great list. One of my goals this year is to keep track of the books I read. I just wish I could count the full novels I critique. 😀

  7. Good to know Insurgent doesn’t sag because I’ve read too many saggy second books lately.

    I’ve wanted to pick up Wonder. Good to know it’s worth my time.

    Congrats on reading all those books!

  8. Great list, Becca. I’ve read a few of these books and the rest is going on my TBR list (that is already bursting in seams, but what can I say – I love books!)

    I am finally reading Divergent, and it is the best YA book that I have read in a long while. Oh, I can’t wait to start on Insurgent!

  9. Marcy says:

    Annnnd…my TBR list just grew. I thought about making a goal for number of books this year to read as well, but chose not to for the same reason as you. Reading is supposed to be my fun, not another thing I need to check off an overly long to-do list 🙂

  10. LOVED The Fault In Our Stars and Divergent/Insurgent. That series was turned onto me by a book store advertising “If you love the Hunger Games series you’ll love this!” So of course I had to try it. SOOOOOOO good.

    One of the saddest books I’ve read is A Dog’s Journey by W. Bruce Cameron. Holy Schnikes I cried the whole time. You’re guaranteed to cry unless you’re a robot. You’re guaranteed to morph into a waterfall if you’re a dog lover. Such a good book.

  11. Thanks for sharing about these books. My book list is soooo long already, but …

    Reading 56 books in 2012 is awesome! I stopped keeping track of how many I read last year, so I honestly couldn’t say. I’m keeping track this year, so we will see. I’ve read 2 so far. : )

  12. My favorites of last year were Anne Meredith’s “Love Across Time”, “Anna Dressed in Blood” and “Girl of Nightmares” both by Kendare Blake, and Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.

  13. Kelley Armstrong’s Thirteen The last book in the Otherworld series (sigh)
    The Candy Maker by Wendy Maas and everything by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.
    You might enjoy The Kid Lit Writers’ Alphabet, KrisKahrs’ version of the writer’s journey in alphabet form at Pen and Ink http://thepenandinkblog.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-kidlit-writers-alphabet.html
    I am dithering between putting S, V, and Y first on my favorite dreams list.

  14. Hey, Becca,

    We share some favorite reads, although I lean toward contemporary, where you lean toward fantasy.

    I couldn’t stop recommending WONDER and FAULT IN OUR STARS made me cry, even though I knew what it was about. So good.

    My 2012 reads, along with some thoughts about them, are here: http://donnagephart.blogspot.com/2013/01/2012-all-booked-up.html

  15. Oh, I loved Okay for Now, too. Great historical fiction. Also, the Sea of Tranquility looks interesting, Stephanie. I’ll add it to my list.

    Karoline, I honestly don’t read a lot of straight contemporary fiction; there has to be some kind of other-genre slant (paranormal, romance, mystery etc.) for it to grab me. Contemporary reads that I did like were: I’m Not Her, The Girl in the Park, The Name of the Star (which is set in Britain, btw), Thirteen Reasons Why, A Spy Like Me, Hate List, and Bruiser. Also, for contemporary Middle Grade, anything by Donna Gephart :).

    Thanks so much, everyone, for adding your favorite reads and suggestions. It’s rare that I pick up a book that hasn’t been suggested by someone I know, so this kind of information is key, when it comes to book reading and buying :).

  16. The Fault in Our Stars was on my list to read. Thanks for your recommendation. What contemporary fiction suggestions do you have for a girl who’s trying to stop reading only classic British novels?

  17. Great list! I like how you broke it down in summary. My 2013 reads are on my blog as well.

  18. Stephanie says:

    I fell in love with The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay. It’s fantastic and dark and beautiful and by far my most favorite read this year just above The Fault In Our Stars. Wonder was also a favorite, which I recommended to friends with kids Auggie’s age to read so they could see and respect life from another boy’s POV.

  19. Rosi says:

    I haven’t read most of these, but LOVED The Fault in Our Stars. Great book. My favorites (can’t pick just one)from 2012 were One for the Murphys and It Came From the Stars. Both have main characters that will stay with you a long, long time.

  20. Great choices! I’ve been holding off reading book 2 of Smoke and bone for this very reason–I loved book one and it kills me to wait for more. With series I love, I just want to wait so I can devour them all up at once.

    Loved Okay For Now. Again, as you put it, a book that I think everyone should read, especially the MG/teen audience who struggle with fitting in and being bullied. Great book!

  21. My writer resolution is to keep a tidy list of what I’m reading this year! I used to do it and then I stopped.
    I really enjoyed reading yours and I am looking forward to seeing the Divergent third book too.

  22. Patti says:

    Totally looking forward to the third book in the DAughter of SMoke and Bone series.

  23. All great choices. I would find it hard to narrow down to just one or two books. I know I’ve read a lot this year though, more than usual. Thanks to my ereader and self published books. 🙂 Of course, my mind is blanking. But I am looking forward to Through the Ever Night b/c I loved the first book!

  24. I’ve only read Insurgent and Above on your list. I’ll have to add some of your other recommendations to my list. I can’t wait for The Runaway King by Jennifer Nielson.

  25. Pk Hrezo says:

    I haven’t read any of these yet but most are on my list. Looks like I’ll be adding a few more!

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