(I've been doing this for five years now. See my other Best of the Years posts.)
Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks. From my review: "This was our book club's read for June, and, for perhaps the first time ever, everyone not only read but loved this novel!"
The Distant Hours by Kate Morton. From my review: "The Distant Hours is a gothic novel full of mystery, suspense, romance, and hauntings. … This is one of those books that I thought about during the day and couldn't wait to get to in the evenings."
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. From my review: "It was just, well, it was everything I could possibly want in a novel. A mystery with a ghost story feel. Romance, lost love, found love, familial love, orphans, good guys, villains, a manor, a secret garden (and speaking of that, well-done cameos with real life figures), fairy tales, and did I mention suspense."
The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. From my review: "I'm really quite astounded by The Invisible Bridge. The last 50 pages or so I read in a doctor's office while waiting for a friend, and I embarrassingly wept now and then. I was slightly numb when I closed the book, stunned by human resiliency as displayed in the character but also stunned by Orringer's ability to craft such a novel."
Left Neglected by Lisa Genova. From my review: "Genova has a PhD in neuroscience from Harvard, so her novels, which deal at one level with complex neurological issues, feel so completely believable. But it isn't just the medicine that's good: Genova is a fantastic writer. She can get spot-on into the heart and soul of her characters."
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson. From my review: "This was a beautifully written, lovely novel about Ernest Pettigrew, a perfectly stuffy English gentleman. This was our book club's November read, and everyone absolutely loved it."
Room by Emma Donoghue. From my review: "Who wants to read a book about a kidnapped woman and her son, who are living in an 11X11 room and visited nightly by "Old Nick"?…But if you don't meet Jack and Ma, you're missing on two wonderful, strong, courageous characters and an unforgettable, powerful, yes—positively gripping story."
The Rebel Wife by Taylor Polites. From my review: "I had a hard time putting down this post-Civil War novel. I was even reading during breakfast and lunch, which is quite an unusual feat for this mom who usually saves reading for bedtime. The novel was that engrossing."
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. "I was hooked from the very first line, and I was reluctant to put it down each night to sleep. I carried it with me during the day when I wasn't reading it. I carried the language of Tim O'Brien—the absolutely beautiful poetry, the lyrical longing, the heartbreak."
True Sisters by Sandra Dallas. From my review: "Sandra Dallas has once again written a fascinating tale woven around a unique piece of American history. This time her subject matter takes us out of Colorado mining country to the Mormon Trail in the mid-1800s."
• FAVORITE BOOK(s) of 2012
I'm going to have to call a tie between Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden and Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried. I can't really compare the two: one is sort of a Gothic romance/ghost story, and the other is a gritty, heart-breaking story of war. But they were both absolutely beautifully written.
* Don't Forget the Classics!
I read several classics this year. I don't count these on my Top 10 list because, well, somehow they seem to be above such things. Here are my beloved classics from this year:
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)
- Ethan Frome (Edith Wharton)
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)
- My Antonia (Willa Cather)
- O Pioneers! (Willa Cather)
- Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
- The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Robert Louis Stevenson)
- Watership Down (Richard Adams)
• I added 38 books to my Ever-Growing TBR list, and I marked off 19. That means that my TBR list continues to grow faster than I can read, and it also means I read a lot of books that aren't on my TBR list. I learned about books from posts on The Sunday Salon, Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books, from various internet sources, from personal recommendations, and especially from other book bloggers.
• Below is the total list of books read, minus the juvenile fiction. Each link leads to a review or, rarely, to amazon.com if I didn't get a chance to review it. My star-ranking system is as follows: 5 stars--must read; 4 stars--highly recommended; 3 stars--enjoyable; 2 stars--ick; 1 star--no, no, no.
- Adventures of Huck Finn (Mark Twain)*****
- Arranged (Catherine McKenzie)**
- Atlas of Impossible Longing (Anuradha Roy)***
- Blue Diary (Alice Hoffman)****
- Boy Who Stole the Leopard's Spots (Tamar Myers)***
- Brooklyn (Colm Toibin)****
- Bungalow, The (Sarah Jio)***
- Caleb's Crossing (Geraldine Brooks)****
- Carved in Bone (Jefferson Bass)***
- Distant Hours (Kate Morton)*****
- Escape Artist (DIane Chamberlain)***
- Ethan Frome (Edith Wharton)*****
- Forgotten Garden (Kate Morton)*****
- Girlchild (Tupelo Hassman)****
- How to Be an American Housewife (Margaret Dilloway)***
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)****
- Imperfect Birds (Anne Lamott)****
- In the Bag (Kate Klise)***
- Inquisitor's Key (Jefferson Bass)**
- Invisible Bridge (Julie Orringer)*****
- Kiss River (DIane Chamberlain)***
- Left Neglected (Lisa Genova)****
- Lies We Told (Diane Chamberlain)**
- Lost Book of Mala R. (Rose MacDowell)***
- Lost Saints of Tennessee (Amy Franklin-Willis)***
- Major Pettigrew's Last Stand (Helen Simonson)****
- Midwife of Hope River (Patricia Harman)***
- More Like Her (Liz Palmer)***
- My Antonia (Willa Cather)*****
- O Pioneers! (Willa Cather)****
- Only True Genius in the Family (Jennie Nash)***
- Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) --multiple re-read
- Rebel Wife (Taylor Polites)****
- River Wife (Jonis Agee)***
- Room (Emma Donoghue)****
- Saving Ruth (Zoe Fishman)***
- Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne)--multiple re-read
- Secret Kept (Tatiana de Rosnay)***
- Sex Lives of Cannibals (Maarten Troost)***
- She Walks These Hills (Sharyn McCrumb)***
- The Things They Carried (Tim O'Brien)*****
- True Sisters (Sandra Dallas)****
- Violets of March (Sarah Jio)****
- Watership Down (Richard Adams)*****
- Year of Biblical Womanhood (Rachel Held Evans)*****
- You Don't Sweat Much for a Fat Girl (Celia Rivenbark)*
Linked up with Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books Best of the Year edition