Looking back over this list I have a hard time believing I read all of these in one year. It seems so long ago that I discovered Kenneth Oppel’s mastery of words and his zeppelin world, or that Scott Westerfeld dazzled me with his Steampunk version of World War I, or that Chrisine Fletcher and Irene Gut Opdyke moved my heart with their historical stories. I read young adult fiction books fast and furiously in 2012—something I don’t think I’ll repeat—and some of them have definitely made it onto my all-time favorites list.
After the list I’ll give some brief thoughts on ones I liked.
- 1/2–6: The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley
- 1/10–16: Forbidden, by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee (Kindle ebook)
- 1/17–20: Airborn, by Kenneth Oppel
- 1/21–22: Legend, by Marie Lu
- 1/23–27: Is that really you, God?, by Loren Cunningham
- 1/27–29: Leviathan, by Scott Westerfield
- 1/29–30: Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer
- 1/30–2/2: Skybreaker, by Kenneth Oppel
- 2/3–10: The Keepers’ Tattoo, by Gill Arbuthnott
- 2/10–11: Starclimber, by Kenneth Oppel
- 2/12–19: The Eyes of a King, by Catherine Banner
- 2/20–22: I am Number Four, by Pittacus Lore
- 2/23–3/12: Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East, by Michael B. Oren
- 3/14–21: Innovate the Pixar Way, by Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson
- 3/22–27: Inheritance, by Christopher Paolini
- 3/28–30: This Dark Endeavor, by Kenneth Oppel
- 3/30–4/2: Across the Universe, by Beth Revis
- 4/3–7: Behemoth, by Scott Westerfeld
- 4/10–13: Ten Cents a Dance, by Christine Fletcher
- 4/16–19: Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
- 4/19-21: Goldstrike, by Matt Whyman
- 4/22-30: The Other Side of Life, by Kim Ablon Whitney
- 5/7–14: The Way We Fall, by Megan Crewe
- 5/14-17: Divergent, by Veronica Roth
- 5/18–25: The Death Cure, by James Dashner
- 5/25–30: A Million Suns, by Beth Revis
- 5/30–6/3: Goliath, by Scott Westerfeld
- 6/18–30: Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
- 7/9–12: Graceling, by Kristin Cashore
- 7/13–20: Fire, by Kristin Cashore
- 7/26–30: Bitterblue, by Kristin Cashore
- 7/30–8/4: Ranger’s Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan, by John Flanagan
- 8/4–11: The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss
- 8/11–25: The Bourne Supremacy, by Robert Ludlum
- 8/30-9/3: Insurgent, by Veronica Roth
- 9/4–7: The Sky Village, by Monk and Nigel Ashland
- 9/7–10: Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi
- 9/10–16: The Hawk and His Boy, by Christopher Bunn (Kindle ebook)
- The Drowned Cities, by Paolo Bacigalupi
- Edge Chronicles 1: Beyond the Deepwoods, by Paul Stewart
- Edge Chronicles 2: Stormchaser, by Paul Stewart
- In My Hands, by Irene Gut Opdyke
- The Secret Warning, by Franklin W. Dixon
- Theft of Swords, by Michael J. Sullivan
- The Way of Shadows, by Brent Weeks
- 12/9-22: Rise of Empire, by Michael J. Sullivan
- 12/22-25: Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer
- 12/25–1/7/13: Heir of Novron, by Michael J. Sullivan
Free reading tip: About four years ago I started using an index card as a bookmark and would jot down the book I was currently reading and the dates of when I started and finished it. It helped motivate me to keep reading (gotta fill up the card!) and I like to imagine my kids (or biographers;) someday will enjoy seeing what I read.
- Irene Gut Opdyke: Irene’s memoir about surviving World War II as a Polish girl is hauntingly beautiful. So well written, so poignant and tragic. There are parts in this I will remember for a long time, both from the story and how she wrote it. If you read any book on this list, read this one. (Many thanks to Jenn Sarver for lending it to me.)
- Christine Fletcher: Ten Cents a Dance is a fantastic historical fiction book set in 1940s Chicago. Christine captured the energy of swing dance (a style I learned in 2012), and also structures the story incredibly well. The main character learns something new each chapter, and difficult issues like prostitution are addressed by leaving things unsaid rather than going into unnecessary detail.
- Kenneth Oppel: I stumbled across Airborn while perusing the shelves at the library. I had never heard of Kenneth, but was immediately gripped with the tightness of his narrative, his mastery of dialogue, and his subtle use of humor. I laughed aloud many times while reading Airborn and its sequels Skybreaker and Starclimber, and the endings of particularly the first and third books were jaw-droppingly brilliant. One of his latest books, This Dark Endeavor, is one of the most tense books I have ever read.
- Scott Westerfeld: My introduction to Steampunk fiction was Scott’s Leviathan series. It took me a few chapters to get used to the world, but once I did it was a great series. The story is compelling and the world he dreamed up is brilliant.
- Michael J. Sullivan: I found Michael’s blog and Twitter account a year or so ago and his blog posts on writing are fantastic. I then discovered out he was a self-published author who wrote a six-book fantasy series, which was later picked up by the publisher Orbit. When I finally was able to read the series, I found a well-written, well-plotted series. One of the great things about the Riyria Revelations is how Michael weaves the story together and slowly opens the story up to reveal more and more.
- Paolo Bacigalupi: From the language (there are a few swear words) and style of writing to the struggles of the characters, the world Paolo created in Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities is harsh and unforgiving. The books are very well written and the world is well formed. Post-apocalyptic novels are a current trend, and like the others the story here is a young boy or girl trying to hang on to their humanity in a world that refuses to let them have it. The good thing with Paolo is the stories do end with hope, even if it’s a faint glimmer.
- Veronica Roth: Divergent was one of my favorite books last year. It was Veronica’s first novel, but she did a great job with the world, characters, and writings style. It’s a hard world, like The Hunger Games, but doesn’t have the moral quandary of kids killing kids. Insurgent was slightly weaker in my opinion, but Veronica is a good writer and I’m excited to see how she grows.
Books for 2013
This year is shaping up to be very different reading-wise. I think I’m going to slow down on the young adult novels—though I will continue to read them, since Beth Revis has published the final book of her series, Shades of Earth, and Marie Lu has published her second book, Prodigy. I also have a growing list of other authors I want to check out, ones like Rachel Hartman, Morgan Rhodes, and M.T. Anderson.
I am currently reading Eric Metaxas’s biography about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and that has gotten me really interested in Hitler and World War II. I’m really curious how a man led a nation back into a world war only 20-some years after the last one, and I already have several books on the subject. In addition, I want to read more theological and leadership books. Last year I only read Is That Really You, God? by Loren Cunningham, and I would like to read more books that encourage my relationship with Jesus.
What books did you read in 2012? What were some of your favorites?