I think writers should read, a lot, and I like making that pronouncement because it’s something I would do anyway. Even before I started writing, I was reading at least 50 books a year, just for fun. Now that this is my job, I read over a hundred, and I keep track of them. This year I began over 130 books, but some of them I didn’t like enough to finish. Removing those from the list, I finished 118, most of which were full-length novels. A handful were novellas and novelettes, but considering that some of the novels were 600 pages or more, I don’t think I’m cheating.
Here were my favorite books I read in 2012. These were not necessarily published in 2012 (though some were). I just happened to read them this year. For books that are part of a series, I’m listing only the first book. I can’t think of any series I’ve read recently where I liked only one or two books and not the others. If I liked book one, I liked the whole thing.
In nonfiction, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence has Declined by Steven Pinker. This is a book that puts history into perspective. It helped me understand that even though the evening news and social media make us feel as if we’re living in a more violent world than ever, violence is actually at an historic low.
In historical romance, A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant. A book featuring hilarious scenes of bad sex (come on, you know you want to read them), and some of the most spot-on accurate sounding historical dialogue I’ve seen in a historical. But Joanna Bourne gives her a run for her money. My second historical romance pick is Bourne’s The Spymaster’s Lady (and series), about Napoleonic era spies, which has amazing dialogue, dialect, and historical detail.
In science fiction, Redshirts by John Scalzi. A fun romp, the kind of book you just don’t see on SFF shelves anymore unless it has Scalzi’s name on it.
In contemporary romance, Ride With Me by Ruthie Knox. Perfectly structured, super hot romance featuring a hero and heroine biking across the U.S. I have no interest in long-distance bicycling but I loved this novel.
In mystery/thriller, Defending Jacob by William Landay, about a D.A. who tries to defend his teenage son from a murder charge. Fascinating, disturbing, and full of twists and turns. I picked up an early copy of this and now it seems to be a huge bestseller. I’m not surprised at its success.
Also in mystery/thriller, Medicus by Ruth Downie, a historical set in the Roman Empire. I absolutely love this series and I plan to post more about it later.
In young adult, White Cat by Holly Black. This is a creepy paranormal featuring a sort of spellcasting mafia. I didn’t think I’d like it, but it ended up really drawing me in, especially in the second and third book. It’s a completed trilogy, so you can read the whole thing.