Monday, December 17, 2012

Best of 2012: Fiction

 I actually enjoy sifting through my reads for the year and attempting to pick out my favorites.  Because I rate my books 1 through 5, I have a good place to start.  But so much of this is subjective. I suspect if I read the same book in two different weeks, I'd have two different ratings.  So I go through everything with a 4 rating or higher and think back.  How did the book make me feel?  How do I feel about it now that time has passed?  Are the characters still living inside my mind?

And call me crazy.  But I always have a little sliver of guilt for leaving "someone" (as if these books have beating hearts) off the list.  I wouldn't make a very good Olympic judge would I?

It helps to split up my groups so I can choose more favorites.  Today I've selected my favorite fiction books, read in print or on Kindle.  Tomorrow I'll list my favorite non-fiction, and Thursday will address my beloved audios.  The list below is not in any particular order, and I've not selected a certain number of books.  I won't summarize the book, I'll just briefly tell you my lingering impressions that have made these books my top of the year.   

  

















A Land More Kind Than Home - Wiley Cash:  There are many great Southern yarns out there, but this one, told through several perspectives, was tragic and precious, in a prose that grabbed me in an embrace and pulled me in.  I had no choice in the matter...I was going to read this and be charmed and devastated by it whether I welcomed it or not.  Plus, the antagonist was one that made my blood boil.  


















Beautiful Ruins - Jess Walter:  This one was probably one of the most bizarrely beautiful books I've read in a long time.  It continues to befuddle me...I can't accurately describe how incredible it is.  It transported me to another time and place, it was intensely thought-provoking, and the writing was GORGEOUS.  Not only gorgeous but clever and with a sense of humor that really puts Walter at the top of my list of people I'd love to take to dinner.  


















Jellicoe Road - Melina Marchetta:  It is a rare thing for me to find true depth, heart and mystery in a Young Adult book, but this one had it all.  It was complex (almost requires a re-read) which I loved because it was a puzzle my mind enjoyed toying with.  Ultimately, however, it was the characters - a group of teenagers - that stole the show.  They were each memorable and when the story was over, I grieved.  I missed them immediately.



















Joy for Beginners - Erica Bauermeister:  If anyone has ever read Ms. Bauermeister, you know that she mines the connection between a woman's soul and food, and she does it with beauty and grace.  Following in the footsteps of "The School of Essential Ingredients", she brings to life a handful of women who have lived and lost, and who are fighting their way back to happiness.  I have one lingering vision from this book, and that is a woman who is a cancer survivor taking a flying leap off a ledge into a body of water, and screaming with delight all the way down.  A woman who has been given a second chance at life.  It still gives me happy chills.  



















Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn:  Yeah, yeah, it is dark and messed up (to the point where you doubt Flynn's sanity), and it ends in the most despicable way possible, but I will never forget this book.  I felt like a big dog got it's teeth in me and just shook and shook until I was senseless.  While I usually need to connect with at least one of my characters, in this case I hated them all and reveled in the slimy, oily nastiness of it.  Good, dirty fun.


Stay tuned for tomorrow, my non-fiction list!



22 comments:

Jenny said...

I just got a copy the other day of A Land More Kind Than Home and look forward to reading it! And I completely forgot I had wanted to read Jellicoe Road, so I'm glad for the reminder. :)

Nise' said...

A Land More Kind Than Home will be on my favorite of 2012 too. After learning that Beautiful Ruins made your list, it is going on my TBR list.

Zibilee said...

I have to agree with your selection of Gone Girl, and I am listening to Beautiful Ruins at the moment, and am really, really enjoying it. It is so beautifully constructed, and I love the language. The narrator is perfect too. This is a very nice selection of books. I must read Cash's book as soon as I can!!

annieb said...

Beautiful Ruins is the only one on your list I have read, but it was outstanding. I am purchasing copies for two of my friends just because I know they would love it, as I did.

Ti said...

Out of your list, I've only read Flynn's Gone Girl. I'm not sure about my list this year. It was all over the place.

Carrie K. said...

Loved both Joy for Beginners and Gone, Girl! Have Land More Kind Thank Home on my shelf waiting to be read - what am I waiting for? The other two are also on my someday soon list.

Literary Feline said...

I always love this time of year. Catch all those books that didn't make my wish list the first time you mentioned them. :-)

I have yet to read any of your fiction favorites, I'm afraid, although a couple are on my shelf to read.

Alyce said...

I started Beautiful Ruins and the got distracted from it - I really need to get back to it before it's due at the library.

Kathleen Richardson said...

Hi Sandy, I'm a new reader to your blog and as an avid reader, am delighted to have found you.

Heather @ Book Addiction said...

*spoiler alert* I have Gone Girl on my best of list too! :)

Jo-Jo said...

I remember when I read The Financial Lives of the Poets by Walter and thinking how odd, but yet beautiful it was. I think I need to look up Beautiful Ruins now. Thanks for sharing your favorites!

Anna said...

I've only read Joy for Beginners from your list, but I really enjoyed it. I hope to read Gone Girl at some point.

Jenners said...

Great picks! I need to start working on my own "best of the year" lists … but first I need to finish reviewing the books I read!

Jackie Bailey said...

I'm afraid I wasn't a big fan of Gone Girl or A Land More Kind Than Home, but haven't read the others. I loved Essential Ingrediants so will have to get Bauermeister's new book at some point, but I'm thinking audio is the way to go. I look forward to seeing your audio selection - I can see my TBR list growing rapidly when that appears!

Debbie Rodgers @Exurbanis said...

Sandy, I've heard great things about Jellicoe Road and was going to read it this past year for a Newbery Medal challenge. I ended up with Moon Over Manifest instead but I think I'll keep Jellicoe Road on my reading list for 2013 even though I don't read many YA titles.

caite said...

I did not love Joy for Beginners as much as you, not as much as her first, which I LOVED.
some stories were great...think Venice..some just OK for me.

JoAnn said...

I can't wait to read Joy for Beginners!

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

Gone Girl is making the top lists of most people who've read it. It's always interesting to see such agreement among book bloggers. I think last year the apple of everyone's eyes was The Night Circus.

Trisha said...

When, oh when, will I find time to read Gone Girl....

Julie P. said...

I read four of these and loved them! I am horrible at coming up with a Best of list and have never even tried to!

stacybuckeye said...

Gone Girl is going to be my first read of 2012 :)

Melissa said...

I need to re-read Jellicoe Road. I was *so* confused at first that I know I didn't get as much out of the story as I could have.