Throughout college and especially law school, I neglected reading for pleasure. In 2010 I got an iPad for my birthday, and promptly fell in love with ebooks. This may be sacrilege, but I have no particular attachment to the physical act of holding a book to read. The smell of books is a delight for sure, but paperbacks and hardcovers take up space. They weigh a lot. And they take time to ship. Ebooks I keep in my own personal library, all the time. Wherever I take my iPad I take with me all the books I haven’t read yet, plus old favorites to reread whenever I like.
I loved the ability to read books the moment I fancied them. I dove into the wealth of reviews and recommendations on Goodreads. Soon I reverted to my middle school self, the girl who tied her best friend with the most books read each grade year. I was a bloodthirsty bookworm on a rampage, and it was glorious. I read a handful of classics (though this year I pledge to read more), some fantasy (always a favorite), and a whole lot of romance, which I had never read before. At one point I think I overdosed on historical romance, saturated up to my ears in it, but I couldn’t resist and plowed on. I discovered new genres of paranormal romance—I devoured the Fever series—and young adult, which turned out to be hit or miss for me. All in all, I read over 100 books, some challenging, most purely for entertainment. Looking back on the year, I’ve picked five books that left an impression on me for one reason or another.
Jane Eyre kind of blew my mind. After finishing it, I just stared into space for a while. I didn’t love the ending, and there were many imperfections, but still I loved the experience. I reread sections of it immediately after turning the last page. It was the first book in 2012 that stopped me in my tracks; for weeks afterwards I read nothing else, until the spell wore off. Fortunately, a remake of Jane Eyre came out in 2011, so I indulged, and crushed on Michael Fassbender.
There’s not much I have to say about Atonement other than love, love, love. Most of all, I loved the prose, especially at the beginning, when the strange inner monologue of childhood is painted with devastating accuracy. At points it made me despair and think, why bother writing at all when something like this already exists? This was another case in which I watched the movie after reading the book, and oh, the tears.
Terrible title aside, Sugar Daddy is one of my favorite contemporary romances. I developed a love for Lisa Kleypas through her historical romances. I’ve tried many other historical romance authors since, but none of them have come close to the magic of Kleypas’s stories and characters. Sugar Daddy is not a straight up romance; it follows the story of Liberty Jones from childhood onward, through significant struggles, and the romance comes into play halfway through. Sometimes I wish that part of the book received more attention, because the hero is one of my absolute favorites, but it’s a very satisfying read regardless.
The Disillusionists Trilogy, starting with Mind Games, is a unique urban fantasy series, which follows a group of crime fighters who take down criminals by projecting their neuroticism onto their targets. Justine, the main character, is a hard core hypochondriac. Other characters include a compulsive gambler, and a perpetual pessimist with the power to strip life of all its beauty. I’m sure everyone can relate to the anxiety of obsessive compulsive thoughts to some degree, and this series takes an amusing and interesting look on how individuals cope with these thoughts. There is a love triangle, which becomes even more pronounced in the second and third books, but this is one case where a love triangle is handled very well, and actually adds to the story and character development.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is my favorite young adult book of 2012. It’s somewhat of an urban fantasy, with strange creatures, mysterious teeth, angels at war, and star-crossed lovers. The world is original, and the descriptions of Prague really bring the city to life. Though the second half doesn’t have quite the spark as the first, it’s a very enjoyable read. It ends on a cliffhanger, but fortunately the second book has come out, so you don’t have to wait in suspense for long.