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Tansy Rayner Roberts

2012: A Year in Reading

December 30th, 2012 at 22:22

Trying something a bit different for my reading round up this year – I found this Annual End Of Year Book survey and decided to try out the questions for myself. Note I’ve already done a Pleasures of Reading etc. post over at Ambling Along the Aqueduct, and covered my experience with the AWW reading challenge. I talk about books a lot, all right?

At 175 titles, including graphic novels, audio books, ebooks etc, I’ve come the closest to my pre-motherhood reading levels than ever before! If nothing else, my ‘don’t buy without shifting books from To Read Shelf’ system seems to be guilting me into finding more reading time, which I am happy about.

Best In Books 2012

1. Best Book You Read In 2012? (You can break it down by genre if you want)

Best Fantasy Novel: Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth
Best Science Fiction Novel: Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold
Best Collection: Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan
Best Anthology: Under My Hat, edited by Jonathan Strahan
Best Young Adult Novel: Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein, only just edging out The Diviners by Libba Bray and Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan.
Best General Fiction: Last Chance Cafe by Liz Byrski
Best Comic: Hawkeye & Captain Marvel
Best Graphic Novels: Astonishing X-Men #1-5 by Joss Whedon & John Cassaday
Best Doctor Who Book: Chicks Unravel Time! Yes, I’m in it. I still love it BEST!


2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Marvel Heralds which came highly recommended but left me cold and a touch baffled, and The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012?
Discount Armageddon, by Seanan McGuire

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?
Probably Tiny Titans, though Bitter Greens would come close, as would What Women Want by Nelly Thomas.

5. Best series you discovered in 2012?
Cold Magic, by Kate Elliott

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?
Liz Byrski, Kelly-Sue Deconnick, Andrea Hairston, Kieron Gillen

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
Probably the Liz Byrski. I haven’t read general women’s fiction for a long time, and never thought I’d find an author who hit my buttons like, say, Mary Wesley did, but Last Chance Cafe is extraordinary – not only is it a book about women from the age of 40 something to 70 something, and not only does it take a bunch of characters whom I would normally dislike and make me deeply sympathise with them, but it’s also packed with really thoughtful, interesting discussion of feminism, the history of women’s lib (and what happened to the women who fought for equality in the 70′s), Australian culture and the way that girl children are now being encouraged (by media, retail and in many cases their own families and peers) to dress and behave in alarmingly adult ways. It’s such a CRUNCHY book, it made me cry and gasp and cling to it. I didn’t know women’s fiction could be so very relevant and so very smart and it makes me feel like an idiot and a bigot for never suspecting that there could be such wonders behind such bland covers.

Helen Merrick is owed many drinks for pushing me subtly in the direction of Liz Byrski. She only had to mention her about a million times before I gave in and picked up this title in an op shop.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?
Code Name Verity, one of my more recent reads, which I tore through on the Kindle shortly after Christmas. I knew it was YA, based around women (including women pilots) in WWII and had it on my ‘buy this soon’ list for months, but I had no idea what a gobsmacking book it was going to be.

9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:
Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner because I want to listen to the audiobook version now!

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?

11. Most memorable character in 2012?

Abigail Brand

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?
Bitter Greens, by Kate Forsyth. Such a gorgeous structure as well as beautiful prose. But Cracklescape is also extraordinary.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012?

Again, Bitter Greens made me want to be a better and more ambitious writer. But Last Chance Cafe by Liz Byrski also blew my mind.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read?

The Getting of Wisdom, by Henry Handel Richardson. A genuine Australian classic.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012?

Some of my favourite quotes from various essays in Chicks Unravel Time:

“Received Fan Wisdom is wrong.”

“If we’re going to be pedantic, both Rose Tyler and Amy Pond have worn mini-skirts and screamed, and have also screamed while wearing mini-skirts. Which only goes to prove that a character is more than her fear response and clothing, and also that some clichés are too powerful to die.”

“Who decided that a bulging bicep was sexier than the ability to solve an equation? Who picked the AK-47 as a weapon of seduction over wide-eyed enthusiasm and affability? Who thought that the way to get women to let the protagonist into their heart or their bed was to strip them down to a wife-beater and cover them in a strategic layer of grease?”

“With these gothic sugar plums dancing in Hinchcliffe’s head, it wouldn’t surprise me if he didn’t notice or didn’t care about what was going on with the portrayal of women in these stories.”

“If you edited out the bits where a blob gets loose and starts transporting people to a parallel universe, you could show this on schools career days as a decent representation of the scientific working life.”

“No wonder Jackie slapped him. I’d slap him, too.”

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?
Goodreads tells me that The Diviners beat out Bitter Greens by about 20 pages – I wouldn’t have been able to guess which on my own. To Spin a Darker Stair was almost certainly the shortest.

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
Pretty much every other chapter in Code Name Verity, though I definitely came away from Last Chance Cafe desperate to talk it over with others who had also read it.

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
The friendship of Maddie and “Verity” in Code Name Verity, and the marriage between Tommy and Tuppence in Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie. Oh, and the two Hawkeyes in Hawkeye #2-6

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously
I should probably say Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth, though it felt so completely different to everything I have read of hers before that it may as well be by a new writer. Whereas The Diviners by Libba Bray and Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan are exactly the books I was hoping for from both of them, only slightly better. And an extra shout out for Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, just because.

20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:
The Last Chance Cafe by Liz Byrski. Most of the others required at least recommendations from more than one source.

Looking Ahead…

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013?
Just the ONE? For Darkness Show the Stars by Diana Peterfreund, which I keep being thwarted about acquiring. Because, Persuasion in space. Also, the novelisation of Shada by Gareth Roberts.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013?
I was greatly anticipating Perfections, the new Kirstyn McDermott novel, but then it unexpectedly appeared this year, which was a surprise! I am still anticipating it, even though it is currently available. Soon, it will be mine.

Also, Untold, the second book in Sarah Rees Brennan’s Lynburn Legacy contemporary gothic YA series, Neil Perryman’s Wife in Space book, and a whole bunch of other Doctor Who anniversary stuff that I don’t even know about yet!

I’ve probably forgotten some really important titles by friends there that I should know about. Just insert your book title here.

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2013?

Keep up with my systems for training myself to only buy and hoard as many books as I can humanly read. Acquire every possible awesome Project Gutenberg title for my Kindle. Read at least 5/6 of every book I buy or solicit in 2013. Yes, that’s three things.

Read more old books. I am craving old, old books. Bring on the Victoriana and wartime epics. BE MINE, E.M. Forster!

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